Home Industry News The 1928 Publix Hotel is Transformed Into 125 New Apartments

The 1928 Publix Hotel is Transformed Into 125 New Apartments

Publix Hotel, Seattle, Spectrum Development Solutions, Uwajimaya, Chinatown Gate, Chinatown International District
Photo courtesy of Uwajimaya

Significant Day for Seattle’s Chinatown International District

Seattle, WA. – August 24, 2016 – The Publix Hotel next to the Chinatown Gate in Seattle’s Chinatown International District reopens its doors after a $24 million rehab of the landmarked building. The work also entailed construction of a new six story building over the existing parking garage, creating a total of 125 new apartments and 12,000 square feet of ground floor, commercial space.

Twenty percent of the apartments are available to households making between 65 to 85 percent of the area’s median income, approximately $46,605 and $60,945 per year for a family of two. The units are rent restricted through the City’s Multifamily Property Tax Exemption program. The apartment sizes range from just over 300 square feet in a studio in the historic building to 1,120 square foot in a three-bedroom unit in the new building. The apartment community is 60-percent leased before the grand opening.

The Publix Hotel lobby and original storefronts have been fully restored with high ceilings, wood paneling and original marble detailing. Former boarding rooms have been combined to create modern studio, one and two-bedroom apartments with large, classic wood windows that soak the apartments in natural light. Timeless, minimal interiors let the striking architecture speak for itself.

A glass enclosed connection from the new building was added on the 2nd level providing residential tenants with direct access to the historic Publix and the shared amenities. Amenity spaces include a penthouse community room with a kitchenette, rooftop deck with BBQ grills, outdoor lounge with views of the Seattle skyline and Elliott Bay, a dog area, gym, community kitchen and party room, media lounge and bike storage.

The ground floor retail along 5th Avenue S and South Weller Street creates a vibrant ‘market-like’ use of the full block across the street from the City’s largest transit hub. Floor to ceiling glass allows for transparency along an interior retail alley that joins 5th Avenue to a new public courtyard while also connecting the various floor elevations that resulted from preserving portions of the former Uwajimaya Warehouse structure. “It was important to us that the retail spaces have a thoughtful, authentic design that connects to this historic neighborhood,” said Miye Moriguchi, Development Manager for Uwajimaya. “It’s very different than you typically see in Seattle but in keeping with the character of the Chinatown International District.”

The Publix was originally built in 1928 to house transient immigrant workers from Asia as a 120-unit single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel, one of more than 65 such properties in the neighborhood that catered to migrant workers from China, Japan and the Philippines. It was one of the largest SROs and today still retains a high level of historic integrity.

“The Moriguchi family took a big step in bringing The Publix back to life,” said Hal Ferris, principal of Spectrum Development Solutions, the development management firm for the Project. “Their commitment from the beginning was to ensure this building’s longevity and make it significant again while preserving the historic integrity, both inside and out. The final design truly reflects their dedication to community.”

“The Publix is once again coming to the rescue,” said Tomio Moriguchi, board chairman of Uwajimaya. “In 1928 it provided housing for a wave of young workers and now it reopens to provide housing for a new wave of workers moving to Seattle. It provides an opportunity to live in one of our City’s most connected and culturally rich neighborhoods.”

Uwajimaya, a family owned business, has owned The Publix and adjacent properties since 1974. Spectrum Development Solutions served as the project manager. Other team members included Clark Design Group, Graham Baba Architects, and Marpac construction. Blanton Turner is the property management company.

About Uwajimaya
Uwajimaya is a family-owned and operated Asian grocery store and wholesaler located in the Pacific Northwest. The business began in 1928 and has grown to four retail locations (Seattle, Bellevue, and Renton, Washington and Beaverton, Oregon) and a wholesale division (Food Service International). The company employs over 400 people today. Uwajimaya and the Moriguchi family have been long time advocates and participants in the Chinatown International District. In 1946 after World War II, Uwajimaya re-opened its retail store on South Main Street in Japan-town, setting its roots in the community. The grocery store moved in 1970 to 6th Avenue South and South King. In 2000, Uwajimaya relocated one block south to its current flagship location at 600 5th Avenue South. Uwajimaya and the Moriguchi family remain committed to preserving the history of the area and ensuring its longevity. For more information about The Publix: http://publixseattle.com

About Spectrum Development Solutions
Founded in 2008, Spectrum Development Solutions is a real estate advisory and development company with a primary focus on transit oriented, environmentally sustainable projects that enhance the community fabric. Spectrum takes great pride in its experience as a strong community partner in development and redevelopment initiatives that serve a mix of uses and populations. Spectrum’s development work ranges from mixed-use multifamily projects to student housing and health care clinics. Spectrum’s work has been recognized nationally for innovative approaches to workforce housing. This year Spectrum’s Anthem on 12th project, which is the first private development in Yesler Terrace, was selected as a finalist for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award. Additionally, Spectrum was the recipient of the 2016 LOCUS Richard Baron Affordable Housing Award. More information on Spectrum’s work can be found here: www.spectrumdevsolutions.com