$14M deal for Elliott Bay Book Company building

A prime piece of Pike/Pine’s commercial past and present has a new owner. A company associated with the Keeler Investment Group, an investor in “Pacific Northwest-based, early stage, private equity and real estate opportunities,” for $14 million, according to King County records.

Longtime owner Capitol Hill-based Hunters Capital announced the sale Monday of the Ford Building, the 97-year-old former auto row warehouse now home to Elliott Bay Book Company, the Little Oddfellows cafe, and upscale fashion retailer Totokaelo

In March, Hunters officials told CHS they had a letter of intent with a local buyer.  “It’s not some big, national conglomerate,” Mike Oaksmith, director of development at Hunters said at the time. Elliott Bay owner Peter Aaron told CHS that the bookstore is well positioned for any change of building ownership. Aaron said Elliott Bay is in the midst of a “long term” lease — “more than 10 years is what I’m comfortable saying,” Aaron told CHS. Continue reading

Sun Liquor moving distillery off Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill’s craft distillery industry is being downed by half and one of the neighborhood’s longest running purveyors of craft cocktails is contemplating more changes on E Pike.

CHS has learned that Sun Liquor Distillery, one of two craft-level spirit makers operating in Pike/Pine’s light-manufacturing zone left behind by the neighborhood’s auto row legacy, is moving operations to a nondescript warehouse on the backstreets behind University Village.

“We need two times as much space and the loading on E Pike is just too dangerous,” Sun’s founder Michael Klebeck tells CHS. Klebeck said his company is also considering working with a new owner to take over the Sun Liquor lounge across the street from the bottling facility on E Pike. Continue reading

Eldridge Tire Company just might stick around to be part of next seven-story apartment building on Broadway

The Landmarks Preservation Board voted Wednesday night to approve one auto row era building on Broadway nominated for landmark status and deny its next door neighbor. Both are properties owned by Seattle Central and are being lined up for affordable housing development by the school.

The board will now consider 1519 Broadway, the former Eldridge Tire Company, for designation in March. The consideration process for 1515 Broadway, today home to burger joint Freddy Jr.’s, ended with the board’s vote.

“(1519 Broadway is) a great example of … both an auto-style building and a Mission-style building ” said board member and CHS history contributor Robert Ketcherside. “… I think it’s a great building and an important part of what was auto row.”

The other property, home to the burger joint today and, long ago, the Stewart Warner service station, didn’t have the qualities it takes to qualify the next part of the designation process.

“I think that this building is an important component of the undesignated auto row district in Capitol Hill, but it’s the poster child for lacking the ability to convey significance,” said board member Jeffrey Murdock. Continue reading

Auto row history and Seattle Central housing development future behind Broadway landmarks hearing

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As it seeks a partner in its plans for affordable housing, Seattle Central will take the auto row history of one of the two Broadway properties it is pushing forward toward redevelopment in front of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board next week. The board will weigh just what architectural features if any should be protected in the one-time Stewart Warner service station and its neighbor the old Eldridge Tire building in the 1500 block of Broadway between Pine and Pike. Today, the structures are home to a burger joint, a taco joint, and a hair stylist.

The board will consider the buildings for nomination Wednesday afternoon.

Landmarks board: 1515 Broadway and 1519 Broadway

Seattle has a relatively robust and busy landmarks system but the process is as much about development as it is preservation. Seattle Central is moving the properties through the review as a prelude to redevelopment and a requirement of the permitting process for buildings from before 1940. Continue reading

Bean Box growing tech start-up ambitions in Capitol Hill’s coffee bean row

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

Capitol Hill’s auto row was created by entrepreneurs launching start-ups, of sorts. One modern vestige of the era has made a home for a set of entrepreneurs to make their mark in history with one of the neighborhood’s new economic lifebloods: coffee beans.

Bean Box, a “gourmet coffee” subscription and gift service, has been growing its business out of the recreated auto garage next to Bill’s off Broadway.

“Capitol Hill is wildly diverse from a population and diverse from a business standpoint,” Bean Box’s Ryan Fritzky told CHS earlier this year when we stopped by for a visit to check out the coffee bean packaging and shipping operation on E Pine. Continue reading

Demolitions make way for Capitol Hill future, reveal Capitol Hill past

Revealed Remnant of Capitol Hill's Past

Early June became demolition season on Capitol Hill this week as three old buildings came down, raising clouds of musty dust and nostalgia in mostly equal measure. For the two most Capitol Hill memory-filled structures, we had some warning as the wrecking crews came for the old Broadway post office and the longtime 11th Ave home of Hugo House. Fewer knew about the impending doom that awaited the Emerald City Manor apartments on Boylston. But we’re guessing there might be some nostalgia floating in the dust over there, too. Continue reading

Seattle’s first Passive House-certified mixed-use project at 13th and Pike faces first review

A former Capitol Hill chocolate factory — in an auto row era building with an, um, nutty past — will provide “character inspiration” for what could be the first passive house certified mixed-use development in Seattle. The project faces its first design review Wednesday night.

