Pioneer Square board to vote on turning J&M into 25-room hotel

The Pioneer Square Preservation Board will get an update and vote on renovation plans for the historic J&M Hotel Building on Wednesday, Feb. 1, with a presentation by the architect and owner.

Seneca Ventures bought the 1889 structure three years ago for $3.24 million through an LLC. The three-story building is at 201 First Ave. S., on the southwest corner of First and South Washington Street.

The J&M Cafe & Cardroom and Mediterranean Mix restaurant occupy the ground floor.

Seneca has hired BuildingWork architect Matt Aalfs to convert both the J&M and the nearby Metropole Building, at 423 Second Ave. Ext. S., into boutique hotels that will be managed jointly.

The three-story Metropole was constructed in 1890, and was badly damaged in a fire 10 years ago. Both the Metropole and the upper stories of the J&M are vacant.

Aalfs said of the J&M’s rehabilitation plan, “We’re already done with the process. We’ve had an incredibly smooth process with the Pioneer Square Preservation Board” over three prior presentations.

The board will take a final vote next Wednesday, and Aalfs said, “I feel very confident.”

Plans for the J&M were first presented to the board in 2015, and it submitted a certificate of approval late last year, said Aalfs.

Planning and financing for both the J&M and Metropole have been protracted, he said, because both will receive federal historic preservation tax credits, which require a lengthy approval process from the National Park Service.

Both buildings are unreinforced masonry structures that need seismic retrofitting. Swenson Say Faget is the structural engineer and Chinn Construction is the general contractor for both projects. David Bolin is the owners representative.

The renovated J&M will have 25 hotel rooms, and a small annex on Post Alley will be completely restored. “It’s in a state of collapse right now,” said Aalfs. “We’re gonna dismantle it and save the bricks and reclad it with those bricks.”

Construction should start in March or April, and take 11 to 12 months.

An expanded bar and restaurant are planned for the ground floor, along with the hotel lobby, and a new elevator core will be added. The basement will have an entrance on Washington, and house another bar with a small music stage.

The brick facade will be cleaned and re-pointed, and the neon hotel sign, which was installed in the 1950s, will be restored.

Aalfs said the Metropole is about six months behind the J&M in permitting. Aalfs previously called the Metropole a ruin, but after the renovation it will have 36 rooms.

Seneca is seeking hotel and restaurant operators for both properties, he said.

The J&M presentation is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 1 at City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave., Room L2-80.

J & M Hotel


Image by BuildingWork


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