Goodbye First Hill McDonald’s, hello 17-story mixed-use building  

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

The First Hill McDonald’s franchise is an intriguing community hub. The Madison and Minor location seems to accomplish what an urban McDonald’s can be at its best: a place for surgeons, construction workers, homeless people and everyone in between to gather together for a cheap, gigantic cup of coffee and a bite to eat. Other times, it’s just weird.

Documents recently filed with the city show the First Hill McDonald’s is now a goner and slated to be torn down. Developer Holland Partners has filed permits to demolish the McDonald’s building and erect a 240,000 square foot, 17-story mixed-use development.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 2.47.11 PMDetails on the new project are sparse, but early plans call for 200 apartment units and 151 parking spaces. The Vancouver, WA based developer was also behind the similarly sized Coppins Well project next door. At the time, developers touted the Coppins Well project as the first high-rise apartment building to break ground on First Hill in 35 years.

Just a few blocks away, Whole Foods will be part of a 16-story mixed-use apartment building planned at Madison and Broadway slated to open in 2018.

CHS couldn’t reach anyone at Holland for comment about the McDonald’s project.

A representative for franchisees in the region said the Madison McDonalds has been open for about at least 17 years (see comments for memories of this location going back to the 1970s). Earlier this year, CHS reported on McDonald’s employees urging their coworkers to walk off the job for higher wages. We don’t know yet if the franchise will relocate in the neighborhood or nearby, but the possibility may get the Capitol Hill rumor mill churning again.

Capitol Hill’s REI history, auto row legacy convince board to consider second 11th/Pine building for landmarks protection

Thanks to a confluence of history that includes Pike/Pine’s auto row and the nascent era of one of the best known companies in the Pacific Northwest, advocates for better preservation of Capitol Hill’s remaining auto row buildings got more than they could have hoped Wednesday night. The Seattle Landmarks Board voted unanimously to nominate *both* the exterior and — thanks to the three-story structure’s impressive upper-story truss — the interior of the White Motor Co. building at the corner of 11th and Pine for consideration for the city’s official historical protections.

A hearing that began with the representative for the property owners noting she was speaking to the body “in the hope that this not be nominated,” ended with a vote to examine the building’s worthiness for protection despite those hopes. The official nomination hearing is now slated for January.


Last week, CHS featured a letter written by neighborhood resident Andrew Haas advocating for full preservation of the White Motor Co. building and the neighboring Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company structures home to Value Village, the Rhino Room club and The Stranger alternative weekly newspaper. Haas spoke up again Wednesday night during the public comment portion of the hearing, calling the White Motor Co. building “remarkably intact” and making the case for the significance of REI’s decades in the building as the workplace of the company’s first full-time employee, outdoor enthusiast Jim Whitaker.

The head of government and community affairs for REI also spoke in favor of the nomination. Marc Berejka said his company was unaware that the buildings that made up its onetime headquarters were being considered as landmarks until learning of Haas’s advocacy. The Kelly-Springfield building had previously advanced to the next round in the landmarks process following its late November hearing.

“Our members have expressed a deep sense of connectedness to the smell of creosote,” Berejka quipped about the legendary odor inside the building now home to Value Village. Continue reading

Should the Pike/Pine parking lot between 10th and 11th be a landmark?

Why is this parking lot depressed? Click here

Why is this parking lot depressed? Click here

A future neighbor of the Hot House

A future neighbor of the Hot House

You’ll need to act quickly to save one of the last (kinda) surface parking lots in Pike/Pine.

The paperwork has been filed to “demolish” the lot on the Tetris-shaped parcel of land destined to squeeze in the Modera project just south of Pike, a sixth new building planned or under construction in three blocks of 11th Ave. Barring some sort of last minute activist intervention, the pay lot between 10th and 11th Avenues will be destroyed to make way for the six-story, 135-unit mixed-use development.

