History Jan 21, 2022 at 2:30 pm

One of Seattle's oldest buildings is slated for demolition. Good.



"118 years is a long time for a building to stand. Is it a landmark, though?"

Based on what I read in the Stranger regarding the Showbox, I believe the important question is whether Duke Ellington was ever inside the building. If the answer is "yes," it is far more important to preserve that space than use the land for housing.


You couldn't be more wrong Matt.


Well put Matt. Thank you for writing it. There are plenty of other examples of his architecture nearby that aren't crumbling, dangerous, modified beyond recognition, steps from a light rail station, and ready to house over 100 people during a housing shortage.


What Capicola @3 said - top notch mic drop comment.


Thanks for bringing this situation to light. Affordable housing and historic preservation are not mutually exclusive. Some 70% of the city is zoned for single family homes. That is something I think we should tackle first before a select few neighborhoods bear the brunt of demolition for cheap sterile boxes. Affordable housing is a must. I think housing is a human right actually, and there are ways for the region to attain that.


1 Ha, good snark.


The inevitable sterile box replacement that Urbanists crave won’t house local mainstays like Scream hair salon, Mud Bay pet food store, or the Thai restaurant what before covid also had open comedy stage nights at its back bar.

All we’ll get is another branch bank, phone store, or bougie $30 a plate Brooklyn copy restaurant. And an empty promise of “market rate affordable housing” that will be broken the minute the property is sold after completion— exactly how The Rubix and Patent 523 did it - refinanced a year after completion and all those promises of “affordability” were gone.

Capitol Hill needs old buildings full of resilient, long term local businesses. A high walkability score is worthless if all we get is sterilie new growth promised as affordable density but really just built to become more techbro storage units.


Dumbass urbanists think real estate developers will build houses for poor people.


Every person living in an apartment is there courtesy of a developer who decided to build it at some point in time. Most homes are also built by developers, including those occupied by poorer folk. The exception being owner-built, many of which are custom higher end properties using architects and superior materials - not the sort that provide housing for the majority.

Some developers are public entities but they are few and far between. All this to say is that if you have a roof over your head, thank a developer who took on the job and the risk. But suggesting that reality be acknowledged is above the band-width of comprehension for some it sadly appears as well as interfering with the narrative of victimization.


There are some alternatives to this option if people were willing to bother (but my guess, they wouldn't). One is designing an architectural replacement that is so much visually appealing, that people would prefer the replacement. Coupled with an option for historical preservationists such as moving the building to another location. And - any replacement option should include first dibs on floor level business space to the businesses already leasing at the older building.

But assuming that it's going to be a visually uglier alternative, another option is just finding another location for the housing. I'm kind of wondering why that would be so difficult - and why it has to be on this particular spot out of all Seattle.

I'd be inclined to do what is possible to preserve the building and related neighborhood character (unless you can even improve it), but ultimately, if there are no other options (which I find very hard to believe), yes, I'd agree that the homeless is of most important. But why can't they find a better spot that doesn't compromise a historical location?

Why are they pitting two important urban characteristics as competiting interests? History/Art vs Housing? That's not fair. And who are the decision makers here?


@9; Lol, now the real estate developers want to be “thanked?” Tax these parasites until they scream.


@10 If you were designing a replacement that is even more visually appealing (and of course that's not going to happen) -- one way of doing it would be to try to incorporate the older building - or aspects of the building into the new one. You could also blend in some community muraling to try to retain the neighborhood character.

But I wouldn't like this choice either.


It's a landmark and should not be torn down for Bellevue Developers to get rich with tax breaks from the City of Seattle


The owners, Cannon Commercial bought the buidling from Lota in 2018, stopped taking good care of it letting filth collect and refusing tenant please for onsite management; then finally screwed over the small businesses the building (some for decades: Hana) during 2020 of the pandemic. I can assure you they do not care about affordable housing units and will weasel out of it and likely build something boring and ugly with exactly Zero benefit to the neighborhood or low income residents.


@7: "100% affordable housing" (not "market-rate affordable housing") means it's being developed by a non-profit housing developer. it won't be converted to market-rate after completion. funders typically require that the building remain affordable in perpetuity.

further, the city's MHA (Mandatory Housing Affordability) requirements cannot be broken by private developers who choose to include those units in their building rather than paying in to the fund, nor by the future purchases of the building. they projects you refer to were probably begun prior to MHA.

further further, Urbanists do not crave "sterile boxes". "sterile boxes" are all that skyrocketing construction costs allow. show up to the public meetings and demand non-sterility.

further further further, as to the 'bougie $30/plate restaurant', please look at Communion in the Liberty Bank Building. it has it's rent subsidized by the housing provider/developer CHH in an effort to support black-owned businesses - as does the barbershop in the same building. sad to say, 1 dish is over $30.


We'll get no affordable housing until real estate investment companies can be prevented from running amok in the housing market. Developers build, they buy, you don't. You instead get the benefit of paying them rent at the top rate the market can bear.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.