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One of Broadway’s last ‘key development opportunities,’ Bonney-Watson funeral home hits market

A Capitol Hill Station-inspired building boom seems likely to put the last best under-developed blocks of Broadway into motion. The Bonney-Watson funeral home and its big, empty parking lot are destined to join.

The company — Seattle’s oldest continuously operating business — announced Wednesday that it is putting its 14,000-square-foot Broadway property and the 20,000-square-foot parking lot just across Howell up for sale without a set price tag. The three parcels involved show a combined taxable value of around $7.8 million, according to King County records.

The Puget Sound Business Journal broke the news on the listing Wednesday but the story has been in motion for years. A 2013 report compiled by Kidder Mathews identified the property as one of the “key development opportunities” remaining on Broadway:

The Bonney Watson Funeral Home Site is a 14,080 square foot property containing a 19,810 square foot building just to the south of the future light rail station on Broadway; it also offers views of Cal Anderson Park. Bonney Watson also owns a 23,040 square foot surface parking lot directly to the north of the funeral home across East Howell Street.

The future for the property is undoubtedly mixed-use. Currently zoned for 65-foot height limits, any project on the site — or sites, depending on how any sale activity works out — will join a wave of development that has been in motion anticipating the spring 2016 opening of Capitol Hill Station. It is possible, however, that at least part of any new development on the properties might not include housing. Under HALA proposals, both sides of Broadway between Howell and E Roy are slated for an upzone that would allow for seven story buildings with commercial use throughout the entire building. Currently, commercial uses are only allowed in the first four stories. That could bring a large office project or (another?) hotel to the area.

Meanwhile, there are no records of any early permit activity for the addresses involved and the archives don’t reveal any scuttled development plans from the past.

Broadway around the light rail facility is set to go through a few more years of heavy construction. The design process will play out through this year to develop the four seven-story buildings including a combined 427 market-rate and affordable apartment units and more than 59,000 square feet of commercial and community space slated to rise around Capitol Hill Station.

UPDATE: We were able to ask Bonney-Watson management a few questions about the sale plans. Here are a few more details on the timing around the expected sale:

What is the expected timing for a sale?

We’ve asked in our listing that all offers be submitted by March 15. We expect that we will be under contract within 60 days and that the sale would close in late 2017 or early 2018. Until that time we will continue to operate from our Capitol Hill Location.

How much are you asking?

We’ve not identified an asking price in the listing. We’re open to proposals and will evaluate offers that come in by the March 15 submission deadline.

Why now?

The Bonney-Watson board of directors have been discussing the listing of the Capitol Hill location for the past three to five years, but it has never been the right time. We’ve determined that now is the best time to make this business decision.

Just as Capitol Hill is changing, the way in which we celebrate the lives of the people we’ve loved is also evolving. Families in the Seattle-area are leading the nation in choosing options like cremation, rather than a traditional funeral and burial.

Our Capitol Hill funeral home has a rich legacy of service to Capitol Hill and the surrounding communities, and that will not end. Our goal is to serve families from comfortable facilities, providing amenities that will allow them to have meaningful memorials and funeral celebrations. Through formal relationships with churches, community centers and other organizations, we will expand our ability to serve the needs of all families.

The news on the start of Bonney-Watson’s final exit from the neighborhood follows the demolition and redevelopment of its longtime Capitol Hill home at the site that eventually became Hugo Houseand will become the writing center again, soon. Bonney-Watson’s Seattle history dates to 1868. In 2013, CHS talked with CEO Cameron Smock about the history — and future — of the funeral home. When Smock joined Bonney-Watson as a funeral director and embalmer nearly 30 years ago, he told CHS, the company handled about 600 deaths annually at its Broadway location. In recent years, that number had dropped to around 350 as demographics shifted and traditions changed. A higher percentage of services also shifted to cremation, Smock said — a lower cost alternative,

“This neighborhood has changed dramatically,” Smock told CHS at the time. “Our business was built on the families who built their families on Capitol Hill. Many of them have left.”

Developers interested in Capitol Hill projects, on the other hand, seem like they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Last week, CHS broke the news on a prospective new buyer and overhaul project lined up for Pike/Pine’s historic Odd Fellows building.

Meanwhile in the big picture of Broadway redevelopment, if you are wondering what might come next for the street, let’s flip open that Kidder Mathews real estate report again. With a Bonney-Watson sale, the only big chunk of land left on the “key development opportunities” identified in 2013 is “The Teriyaki Wok Site.” Ladies and gentlemen, start your bidding.

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11 thoughts on “One of Broadway’s last ‘key development opportunities,’ Bonney-Watson funeral home hits market

  1. My sister died in June, and I chose Bonney-Watson to deal with her remains. There were some complications in the ordeal, none of which were their fault, but they were very compassionate in their dealings with the issue.

    Thank you for your service to our community.

  2. Very thoughtful response and decision-making from the Bonney Watson folks. I wish them well.

    Not looking forward to the inevitable monolith that will take its place, but whatevs.

    • No worse than whatever is already happening at Pine Box. (On the other hand, that long-ago mortuary on 1st Ave between Sonya’s and Coupe Rokei seems to kill whatever business tries to go in there).

  3. Much gratitude to the Broadway Bonney-Watson folks for how they handled my mom’s passing in 2008. They were very kind, professional and compassionate. Sorry to see them go but this is not surprising and has been coming for years.