Wednesday, activists, neighbors and concerned citizens will have their opportunity to speak up in person on the potential to protect the White Motor Company building at 11th and Pine as an official Seattle landmark. You can also send your thoughts via email but need to get them in ASAP if you want your remarks to be part of the record.

There will be no such hearing for the parking lot behind the Winston Apartments — home to residential tenants above, longtime lesbian bar the Wildrose, the Hot House spa, and, soon, a Castle Megastore below. The below-present-day-grade lot is a goner. Maybe you’ll want to fire up your old auto row-era jalopy for one final chance to pay $18 per hour to park under the stars of Pike/Pine. (Beats parking at the Broadway/Pike gas station, though…)

But do not despair, lover of the automobile. Like so much change on Capitol Hill, the demolition of the parking lot clears the way for new things. Included in the proposal for Mill Creek Residential’s Modera along with its 6,000 square feet of retail space is a massive underground parking lot with room for more than 120 motor vehicles and 40 or so bikes.

Effort underway to win landmarks protection for two Capitol Hill buildings steeped in history of REI and auto row

The building in 1937 (Image: Puget Sound Regional Archives)

The building in 1937 (Image: Puget Sound Regional Archives)

A White Motor truck

A White Motor truck

Earlier this week, we told you about a project to study, illustrate, and activate inspired by and as a reaction to change on Capitol Hill. Here’s another Capitol Hill neighbor ona mission. With its neighboring auto row structure already under consideration for possible Seattle Landmarks Board protection, the White Motor Company building at 10th and Pine — more recently The Stranger/Rhino Room building or the Velo Bikes building — that is planned to be part of the same preservation incentive-powered office development will come before the board next Wednesday to see if it, too, should qualify for the next round of deeper scrutiny as a possible Capitol Hill architectural landmark.

CHS typically climbs through the reports on neighborhood proposals — you’ll find the White Motor Company report prepared on behalf of the developer at the bottom of this post — but this time, we’re turning things over to Andrew Haas.

Inspired by the early good prospects for the Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company building next door and wanting to do more to save intact the last of Pike/Pine’s auto row structures, Haas is hoping to organize a large community response prior to the December 17th meeting of the landmarks board that will feature a hearing and public comment on the White Motor building. UPDATE: Kelly-Springfield, the home today of Value Village, moves to the next round in the process in early January.

UPDATE 12/17/14: Responding to issues surrounding the removal of historical, decorative elements of the building (covered here by CHS), two City Council members have sent a letter to the landmarks board asking that “the alterations” not “impact” the review of the building’s historical significance:

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.46.16 PM

Haas’s case for preservation and details on how you can weigh in on possible landmarks status is below.

Historic Preservation of Auto Row Buildings on Pike and Pine
– Andrew Haas

I am organizing to save a couple historic gems of Pike Pine’s auto row district, fix the broken landmark designation process, and stop the defacement of historic buildings by owners/developers trying to avoid landmark designation. As you are well aware, the bulldozers are destroying the heart and soul of the Pike Pine neighborhood. A showdown is about to occur that could be a major turning point. The Kelly-Springfield Motor Building and the White Motor Building, two of the finest remaining historic auto showrooms, are coming before the Landmark Preservation Board December 17th at 3:30 pm. Both buildings are located on 11th Ave between Pike and Pine on Capitol Hill. Last month the Landmark Preservation Board voted to recommend the Kelly-Springfield Motor Building, REI’s center of operations for 33 years, as a historic landmark. This is the first auto row building on Capitol Hill to make it this far in the process. This is our only opportunity to protect these historic landmarks from the wrecking ball and our best opportunity to set a higher bar for the redevelopment of the Pike/Pine neighborhood.

