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One of Broadway’s ‘earliest extant buildings’ the next facing demolition plans in wave of redevelopment — UPDATE

(Image: CHS)

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:

Project Description:


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37 thoughts on “One of Broadway’s ‘earliest extant buildings’ the next facing demolition plans in wave of redevelopment — UPDATE

  1. Broadway is quickly becoming nothing more than a suburban strip mall filled with generic stores, dentists offices, and banks. This is just another nail in the slowly closing coffin.

    • ?!? QFC, UPS, Dominoes, Chase, chipotle, gamestop, panera bread, metro pcs, t-mbobile, rite aid, chase #2, QFC #2.

      The above places mentioned were all there 10 years ago when I first moved to Seattle. When you say quickly, can you elaborate on your timeline? panera bread actually closed a few years back so you could almost argue the opposite is true.

      • People seem to forget that most of the places lost on Broadway closed because we stopped patronizing them. Not because of development. Every new building on Broadway is an exponential improvement of the blight that was there before it. In the 90’s there was a Gap, Panda Express (briefly), two Burger Kings, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Payless Shoes, Fred Meyer, QFC, Safeway, Urban Outfitters, and a Hot Topic, etc. I mean, talk about a suburban strip mall!

    • Spoken by a Capitol Hill newbie. I’ve been here 40 years. Fast food chain restaurants-gone. Empty litter filled lots-developed. Why do we need a funeral home? The new building will likely be more appropriate to the neighborhood. Here’s the deal. A static neighborhood is a dead neighborhood. Embrace the new. And don’t worry. When you’ve been here 40 years the newbies will be complaining about how the Hill is gone to crap. The cycle continues.

      • Complaining about the new wave of stuff by people who rode on the old wave of stuff might as well be the subtext on the city seal.

        It’s a venerated tradition.

      • I recall when the funeral home was going away how these people argued it was killing a Capitol Hill “institution,” because that particular funeral home took care of LGBT people who died of AIDS during the late-80s and 90s.

        Okay, so great for them. Esp. at a time when anyone and anything having to do with HIV was treated like some sort of medieval leper.

        However….

        That somehow means we need to keep the space as-is. now and forever?

        Treat a failing funerary business as some sort of sacred space?

        Not redevelop a prime lot on a main thoroughfare (!!!!)?

        Apparently, the answer was “yes.” But, of course, the real answer goes like “your views are poorly thought out and moronic and don’t even deserve consideration. Demolition approved!”

        The idiocy and rhetorical emptiness of the anti-development crowd in this city is never-ending (see, for example the truly moronic arguments against the SAAM expansion and the ongoing resistance to the PCC in Madison Valley).

        Ugh. Thank goodness these people keep losing.

    • I remember when I was younger (I’m not that old), and Capitol Hill was chock-full of actually authentic businesses!

      I fondly recall the Jack in the Box on Broadway!

      It was–authentically–the grossest, dirtiest JITB I have ever seen!

      And the junkies that permanently seemed to loiter there were SO AUTHENTIC!

      Oh, and the shitty QFC on a HUGE LOT with approx. 1 million parking spaces….so authentic!!!!

      Loved it!

      • Um, the QFC is now multi-story apartments (read: actual housing) and a bunch of smaller businesses facing the street.

        This is, apparently to you, not an improvement over the single-story cinderblock structure and adjacent acres of surface parking (read: asphalt as far as the eye could see and ill-maintained landscaping)?

        The Jack in the Box is no longer a health hazard both in terms of the fatty poisons served inside and the constant drug dealing outside, but rather (if I am not mistaken) was consumed by what is now Capitol Hill Station.

        So….how of any of this not an improvement?

        Or should we have said “f*&% it” to the LINK station, and made the former JITB an art installation for crappy Northwest artists?

        Since “Northwest artist” most often means “tasteless and talent-less middle aged white woman who makes ugly art from glass beads” I assume the final product would be bland and uninteresting at best, mildly offensive at worst.

  2. The new buildings around The Capitol Hill Station would be so much better with some upper floor set backs. The blank flat non-modulating facades are lifeless, the developers could do so much better!

      • Absolutely. If you are within a 5 minute walk of the light rail, we should be looking at 10 to 20 stories, not a mere 7. Look to vancouver as an example. The fact that we are missing this once-in-a-life-time opportunity to add thousands of units of housing in close proximity to the light rail is a shame. And that we should keep 1 and 2 story buildings on broadway, rather than build taller buildings with more house… ugh.

