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A plan in COVID-19 limbo: Pike/Pine’s big Glossier Seattle showroom

A rendering of Glossier’s steamy pop-up on Broadway in 2019

While we’re uncertain how many neighborhood bars, restaurants, and shops we’ll find permanently closed as the COVID-19 crisis lifts, there are a few things to keep your fingers crossed for and to look forward to on the post-pandemic Capitol Hill — provided there is a post-pandemic Capitol Hill.

One center of this limbo of potential joy are plans for a new 7,000-square-foot Glossier showroom in the core of Pike/Pine on 10th Ave. But the hope hinges on a change of direction and overall recovery for the makeup and skincare company that shuttered its few stores around the globe this summer and furloughed employees to wait out the COVID-19 crisis.

It is possible the project could end up, instead, the center of things that could have been.


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The secretitive cosmetics and beauty brand won’t confirm the project and its status but city construction permits applied for last April and approved in June show plans for a “Seattle Showroom” project filling the Pike/Pine space left empty in the summer of 2019 when the Gary Manuel Aveda Institute moved two blocks west.

The “tenant improvements to ground floor retail in existing building” includes extensive work to upgrade the auto row-era brick building’s “brace parapets” in a project with a more than $600,000 base budget, according to city records.

These are interesting times for Capitol Hill real estate and development company Hunters Capital. It owns the 10th and Pike Seattle Automobile Company Building also home to Poquitos and Havana and the possible new Glossier along with a set of buildings and properties across the Hill. You can add whatever tenant drama is underway on 10th Ave to the issues Hunters is dealing with now on 15th Ave E where its largest tenant QFC just announced it is shutting down its grocery in April.

A Hunters Capital representative declined to comment on the Glossier showroom plans.

Glossier’s decision to begin a project last spring in Pike/Pine in itself is an interesting milestone for the neighborhood that — briefly? — put it on equal ground with areas like Melrose Place in Los Angeles. The 10th Ave location would share a street with Elliott Bay Book Company and the commercial tenants of the Odd Fellows Building as well as Rancho Bravo. The street also has an impending COVID-19 closure with Everyday Music announcing it will shutter its Capitol Hill location permanently in June.

Glossier got a taste for the Seattle market in the summer of 2019 with a much-hyped pop-up store on Broadway that drew long lines to the shop filled with Millennial pink, live plants and rolling turf hills.

Last March, Glossier temporarily shuttered its showrooms as the pandemic grew. But in August, the company moved quickly and closed down all of its stores in some of the world’s most high profile shopping districts.

“In recent months, it’s become clear that we will be living with the health and safety risks of COVID-19 for the remainder of 2020 and likely beyond,” the company said. “In light of this time horizon, we’ve made the difficult decision that we will not reopen our three stores this year, and possibly for the duration of the pandemic.”

CEO Emily Weiss’s statements around the closures don’t necessarily bode well for any new stores and the Pike/Pine project.

“As a digital-first company, we have always viewed our offline experiences as a channel for connection and community, and that mandate has not changed,” Weiss said in August. “We will keep working to find new formats for bringing joy to our community in this current environment, while reimagining Glossier retail for the future so that we can reopen with renewed creativity, energy, and scale when it is safe to do so.”

What comes next? The COVID-19 era has been like most times — predictable with periodic surprise. For now, it seems most likely the Capitol Hill with a glossy Glossier Seattle showroom will never be. But stranger things have happened. Meanwhile, the Glossier construction permit expires a few days before Christmas 2021.


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Glossier
Glossier
2 months ago

At least one good thing came out of this pandemic.