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Office Max plans new store on Broadway


CHS has learned that Office Max will occupy a marquee space on Broadway inside The Lyric development, a half-block project between Thomas and John. Earlier this month the electronics and office supply chain filed permits to begin outfitting a new store in part of 230 Broadway E’s 16,000 square feet of commercial space.

Spokane-based SRM Development is behind the new development. Representatives from SRM and Office Max have not yet responded to messages from CHS about the project.

The Lyric in a building promo shot (Image: The Lyric)

The Lyric in a building promo shot (Image: The Lyric)

The Lyric, a CHS advertiser, faced its share of backlash during the design review process in 2010, prompting complaints that the 7-story mixed use building was too big and too boxy. Julia’s owner Karsten Betd was an outspoken opponent of the project.

“This is not downtown Seattle,” Betd said during a 2010 design review meeting. “I suggest that the board walks around the QFC building. It’s shameful what went up in QFC. I hope that no one will move into the retail space.”

Supporters of local and independent shops likely won’t welcome the store with open arms, but Office Max will fill a gap in Capitol Hill’s retail mix — there is currently no dedicated office supply store in the neighborhood.8444104925_86c9bc4098_o

The previous building and lot were demolished in 2011. Former tenants Noah’s Bagel — in its Einstein Brothers format — and Bank of America have returned to the block once the project is finished. Cafe Septieme shuttered several months before its building was torn down, never to return. We’ll have more about some new food and drink activity in the project soon.

Office Max’s new home abuts the current Castle Megastore/Highline/Subway building. CHS recently reported on changes happening there, with Castle Megastore moving out at the end of the month and changes coming to Highline.

The building has also been bandied about as a possible home for a long-rumored Capitol Hill McDonald’s. We’ve heard no updates on that rumor at this time.

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95 thoughts on “Office Max plans new store on Broadway

  1. I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t embrace the hugely sterile, corporate chainification of Broadway! Isn’t that what we wanted? Our very own Office Max? To go with the FedEx store down the street!

  2. Ditto RJS.
    I’m going to go out of my way to not shop there and encourage friends not to. I don’t want to live next to a strip mall of mega stores. It is ugly for the neighborhood and ugly in spirit. I can deal with small versions of big companies, but giant spaces of single function utility just create islands of blandness from anywhere USA.

    • I think so. I dread having to make a special trip downtown to Office Depot, and end up having to wait until the weekend to go if I need something. I’d be happy to have a place I can stop by on the way home from work, or a short walk from my apartment.

      I can understand a dislike of chains on Broadway, but this is actually filling a void by offering something unique and needed by Cap Hill residents, unlike something like a corporate fast food restaurant…

      • Yes, I believe there is plenty of business to support this store.

        And all you bemoaning this chain store instead of a local store– has something been preventing a local from opening an office supply store on Broadway till now? You think this is squashing somebody’s plans to do so? How many more years should we wait for it? A local option is clearly not going to happen. Given a choice between a chain store and no store at all– I’ll go out on a limb and say I’ll take the chain. Don’t equate it to a McDonald’s or a Hooters– it’s not the same at all. This OfficeMax isn’t displacing anybody.

      • Actually, yeah, the size of the space. Large giant retail spaces in high $/ft areas are notoriously difficult for new unestablished players to work with. This is one of the reason that many people ask developers to make smaller spaces. Smaller spaces mean smaller rent, which encourages small businesses to open as it is easier to break even. Giant floor space like this 16,000 ft monstrosity can only ever be filled by giant corporate chains.

        They are the only players that can plomp down the cash an wait out the 3-5 or so years to turn a profit on the store, after paying the 30,000/month rent.

      • How many square feet is a monstrosity? 16,000 square feet retail is currently vacant or occupied by BoA and Noah’s. I don’t think OfficeMax will eat the rest.

      • Maybe someone will open an artisanal, locally-sourced office supply store, with rough-hewn wooden floors and things hanging on ‘rustic’ pegboard walls…then we can do boring supplies shopping without shame.

      • DB McWeeberton: Dude (I assume you’re a dude): I freaking love you and that comment.

        While no one wants to see Cap Hill completely taken over by soulless chains, the weird love for outrageously expensive stores selling crap no one needs, staffed by insufferable “unique” people that are bored by their customers’ existence is always a bit comical.

