A Boston-based real estate investment firm, Beacon Capital Partners LLC, went before Seattle’s design board on Tuesday and received a unanimous approval for a proposed project that will transform a landmark waterfront building into a class A office space. Before moving forward, the design team still needs to receive a final approval from Seattle’s Landmark Preservation Board.
The Maritime Building, located at 911 Western Avenue, was originally built in 1910 as a warehouse and has since played a role in Seattle’s commercial district along the waterfront. According to the design team, the renovations to the building will preserve its historic past. “We will maintain signage pretty much where it is today,” said Ev Ruffcorn, the principal and design leader on the project from Seattle architect firm NBBJ. “There is a Maritime Building sign on the corner of the building now. We’ll probably replace it with different graphics, but it will remain where it is and be constructed similar in material with the design of the building.”
This is a real catalytic project to really set the pace for what we can create here
The vision is to recreate the building’s function as well as support the West Edge Neighborhood and follow the city’s plan for newly re-imagined public open space. In order to accomplish this, the existing five-story building will receive a substantial renovation and a three-story addition will provide additional office space of approximately 25,000 square feet.
The existing Maritime Building provides around 173,000 square feet of office space. The design team says that roughly 22,000 square feet of it will be turned into retail and restaurant space, transforming the building into an active 24/7 mixed-use structure. Responding to the new waterfront, the new Maritime Building will become an outward facing development by relocating its address from Western Avenue to Alaskan Way. A lobby for the commercial office space will be placed along this new entrance, as well as active food and beverage retail that will provide outdoor dining that overlooks the waterfront. In order to continue street activation, all sides of the building will continue to provide active uses.
Support from the public at Tuesday’s meeting showed enthusiasm for the groundbreaking of the waterfront project. “I want to applaud the work that Beacon has been doing, we have a real opportunity here,” said Heidi Hughes, the executive director for Friends of Waterfront Seattle. “Not only are we going to have a fabulous park, but this surrounding district. This is a real catalytic project to really set the pace for what we can create here.”
According to the Downtown Seattle Association’s 2016 Economic Report, the city’s downtown measures less than five square miles yet provides the highest employment density in all of Seattle. With 245,774 estimated jobs in 2014, it is home to 48 percent of Seattle’s workforce, representing one in five jobs within King County. The report also states that Seattle has more office space under construction relative to its existing building stock than any other U.S. city. In addition to 2.6 million square feet in deliveries in 2015, 10.9 million square feet of office space is scheduled for delivery by 2019. An additional 9.2 million is in the planning stages with no set completion date, says the same report.