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County mulling four plans to preserve First Hill’s art deco Harborview Hall

The details of four proposals part of a preservation effort underway on First Hill have been made public as officials and conservation-minded developers work to save Harboview Hall from the wrecker’s ball. The City of Seattle has determined the 95,000 square-foot, 1931 building which stands empty across the street from Harborview Medical Center at 300 9th Ave can be demolished to make way for a plaza.

But the Daily Journal of Commerce has details of four proposals to preserve the art deco era building

County spokesman Cameron Satterfield said County Executive Dow Constantine is optimistic there might be an affordable way to save Harborview Hall.

The county has hired a consultant to assist with an economic assessment of the proposals, and that should go to Constantine in the next three weeks.

Constantine expects to make a recommendation by mid-November to the committee that oversees the medical center. The committee will decide whether to issue a request for proposals for redevelopment of Harborview Hall or to demolish it, Satterfield said.

Harborview Hall Seattle, WA, originally uploaded by Seth Gaines.

Because the proposals for the county-owned building are still in “active procurement,” King County can’t yet release specifics of the plans. The full article is behind the DJC’s paywall but here’s a summary of the information DJC was able to gather on the proposals. 

  • Low Income Housing Institute with Goodman Real Estate — … Sharon Lee, executive director of the Low Income Housing Institute, said her organization and Goodman propose converting Harborview Hall to 145 apartments. It would have studios, and one- and two-bedroom units, including 20 for homeless veterans. There would also be community space, fitness areas and a business center…
  • Wright Runstad & Co. — … Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad & Co., declined to detail his firm’s plan, also citing the active procurement. But he said the redevelopment “would accommodate hospital and medical-related uses,” but would not include housing. He said it remains to be seen if his firm would have a partner…
  • Seneca Group — … Seneca Group also declined to give specifics of its plan, but Principal Craig Norsen said it’s more similar to Wright Runstad’s than to LIHI’s…
  • Sabey Corp. — .. Sabey Corp. declined to outline its plan, saying it had been asked to wait until the county reviews it…

Harborview Hall Seattle, WA2,
originally uploaded by Seth Gaines.

This summer, Crosscut waxed excited about the building’s preservation potential:

This property’s profile is one that historic building developers would get pretty excited about.  The building has no debt.  It has a great floor plan for many uses, with a high ratio of window wall to floor area.  It is historically intact in terms of the basic architectural elements.  It is located in the middle of First Hill, within walking distance of downtown.  Harborview Hall could potentially be renovated for housing, hotel, office, educational space, or medical offices.  Instead of spending over $6 million on demolition and creating a “plaza,” that money could contribute to the renovation of this great building to create a valuable asset that would benefit taxpayers for generations to come.

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Food 4 Thought
9 years ago

This county owned property is just blocks from the county owned Juvenile Court buildings that the county says need to be replaced. Why not move the court functions to this property, and sell off the court property to cover renovation costs?

Lara Behnert
9 years ago

I’m not a huge fan of architectural preservation just because things are old, but this is an exceptionally beautiful building that provides a richness to the fabric of the neighborhood. I hope someone finds a good use for this place, it’s an older vision of what modern looks like that deserves to stand next to our current takes on the same.

Lara Behnert
9 years ago

Wait, that’s brilliant! I live right by that building and I feel for the plight of the workers in that building, it would be great to see them go into a nice, non-floody space nearby.

It’s such a good idea because this might give them a stop-gap solution that would allow them to figure out a great new plan for that facility that serves them AND the neighborhood. It’s been quite a ride over here thinking that they were going to tear out the park space and build low income housing, then that they were going to move out entirely, and now, back to no progress whatsoever!

Hope they will consider your idea!

9 years ago

the preservation of an intact landmark such as this would not even be a question. Why are we so different that we routinely take a wrecking ball to our architecture. Re-purposing, and therefore preserving, a well maintained, debt free landmark is not only the best, cheapest and smartest option, it’s really the only option.

9 years ago

I work in the building next door. I can appreciate the preservationist sentiment, but I for one was really looking forward to having a decent public outdoor space in the neighborhood. There is literally no place to sit outside on the rare and wonderful beautiful days to have lunch or a coffee for the thousands of people that work right around here.

Rob K
9 years ago

other than the park on the west side of the building?

9 years ago

Is it worth the cost to create open space for “rare” days with decent weather?

HH is seismically unsound and unfit for human habitation. The whole art deco style gives me the creeps. That building looks like a morgue.

Redevlop the site into something useful that adds value to the campus and compliments the surrounding neighborhood. Soon, high end, market rate housing with go up next door at the SHA Yesler Terrace site. And SU has plans to build an arena and affordable housing nearer their campus.

This site should provide an amenity to the Harborview campus as well as a compliment to the broader revitalization efforts. No housing. Who wants to live on a county hospital campus?

I’m sure they can sneak in some public and limited open spaces to enjoy those rare sunny days.

9 years ago

It would make for a perfect old-style hotel like the Sarrento or Inn at Virginia Mason! One in which families can stay (for a fair price) if a loved one is across the street in the hospital.

It’s not good for housing though. Plus there’s low income housing all around Harborview already.

: How can you work in the building next door an not know about View Park? Duh! The VIEW PARK west of the hospital is huge with lots of seating and has an awesome view.

9 years ago

I like the hotel idea… Something market rate that would draw people to the neighborhood besides the down-and-out would be such a pleasant change from the myriad low-income services that already clog this neighborhood, especially along the #3/4 bus route.

Julie Stohlman
9 years ago

Harborview Hall seems to be a ready- made part of the answer to homelessness in Seattle. We do have a significant problem of homelessness here and I would be excited to see an existing building of this caliber dedicated to helping provide shelter for many who are now on the streets.

Emmett McCormick
9 years ago


It is great to see that there are going to be serious efforts made to hopefully saving Harborview Hall finally!

Wow, thanks to the community minded developers first of all, and to the wonderful, thought provoking suggestions being made to all of those people making comments about this story on this web site.

Emmett McCormick

Dotty Decoster
9 years ago

These are unusually nice photographs of the building — kudos!

9 years ago

The Harborview emergency room is right across the street from this building, and is extremely busy, with frequent ambulances approaching the facility. Would there be a market for upscale apartments in such a noisy environment? I for one would sure not want to live there, so maybe it makes more sense to preserve it for some kind of offices, or perhaps a medical research facility.