        And yes, this is a comment of extreme stereotypes used to illustrate a point.

      • Large chains that can pay exorbitant rent are displacing local stores in the same or different categories that can’t afford loss-leader locations that serve more as billboards than businesses. Single location stores cannot afford to have a negative cash flow. Multiple location retailers can.

        This type of retail gentrification only gains momentum as new buildings get built and only provide large retails spaces at high rents because the precedent has been set.

  3. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed ink or computer supplies on the hill and have to leave the neighborhood. I doubt a small retailer could fill that void because the margins are so low in the office supply business. I’d rather have an office max than a McDonalds though. That’s just what the Broadway and Olive crowd needs…

    • Yeah, to be honest I’m not thrilled, would rather have something neat and local… but what neat and local store is going to move into this massive new off broadway place? In the meantime everyone has to go downtown or up north to get ink, a cable, or some other random thing, because there’s no store for them here.

      The fact is in THIS case that local businesses have declined to provide office and electronics stuff for a long time and a big retailer is stepping in.

  4. Ewww, at least it’s not a bank, but might as well be one. Too bad it’s a single use store and not a City Target etc where we can get any number of goods. I mean, how many on the hill needs that big a selection of envelops and note pads?!?

      • There are tons of people on CapHill that have home-based businesses, or even that work at home for a couple of days a week from their job. Those people need office supplies too. Or are only super-stores for art supplies OK on CapHill?

      • Yep, that was my point. Yes, you won’t have 50 shades of yellow paper to choose from but anyone needing core office supplies at decent prices – Target has it covered.

      • That was the point of my question above. If people are willing to walk/bus down to Target, Office Max is right there on 4th and Pike. However, not everyone lives as close as I do to Downtown.

      • Oh, I mixed them up. It’s Office Depot Downtown.
        Office Max up here might actually get a good share of the market. They do sell other business supplies that other local stores don’t stock.

      • No, Target doesn’t sell everything OfficeMax sells. “Office Supplies” is more than 50 shades of yellow paper. OfficeMax or Staples also sell technology products, printers, computers, etc. which Target doesn’t. They have a selection that Target can’t possibly match. As somebody else mentioned, the whole office supplies business is notoriously low-margin. Everyone mouths devotion to local-sourced products, then they shop where it’s cheapest anyway. Do we really need some poor soul to attempt this, and lose their ass because in the end, nobody wants to pay the higher prices that would naturally come due to the smaller store’s inability to match scale? Please, spare me.

      • Agree with everything else you have said. But Target does sell computers, printers, etc. (maybe not the one in City Target downtown, don’t remember).

  5. What’s the problem? Do we need another coffee shop? I’m happy to have a place to buy office supplies! Bring ’em on!

  6. It’s not the office store I’ve got an issue with, as I agree with other posters that I’ve had to leave the neighborhood to get mine more than once. It’s the scale of this building. I don’t know how this box with dark insets, blocked by columns, for retail spaces got approved. There is no sense of scale. The entry way for the bagel place is so set back and windows blocked with columns that I didn’t even know it was there until I actually looked for it. This building is completely uninviting. The B of A’s odd hallway stretch and cubicle for ATM’s are another problem. You can’t actually see what’s here because of the dark insets that never get daylight. I can’t believe whoever designed it thought they did a good job or even still has a job for that matter. It’s almost like retail suicide on Broadway. I’d never put a business into this uninviting space.

    • So then, it’s good that OfficeMax is going in there? Who cares if an office supply store is “inviting”? I don’t. When shopping for office supplies you don’t usually care too much about lingering. It could be a cave and people would still go there if they need office goods. Better this go in, than some other store that languishes because of crappy curb appeal.

    • I agree that the part of the Lyric on Broadway is uninviting, but the north and east sides are actually very nice, with benches for people to hang out on, and some pretty landscaping. A nice touch is that they saved the flowering trees along 10th Ave E…very beautiful in the spring.

      It looks like Office Max will be going into the space at the NE corner of the building, and that will be a pleasant place with lots of natural light.