CHS reported on the uber-green six-story, 55-unit project above 2,400 square feet of retail space, and no underground parking late last month as frequent Capitol Hill developer Maria Barrientos teamed up with Cascade Built and architects Weber Thompson to transform the corner of 13th and Pike still owned by Fran’s Chocolates which moved its operations to Georgetown in 2014. Just down the street from the Bullitt Centerthe world’s first living building, the project will aspire to the standards set by Passive House Institute US. Among the many requirements, passive buildings are required to be extremely airtight and insulated to minimize energy use. UPDATE: The project is, indeed, planned to have 26 units of underground parking.

The project is described as a first of its kind “sustainable apartment building that includes a passive house design that reduces energy needs to as close to zero as possible.” The developers say that the passive features including increased insulation affect the massing and windows and that “exterior shading devices” will shield the south and western faces of the building from “heat loads.” Meanwhile, the design will use “the old rhythm of the column spacing” and “many elements such as the brick and the ornamental pieces on the current facade.” Continue reading

Pike Motorworks block ready to leave history of auto row contamination behind

It’s nowhere as interesting as last month’s news that big ol’ Redhook is building a brewpub and “small-batch” brewery inside the Pike Motorworks development but it is a reminder of the property’s auto row past and the environmental reviews required to make the Capitol Hill block comply with environmental health statutes.

The Department of Ecology is taking public comment on the proposed removal of the “environmental covenant” on the E Pike property as a last step of certifying that restrictions can be lifted after a petroleum, lead and cadmium clean-up process.

The demolition, facade preservation, and redevelopment on the block included the removal of four underground storage tanks and about 20,600 tons of contaminated soil, the Department of Ecology said in the announcement, below. The department says soil tests have “confirmed that the site complies with Washington’s cleanup standards” and that the property “no longer poses a threat to human health or the environment.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Value Village building with auto row and REI roots wins landmarks status but how much protection will it afford?

REI called 11th Ave home during its early growth as a retailing giant (Image: REI)

REI called 11th Ave home during its early growth as a retailing giant (Image: REI)

You already knew this but Capitol Hill’s Value Village is a landmark.

Or it will be after a City Council vote.

Wednesday afternoon, the Seattle Landmarks Board voted 9-0 to designate the historic Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company building as an official Seattle landmark saying the building held special significance in the neighborhood due to its history in the early years of REI and its place in the “economic heritage of auto row.”

As a landmark, the building will be afforded special protections and alterations to its exterior will be subject to review by the board. But the designation may not stave off development planned for the site.

A representative for real estate developer Legacy Commercial said it was too early to say what bearing the vote would have on his company’s plans to use Pike/Pine’s preservation incentives to create a 75-foot tall office building above street-level commercial space with the property. The building is owned by the Ellison family that founded the Value Village chain.

One likely next step could be an appeal of the board’s decision. Another representative for the developer called the Kelly-Springfield building “a middling example” of auto row-era architecture in asking the board not to support designation of the property.

CHS wrote about the Kelly-Springfield nomination here. The neighboring White Motor Company building — currently home to The Stranger — will take its turn in front of the board on January 21st after successfully moving through the first round of the landmarks process in December. In that session, the REI connection for the two buildings was firmly established and the board was swayed to consider not only the 1918 building’s exterior but also its classic auto row-era guts including the three-story structure’s impressive upper-story truss.

In voting for landmark status for the current home of Value Village Wednesday, the board cited the many letters it had received from the public in support of protecting the buildings and the connection to REI as a significant factor in the decision. “The building has industrial automotive significance,” one board member said. “Letters have expressed that the building conveys that significance.”

Board set to decide landmark protections for first of two 11th Ave auto row buildings with REI history

Screen-Shot-2014-11-18-at-12.41.12-PM-600x400Wednesday is a big day for the 1917-built 11th Ave building currently home to Value Village as the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board meets to consider whether the structure should qualify for protections that could end plans to redevelop the property.

Public comment will be part of the Wednesday session — note the room change — but you can also add your thoughts via email to Pike/Pine coordinator Sarah Sodt — sarah.sodt@seattle.gov by Tuesday afternoon.

Landmarks Preservation Board Meeting

Seattle Municipal Tower

700 5th Avenue, **17th Floor**

**Room 1756**

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 – 3:30 p.m.

In December, CHS reported that — thanks to REI history and the building’s auto row legacy —  the Kelly-Springfield building and its neighboring White Motor Company building currently home to The Stranger and the Rhino Room had advanced to the next round in the city’s process to determine if the structures should qualify for protections that would limit changes to the external features of the buildings. Additionally, the board will consider the White Motor building for possible internal protections when it considers that property later this month.

CHS wrote about the nomination of the Kelly-Springfield building here in November. An effort to advocate for protecting the properties has been joined by neighborhood groups and supported by REI, the Seattle-based outdoor gear company that traces its roots back through its first major growth on Capitol Hill.

The hearings on the properties has included some concern about decorative elements removed from the buildings prior to the nominations. During the December hearing for the White Motor Company building, the representative for the developers said she was concerned members of the public had “accused” her clients of “removing elements” and that allegations in written comments received by the board that the building’s owners had acted to damage the structure’s possible standing as an official landmark were “patently false” and “without any evidence or basis in fact.” In January 2014, CHS reported that workers had removed decorative rosettes the previous fall and that representatives for the property owner and developer told the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council that the elements were removed so that they could be preserved and restored to the building as part of a new 75-foot-high, nearly-100,000 square-foot office project planned for the land at the corner.