Boom Sabey Corporation: Good Developers, or Just Plain Crazy?
posted by September 7 at 10:00 AMon
If you haven’t heard, the 5 building, Rainier Cold Storage complex in Georgetown is getting a makeover. The Sabey Corporation purchased the 300,000 square foot site for $10 million last October and immediately reached out to Georgetown residents and business owners for input on the renovation.
Confounded and surprised by Sabey’s neighborhood-friendly approach to development, I contacted Jim Harmon, Sabey’s Senior Vice President of Investments. My first question: “are you guys crazy?” as seeking out community input generally means you’ll end up hearing a million different things from a million different people.
Harmon laughed. He told me Sabey got involved with Georgetown when they saw how organized the community was. Sabey didn’t have a fully realized plan for the site, so they asked the neighborhood for suggestions. “We walked into it not knowing specifically what we were going to do,” Harmon says. “People were surprised that we didn’t have a specific plan.”
Sabey recruited 8 neighborhood representatives from Friends of Georgetown History, a Georgetown merchants group and the Georgetown Community Council, and held monthly meetings to figure out a plan for the 5 buildings at the site.
During the process, Sabey’s structural engineers determined one of the buildings was sinking and would have to be demolished. The cold storage had frozen the ground underneath it, and when the freezer was turned off, and the ground started to thaw, the building started to sink.
Because of the costs associated with demolishing such a massive building, the site will be turned into an office tower. However, Harmon says “We don’t know what the design is going to be. Not glass and shiny fancy marble. It just wouldn’t go with the neighborhood.”
Sabey hasn’t determined what they’ll do with the other four buildings on site—one of which is occupied by Georgetown Brewing—although Harmon says residential units and ground level retail are a possibility. There are also preliminary plans to add some office space in the Rainier bottling plant, which is currently used by artists and craftsmen. The current tenants will remain, Harmon says, noting “to squeeze the artists out just wouldn’t be wise.”
Sabey should have a complete plan and a time line in the next few months.
Photo by Rick Moerloos via Flickr