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The Stranger building next for Capitol Hill mixed-use redevelopment plans

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Part of the rapid changes underway in Pike/Pine, another of the area’s signature buildings will likely be swept up in the wave of mixed-use development that continues to reshape the heart of Capitol Hill. CHS has learned that owners of the 1021 E Pine building — home to The Stranger and a coming-soon bar project — are in the early stages of planning for a new development project that will include new ground level retail space, office space, and residential units. The three-story, green-and-white structure built in 1906 is the former home to the Velo Bike Shop and has been home to the offices of the alternative weekly since the ’90s.

Will Nelson, who’s managing the building with Bellevue-based property owners Legacy Companies, said that project planning is only in the incubation stage.

The size and scope of the new project are still being hashed out and construction wouldn’t get underway for at least few years, Nelson said. Nelson did tell CHS that Legacy is leaning towards building a relatively small number of residential units and spec office space, meaning offices without any pre-planned tenants. Nelson said Legacy wants to add to the daytime atmosphere of Pike/Pine, which he said has declined in recent years with the area’s increased nightlife focus.

Dirt won’t be moving anytime soon on the project partially because the building’s current tenants still have two to three years on their leases. Nelson said Legacy is very happy with The Stranger and incoming bar owner, Patric Gabre-Kidan.

Situated in-between Cal Anderson Park and Capitol Hill’s densest nightlife blocks, the 1906-built 11th and Pine building is one of the last significant older buildings yet to be redeveloped in in the area.

Across 11th, the Sunset Electric building is scheduled to open next year with 89 residential units, new commercial space, and underground parking. Add to that the 250 residential units going up at 10th and Union and the potential redevelopment of the Rancho Bravo property.

Nelson tells CHS that Legacy would almost certainly use preservation incentives at 11th and Pine to incorporate the building’s unique facade in exchange for a larger project.The incentives give developers the option to build bigger projects if they preserve certain character structures within the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District.”We’re in love with this building,” Nelson said.

CHS reported in early September about plans for the “Big Fun” bar to move into the former Velo space. Patric Gabre-Kidan, formerly of the Book Bindery and the Ethan Stowell empire, described the concept-less concept for the bar in an email to The Stranger: “So the idea was simply to open a bar. Everything has gotten overconceptualized these days… The only thing that we want to do is have fun at what we do.”

A person familiar with the business told CHS that Big Fun owners were aware of the potential for redevelopment at the building given their short term lease, and shaped their plans accordingly. Nelson said it was too early to know if Big Fun or any other bar would be a long-term tenant in the building.

The Sunset Electric building will soon rise in completed form across 11th Ave

The Sunset Electric building will soon rise in completed form across 11th Ave

Last year CHS reported that grocery store chain Metropolitan Market was eying 11th and Pine for a new location. A representative had confirmed the store conducted phone surveys to gauge support for a new grocery store in Capitol Hill. At the time, Sunset Electric developers told CHS they were not interested in a grocery store tenant, leaving Legacy’s Pine building as another option on the block.

Nelson would only say Legacy had no leases signed or any definitive plans for future tenants.

Legacy purchased the E Pine building in 2006 for $4.07 million. The Bellevue-based company owns a slew of properties across the Puget Sound, the western U.S., and Canada. Legacy currently lists five Seattle properties on its website. However the company has developed others, including a 200-unit residential community in West Seattle called Youngstown Flats. UPDATE: Developed by a *different* Legacy — sorry for the error. Legacy is also the owner and operator of Value Village. Nelson said the Value Village on 11th is currently not slated for redevelopment.

UPDATE: The Value Village building and 1021 E Pine were once home to REI’s “grand” 11th Ave showroom. Long ago, the corner was home to Colyear Motor Sales.

Meanwhile, scheduled building maintenance continues inside and outside The Stranger offices, another signal that a mixed-use overhaul with new spec offices won’t be starting soon.

