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Perpetually broken Harvard Market escalator to be replaced (with stairs)

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Harvard Market shopping center developer Morris Groberman has had enough.

“Truly sad, but economically we could not keep it in operation; every time we fixed it, it was destroyed / vandalized,” Groberman tells CHS about his decision to finally kill off the notoriously broken escalator on the northeast corner of the shopping center at Broadway and Pike.

CHS looked at the history of the Harvard Market development here in 2010. Built as an old-school, parking lot-focused shopping center in the mid-90s, the project continues to be home to a mix of national and regional chains and local independents above a giant grocery store. And, for much of that time, the Harvard Market escalator has been unable to perform its duties of delivering shoppers up and down from the corner of Broadway and Pike.

This time, the fix will be permanent. Harvard Market will spend $160,000 changing the escalator to a staircase, according to a permit filed with the city. Groberman said yet another costly repair — $20,000 — and immediate return to broken status for the troubled escalator was the last straw.

In spring of 2012, we asked Groberman why the escalator connecting the sidewalk to the center’s upper level of stores and parking was always broken:

“We’ve spent a quarter of a million — $250,000 — repairing the escalator and the elevator,” Harvard Market partner Morris Groberman tells CHS. “Just when we think we have them fixed…” Groberman trails off. ”They’re very sensitive escalators.”

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20 thoughts on “Perpetually broken Harvard Market escalator to be replaced (with stairs)

    • “Harvard Market will spend $160,000 changing the [broken staircase] to a staircase.” That kind of money sure could buy a lot more nice things…sigh

  1. What a terribly designed plaza/building in general.

    Why close the Broadway door at 9pm? Why isn’t the Broadway door the *main* entrance into the store? Put all the cash registers there! Install multiple Target-like elevators made for moving people and carts quickly, rather than the rickety old one they currently have.

    And don’t get me started on the terrible Harvard-street entrance. A small door leads into a bench sitting area for homeless people, usually blocked by one or two carts that have been remotely deactivated and cannot be moved. You then you snake left through a tiny chokepoint onto a narrow ramp, running into more deactivated carts and people trying to exit the store. Finally get to the shelves by awkwardly walking through the checkout lines.

    The Harvard Market is one building I would *LOVE* to see razed and replaced with one of these tall hip urban mixed-use density BS buildings that Seattle loves to build. Same goes for the Safeway, QFC, and Walgreens on 15th. Instead we tear down Piecora’s?

    • It has nothing to do with that and has everything to do with making the most money you can with the property you have. It’s the reason you have so many cookie-cutter 5/1 buildings all over the city. A landlord would much rather get multiple times the rental for per square footage on a 5/1 than a spread out single story store which is why there’s no more North Broadway Safeway.

      • If the Harvard Market, 15th Safeway, 15th QFC etc. were designed or revamped today they’d look a whole lot different. Apartments, offices, outdoor areas, etc. (Similar to the Safeway on 23rd/Madison, but hopefully a whole lot less ugly).

        All designed to make money. So the current design of HM isn’t optimized for making money, it’s just that shutting down the grocery store for 9 months of renovation would lose a lot.

      • I don’t see anything wrong with the Safeway at 23rd, it just stands out because there are few building that height around. I’d prefer having 2-3 buildings with different styles in the same block, rather than one, but the height and style are OK. In 5-10 years it will blend in perfectly.

      • It’s a hideous mix of architectural styles; tiny balconies, brick, colors, stucco, gabled roofs.

        In 5-10 years it (and other “seattle-ugly” buildings) will stick out like a sore thumb, the same way we look at terrible apartment buildings from the 70s.

      • Right, but it’s only a security issue because of the design of the building. If the entire block were redesigned today with the new focus on urban pedestrians it would look very different.

    • The Harvard avenue entrance used to be a lot better. There was a set of stairs where the platform is. Much easier to get in. They remodeled that away a number of years ago for more floor space.

  2. The article is correct that in the whole time that Harvard Market has been in existence the escalator has had problems. From the very week that HM opened it had problems since some wiseass decided that it would be fun to constantly press the emergency stop button whenever they wanted a jolly. Then again if your attitude is that you won’t fix anything til it breaks down Harvard Market had that in spades. Most commercial places with escalators have *weekly* maintenance where they vacuum and do other routine maintenance (such as BofA downtown.) Unfortunately, the HM escalator never had that. Telling the truth I’m not quite sure what the management company really does except take in rental payments. The QFC door has been constantly hitting against a support now for several months and no one seems to care much about it.

  3. “An escalator can never break–it can only become stairs. You would never see an ‘Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order’ sign, just ‘Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience. We apologize for the fact that you can still get up there.'”
    -Mitch Hedberg

    Mitch clearly never visited Harvard Market.

  4. Good riddance. The whole Harvard Market strip mall is a failed experiment to introduce suburban style strip mall architecture to the Hill. It’s always been jarring and out of place in the neighborhood. The whole block needs to be rebooted to more urban pedestrian style. Keep the strip mall parking lots in the Eastside where they belong.

  5. I liked it better when it was a large printing facility.

    There was an alley and a parking lot in back and we would go back there after the Brass Door (long gone gay bar) would close and drink and smoke lots of pot.

    Fun times!

    • Jeff — so you are the one who left the pot smell there when I came to work in the morning when the old Interchecks building was there. Always wondered — thanks — the contact high was good.

  6. Broken escalators don’t work well as stairs if you’re not tall. Escalators have deeper risers than stairs and are difficult for shorter folks to walk up. As far as the back door being more secure, they need to do something to change that–I have complained several times–it is insecure for shoppers who are exiting in the middle of a slow traffic side street surrounded by sketchy people who hang out there or urinate in the stairwell nearby instead of Broadway which gets more traffic and is less isolated. I never shop there once the Broadway door is closed if I can help it. Not very safe at all!

  7. my artwork is in the window at the back entrance of QFC. It gives all the nuts something to look at…..please steal a piece and then I will be famous just like Picasso………..

  8. How to stop the vandalism?.. Good question.. there’s a lot of jerks who don’t care about the neighborhood. It’s either this or tagging… awful….