Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park Cafe says goodbye… for now?

(Image: Volunteer Park Cafe)

Nearly 14 years of baking and cafe goodness has come to an end at 17th and Galer where there is also an uncertain future for the 117-year-old house that stands there.

The Volunteer Park Cafe served its final batch of muffins, scones, and breakfast sandwiches over the weekend under owner Ericka Burke who announced the restaurant’s closure with a post celebrating the Biden-Harris victory while bidding a bittersweet farewell to the home and business:

It is a HAPPY SAD day. We have new president in the house and tomorrow will be our last day in this #littleyellowhouse. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye- it’s been a wild ride. Our hearts are filled with optimism about the future. It’s been 15 years of #alwaysfreshgoodness. We are excited as we move forward to find goodness in everything that crosses our paths. On this little corner we have experienced so much- joy, challenges, life, death, but most of all LOVE and FRIENDSHIP. For that we are immensely GRATEFUL. Thank you. To my VPC ride or die crew-thank you from the bottom of my heart. You all made VPC happen. I could have never done it without your talents, huge hearts, your scrappy determination. You are my family and you always will be. I LOVE you. We will see you on the flip side. Peace out and thank you for so many years of support!

The closure comes following the 17th and Galer’s cafe’s reopening in May after a temporary shutdown under COVID-19 restrictions that also threw a planned sale of the house and business into limbo. Continue reading

Street Critic | 17th Ave is as good as it gets

The Barbara Frietchie

The Barbara Frietchie

Great urban landscapes are typically comprised of a collection of good buildings and landscapes instead of superlative singular designs. 17th Ave, between E. Union and E. Spring, is just such a landscape and warrants a visit. On this stretch of 17th, one will find a half dozen apartment buildings which individually may stir only a passing (if admiring) glance, yet as an ensemble are a gift to behold. Many of the buildings were built (and perhaps designed?) by the same developer, Samuel Anderson, in the 1920s.

The most conspicuous of the apartments, owing both to its advantageous corner location at the intersection of 17th and E Spring and to its equally proud corner entry, is The Barbara Frietchie. It is one of the very few co-ops in Seattle. More common in New York City, co-ops were a form of apartment ownership that pre-dates condominiums. Perhaps its New York roots account for its being the most visible – ostentatious, even – of the bunch? Its unique quarter-round entry portico set in a subtractive corner is another feature that hints of its big-city aspirations. Continue reading

For $1.7M, you could be the next owner of the Volunteer Park Cafe (and live upstairs at 17th and Galer)

Will you be the next cafe owner at 17th and Galer? (Image: NWMLS)

It probably really is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” The 1904-built, two-story market and apartment these days known as the Volunteer Park Cafe is for sale. And, yes, the popular neighborhood cafe in the middle of some of Seattle’s most expensive residential real estate is part of the $1.7 million package.

“It’s a very, very unique deal. It’s so unique for the owner of the business to own the building as well in a location like this,” co-broker and Seattle commercial real estate expert Laura Miller tells CHS.

“The neighborhood should be really happy about the opportunity. It’s a great building,” Dustin Van Wyck, the other broker working on nailing down a deal for the property said.

“We’d love nothing more than to pass the torch along.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Gaffney House lined up for new life with overhaul from child care center owner — UPDATE

A Capitol Hill assisted living facility’s next life will be as a 8,400-square-foot, three-story day care.

Gaffney House, the longtime assisted living facility for residents living with dementia in a 1906-built mansion at 17th and Madison, is being lined up by the company behind E Olive Way’s International Montessori Academy to become a “child care center”  with a day care and “early learning center,” according to preliminary permit work with the city.

The E Olive Way academy’s owner Yimin Chen has not responded to CHS’s questions about the project. The Gaffney House property was listed for sale for $3.6 million in mid 2018. The price dropped to $2.75 million at some point and the property is currently listed as “pending.” Chen is listed as the property owner in planning documents.

UPDATE 10/16/2019: International Montessori Academy owner Yimin Chen confirms that she is planning to purchase the Gaffney House but said she can’t yet reveal details of her plans for the property. Chen did say that the plan has changed from the permit description of an “early learning center.” She said to expect more details of her project to be revealed soon.

Continue reading

Classic Capitol Hill apartment building slated for seismic upgrades at 17th/John

The Whitworth Apartments (Image: Cadence Real Estate)

The Whitworth Apartments (Image: Cadence Real Estate)

Pre-WWII brick apartment buildings are part and parcel of Capitol Hill’s charm. Many also need expensive upgrades to ensure they don’t collapse in an inevitable future earthquake.

As the City of Seattle continues to slowly push forward requirements for seismic retrofitting, the new owner of the 56-unit Whitworth Apartments building says he decided to get the work done before the big one hits (not to mention the likely cost-savings of doing the upgrade before a retrofitting law is passed, which will send building owners clamoring for contractors).

Peter Goldman, a longtime Seattle resident, purchased the 17th and E John “unreinforced masonry” building this summer for $18.2 million, property records show. He told CHS his family had recently sold several properties out-of-state and decided to reinvest the money in two Seattle apartment buildings. The U.S. tax code encourages such reinvestments by delaying the capital gains tax.

“The only responsible thing to do is to prepare it for an earthquake,” Goldman said. “I don’t want to wait to be told what to do. I want to do the right thing.” Continue reading