  7. Love it! Too bad there aren’t many spaces on the hill big enough to accommodate more retail chains. It would be great if Rite Aid expands and get into one of these newer constructions

  8. It’s a shopping mall, with no consideration of its impact on the surrounding area. Broadway is turning into a stretch of large, chain-store storefronts. Of course the landlord loves this: why rent to 3 small independent businesses when you can rent to a large corporation with a long-term lease that’s 100% guaranteed.

    The city council needs to look at restricting the size of storefronts in our neighborhood business districts. This problem will not solve itself. We can use the design review process all we want, but it’s still going to result in shopping malls. They’re profitable. They kill the vitality of our neighborhoods.

    • Yo, you are a decade too late…if you wanted to stop such Vancouverish planning, you should of stopped these new developments from even being built…because once that happened, the boom on the Hill began, and dollars began to talk…

  9. This is just awful. This space was so much better as an asphalt parking lot – so much more architectural and cultural integrity. That parking lot really understood the hill and hill people.

    • This was a block of restaurants, independent businesses, and few residences. But that really isn’t relevant to the question at hand. The question is: how does the hill move forward?

      • Not really. This was an ugly Bank of America building, a parking lot, and a former ugly bank building converted into a bagel shop and offices. Now it is a Bank of America, a bagel shop, apparently an office supply chain, and a bunch of neighbors. The change is killing me.

      • It was also a decent pho shop, a bubble tea place, and Cafe Septieme. None of them were places I’d go to regularly, but I’ll go to them far more often than I would an Office Max.

    • The only thing good about the former area was the charming little house at the NW corner. Café Septieme was struggling and would have closed anyway. Pho places are a dime-a-dozen. The BOA was an ugly thing. Approximately 50% of the total square footage was a poorly-maintained parking lot.

      The Lyric is not perfect, but it is providing the much-ballyhooed urban density, and it’s a definite improvement over what was there before.

  10. I will play devils advocate regarding chains. For those that haven’t lived on the hill long we once had on Broadway:

    Payless Shoes
    Taco Bell
    Jack in the Box
    God Fathers Pizza
    Burger King
    And more

    We probably have less chain establishments today than we’ve had in the past 15 years. But I don’t want to see us go back there.

    I miss the Fred Myers tho. While the QFC has a decent supply of household items, it’s not the same. I get its nice to have access to a variety of supplies on the hill but we need multi-use retailers.

    • Aren’t Freddies and QFC both Kroger Brands? Is there really a big difference in selection now? I can get anything at that QFC — booze to meat to caulking and paint. Party at my house…

      • Yes, they’re he same corporate entity, though the Fred Meyer’s had much more in the way of housewares and other goods, and their prices were lower than QFC. Hence the real reason to change format– to raise prices.

      • Great point! There are way fewer chains on Broadway than 20 years ago for sure. And there were 2 Burger Kings! Chains just don’t seem to make it with a few exceptions. Just ask the owners of Qdoba. Office Max will do fine. There are actually a lot more offices on the hill than most people even realize and I know from experience working in one of them that getting office supplies on short notice can be quite a pain. Not to mention there are two colleges that will no doubt keep them in business.

    • Don’t forget Candy Tyme! :D

      The one thing those businesses all have in common is that they are all gone. Chain stores have been trying to make it on the Hill since I’ve lived here and never seem to be able to drum up enough business to make it work. I don’t expect this Office Max to be any different.

  11. I am not jazzed about this, but if it prevents McDonalds from occupying the space, then it’s a blessing of sorts. Yes, ideally the space would be occupied by an independent merchant or restaurant, but frankly that building, as someone commented above, is not at all inviting and I don’t see many small businesses being successful there.

    • I think the building is designed really well. Just because it’s not old doesn’t mean it’s ugly. The 10th Ave side is even better looking.

      It’s not like it’s the new building on Pine and Minor with those horse blinders. And if you want to see ugly you need only look across the street at those shitty shops nobody goes to in “Broadway Place” next to Rite Aid.

  12. Could it be that the ever-increasing costs imposed (by greedy developers) to lease or rent on the Hill and all over this city is preventing locals and longtime Seattleites from participating? In this election year, we all need to demand solutions from our so-called leaders to this spiraling upward cost of real estate, before Seattle loses what’s left of its soul.

    • The only answer to that is allowing higher than 6-stories construction, to make it cost-effective and keep property affordable. So are you saying you’re ok with that?

