Olympia Federal Savings would like to begin construction of a new downtown headquarters this year, and that project could transform the vacant former Schoenfeld furniture building at Fourth Avenue and Capitol Way.
That was the message delivered by architect Ron Thomas at Monday’s Olympia Rotary Club meeting, which covered a number of current development projects or projects in the pipeline.
Thomas Architecture Studios of Olympia is involved in several of those projects, Thomas said, including redevelopment ideas proposed for Olympia Federal Savings.
The bank owns the half block on Capitol Way between Fifth and Fourth avenues. That half-block is home to Olympia Federal’s current headquarters, the former Schoenfeld building and a potential infill lot between the two structures.
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The bank paid $2.42 million for the former Schoenfeld building in 2010. McHugh’s Ken Schoenfeld Furniture eventually vacated the building and relocated to warehouse space on Columbia Street. The building has been empty since.
Thomas told Rotary the bank board has yet to make a final decision about the exact project, but here’s what they are considering:
▪ Redeveloping both buildings on the half-block.
▪ Keeping one building while building new on the other site.
▪ Removing both buildings and starting new.
▪ Incorporating mixed use into the development, including residences.
“The bank has an appetite for mixed use,” Thomas said.
Lori Drummond, president and chief executive at Olympia Federal Savings, couldn’t be reached Monday, but she has previously said that the bank has run out of room at its current headquarters.
“We acquired that building because we are at capacity in our existing building,” she said about the Schoenfeld property purchase at the time.
Thomas said the bank building measures about 22,000 square feet.
“Their need is double that,” he said.
Thomas also works closely with developer Walker John, who recently signed an option agreement with the Port of Olympia to explore development of two vacant port parcels along State Avenue in downtown Olympia.
But some in the community have called for the “daylighting” of Moxlie Creek and the creation of an estuary. Moxlie Creek currently runs under city streets, including Chestnut Street just east of the port parcels, before emptying into East Bay.
The environment and built environment can co-exist, Thomas said.
“Somewhere in the middle is a compromise,” he said. “Doing nothing is helping none of us. It doesn’t help our businesses or downtown redevelopment.”