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Elliott Bay Book Company-friendly buyer found for Capitol Hill’s Ford Building

(Image: Hunters Capital)

(Image: Hunters Capital)

Hunters Capital, owners of the Ford Building, which houses Elliott Bay Book Company, the Little Oddfellows cafe, and fashion retailer Totokaelo, have found a likely buyer for the property.

Jill Cronauer, Chief Operating Officer with Hunters, said the company has a letter of intent with a local buyer.

“It’s not some big, national conglomerate,” Mike Oaksmith, director of development at Hunters said at a Monday Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council meeting.

The potential buyer’s identity and any agreements on price are under wraps for now.

“We’re pretty excited with the buyer that we’ve engaged with — they’re local, family-owned and have great visions for the building which is keeping it,” Cronauer said.

CHS reported in February on the decision to take bids on the property home to the popular Capitol Hill bookstore. If the sale goes through and the buyer does decide to redevelop it, the building is eligible for Pike/Pine’s preservation incentives which provide potentially lucrative extra height and bulk bonuses for saving building facades of character structures.

Hunters had a variety of offers from potential buyers and as a part of their decision when choosing a variety the company consider the types of properties the possible buyers already owned.

The buyer Hunters has chosen owns other older buildings in Seattle as well. “It was a nice fit,” Oaksmith said.

Elliott Bay Book Company’s situation appears to remain firm on 10th Ave.

“We’re invested in the neighborhood more than anybody,” Oaksmith said. “The last thing we want to do is see Elliott Bay leave. We really were careful about that.”

Elliott Bay owner Peter Aaron previously told CHS that he’ll miss “the best commercial landlord I’ve ever dealt with,” but that the bookstore is well positioned for any change of building ownership. Aaron said Elliott Bay is in the midst of a “long term” lease — “more than 10 years is what I’m comfortable saying,” Aaron told CHS.

Word spread in February that the Ford Building, the 97-year-old former auto row warehouse had been put on the market touting its “100% leased” status, its place as a “prime Capitol Hill retail creative space,” and its hosting of an “iconic master tenant.”

Hunters Capital owns at least eight major properties across the Hill and is currently at work on a seismic upgrade and overhaul to add a restaurant and rooftop bar project to the Colman Automotive Building at Pine and Bellevue. Along 10th Ave, it also owns the masonry 1000 E Pike Building home to Poquitos.

Hunters founder Michael Malone purchased the 10th Ave Ford Building in 1987 for $551,000, according to King County records. In 2010, the developer helped push Pike/Pine’s growth as an entertainment and shopping district to a new rung when he overhauled the old warehouse into a new home for Pioneer Square-born Elliott Bay Book Company. Capitol Hill architect and Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council leader John Feit wrote here on CHS in 2012 on the overhaul.

The agreement on a deal adds to a busy 2017 for real estate activity on 10th Ave. Earlier in February, CHS reported on plans from Midby Companies to purchase and overhaul the 1908-built Odd Fellows building next door.

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Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
3 years ago

This seems like good news as far as Elliott Bay staying put. But what if the new owners want to “redevelop” the building? The bookstore would have to close for an extended period of time. But they do have a lease, so does that mean the redevelopment would have to wait until the lease was up?

3 years ago
Reply to  Bob Knudson

With a long term lease, they are probably safe. The new owner would need to buy their lease to redevelop.