“Our hope is that by developing the Value Village building mid block, its impact is much more acceptable to the neighborhood.”
It’s been almost a year since plans to redevelop the The Stranger and (former) Value Village buildings were stalled due to the 11th and E Pine buildings winning landmark status. Since then, developer Legacy Commercial has met twice with members of the Landmark Preservation Board to hammer out how its plans for an office and retail project can move forward while still complying with the landmark protections. It hasn’t been going so smoothly.
After two meetings with the Architectural Review Committee, preservation board members said Legacy was making little progress in addressing its concerns about the proposed preservation incentive-boosted 75-foot high office and mixed-use development incorporating the two auto row-era structures and a sunken parking lot. When Legacy submitted plans for a third meeting, they were turned away.
“The third briefing packet did not appear to contain any new information and I advised the applicant that another ARC could be scheduled when new alternatives or additional information was provided,” said Sarah Sodt, a coordinator for the Historic Preservation Program.
In Legacy’s latest proposal, the developers have entirely pulled away from building over The White Motor Company building and are focusing their efforts on developing the adjacent Kelly Springfield Motor Truck Company building Value Village called home for years.
ARC board members were most concerned with Legacy’s plans to add two stories over the White Motor at the corner of 11th and E Pine, according to informal minutes from the committee’s meetings. In order to make room for the floors above White Motor, Legacy and architects from Ankrom Moisan had proposed lowering the entire timber truss system inside the building, something ARC members also strongly opposed.
Last week developers submitted a new design packet that leaves the White Motor building untouched, which was enough to warrant a third turn before the ARC, like to be scheduled for December or January. “Our hope is that by developing the Value Village building mid block, its impact is much more acceptable to the neighborhood,” said Legacy’s Jeff Calvert.
Citing a gush of neighborhood support for preserving the buildings, the preservations board voted 9-0 in January to designate Kelly Springfield an official Seattle landmark. An early component of Seattle’s REI history and now home to The Stranger and the Rhino Room, the prominent terra cotta-faced building at 11th and Pine has stood at the corner since it was was constructed in 1918.
Later that month, the board voted to designate the White Motor building a landmark, again citing public support for preservation, the building’s auto row-era roots, and ties to one of the nation’s most widely known outdoor retailers. Unlike the Kelly Springfield building, which was only given exterior protections, White Motor was also awarded interior protections. The board was specifically interested in preserving the building’s original timber trusses.
Unfortunately for many, the board could not preserve the Capitol Hill landmark located inside Kelly Springfield. Value Village closed its doors after one last Halloween citing “certain business conditions” and a longtime month-to-month lease. Given the way meetings have progressed with ARC, it’s possible the giant, multi-floor retail space could remain empty for another year or more before any construction begins. Calvert said he’s hoping to find a retailer to take over the space for a short term lease.
Legacy Commercial is owned by Tom Ellison who also serves as the chairman of the board for the Value Village/Savers chain and is owner of the 11th Ave buildings involved in the project.
Construction isn’t likely to start until the end of next year at the earliest.
Meanwhile, The Stranger announced it would keep its space inside the White Motor building following the landmarks board decision through at least 2020. Publisher Tim Keck previously told CHS he was ready to leave the deteriorating third-floor offices.