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Eldridge Tire building receives landmark status

The old Eldridge Tire Company building on Broadway has been granted Seattle landmark status, which will require some creative design work when the time comes for redevelopment.

Nominated by the Seattle Landmark Preservation Board on Feb. 1, members approved the building for landmark status based on its historical importance in the neighborhood and mission revival style. Any future changes will now require the board’s blessing.

The decision wasn’t unanimous, as some board members worried about the building’s character lasting once development occurs in its enclosed parking lot, which was part of the landmark status nomination. 

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.

Seattle Central plans to use the Eldridge Tire site at 1519 Broadway — currently occupied by a barbershop and Tacos Guaymas — and its 1515 Broadway property for developing that affordable housing through private partnerships. The South Annex/International Programs building at 907-909 Pine Street is also being considered for redevelopment.

The college issued a Request for Letters of Interest from developers in late December, with a Feb. 14 deadline.

1515 Broadway, which is occupied by burger spot Freddy Junior’s and also used by Seattle Central for storage space, did not receive a nomination for landmark status on Feb. 1.

Ellen Mirro, project architect with The Johnson Partnership, again provided the board on Wednesday with the history of the Eldridge Tire building, owner A.S. Eldridge and architect A.H. Albertson, whose designs can be seen in buildings around Seattle.

“As I said at the nomination, it wasn’t the kind of building that they used in their portfolio,” Mirro said of Albertson and his partners.

The landmarks board did agree the Eldridge Tire building had importance in the neighborhood — Seattle’s historic Auto Row — and a maintained mission revival-style character. Mission revival architecture started in California and the Southwest in the late 19th century, later spreading to other parts of the country.

“This is a very small building that actually has architecture to it,” said Rob Ketcherside, landmarks board member and Capitol Hill Historical Society cofounder. “This is a unique structure. There wasn’t 500 others just like it. It’s a gem of its own.”

Ketcherside said he likes how the Eldridge Tire building connects to Seattle’s economic history.

Board member Deb Barker said she supported the designation, but was concerned about the volume to the west, that being the rear parking lot that is accessible through a porte-cochère between the north and south building spaces.

Landmarks Board chairman Jordan Kiel said since the lot was not nominated, a developer could build on top of it, right up to the Eldridge Tire building. That would render the porte-cochère inaccessible, Barker added.

Newly appointed board member Russell Coney agreed with several board members that there is reason to be concerned about facadism, how the original facade will be preserved with a new building behind it. It could look “atrocious,” said board member Kathleen Durham.

Seattle Central College anticipated the potential for Eldridge Tire to earn landmark status, and conveyed that message in its Request for Letters of Interest.

“Most of them are responding to that under the assumption that it would be nominated,” said Lincoln Ferris, consultant to Seattle Central president Sheila Edwards-Lange, regarding letters the college has received from interested developers.

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