Euro fashion retailer Scotch and Soda set to join Melrose Ave

Scotch and Soda’s U Village store (Image: University Village)

The corner once home to quintessential Capitol Hill coffee shop Bauhaus is today home to an upscale cycling lifestyle “clubhouse.” The space around the corner on Melrose that used to be an art gallery before being built into the gargantuan, seven-story Excelsior mixed-use building? Amsterdam-based Scotch and Soda is adding the retail berth to its growing roster of U.S. locations.

Company officials haven’t confirmed the new store, the chain’s second in Seattle joining a location in the University Village mall. Permits filed with the city indicate the start of planning is underway for the shop on the eastern side of Melrose adjacent the entrance to the mixed-use building’s 280-vehicle underground parking garage and across the street from Melrose Market. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Historical Society | What happened with Galbraith House

Galbraith House as of January 26th. Photo by Tom Heuser

When I saw the headlines last month that Galbraith House, a protected landmark would be demolished, my heart sank and I had to do a double take. How does a Capitol Hill landmark get cleared for demolition? The whole point of the landmarks ordinance is to prevent demolition not to enable it. I read the articles and the comments, and asked around thinking I had missed something, but only found misconceptions, half-truths, and dead ends (quite literally in one case). So I went straight to the source.

I scoured the Landmarks Preservation ordinance and the past 12 years of board meeting minutes, spoke extensively with city staff and other preservation advocates, and put all the pieces together. What I learned is a serious one-two punch to preservation that deserves our immediate attention. Now for those not familiar with the whole process, let’s start by taking a tour of the city’s landmarks ordinance. I will only cover the most salient points. Consider this a quick crash course.

The Ordinance: Landmarks designation is a four-step process and the city’s website lists and summarizes each very clearly. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Sullivan House voted for landmarks protections

Its owner says it is dilapidated, rotted in places, infested by bugs in others, and she had plans to sell it to a developer with plans to tear it down, but the 1898-built Sullivan House at 15th Ave and E Olive St. has new life after the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted Wednesday night 6-2 that the old house is worthy of its protections.

“We think it still is a castle on the Hill despite its poor condition,” said neighbor and architect Jim Castanes who was reduced to examining the house from afar using “a zoom lens and binoculars” but successfully led the effort to win the landmarks designation.

“The board has the power to keep the wrecking ball from this well-loved residence,” Castanes said.

In reaching their decision, board members focused on the old house’s “distinctive visible characteristics” of Queen Anne-style architecture as well as its prominent place at 15th and E Olive St. as one of the last of its kind in an evolving residential area of Capitol Hill. “You can see a lot of what makes it beautiful,” one board member said. “We are landmarking what exists today.” Continue reading

Here’s why Capitol Hill’s Galbraith House is being demolished

(Image courtesy John Fox)

Officials at Sound Mental Health tell CHS the decision to demolish a landmarked Capitol Hill mansion comes in the midst of planning about how the property owner can best serve the more than 20,000 people it helps each year struggling with addiction and mental health.

“The number of folks who need support help in our community has increased exponentially,” Sound spokesperson Steve McLean tells CHS.

“Our challenges are myriad — one of our challenges is space.”

CHS posted Tuesday about salvage underway on the 1904-built Galbraith House at 17th and Howell. An application to fully demolish the building that has been used as a Sound — formerly Sound Mental Health — facility and its neighboring carriage house has been approved by the city.

McLean tells CHS that Sound has been evaluating its options for the property for the past several years even before it became unusable in 2017 due to safety and structural issues. “At this stage of this process, we are assessing what we are going to do with that property,” he said. Continue reading

Capitol Hill landmark-protected Galbraith House readied for demolition

It’s been a bit since CHS heard from neighborhood historian and preservationist John Fox. He’s moved off the Hill these days but we’ve learned to listen and take a look when he points us at a piece of Capitol Hill history. John wrote to us recently about a planned demolition at 17th Ave and Howell. Designated an official landmark in 2005, the Galbraith House/Seattle Mental Health building only had its exterior protected in the process. But the landmarks board decided recently to allow “no controls” on the building freeing landowner Sound Mental Health to move forward on its plans for the property. Those apparently include demolition — a permit to demolish the structure was issued on January 3rd. Preservationists have objected to the decision but work is already underway. The giant old house completed in 1904 for Seattle merchant James E. Galbraith and designed by the same architect as 15th Ave’s landmarked Gaslight Inn has been undergoing a salvage by Earthwise who have been nice enough to share some pictures. UPDATE: Here’s more from Sound Mental Health and the landmarks board about why the house is being demolished.