UPDATE: The Stranger publisher Tim Keck offered CHS his earnest assessment of the situation:

It’s not going to happen. You’re telling me someone is seriously going to build on a former Capitol Hill bike shop and The Stranger’s old office? Who would want to live there? You want to wake up next to a revolting pile of beard hair that smells like Fernet and American Spirits? You will! Because your crib is going to be crawling with hipster ghosts. And good luck getting Savage and Nipper out of there because I’m not going to be the one to tell them we’re moving. And what are you going to do with Mudede’s bog/desk-that thing has been slowly burning for over a decade.
It’s like building a diner on a decommissioned bath house. It’s just not a good idea.

(Editor’s note: This story has been modified from its original version to more accurately reflect the position of Legacy Companies.)

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17 thoughts on “The Stranger building next for Capitol Hill mixed-use redevelopment plans

  1. I’m glad development of the Stranger building is still years off. I hope they will leave the façade of the three floors looking much the same as now in return for one extra floor of height on the new upper floors.

  2. Does anyone know why a bunch of bits and pieces were removed from the beautiful building recently? You can see them missing in the photo in this article. Check the corner facing the camera, then look at the bits missing above the ground floor.

    • That typically happens so the building is less likely to be designated as historic. I knew the building would be slated for development as soon as I saw those crews removing features in the middle of the night.

    • Stranger didn’t even link to their own article commenting on removing the bits (and I can’t seem to find it either)…

      We knew it was up for development as soon as the facade was massacred. They want to use development incentives for preserving the facade of the Character Structure to gain additional FAR and height to support it. BUT. They don’t want the Landmark Board to be able to give the building Landmark Status, otherwise they can’t alter the interior as they please. Pretty straightforward reasoning.
      What we can only hope for (no bated breath here) is that they will “revitilize” the exterior to gain extra incentives, and actually put back the bits they just removed.
      P.S. – to be clear, I support the redevelopment and additional density in the neighborhood, but am abhorred by the destruction of architecturally significant building elements to manipulate the system. There are other ways, guys.

  3. Why no comment from anyone at the Stranger? Did they decline to comment? Seems odd to talk about the building without hearing from its most important tenant.

    • That sounded meaner than I intended. Just wanted to point out that some history had been left out. This will be important when we want to decide, as a community, if this is worthwhile.

      • Added a note above re: REI. I’ve heard it was actually the second location of REI up here — originally was lower on E Pine. Guess we’ll dig in when the time comes :)

    • Thanks for the shout out Ryan! Sorry I haven’t delivered on my promise to continue the second year of Re:Take. I do want to get back to it and I have a few mothballed articles I’ll pull out.

      On the plus side, I’ve put together a book called Lost Seattle that is coming out Dec 1, you can look it up on amazon (and then wait and buy it at Elliott Bay ;)

      Other projects I’ve been working on… Recently I’ve been scanning old family albums of Seattle, the surrounding area, and an African American labor battalion in World War One. You can check that out here:

      Also I have been doing an intense research project over the last few months pulling together the chronology of Seattle’s street clocks (think Ben Bridge and MOHAI). It’s the underpinnings for a book my friend is writing on the history of Joseph Mayer, Seattle’s clock maker. I think I’ll get some sort of co-credit but really don’t care. This book needs to be written and I won’t get to it for 30 years. Here’s a link for more info, . I am undercover as Rob Kethcherside.

  4. Interesting juxtaposition of this article following the previous one concerning crime in Cal Anderson Park (no, jseattle, that most assuredly was not intended as a snide comment, truly). Is new development supposed to have some sort of “clean-up” effect on the cesspool that is now known as CA Park or will the opposite occur?

  5. Thanks for reporting on the historic detail being stripped from this building – super nasty thing to do. The Stranger’s reported angrily about this kind of thing happening on other buildings downtown. Though today their news staff is publishing more on buzzworthy federal shutdown stuff, maybe they’ll talk about what their landlord did soon.

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