A 1905-built Broadway building home to neighborhood restaurants and 14 upstairs apartment units might just have won a reprieve that will keep it standing amid a wave of housing and retail redevelopment around Capitol Hill Station.
The city’s landmarks board voted to extend protections Wednesday to the Capitol Crest building, the auto row-era home to Annapurna and Albacha restaurants, the Ace Barber Shop, as well as the handful of apartment units planned to be demolished to make way for a planned mixed-use project from Champion Development.
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Good news! The landmarks board voted 6 to 3 in favor of designating Avon (Capitol Crest) Apartments at 1831-1835 Broadway as a city landmark! This Seattle-Centric style building was built in 1905 and designed by architect William P White. #seattlelandmark #seattlehistory #capitolhillseattle
George Ma, the building’s owner, tells CHS it is too early to say what would come next for the building but he said that “obviously” any protections likely would bring an end to his plans to redevelop the property.
Sujan Sharma of Annapurna was also cautious to celebrate until he heard more from his landlord. He said the restaurant has been on a month to month lease and that its search for a new home has far been unsuccessful. In summer of 2015, Annapurna celebrated their Yeti Bar expansion after surviving years of nearby light rail construction and fully aware of the plans for their block that have been in motion since 2013.
CHS first reported on the impending doom for the 1905-built Capitol Crest building back in 2016. The project to create a new development with a mix of 50 market rate apartment units above 3,500 square feet of space for a store or a restaurant on the property started the design review process back in 2017 but has been on pause since.
Meanwhile, four seven-story buildings are under construction around Capitol Hill Station and set to open later this year creating hundreds of new affordable and market rate homes, a new community plaza, and thousands of square feet of retail space — including a new 16,000-square-foot H Mart — on the busy block in the heart of Broadway. Demand is so great for Station House’s 110 fully affordable units that more than 1,300 people have applied to live in the building on the northeast corner of the station development site, nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing says. Meanwhile, a market rate development project south of the station site replacing the old Bonney Watson mortuary will add another 200 apartments and 16,000 square feet of commercial space to the area.
Originally known as the Avon Apartments, the city’s historical sites database describes the structure as “one of the older large buildings remaining on Broadway” but notes “it has been significantly altered” — often a death knell in the landmarks process.
In December when the landmarks board decided to take up the nomination, the focus was on preserving the building’s exterior, a board representative said.
There is reason to be cautiously optimistic for Annapurna and its neighbors. First, the specific controls of the protections must be approved by the board and then approved, again, by the Seattle City Council. Those controls and limits could result in a full scuttling of the planned redevelopment or a transition to a landmarks-friendly overhaul.
There are also examples where the landmarks protections took a back seat to money and growth. In 2018, Sound Mental Health was allowed to tear down the landmarks-protected Galbraith House at 17th and Howell after making the case that preserving the property was financially unsound.
But it’s not an easy argument to mount in Capitol Hill’s still-hot real estate market. A representative for the real estate investment company that owns the White Motor Company at 11th and Pine that will be home to the Stranger for only a few more months told CHS that its plans for a major redevelopment of the block that would have included a large “upscale” grocery store were scuttled when the board extended protections to the 11th Ave buildings it owns. In that case, the dollars and growth lost out to auto row preservation.
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