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Two-story penthouse slated to top Baker Linen in seismic overhaul of 1916-built Pike/Pine building

(Image: Dunn and Hobbes)

Capitol Hill developer Liz Dunn has new plans for the historic Baker Linen building home to Retrofit Home and Cafe Pettirosso.

Centered around a full seismic overhaul of the 108-year-old building at 11th and Pike, the plans for the new design include the construction of penthouse apartments office space on top of the historical H.W. Baker Linen Supply Co. building and redesign of a freight elevator inside the building.

According to a representative for the Dunn and Hobbes project speaking at a recent meeting of the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, the goal of the changes is to improve the building while still incorporating the unique character that makes the structure “stand out in the neighborhood.” Dunn and Hobbes feel “confident that the building will be landmarked,” and that the integrity of the former automotive building will stay intact.

UPDATE: Dunn tells CHS that there is currently no timeline for the project’s construction and that the project hinges on the city’s passage of mandatory unreinforced masonry upgrade legislation.

The new project could also trigger Mandatory Housing Affordability requirements on the planned 8,000 square feet of new penthouse housing space. Correction: Dunn says the project likely would not trigger design review if the building is afforded landmark status.

Inside today’s Baker Linen office space

The addition of exclusive, high-end housing above Pike/Pine extends Dunn’s recent move away from standard apartments in her projects. Her preservation incentive-boosted Chophouse Row development next door to the Baker Linen building focused on new commercial space and offices with a set of high-end penthouses on top when it debuted in 2015. Dunn, known for her preservation-friendly developments, hasn’t fully reject multifamily style housing but seems more interested in its prospects outside of Pike/Pine and Capitol Hill. She is working on a new apartment building development for the property where Twilight Exit stands today on E Cherry.

Dunn acquired the Baker Linen building for $5.4 million in 2014. The Dunn and Hobbes website describes the history of the auto row structure:

The Baker Linen Building was built in 1916 as the new headquarters for the Seattle Automotive Company. Sonke Sonnichsen, an architect from Norway, designed the building for Mary Liebeck, a German immigrant who was an active developer and investor in real estate in Seattle in the early 1900’s. The building had several different auto-oriented tenants until the 1940’s when its use was transitioned from automotive to garment manufacturing. Between 1953 and 1983 the building was occupied by its longest-running tenant and namesake, the H.W. Baker Linen Company.

Recent tenants include Cafe Pettirosso, Retrofit Home, Cloud Studios, S+H Works Architecture & Design, Alo Moves, Fjuri and Corinth Engineering.

The building is one of dozens of unreinforced masonry structures across Capitol Hill and the city that require extensive and expensive seismic upgrades.

As part of the project, the building will add two stories. The freight elevator in the building is also being overhauled in light of safety measures surrounding potential earthquake dangers and precautions.

Though the building was first constructed to be part of the neighborhood’s flourishing auto row economy, the still visible H.W. BAKER LINEN CO. — HOTELS – MOTELS HOSPITALS INSTITUTIONS paint on the building’s exterior wall has helped that name stick. We’ll see if it survives future changes.

UPDATE: Though the county dates the building to 1911, Dunn says it was constructed in 1916. That’s the same year featured in this cool animation from the Capitol Hill Historical Society.


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10 thoughts on “Two-story penthouse slated to top Baker Linen in seismic overhaul of 1916-built Pike/Pine building

  1. The lovely building was for sale, and we who love the character of Pike/Pine should be relieved that the purchaser is a developer who over and again has set high standards for historic preservation and creative design in the neighborhood. It’s more expensive to preserve that handsome century-old building with its unreinforced masonry than to knock it down and start fresh—or worse, to let an earthquake do the work.

    Sidebar: It’s pretty charming that the building’s original developer in 1916 and Liz Dunn are both women—something not a lot more common now than it was back then.

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