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‘A medical use’ — First Hill’s Museum of Museums arts venue hits city permitting snag

(Image: MoM Seattle)

As a classic Capitol Hill arts venue returns to service this weekend, a new venue being shaped out the medical office-filled landscape of First Hill won’t make its planned February debut.

The Museum of Museums project set to repurpose an unused Swedish Health Services office building on First Hill at Boylston and Broadway has hit a permitting snag with the city, the project’s backer Greg Lundgren announced earlier this week:

Due to some late in the game zoning issues on our top floor, we have no choice but to postpone our planned February opening. We are working with the city to find a path forward, and expect to resolve this issue soon. We sincerely apologize to the artists of our first exhibits and supporters of MoM, but please know we are doing everything we can to make MoM awesome and open.

CHS broke the news on the latest Lundgren project in June as the entrepreneur behind Vito’sThe Hideout, and art production company Vital 5 Productions detailed his plans for the three-story, midcentury building that belongs to Swedish and for years operated as a medical office and retail space selling prosthetics for people with breast cancer and most recently a storage facility. The building stood empty for at least a year.

According to city permit filings, the issues that have delayed the opening relate to requirements around permitted uses in the building. Art and retail uses in the building’s basement — facing Broadway on the First Hill slope — and its Boylston first level are within the city’s limits for the property. After earlier delays over those requirements, issues raised in January focused on the museum’s third floor where Lundgren had planned artist studios but permitting currently only allows “a medical use.”

“Please provide more information on how the scope of work on the third level meets this definition,” the city’s letter on the issue reads. “Otherwise, please remove the third floor from the project scope.”

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig also talked with Lundgren about the delay.

View this post on Instagram

We are so excited and proud of all that MoM has become over the past 13 months. Swedish Hospital has been an incredible landlord and our vision and programming just seems to get brighter and broader every day. Thank you for your support, encouragement and outreach – it really means the world. Due to some late in the game zoning issues on our top floor, we have no choice but to postpone our planned February opening. We are working with the city to find a path forward, and expect to resolve this issue soon. We sincerely apologize to the artists of our first exhibits and supporters of MoM, but please know we are doing everything we can to make MoM awesome and open. Stay tuned! We will get over this bump and help usher in a bold new chapter of contemporary art in Seattle. #museumofmuseums #seattleart #aintnomountainhighenough

A post shared by Museum of Museums (@momartseattle) on

While its vision is not quite the same as the Fred event space, the addition of MoM to the area could certainly help soften the blow of the coming loss of the E Olive Way venue.

Meanwhile, MoM will continue to host pop-ups and the occasional vintage or rummage sale while Lundgren works things out with the city.

Follow the Museum of Museums, located at 900 Boylston Ave, via Instagram for updates @momartseattle.


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