  13. I don’t have a problem with Office Max being on the Hill. So it’s a national corporation, big deal. If they provide a service that people on the Hill need, then they will survive and it will be ok. If it proves that the Hill doesn’t need this, then they’ll leave. We’ll see what happens. I personally don’t need much of what Office Max offers, but I also don’t consider this a blight on the neighborhood. I prefer this over yet another gastropub, burger joint, bar, or nightclub.

  14. More worried about the traffic plan than the chain store problem. Preserving the pedestrian quality of Broadway does not seem to fit well with a larger chain store.

    • People that need to park can easily drive to a bigger Office Max or Staples that has parking. This will be a great convenience to people who don’t want to, or can’t as easily leave the hill for their office needs. A lot easier than taking a bus downtown.

  15. For those who took the time to read the Capitol Hill Retail Study from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, this should come as no surprise, though it is no less disappointing. The study said we needed a “junior national chain” “like a petco or office max.”

    I’m not sure how a neighborhood with nearly zero office space will be able to support a cavernous office supply store. The last company I worked for moved off of capitol hill, and other than using the local print shop for business cards, we ordered all of our supplies from amazon. What person running a business really has the time to go and shop for a case of paper, or highlighters.

    • This is the only reference to junior national chains in the Broadway Retail Report, a reference that specifically notes that a proliferation of national chains is unlikely on Broadway:

      There are currently no available retail spaces within the
      Corridor in excess of 10,000 square feet. The limited
      size of available spaces precludes certain retail uses
      like general merchandisers, department stores, and
      traditionally sized junior anchors like PetCo and Staples
      from entering the market. Although there are no existing,
      or known projects within the Corridor with enough space
      to accommodate these types of uses, it is possible a new
      project will come to the market in the future.

    • “I’m not sure how a neighborhood with nearly zero office space will be able to support a cavernous office supply store.”

      Lots of people work from home one or more days a week, and in-office on other days. I personally know LOTS of people who have home offices (I do). It doesn’t necessarily their business needs to come from companies ordering tons of office supplies ongoing. They also sell printers, laptops, scanners, etc. Where else on CapHill can you buy those? Nowhere. The last computer store on CapHill vanished years ago due to slow business, because it couldn’t compete with the selection and prices of larger computer stores. Another case of people SAYING they prefer small businesses, but shopping where it’s cheapest.

    • Why on earth do we need a Petco when there are not one but TWO Mud Bay stores within an 8 block stretch? I love Mud Bay and shop at both of them regularly. I’d much rather give my money to a shop like Mud Bay than Petco. Petco would harm a small retailer like Mud Bay, the type and size of business many of us want to remain in the neighborhood, no?

      • I heartily agree, dod. I like the sales staff at Mud Bay and would far prefer to see my $$$ go to them than to Petco. The Petco in the U Dist. is sterile and when I went in there, I was not impressed with the staff. Mud Bay has everything my pets’ need and then some.

  16. Corporate chains and the proliferation of banks are destroying the personality and vitality of the neighborhood. Of course this is what they always do, turn lively areas of diversity into bland, same as everywhere else sterile zones no one wants to live in of visit. Landlords know they can get big bucks from the big corporations, and they actively if not intentionally conspire to drive out the small businesses that give our street character. We don’t need any more corporate thieves destroying our community.

  17. I really don’t understand what people don’t like about Joule or Lyric. I think the new buildings look great and are a huge huge huge improvement on the eyesores they replaced. I for one am thrilled that Office Max is coming to the neighborhood! It will be nice to have a place to walk in the neighborhood to buy office supplies and electronics, etc.

    I’ve lived on the hill for 19 years and I really don’t understand what all of the fuss is about with the new development. Time goes on, neighborhoods change with the times. Should we just stay stuck in the 1990’s for eternity?!

    I am genuinely baffled. Please someone explain why all of the resistance. If we want to create a sustainable city we have to stop the sprawl and start building up! These buildings have been great additions to the density of this neighborhood.

    • My take? They are hideous, they are generic, they don’t contribute to the community, they are financially inaccessible to what was the average hill resident, they brought in a lot of people who are not to my personal taste, they capitalize on the fact that people want to live in a vibrant happy community as they suck the lifeblood from that very community.