      • They are tall enough. I just have to say it: the pro-development-at-any-cost crowd, who want a very tall building on every lot, are just plain greedy. Broadway is fast becoming an unfriendly canyon, and more tall buildings would make it even more so.

      • Agree 100% and the same could be said for all of the stations not just Broadway. This doesn’t mean 20 story buildings for blocks on end, but within a 3-4 block radius of each station there should be enhanced density, like Vancouver, with a step down of 6-7 story buildings for another 4-6 blocks depending on geography. It is a sensible way to make the most out of the billions of dollars we’re investing in car free transportation, while balancing both the pro-growth/density voices and those who want to preserve lower density areas. But rational planning and compromise are both sadly well out of favor right now.

    • Agreed. Broadway is turning into a canyon, thanks to rampant greed on the part of developers, with collusion by the city and those who think that we can’t build enough new housing.

      Respecting the past is important. This is a very nice old building and cries out for landmark protection…..hopefully this will happen, if the Landmarks Board has any sense at all.

    • It’s so sad. You would think we would get used to it but it still hurts every time a new demolition is announced. For people criticizing those of us who lament the changes . . . whether you see it or not, the character of our neighborhood is being torn down brick by brick and replaced with generic, characterless buildings and businesses. For those of us who have been here for decades and don’t want to live in anytown USA its heartbreaking.

  3. Hi All — I am currently involved with ownership and management of operations at the 229 Broadway/815 E Thomas Building and I can assure you that there are no immediate or near-term plans for redevelopment of the building. Capitol Hill is a wonderful neighborhood and the building ownership is happy to be a part of the fabric that makes up the community. Nonetheless, homeless camping, needles, garbage, human feces, food waste, debris, graffiti, and other constant violations of the building challenge us on a daily basis.

    • How can you assure the people that there are “no plans for redevelopment “ . Did you read the article Sydney? As a tenant for 29 years of this building it is alarming to hear this from an article rather than property management.

    • “…. I can assure you that there are no immediate or near-term plans for redevelopment of the building.”

      It sounds like you may be planning redevelopment a few years from now. I hope I am wrong, but if not I hope the Landmarks Board will put an end to your plans.

    • Build a shelter and help the homeless instead of complaining all the time. Vote for candidates that help their healthcare…

      Sorry I don’t feel sorry for landlords who are scum to the homeless…I will work to make sure you get less money.

    • If homelessness is such a concern for you, I hope you are doing things, like supporting the Amazon tax, that will bring more money into our city to help the people hurt by the systematic causes that create homelessness.

  4. A Statement from the Owner of the Wilshire Building:

    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.

  5. I guess I’m confused. The City of Seattle “Building & Land Use Pre-Application” link provided in the CHS article is pretty clear . . .

    Application Information
    Project type
    I’m constructing a new building: Yes
    I’m making additions or changes to an existing building: Yes
    I’m tearing down a building: Yes

    . . . maybe it’s an issue of semantics (“There are no immediate or short-term plans to redevelop the building . . .”)? Either way, thanks to CHS (as always) for keeping us in the loop.

  6. Dear Wilshire Building Owners:

    Do you know what would look awesome on that corner? Planet Hollywood! Or maybe Hard Rock Cafe! Or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.!

    Think about it. You have tech bros hurling axes across the street, wannabe billionaires fine dining at Altura just a few blocks north, and pints of ice cream selling for double digits over on Pike/Pine. It would be perfect!

    The first round of ‘Whiskey Bacon Jam Sliders’ are on me!

    Please and thank you.

      • I don’t blame people for selling their homes, although I wish they wouldn’t do so. But they are doing so because they are being offered large amounts of money (much more than their home is worth, tax-wise) from greedy developers who don’t care about the neighborhood and just want to make some $$$$. Blame the developers, and the city authorities who collude with them.

      • The people selling their properties know exactly who they are selling it to (developers) and exactly what will be done with it (dense housing).

        So if you have some wacky conspiracy that the City and Developers are in cahoots to ruin Bob’s narrow opinion of what HIS city should look like, you should absolutely blame and lump the sellers into that basket.

  7. “There are no immediate or short-term plans to redevelop the building.”

    Translation, please keep paying rent and subsidizing our building until we’re ready to kick you out and redevelop.

    RIP Mud Bay, Scream barber, Jai Thai restaurant, and several other long term locally owned small businesses, sacrificed on the altar of techbro fueled gentrification.

  8. Let me guess…replace this charming old building with…a big box, small windows, some sort of obnoxious accent color design, and ground floor retail that will remain mostly empty except one sterile/overpriced juice bar. Sounds great.

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