Hunters Capital Chief Operating Officer Jill Cronauer says it wasn’t an easy decision to put the Ford Building — home to Elliott Bay Book Company, Oddfellows Cafe+Bar and Totokaelo — up for sale.
“We want to be able to do other projects in the neighborhood, and that takes money,” Cronauer said. “We hope to be able to take whatever we yield from the sale and invest it in another property in the neighborhood.”
A throwback to the Pike/Pine corridor’s Auto Row days, the Ford Building was constructed in 1918, and housed the Ford Truck Service Center. It later served as a garment manufacturer that supplied REI in the Kelly Springfield Building, now slated for preservation and redevelopment for office space and ground-floor retail.
When Michael Malone bought the Ford Building more than 30 years ago, he called it the TO Building — short for transportation and operations — and used it for his AEI Music Network company. He paid $551,000 for it back in 1987.
“It was really storage, and where he ran the shipping and receiving,” Cronauer said.
AEI merged with DMX Music in 2000, and Malone stayed on as chief executive. When DMX moved to Dallas in 2009, the Ford Building received a makeover by Malone, founder and CEO of Hunters Capital.
Skylights were restored where they had once been, heavy timber trusses were exposed and historic divided light windows were reproduced.
“We had all of those pretty much handmade, using historical photos,” Cronauer said.
When Elliott Bay Book Company relocated from Pioneer Square to the Ford Building in 2010, Cronauer said shelves were worked into the interior in a way that made it seem like the building had always been a bookstore.
The property listing touts how the Ford Building is 100-percent leased.
“It is 100-percent retail, and it is in the middle of the city,” Cronauer said. “It’s really almost a trophy piece because of the iconic retailer.”
From the number of Hunters Capital holdings, Cronauer said the Ford Building was selected for sale because the company felt it had restored the building as best it can, and filled it with tenants that all have long-term leases.
Totokaelo opened there in 2012.
“What makes the building so special is the tenants,” she said.
The Capitol Hill Times has reached out to Elliott Bay Book Company owner Peter Aaron for comment, and will update this story should he respond.
Offers on the Ford Building are due by Feb. 27. The county’s appraised value on the 15,360-square-foot lot is $4.64 million, but the Ford Building is in the middle of a rapidly changing part of Capitol Hill, and one of Seattle’s most expensive and competitive real estate markets.
Like the Kelly Springfield Building, it is in the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District, meaning a height incentive for preserving parts of the original structure.