Group still plans to build isthmus hotel

ahobbs@theolympian.comMay 17, 2014 

The Capitol Center, dubbed the "mistake by the lake" by critics, is shown in July 2010.

STEVE BLOOM — Staff photographer

A downtown Olympia tower known as the “mistake by the lake” is still on track for redevelopment after the death of a prominent co-owner.

Snohomish real estate developer Jim Potter died May 6 after a battle with cancer, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. He was 58.

Potter co-owned the Capitol Center Building at 410 Fifth Ave. SW. Located on the isthmus between Budd Inlet and Capitol Lake, the nine-story tower was built in 1965 and was last occupied by the state Department of Corrections. The building has been vacant since 2006.

The current ownership group is Views on Fifth Avenue Ltd. Business partner Scott Shapiro said Potter’s family wants to move forward with plans for a hotel and possible office space at the site.

“We’re sorry to have lost a great positive influence in community,” Shapiro said of his late partner. At one time, the building had been marketed as an office center called Viewpoint Tower. Construction plans came to a halt because of the recession and overall economic conditions, Shapiro said.

In recent weeks, owners have been working behind the scenes on construction estimates for a proposed hotel, said Shapiro. He added that the project will launch “whenever it makes financial sense to make the next step.”

Property manager Neil Falkenburg said meetings have involved architects, bankers and designers.

“Nothing’s changed,” said Falkenburg, who also addresses permits and vandalism issues for the site. “We still intend to build a hotel.”

The city, which owns 2.3 acres on the isthmus, has attempted without success to buy the building. A group called the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation has a vision for demolishing the building and creating a park on the site. A permit specialist with the city confirmed Friday that there were no current permits issued for the building.

Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869

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