From John Fox
Many have probably noticed this grand Colonial Revival house at the corner of 17th and Howell is now surrounded with construction fencing. It is scheduled for demolition very soon.

It isn’t every day that we lose a building such as this on Capitol Hill. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Historical Society | E Pine’s Colman Automotive on the National Register

Photo by Joe Mabel (Wikimedia)

Colman Automotive in 2014 (Photo by Joe Mabel / Wikimeda)

The Colman Automotive Building entered the National Parks Service’s National Register of Historic Places very recently — in 2013. It is not currently a City of Seattle Landmark, but the national listing is good enough for it to make our Landmarks Profile roundup.

The two-story commercial building covers the short block between Bellevue Ave and Crawford Place on the south side of Pine Street. It was lovingly restored by Hunters Capital in 2012. They took a useful building that was well-known for its first floor tenant Area 51 and turned it into an Auto Row gem that ushers folks up Pine Street and into the neighborhood. Continue reading

CHS Video | Happy 100th birthday to Kelly Springfield (or, why they’re ‘tearing down’ the old Capitol Hill REI)

Though her construction began in 1917, she was actually born a year later so you still have time to get a gift. 11th Ave’s Kelly Springfield Motor Truck building is celebrating 100 years on the planet with a massive facelift. And, let’s be honest. Pretty much all that will be left of her is her face. Longtime CHS video contributor David Albright captured the 11th Ave changes of the former auto row facility, then REI, then Value Village in motion:

Kelly Springfield Motor Truck Building (1917-2017) from David Albright on Vimeo.

Critics call it facadism. Progressive architects — and others — point to the preservation of character and volume. While, indeed, not much is preserved when the preservation projects dig in, the neighborhood’s Conservation Overlay District’s incentive program has produced a handful of very large, more interesting than average developments across Pike/Pine.

The Kelly Springfield office + preservation project is on its way to becoming another one. But getting there looks more like a demolition than a preservation. Continue reading

‘Contemporary furniture’ retailer Blu Dot opening showroom on Capitol Hill

Minimalist but friendly, Blu Dot is bringing one its few worldwide showrooms to an auto row building on Capitol Hill that has been home to furniture before.

CHS has learned that the Minneapolis-headquartered furniture, design, and lifestyle brand will open a Seattle showroom on the corner of Pine and Crawford Place in the Colman Automotive building that is currently a whir of construction activity for a seismic overhaul and tenant upgrades. The work will create the new Blu Dot store and a new restaurant project lined up to neighbor it as well as a rooftop bar. The building was the longtime home of original and vintage furniture concern Area 51.

There are currently only five Blu Dot showrooms around the world. The most recent addition opened in Chicago this winter. UPDATE: “Blu Dot currently has six stores in the U.S. and nine stores globally,” a company rep tells CHS. Continue reading

Elliott Bay Book Company-friendly buyer found for Capitol Hill’s Ford Building

(Image: Hunters Capital)

(Image: Hunters Capital)

Hunters Capital, owners of the Ford Building, which houses Elliott Bay Book Company, the Little Oddfellows cafe, and fashion retailer Totokaelo, have found a likely buyer for the property.

Jill Cronauer, Chief Operating Officer with Hunters, said the company has a letter of intent with a local buyer.

“It’s not some big, national conglomerate,” Mike Oaksmith, director of development at Hunters said at a Monday Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council meeting.

The potential buyer’s identity and any agreements on price are under wraps for now. Continue reading

Rapha Seattle opens on Capitol Hill this week

In October of 2013, neighbors enjoyed one final night at Bauhaus inside its original Melrose and Pine location. The only activity at the corner since has involved hard hats and construction crews building the eight-story, preservation incentive-boosted Excelsior Apartments above the old block formerly home to the cafe and a collection of independent shops and a small handful of apartments.

That will change this week as global cycling brand Rapha is ready to debut its latest “clubhouse” retail and cafe concept on the corner:

We’re thrilled to announce the opening of Rapha Seattle on Wednesday, March 22nd at 8AM. Rapha Seattle will offer the latest Rapha products, host events and exhibitions, serve the finest coffee as well as screen live road racing throughout the year. We hope to see you soon.
Continue reading