Blighted areas of downtown Olympia will be bustling in 2017 as a number of developments move forward or come to fruition.
Among the more high-profile projects is refurbishing of the vacant nine-story Capitol Center Building at 410 Fifth Ave. NW. Local developer Ken Brogan told The Olympian that he officially completed a $6.8 million transaction Dec. 22 to acquire the 1-acre property on the strip of land between Budd Inlet and Capitol Lake.
The Thurston County Assessor’s Office confirmed the property’s sale and transfer have been officially recorded.
Brogan said he will submit a formal application for site plan and design review for the renamed The Views on 5th in late January. According to the developer, The Views on 5th project will be a $30 million investment and will break ground later in 2017 if all goes as planned.
The development will include 136 apartments, a top-flight penthouse restaurant, café, gym and three-story parking garage with additional residential units.
“It’s quite an eyesore right now,” Brogan said, “but it’ll be a gorgeous building when we’re done.”
A number of failed proposals have been advanced in the past decade to turn the building — vacant since 2006 — into a hotel and condominiums. Citing public support, a resident-led group called the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation has been calling for the city to buy the property, demolish the building and turn the site into a public space with clear views of the State Capitol Building.
Another project on tap in 2017 is redevelopment of the former Griswold’s office supply building at 308-310 Fourth Ave. E.
Big Rock Capital Partners has entered into an agreement to buy and develop the 0.17-acre property, which has sat vacant since a fire destroyed it in 2004. The city bought the site last summer for $300,000 from Cliff Lee, who had proposed several renovations over the years, but struggled to finance any of them.
Big Rock is planning a $3.5 million project that will include a collaborative “working space” on the ground floor for young professionals, along with small apartments — measuring 500 to 600 square feet per unit — on the second and third floors.
“There’s something of an urban renaissance occurring downtown. We just want to be a part of that,” Ryan Clintworth, project leader for Big Rock, told the Olympia City Council on Dec. 6. “What we’re bringing is some youth and some energy into the urban environment downtown.”
While the developments at the Capitol Center Building and Griswold’s building get underway, another will reach the finish line. The four-story Billy Frank Jr. Place is slated for completion in April at the corner of State Avenue and Adams Street in downtown Olympia.
Spearheaded by the Low Income Housing Institute of Seattle, the 43-unit building will serve homeless veterans, homeless young adults and disabled residents. A number of agencies will provide social services at the site and help place tenants. The total cost of the project is about $13 million, according to the institute.
Meanwhile, Olympia developer Walker John wants to bring a mixed-use project to a property at State Avenue and Jefferson Street. The project calls for three buildings that include 87 market-rate apartments, nine townhome-style units and 8,500 square feet of retail space.
John has another project in the works under his Urban Olympia division to transform the Water Street Redevelopment Area. The 1.09-acre site is between Fourth and Fifth avenues next to the Heritage Park Fountain. The goal is to build a mix of housing, businesses and parking. More details are expected to be announced during the next year.
A non-housing development set to open some time in 2017 is the Providence Community Care Center, which will provide social services to the street population’s most vulnerable residents. The center is slated for the former Bayside Quilting building at 225 State Ave. NE.
Clients will have access to health exams and housing assistance, as well as hygiene items and laundry facilities.
The care center is expected to include public restrooms, which dovetails with city-led plans to install a permanent 24-hour restroom in downtown Olympia. The cost of installation could reach $350,000, depending on access to sewer lines. The location is tentatively slated for the Artesian Commons Park.
Downtown business owners have been pleading with the city to install accessible restrooms to reduce the amount of human waste in alleys and storefronts. A homeless advocacy group called Just Housing has been demanding around-the-clock restroom access and even held demonstrations at the state-owned Heritage Park bathrooms.