Continue reading

#LoveTheHill or #OverTheHill, project examining past, present, future of the soul of neighborhood planned for empty Broadway building


Image of design concept courtesy of

Screenshot 2014-11-30 at 7.01.17 PM

Building interior (Image:

It may already be too late to save Capitol Hill’s soul, according to graphic designer and Hillebrity Gregory Smith. “I think it’s inevitable that it’ll be completely lost,” he says. “Once all these new [upscale apartment] buildings get filled with people, it’s going to be an Amazon hub — their work campus.”

But an era can end without being erased, which is why Smith, and fellow Seattle Central Creative Arts Academy student Jess Ornelas, will tell the story of Capitol Hill in an art installation at 1515 Broadway: its history, its present, and the hopes and fears of its residents for the future.

Tentatively titled “The Little Building That Could” and/or “Love the Hill,” the project will transform the community college’s “decrepit” building (next to Neighbours) into a site of public education and dialogue.

The Broadway building owned by the college was once home to Atlas Clothing and — for a time — all ages music. In early 2013, CHS reported that Seattle Central had iced plans to redevelop the property. Smith says the school planned to keep the building empty for at least a few years opening up the space for the planned installation project. Continue reading

Now showing: The Capitol Hill Developer Who Bought the Harvard Exit


(Image: Landmark Theatres)

The buyer of the historic, 1925-built building home to the Harvard Exit movie theater is a Capitol Hill developer and real estate investor who owns some of the most interesting properties in Seattle’s inner city.

CHS has learned that the real estate investment company owned by Scott Shapiro, the developer who helped create Melrose Market, is purchasing the three-story masonry building that has been home to cinema since the 1960s.Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.36.44 AM

Shapiro has not yet returned messages from CHS sent in recent weeks but construction permits filed with the city and people involved with businesses and organizations in the area have confirmed the involvement of Shapiro’s Eagle Rock Ventures. There is no public record, yet, of the sale. UPDATE: CHS received a text message from Shapiro’s number after posting this article: “no comment.”

CHS has not been told what comes next for the building after national chain Landmark Theatres moves out in January but it will most likely involve significant upgrades and changes inside the 90-year-old building. Continue reading

Here’s the plan for the development set to replace Broadway’s post office building

The "preferred" option: "The new building engages both E. Denny Way and Broadway E. with retail spaces at street level along the pedestrian way," the designers write. "It facilitates the pedestrian link between North and South Capitol Hill with an un-interrupted retail presence along the Broadway E. frontage."

The “preferred” option: “The new building engages both E. Denny Way and Broadway E. with retail spaces at street level along the pedestrian way,” the designers write. “It facilitates the pedestrian link between North and South Capitol Hill with an un-interrupted retail presence along the Broadway E. frontage.”

The Yeti Bar isn’t the only thing that has surfaced this week at Broadway and Denny. The developers of the mixed-used building have revealed the first early look at the project that will replace the structure home to Capitol Hill’s post office. Henbart and architects Studio Meng Strazzara will bring their design for the six-story, mixed-use building in front of the design review board Wednesday night.

CHS reported in August on the plans to move forward with the development following its 2012 purchase. A Henbart representative told CHS at the time that it was too early to say whether the US Postal Service would return to the corner after construction is completed in coming years. Meanwhile across Broadway, a handful of firms bidding to build the housing, commercial, and community space around Capitol Hill Station are readying their final proposals.

Unlike the station development, some of which will reach 85-feet high, the project planned to rise on the northwest corner of Broadway and Denny will be 65-feet tall, and will include 44 units, ground level retail and limited, four-stall surface parking accessed via the alley. There will be no underground parking for residents living across the street from one of the soon-to-be busiest public transportation hubs in the region. Continue reading

Central District’s farmers and boxers roll with the punches of more 23rd/Union development

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Last week, CHS told you about how the Central District farmers of Alleycat Acres are ready to roll with the tide of development reshaping parts of their home turf by finding new neighborhood land to tend — including new pocket farms scattered throughout the area. A plan for another Lake Union Partners mixed-use development at 23rd and Union is in the works. It will eventually claim the land home to one of the community farms, a gas station, and Cappy’s Boxing Gym.

