On the Block: RailSpur project ramps up with new hospitality partner

Owner Manchester Capital Management and developer Urban Villages are about one year into renovating the first of three historic buildings at RailSpur, the adaptive mixed-use project in Pioneer Square. A crane and crews from Chinn Construction were busy at the Manufacturer’s Building, aka the former F.X. McRory’s building, before the state temporarily halted most construction last week in response to the pandemic. The building will become offices over a food hall.

Next door at 100 S. King St., aka the Westland Building, the planned conversion from offices to a boutique hotel now appears to be gathering steam. Newly attached to the project is Miller Hull, which recently filed a slightly updated plan with the city. SHED Architecture & Design has thus far been the architect for the entire project. SHED says it’s still working on the project.

Neither Urban Villages nor Miller Hull responded to DJC queries.

The hotel plan is about the same as the 2018 description from SHED. The over-century-old, now six-story building will receive a full seismic upgrade, new elevators and HVAC systems. It’ll then become a boutique hotel with about 120 rooms. There will be a 5,000-square-foot penthouse addition, where a rooftop bar is now planned by Makr Hospitality of Sonoma County, California, which will also operate the food hall next door.

Makr uses RailSpur Hotel as what may only be an interim name.

Next door, the food hall will have about 16,000 square feet on three levels: basement, ground floor and mezzanine. Makr is now hiring for what it calls RailSpur Marketplace: “This new thoughtfully curated venue will be the home to many of Seattle’s best restaurants (complemented) by offerings by Makr Hospitality, conceived and managed by Chef Charlie Palmer.”

Palmer is a well-known chef and food entrepreneur who founded Aureole in New York in the late 1980s; his portfolio also now includes eponymous steak houses in Las Vegas; Napa, California; Reno, Nevada; and Washington, D.C.

The relatively new firm Makr was co-founded by industry veteran Christopher Hunsberger. It says it’s also looking at Bellevue and Walla Walla wine country for new operations. It’s also a partner in the planned Harriman Hotel in Ketchum, Idaho. (That site, across Main Street from the new Limelight Hotel, has been a pit for years.)

SHED’s old plans indicated that the penthouse would include a conference room and work space. Miller Hull’s new plan adds a residential unit — likely an extended-stay room — on that level. A coffee shop, wine bar, spa, conference room and restaurant were previously planned for the bottom two levels of the building.

Pioneer Collective coworking space now occupies the Westland’s ground floor, with various small offices above — including that of Urban Villages, which is based in Denver. Private wealth manager and adviser Manchester Capital, of Vermont, acquired the building 10 years ago from Goodman Real Estate for about $10.3 million.

The Pioneer Square Preservation District board will have to approve the hotel plan, as it has already done for RailSpur’s other two components. Those are:

• The now two-story Fisher Building, at 115 S. Jackson St., where the basement and ground floor will have reconfigured retail and restaurant space. A third-floor addition, with roof decks, will yield 26 “micro lofts” on that and the second floor. The construction permit was issued last year. Chinn is also listed as the general contractor. A full seismic retrofit is also planned.

Windows and doorways will be restored and added along the alleys, where ghost signs will also be preserved. A site visit confirms that the building is now vacant, and that work is underway. Some of the new fenestration has been cut on the alleys.

• The now seven-story Manufacturer’s Building, at 419 Occidental Ave. S., where Chinn is adding a penthouse along with the gut renovation and seismic retrofit. CBRE is now leasing the 63,000 square feet of offices for the owner; that’s a change from Broderick Group. Occupancy had been projected for the middle of this year, which looks to be optimistic, based on the virus-related work stoppage and a recent site visit.

According CBRE’s and Broderick’s marketing materials, only the fourth floor has been leased — leaving about 50,800 square feet unclaimed. Except for the penthouse, floor plates average around 12,200 square feet.

Weaver Architects recently filed a tenant improvement plan for fourth-floor tenant Palantir Technologies, a large data-analytics firm based in Silicon Valley, which has leased space elsewhere in Pioneer Square since 2015.

The RailSpur team also includes Swenson Say Faget, structural engineer; PAE, mechanical engineer and energy consultant; and MIG-SvR, civil engineer and landscape architect; and Interior Architects. Freiheit Architecture recently filed a blanket tenant improvement plan for 419 Occidental.

All three buildings are on the block bounded by Jackson, King Occidental, and First Avenue South. The project derives its name from the old east-west rail spur that bisects the block (now an alley). New shops, windows and retail entrances will face both the intersecting alleys.

419 Occidental Project

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Renderings by NEPHEW


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