Plans to renovate Seattle’s historic J&M Hotel building in Pioneer Square could be scrapped after an investment group stopped making loan payments earlier this year.
The building was set to be auctioned June 2, but that auction was cancelled, putting the future of the landmark nightspot in doubt.
The company backing what was to be a major overhaul of the 128-year-old building, Seneca Ventures, defaulted on at least one other historic Pioneer Square project at the same time as the J&M.
Seneca Ventures is behind another recently purchased property in the city’s Westlake neighborhood, where construction work began without permits and renters received notice of rent increases as high as 121 percent earlier this year.
Exactly what happened to tank the multimillion-dollar J&M project and what might happen to the building now remain unclear, as does the future of Seneca’s other advertised projects and how the company finances them.
Partners with Seneca declined to discuss the project in detail.
Revitalize a historic building
An investment group backed by Seneca and formed for the project, J&M Capital Group, LLC, bought the building in 2014 with plans to convert the building back to a hotel with new restaurant and retail offerings.
According to plans advertised on Seneca’s website, the top two floors would have been turned into a 25-room hotel with a restaurant and banquet hall, while the basement would have become a bar with occasional live music and the ground-floor hotel entrance would have been revived. The plans didn’t discuss what, if anything, would happen to the J&M Cafe and Cardroom, which is currently in the ground-floor space of the building.
In 2015 story by Crosscut, Seneca co-founder Kurt Fisher put a $10 million price tag on the renovations.
To renovate the building, which is vacant aside from the J&M Cafe and a fast food lunch spot on the ground floor, the owners needed approval from the Pioneer Square Preservation Board, which the group received earlier this year.
But by then, both the J&M and Seneca’s other Pioneer Square project, the Metropole, were in default, with foreclosure documents filed Feb. 10 for both properties.
The J&M’s owners put both buildings up for sale in April, trying to avoid an auction, according to a report in the Puget Sound Business Journal. The buildings were both scheduled for auction at the beginning of June, though the auction for the J&M was cancelled.
Fisher said by email that a broker was negotiating a potential sale of the building and that financing has been secured for the project, though he didn’t share further details. The broker did not respond to requests for comment.
For the moment, both the J&M and the Metropole, already lagging the J&M in the permit process, appear to be in limbo.
Seneca has other ventures going, however.
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