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New home for Ada’s Technical Books — and cafe — takes shape on Capitol Hill

Inside the new Ada's (Image: Board and Vellum)

Inside the new Ada’s (Image: Board and Vellum)

With new businesses and new development coming to 15th Ave, there’s another mixed-use project underway in the midst of the bustle of this Capitol Hill urban village.

Hulton (Image: Ada's)

Hulton (Image: Ada’s)

Ada’s Technical Books, after growing up on Broadway, is creating a new bookstore and cafe space that will reclaim a longtime home for Hill bookworms while transforming the space into something altogether new.

“The main thing is renovating the house and wanting to keep that,” Danielle Hulton tells CHS about the project to rebuild the old house that was once home to Horizon Books, the oldest used bookstore in the city at the time of its closure in March 2011. “It was in quite the state. Mold, cracking ceilings. We’re cleaning that up. It really has the layout of a house — but the goal is to make it feel like a retail space.”

Last summer, we told you about Hulton’s early plans for a new Ada’s location as the store unveiled the mother of all yarn-bombings to let people know about the new project.

With completion slated for this fall, the new Ada’s will incorporate a bookstore, a cafe and space for additional ventures — to be announced.

Ada’s, by the way, is a CHS advertiser.

Designed by Board and Vellum and being built by Model Re-Model, the project includes overhauling the 1922 house and creating a new adjoining structure behind it. There will be more space for books, plus the new cafe space and also room for events and community gatherings.BOOKSTORE

The old roof getting some work on a rare sunny April day (Image: Ada's)

The old roof getting some work on a rare sunny April day (Image: Ada’s)

CAFE-BARThe investment is not insignificant. For the property alone, Hulton paid more than $900,000 for the old house in the middle of the 15th Ave E commercial district that sat empt for a few years as the investors that owned it held out for a premium on the parcel. The final price tag? $908,010. We still haven’t asked about that ten bucks.

Hulton said the growth of Ada’s justified the investment.

“We’re basically on plan,” she said. “In the book industry, part of being able to exist is actually having more space.”

Having successfully built a strong business serving the technical book niche in Seattle, Hulton said an expanded venue was necessary to address the greater hopes she has for Ada’s.

“The goal was to build community,” she said. “The current location is small and hard to provide space. We’ll have more space for people to just hang out and read.”

[mappress mapid=”60″]As for the cafe, expect it to be integrated into the Ada’s experience with food available at all hours the store is open and a focus on lunch. Beer and wine could be on the menu, depending on how things work out with potential other tenants Hulton is hoping to include in the project.

You can also expect to see a few familiar faces from Capitol Hill food and drink making the cafe work. “I have a pretty great team of people — all working in the community,” Hulton said.

Hulton, who lives in the neighborhood, hopes the project stays on track and is open in time for the holidays. She says she used to walk by the fenced-off and empty Horizon Books and is proud to be bringing the house back to life. That she is doing so with a bookstore-related project adds to the pride. Here’s a list, by the way, of Hill indie bookstores past. Meanwhile, even a non-indie will join that list later this summer when Half Price Books Capitol Hill closes. Hulton’s new project, on the other hand, seems to borrow a page or two from the success of Elliott Bay Book Company as it celebrates its 40th year of business in Seattle.

Meanwhile on 15th Ave E, keep your eyes peeled for more artful surprises at Ada’s site as the opening approaches. But no more yarn bombs — that’s already been done.

You can learn more about Ada’s at

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10 thoughts on “New home for Ada’s Technical Books — and cafe — takes shape on Capitol Hill

  1. Thank you, Ms. Hulton! You are making our neighborhood better with your bold venture, and I wish you all the luck in the world.

  2. So in between cafe ladro and victrola, and across the street from starbucks and a tea shop, we have another cafe? Interesting to see how it works out.

  3. It’s great this house will be a bookstore again. Best wishes to Ada’s Technical Books.

    Pistil Books is celebrating our 20th year in business this year – 7 1/2 years in what is now Bimbo’s on Pike, and 12 years as an online-only bookstore.

    We’ll be having a book sale/ potlatch /potluck /party in August, so stay tuned.

  4. With all the new housing going in on the West side of 15th Ave, we’ll have plenty of people to fill this space.

    I wish them the very best and look forward to visiting.

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