Plans are in the early stages for a new development that could bring the demolition of “one of the earliest extant buildings in the Broadway business district,” according to a permit application filed with city planners.
The Wilshire Building, now home to a collection of businesses including restaurant Jai Thai and fashion and vintage retailer Revival Shop rising above the southwest corner of Broadway and Thomas dates to 1903. That is the same year Broadway was first paved.
Early development plans filed to start 2020 for real estate investors and developers Cannon Commercial call for “demolition of the existing buildings” and “construction of a new 7 story building consisting of 6 levels of multi-family over a ground level commercial with no parking.”
Changes like this will, of course, take time. Before eventual design review, development of the building will require a landmarks review process to determine what — if any — of the building’s historical elements should be preserved, a decision that could stave off demolition completely.
The city’s record of Seattle Historical Sites for the 229 Broadway E address makes a promising case:
This is one of the earliest extant buildings in the Broadway business district, dating from 1903, the year that Broadway was first paved and one year after nearby Broadway High School opened. The second floor was a sanitarium for many years, with access through the separate entry at the south end of the front façade. In the 1940s the upper floors became the Thompson Hospital, owned by Mrs. E. F. Thompson. The building and hospital were later purchased by the University of Washington. It has had a wide variety of other businesses over the years, including a pharmacy, a beverage store, a variety store and various restaurants. Dempsey’s Pharmacy was a long-time occupant of the corner storefront, succeeded by the Broadway Rexall Pharmacy. In recent years it has had apartments upstairs and a variety of restaurants on the ground floor. The building is connected at the rear to a second building, constructed in 1982. The newer structure is compatible in style and is distinctly separate from this building. It does not compromise the integrity of the original building.
If one recent decision is any indicator, the building should fare well in the process. Earlier this month, the landmarks board opted to preserve the Capitol Crest building, originally built as the Avon Apartments in 1905. The decision appears to have scuttled the building owner’s plans to redevelop the property currently home to the Annapurna restaurant and a small collection of businesses plus 14 upper floor apartment units.
Meanwhile, any landmarks restrictions could put a dent in a wave of new housing coming to the area. Broadway is bursting with much needed housing development. 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.
At Broadway and Thomas, it’s not clear what comes next. Cannon purchased the property in 2018 for $6.25 million from its longtime family ownership. For now, business as usual continues for the commercial tenants. Cannon has not responded to CHS requests for more information on the plans.
UPDATE 12:05 PM: In a statement sent to CHS, building ownership said there are no “immediate” plans for redevelopment and that they remain committed to their commercial tenants:
There are no immediate or short-term plans to redevelop the building. We are actively seeking a tenant for approximately 2,000 SF of vacant space in the building. For more information anyone interested should please get in touch with Cannon Commercial, who is handling leasing operations (their signs are posted in the building windows, for those familiar with the neighborhood). We are delighted to be a part of the urban fabric of Capitol Hill, we have a collection of great tenants that include: community retail, restaurant, two great salons, personal fitness, professional office, and other services. We have been actively trying to lease the building for over a year, that is our primary objective, and always has been, not redevelopment.
We’ve asked for more details about their decision now to begin the planning process for a redevelopment project:
Land Use Pre-App
Demolition of the existing buildings and construction of a new 7 story building consisting of 6 levels of multi-family over a ground level commercial with no parking
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