“I feel really confident that we are in good shape to make this move,” owner Cap Kotz tells CHS.

This summer, CHS reported on a fundraising effort mounted to raise $15,000 to help the 15-year-old gym prepare for the transition. “We kind of knew something special was happening,” coach Anne Bailey said about the drive. “We were really moved by what people had to say about our gym.”

Kotz said he is on the hunt for a new home for Cappy’s and zeroing in on a location near S Jackson. The new space will be larger and Kotz plans to ink a longer, 10-year lease to help give his business stability.

Cappy’s first opened its doors in October, 1999. Kotz said that he used to teach boxing fitness to people around Seattle and it seemed like a good time for him to open up a gym. “I lived in Central District. I have lived here for 35 years. We first actually opened up on East Union Street, just two blocks up and we were there for a year and half and then we moved here because of bigger space and higher ceilings,” Kotz said.

The longtime home is nearing its eight count. The lease for the building expires in August, 2015. By then, Kotz is confident Cappy’s will still be fighting.

As far as development goes, the displacement on the northwest corner of 23rd and Union seems about as positive as possible for farmers and boxers. Drivers who need to fuel up? We’re betting you won’t see a new gas station in the area anytime soon.

You can learn more at

CHS Schemata | Bellevue, Bellevue, and Bellevue — Part 1



(Images: John Feit)

Buildings are relatively simple to write about.

They are objects within the landscape and as such are easy to quantitatively define easing the path to a qualitative assessment. Landscapes, on the other hand, can be more challenging as they are often composed of a seemingly infinite number of parts. The relative position between landscape and viewer can present challenges as well. Buildings typically has a front, back, and sides. The main facade, often where the entry is, usually grabs the most attention and is the view seen in glossy magazines. Landscape lacks such frontal qualities. What tree, hill, river, or plaza has a defined front (or back, for that matter)? While there are certainly advantageous views that elicit feelings of lesser or greater satisfaction, landscape’s ensemble of vegetation, geography, geology, buildings, and other characteristics make it more challenging to succinctly describe; yet, it is these very qualities that also make it more satisfying and emotionally evocative than most buildings.

It is these multifaceted and often elusive qualities that keep me writing about what I enjoy most about Capitol Hill, the amazing variety of landscapes both architectural and otherwise. Landscape is all encompassing, yet hard to distill to key points that are succinctly shared.

With landscapes as diverse as Pike/Pine and Volunteer Park, one would have to put conditions on what constitutes one’s favorite Capitol Hill landscape, such as: which is my favorite commercial street, distant view, or verdant park? Despite this inexorable taxonomical quandary, Bellevue, Bellevue, and Bellevue, on the northwest corner of the Hill, certainly presents opportunities to engage landscapes that are among the Hill’s finest.

Its charms are many — too many for just one post — so I start with with that quality which I think is the most noteworthy: the combination of both close-in and distant vistas as well as the variety of both natural and created landscapes that are all available for enjoyment within a two or three block area. Continue reading

Pike/Pine auto row-era home of Value Village makes it over first bump toward landmark protection

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 12.24.22 PMWith a boost from a neighborhood community group dedicated to Pike/Pine preservation and development issues, the auto row-era building home to Capitol Hill’s Value Village was deemed worthy of consideration for Seattle landmark protection.

The Seattle Landmarks Board voted last week to move the 1917-built Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company building to the next phase in the process. The members of the Ellison family behind Value Village and real estate developer Legacy Commercial are planning a 75-foot tall office building above street-level commercial space that would incorporate elements of the old structure and the neighboring White Motor Company building at the corner in exchange for development incentives in the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District. “We are hoping that the site is not determined to be a landmark to provide us the opportunity to realize our vision and the neighborhood’s vision for the block,” a spokesperson for the developer told CHS before last week’s vote. Continue reading