      I say this a lot on here and sorry if I sound like a broken record. But I am from NYC and I have seen how this shit ends (with me getting priced out of the city I love, and everything with any character getting ripped down and replaced by something soulless) . I said it years ago when they tore up the Pinke corridor and everyone was like “Oh no man, it will all be fine.” Well, it’s not fine. I don’t care about “staying in the 90s” or whatever, but I do care about affordable rents, and a diverse, artistic neighborhood. Change is fine but you can’t just pave over everything and put up a condo with a freaking Qdoba. Not if you want a city with any kind of interesting character.

      • I have lived on the Hill for 10 years and been spending time here for nearly 18 years. I’m with Rachel on this one.

        Additionally, the scale of the new buildings is way out of proportion with the character of the neighborhood. I’m all for density, but I would like to see blocks broken down into smaller/narrower buildings, with individualized character abutting one another, rather than an over-sized homogenous box of a building that dominates a single block.

      • I call BS on that really. Neither of those two buildings replaced any existing apartments and have added hundreds of units. It doesn’t matter what you put there, new construction will always have higher rents. There are still a ton of affordable places on the hill. I think the buildings look 100 times better than the buildings that were there before, especially where Joule and Brix are. But my preference is for modern. It’s all a matter of taste I guess. I also am thrilled to FINALLY have a place to buy electronics on the hill. I guess you can sit around and be pessimistic about how things used to be or you can just deal with reality and make the best out how things are. I personally love all of the new things happening on the hill and am excited for the next twenty years. Can’t wait for the light rail to open up.

      • I also can’t wait for Light Rail to open up. But I don’t share your irrationally rosy view about the future of the hill. And unless you are pretty wealthy, you probably won’t even be living here 20 years from now. People in this city are like willfully ignorant about the nature of gentrification. It happened in NYC, it happened in SF and it is happening here. People are being priced out of this neighborhood and everyone is like “La la la, the condos are so pretty, I love change, why are you standing in the way of change???” Development is great, but there have to be REAL (not just symbolic) protection for lower income residents. Convenience is great, but there has to be a balance with character. If you don’t agree, lets just open a freaking Walmart and Target and Best Buy and Old Navy and then you can tell me how great this neighborhood is.

      • The concept of smaller narrower buildings is ridiculous. If you think rents are higher now they would be astronomical if developers had to pay for plans for 20 buildings instead of just one or two. Seriously, do the math.

      • You’re correct, Rich, in that the current construction costs and permitting requirements contribute to the changing face of Capitol Hill. I am not suggesting 20 buildings in the place of one or two. That’s just silly. But I do think that breaking down one of these over-sized buildings into 2 or 3 individual structures is not unreasonable and with revised zoning requirements it could be feasible with a willing developer. That BMW redevelopment plan, for instance, is INSANE in its consolidation. In either scenario, I believe displacement will continue to occur without government intervention.

      • Light rail is going in one block South of the Lyric. If you don’t like density near Broadway, move away. This NIMBY crap is ridiculous. And who the hell are you to say that the people in these buildings don’t contribute to the community? In addition, I know for a fact that the Lyric has rent subsidies so that people with lower incomes can live there. Most large developments do.

      • Who am I? Just a member of this community stating my opinion. An opinion that I was ASKED FOR. I am interested in more info re: the Lyric’s rent subsidies as I have been unable to find that information on line (this is not sarcasm, I would like to know more ). In NYC a lot of these buildings offer some tiny scant percentage of lower income apartments and it’s a joke, just done to get around regulations. I love density, and I am excited for Light Rail (even if that raises rents, I still feel like it is a positive thing for the community, in that it allows as all to get around). But I think there are better ways to do density than to build large, ugly buildings that long time residents could never hope to afford to live in. And this “Love it or leave it” crap? Franky, that is such an obnoxious and irrational attitude. I love this neighborhood and I can say how I feel about the changes that are occurring here and give my input in hopes of molding those changes in some way.

      • Rachel, I can tell you are a thoughtful person and really care about our neighborhood. But I’m not sure what you mean by a business such as Office Max “not contributing to the community.” If it provides some jobs, and products that Capitol Hill residents need in a convenient location, isn’t that business then a positive for “the community”?

