In spring of 2012, CHS broke the news on a $9.2 million deal for Madison Development Group to acquire what we called at the time the Bauhaus block, the collection of property home to cafes, shops, and old school Capitol Hill apartments along E Pine at Melrose where the preservation incentive-boosted Excelsior Apartments stands today.
The news set off a new wave of “Capitol Hill is dead” that hasn’t really subsided. Another new ripple — this time on Pike — should add to the call.
A new listing from Paragon Real Estate investors shows that the 9,870 square feet of land currently home to Victrola’s E Pike cafe, corner bodega transformed into sushi restaurant Noren, and the dark recesses of nearly 40 years of Capitol Hill queer history and nightlife at the Seattle Eagle hit the market Friday for $9.9 million and is being touted as an “A+ trophy location” and “investment and development opportunity.”
“This offering presents the rare opportunity to develop one of the last remaining corner lots within 3 blocks of Downtown Seattle. Site is suitable for approximately 70-100 units plus commercial space,” the sales pitch reads.
Unlike the Bauhaus block news, this time CHS is reporting on the earliest step in the process of massive change. A sale and development will take years. And, yes, of course, “everything is for sale.” But the listing moves the clock on this particular block of Capitol Hill culture and history ahead at least a few ticks.
The property has been owned since 2011 by a corporation registered to a Mukilteo real estate investor who purchased the 1909-built stretch of E Pike for $3.15 million.
Hun Lee has also invested in transforming the old Benson’s Grocery on the eastern end of the property into Noren, his Japanese restaurant that features everything from sushi to burgers.
Before Lee’s purchase of the property, Victrola Coffee moved onto the block 2005 as it overhauled an auto row-era garage into a roastery. In 2017, CHS reported on Victrola’s move of its major roasting operations off of E Pike though it planned to continue small-batch roasting at the location.
Lee is also the landlord for Capitol Hill gay bar classic the Eagle next door. Soon to mark 40 years on Capitol Hill, the Seattle Eagle opened in 1980, replacing a “a mid-century lounge” called Le Chateau. The landmark bar is now one of two culturally and historically important gay venues on the market potential development on Capitol Hill. Broadway’s Neighbours hit market for $6.9 million to start the year. Former LGBTQ hangout the Broadway Grill, meanwhile, could be back in motion after that property was purchased by a prolific Capitol Hill real estate investor and developer for $3.2 million this winter.
Meanwhile, it is the season for big development site deals. Last month, a collection of E Olive Way commercial buildings including the home of the Fred Wildlife Refuge event space was purchased by Vancouver, B.C.-based developer Low Tide Properties for $21 million.
Dan Ollis, head of Whidbey Coffee, the company that operates Victrola, told CHS there wasn’t much to say about the listing at this time and we have not heard back from ownership at the Eagle. We’re told the property hitting the market wasn’t too surprising but that the businesses were not informed of the start of the sales process.
The sales packet for the property includes details on the leases and how much rent each tenant pays, pictures from inside the buildings, though none inside the Eagle, and also “preliminary feasibility” studies for potential redevelopment — including one option that shows development potential if the old auto row-era structures are torn down and another for if the “character” structures are maintained under the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District‘s preservation incentive program which gives developers the ability to build taller in exchange for preserving the street facing facade and basic dimensions of the old buildings..
On E Pike, the incentives for developers considering the $9.9 million price tag have been made even more clear as developer Wolff Company just sold off the preservation incentive boosted, and built on the bones of the old BMW dealership Pike/Pine Motorworks development for $128.3 million, the most expensive Capitol Hill apartment development transaction CHS has ever reported.
BECOME A 'PAY WHAT YOU CAN' CHS SUBSCRIBER TODAY: Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.