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Thanks a lot, landmarks board: The Stranger staying on Capitol Hill

Tim Keck's future office

Tim Keck’s future office

Shit’s a landmark

What kind of Lord Baby Jesus takes the Value Village away while allowing alt-weekly The Stranger to stay?

That’s the question nearly most of Capitol Hill is asking itself Monday morning after the Friday-afternoon-before-Halloween news dump in which the longtime Capitol Hill-based media and entertainment services conglomerate quietly announced it has backed off its threats to leave its dilapidated 11th Ave headquarters, signing a new lease that will keep the business in Pike/Pine through 2020.

By then Capitol Hill will have been declared “dead” a record 13 times.

“We were going to leave,” Keck told the Puget Sound Business Journal as it shared the announcement Friday, “but the historical designation … that gave us a chance to re-look at our plans of leaving.”

While re-look is not a real word, the building once home to the White Motor Company during Pike/Pine’s auto row era was, indeed, designated a protected landmark earlier this year — both inside and out — thanks to its place in auto row history and the early days of REI.

In statements likely written while breakfasting, Keck tells CHS:

First off, the moment I signed our lease I emailed the staff about it because I wanted them to hear about it from me rather than read about it on CHS first. CHS is Capitol Hill Omniscience.
1) Clarification: The Seattle Weekly is Seattle’s true Alternative Weekly. The Stranger is what the Seattle Weekly is “alternative” to.
2) Hire: no, but she seemed nice.
3) Yes. The Stranger is to Seattle as the biggest ball of Twine is to Cawker City, Kansas.
4) Newsprint prices are flatter than hammered shit.
5) Yes.

Question 5) was “Want to buy CHS?” — you can sort out the rest.

In 2014, Keck told CHS the company behind The Stranger and its associated publishing and ticketing businesses including around 50 employees was slated to move out by February 2016 after more than 15 years in the building and more than 20 on Capitol Hill. “We’re looking around the market, Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill. We want to be where the action is,” Keck said. “We’ve been on the Hill forever, but if we can’t be on the Hill, we can’t be on the Hill.”

The Stranger announcement comes only days after CHS broke the news that Bellevue-based thrift store chain Value Village/Savers is shutting down its neighboring 11th Ave location due to “certain business conditions.”

A representative from developer Legacy Commercial, owned by Tom Ellison who also serves as the chairman of the board for Value Village/Savers and is owner of the 11th Ave buildings home to the store and The Stranger, told CHS that the company is still moving forward with plans for a preservation incentive-boosted 75-foot high office and mixed-use development that will incorporate the two landmark protected, auto row-era structures.

The representative told CHS he expected the project to begin moving forward again with plans incorporating the preservation of the landmarked features of the buildings — the exteriors of both along with the interior trusses of the built-to-last building home to alt-weekly — in 2016 with construction following in the next year or so.

That schedule for the development would still put The Stranger crew and its 10,000 square feet of needed office space on the move at some point before 2020. In the meantime, the giant Value Village space will be available for a short-term retail tenant after the store closes on November 7th. Maybe The Stranger can shuffle its operations back and forth between the White Motor Company building and the old Value Village space during construction.


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10 thoughts on “Thanks a lot, landmarks board: The Stranger staying on Capitol Hill” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. Justin, you aren’t seriously considering selling out CHS to TheStranger, are you? It already has an over-sized influence on Capitol Hill. It is critical that CHS remain an independent voice for our neighborhood!