The firm that bought two old buildings in the Pike/Pine Conservation District with plans to develop a seven story structure on the site—triggering outcry about stripping away neighborhood character—says it will preserve the brick structures in their entirety.
The company, Madison Development Group, intends to integrate the new, taller construction behind and above the older buildings, and it has made an agreement with Bauhaus, an iconic coffee shop on the block, to remain as a tenant once the building is retrofitted. A Kirkland-based developer with a rap-sheet of big-box chain stores, Madison Development Group had previously made no commitments to preserve the buildings, or even the facades.
"It’s not a facade-ectomy," Natalie Price, a company spokeswoman, emphasized on the phone this morning. "They are literally keeping the buildings. They will be renewing, retrofitting them—which is great, because I think that is what people really wanted to see."
Nonetheless, don't expect the old buildings to look identical after construction is complete, or to house exactly the same business. The old buildings will be integrated into the new development, which will consume nearly half a block, making it a giant hybrid of old and new construction. The newer part of the project, which will consume four parcels of land behind the older buildings, will partly overhang the two older buildings, Price explains. The new structure will cantilever within 15 feet of the existing roofline. I asked Price if Madison Development Group would maintain the interior spaces, keeping them suitable for small tenants, or if they would be retrofitted into the sort of shallow spaces typical of new developments that house chain stores. She said the developer "has an agreement with Bauhaus Coffee to be a tenant in the new building and they hope to retain some of the other existing tenants as well." As for the shape and functionality of the interior spaces, Price said she'd get back to me.
Situated on East Pine Street, the nearly century-old Melrose Building and Timken Roller Bearing Company Building were both designated by the city as character structures in 2009. They represent Pike/Pine's stock of original auto-row buildings, now part of a "cultural overlay" district, and they contain an uncommon density of small retailers and activity. But despite the city's gestures toward conservation in the Pike/Pine corridor, there is little incentive for developers to maintain the building stock. (A few weeks back, I wrote a longish piece with plenty of background on these building and the development, which you can read here.)