Image courtesy of The Johnson Partnership: An image of the Eldridge Tire Company building from 1937.
Image courtesy of The Johnson Partnership: An image of the Eldridge Tire Company building from 1937.

One of two Broadway properties owned by Seattle Central College will continue through the city’s landmark review process.

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board quickly rejected 1515 Broadway from consideration during its Wednesday meeting, but found the mission revival style of the Eldridge Tire building at 1519 Broadway warranted a closer look. More details are to be provided to the board on March 15.

Seattle Central is in negotiations with Sound Transit to purchase surplus property north of its campus, leftover from development of the Capitol Hill link light rail extension. The college has the right of first refusal to purchase Site D.

The passage of ST3 set requirements for affordable housing around light rail. The college is working with Sound Transit on how to satisfy that requirement elsewhere, keeping development at Site D specific to college services, said Steve Gillespie, a land-use attorney for Foster Pepper retained by Seattle Central.

“If this works, it’s a very exciting project for the college and the community,” Gillespie told the landmarks board on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Seattle Central in late December issued a Request for Letters of Interest from developers that may want to partner with the college to repurpose the 1515-1519 Broadway sites, and its South Annex/International Programs building at 907-909 Pine Street. Proposals are due by 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14.

“The College intends to make both sites available for development under a long-term ground lease or sale,” the RFI states. “Responses to this request will be used to select a short list of developers to be invited to submit more detailed development proposals.”

Chuck Davis, administrative director of facilities, said Wednesday the college is still in the early stages of assessing its properties, and continues to negotiate ST3 affordable housing requirements with Sound Transit.

1515 Broadway

Constructed in 1911-12, the 1515 Broadway property was first operated by the H.L. Keats Auto Company in 1914, followed by a series of automotive companies. This was during a period in the Pike/Pine corridor when auto shops and car dealerships dominated the landscape — it’s still referred to by many as Seattle’s Auto Row.

The southern bay of the building was divided into a separate retail space in the early 1930s.

The building was vacant in 1944, before the two spaces were combined and occupied by Arnold’s Auto Upholstery until 1969. Capitol Hill Automotive was granted a change-of-use permit to run an auto service garage there, until the building was divided and renovated in 1993. An unknown restaurant took the 1513 side while Atlas Clothing took the 1515 Broadway space until closing in 2011. Seattle Central uses the space for storage, while the 1513 Broadway space is now occupied by burger spot Freddy Junior’s.

The storefronts no longer exist where they did when the building was first constructed, said Ellen Mirro, project architect with The Johnson Partnership, and the southern facade has sustained damage from vegetation.

Mirro ran down six criteria for a building to potentially qualify as a city landmark, noting the structure in its current state likely didn’t pass muster. Most of the significant characteristics of the structure had been removed before 1963.

“All that’s left is the deteriorating cornice,” Mirro said.

Robert Ketcherside, landmarks board member and co-founder of the Capitol Hill Historical Society, said the well-done 1996 remodel of the building was likely the only reason the board was even considering the property for designation, agreeing with other board members that it did not rise to any level of significance.

“It’s the poster child for lacking the ability to demonstrate a significance,” added board member Jeffrey Murdock.

1519 Broadway

The board unanimously approved moving the Eldridge Tire Company building forward for consideration of landmark status, citing the structure’s mission revival style as being of historical significance, particularly in the context of other buildings in the neighborhood.

Ketcherside called it a great example of not only the mission style, but also as a design for automotive use at the time.

He wasn’t so sure the Eldridge Tire building could be called an example of architect A.H. Albertson’s significant work, which includes a number of landmarked buildings in Seattle.

“It wasn’t the kind of building he used to build his portfolio,” Mirro said.

Constructed in 1925 for an Eldridge tire and service shop, the business operated there for a decade, before leasing the property to Broadway Tire Service. Davies Chevrolet Company located its repair shop there in 1944. A taxi service purchased the building in 1963. Hasson Shoe Repair used the southern portion in 1966 and Mel’s Barber Shop used the northern side. Follicle Hair Design now occupies the northern side, while Tacos Guaymas is in the southern portion, which was first converted to a restaurant by Broadway Café in 2010.

A.S. Eldridge, founder of Eldridge Buick, also had a showroom in the neighborhood, at the corner of Pike and Harvard, and many other automotive businesses across the city.  

Splitting the north and south kiosk-sized spaces in the Eldridge Tire building is a porte-cochère leading to a rear parking lot.

“It’s kind of like a small building that sits big,” Murdock said.