        I also disagree with your opinion that people are being pushed out of the neighborhood because they can’t afford rent. There are really quite a few options for lower-income people….older buildings; Seattle Housing and Senior Housing, multiple Capitol Hill Housing buildings….and, to come in a few years at the light rail station, a significant percentage of subsidized units.

      • I just moved and was actually able to find an apartment that was cheaper. The key to surviving on the hill is pounding the pavement. The affordable buildings don’t advertise on CL or, they don’t have to, they rely on word of mouth from current tenants and resident managers friends. There are a ton of affordable or at least reasonably priced apartments on Capitol Hill, but you gotta work for them.

        We’ll never agree regarding the aesthetics, because I believe that Brix, Joule and Lyric are all a huge improvement aesthetically over what was there. We will also not agree on the evilness of corporations. The fact is that there is a much smaller “corporate” presence on the hill now than at any other time since I moved here in 1994. And mom and pops are really not all they are made out to be. Anyone who thinks mom and pops don’t abuse their labor force as much if not more than corporations is living in huge denial.

        Change is coming one way or another. We can’t move east, we have to build up. We can agree to disagree on the how. I’m glad that you love the hill as much as I do though and appreciate the discussion. But the buildings are build or are going to be built, so now we just have to deal with that and move on.

  18. P.S. I know it’s Pine/Pike, but I just like to call it Pinke since I can never tell those two streets apart, even though I have been here for a decade now. Hehe.

    • I know this is old, but you can remember it because “PiNe” is the Northnern-most of the two and it has an “N” in it.

  19. Since no one has said it yet, I am mildly amused by all of the folks who complain about going all the way downtown to get office supplies or who are concerned about parking. Get on a bus, people. Downtown is only 1-2 miles away from just about everywhere on the Hill! And if you’re concerned about carrying your haul on the bus, get a Zipcar/Car to Go. It’s not that hard, people!

    • I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to have things you need located closer to where you live. If we can have 15 different places to get coffee or buy dog food (or places we can do both) we can have one office supply store.

      • Thank you. “Shop local” doesn’t have to only include artisanal coffee and cheeses. Shop local can also include the same store, in YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, that you can get to by walking. Is anything greener than walking?

  20. The Castle/Highline/Subway building needes to be torn down and replaced by a 10-story, open sided, parking garage. Also, we need a Wendys on Broadway…chili and Frostys, YUM!!

  21. Also, I wish the developers of the Bauhaus block would contact Wal-Mart to build there. Wal-Mart could build their tallest store here, 10-12 storys, with a Cafe to make up for the loss of Bauhaus.

  22. Instead of corporate OfficeMax we should push for a local business like Sam’s Club. They are local in many neighborhoods of America. Then, when Sam’s is established as a beloved local institution, people will welcome a Walmart at the new 10th & Union development.

    Only then will I feel comfortable in Capitol Hill, as real American businesses move in. Praise God for allowing these changes for the better in the new America!

    • Thank you! I mean, there are different versions of density! I am so sick of getting this “Well, you hate density” attitude whenever I complain about a condo or a chain.

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  24. All the bitching about chain stores get’s so tired and old. Where can you go to buy office supplies on the hill now? Nowhere at least not anywhere that carries the selection an OfficeMax will and it brings jobs.

    • And sterility and lack of diversity…that is what everyone who remembers what real neighborhoods were like misses. Instead of Office Max we could have had multiple small businesses selling many of the same products, not all in one big tent location, where we really don’t have the selection that was available not that long ago.

      Granted, the problem is much larger, fewer and fewer outlets offering the same products from the same suppliers at much the same price and little choice because large corporations have bought or driven out competition at all levels. Small businesses can’t compete when the supply chain is driven by mega stores for all the reasons others have cited.

      Capitalism was supposed to give us nearly limitless choices, yet I dare you to walk into any group of large chain stores selling similar items and find much difference between them. The corporate model is sterile, lacks diversity, and does not bring people into our neighborhood to shop for the unique when they can go six blocks to get the same, cheap crap anywhere else.

  25. Don’t forget Radio Shack. Use to be at the north end of Broadway back in the 70s-80s

    Corporate Stores Gone from Broadway:
    Radio Shack
    Fred Meyer
    Burger King
    Taco Bell
    Jack in the Box
    Diesel Store

    Im sure there are more that I am forgetting..

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