W.G. Clark begins Metropole Building office reno

Construction fencing has gone up around the long-vacant, fire-gutted and earthquake-damaged Metropole Building in Pioneer Square. W.G. Clark Construction is the general contractor at 423 Second Ave. Ext. S., on behalf of nonprofit owner the Satterberg Foundation

Under a long-brewing plan, the derelict triangular hulk will become boutique offices following a gut restoration and addition. During an anticipated 18 months of construction, the foundation will interview prospective nonprofit office tenants for the Metropole. Interior demolition could begin today.

Architect BuildingWork has long been attached to the project (a hotel was previously planned under different ownership), and structural engineer Swenson Say Faget years ago devised the seismic bracing system necessary to preserve a crumbling facade with a modern new building inside.

That project, like so many others, has been slowed by the pandemic. But it does now have a construction permit, issued in February; that follows a recent certificate of approval from the Pioneer Square Preservation District board.

The basic program includes full restoration of the three-story north end of the building; and a two-story addition to the smaller two-story south end. (Both are over a century old.) Total project size is about 32,000 square feet, including daycare center and roof deck — the latter overlooking Yesler Way, and looking up at Smith Tower.

The foundation was established by the Pigott family, of PACCAR, over three decades ago. It’s pitching the Metropole as “a community-centric home for nonprofit organizations, with an emphasis on those organizations who serve or are led by communities of color,” and is marketing the space without a broker. Rents aren’t listed; at least some of the space appears to be claimed.

The team also includes Ecotope, mechanical engineer, and sustainability consultant; Travis Fitzmaurice, electrical engineer; LPD, civil engineer; Karen Kiest Landscape Architect; Dark Light, lighting designer; RDH, envelope consultant; Environmental Works, childcare design consultant; and Speweik Preservation, historic masonry consultant; Precision Electric; GeoEngineers, geotechnical; and Tiedemann Advisors, longtime financial advisor to the foundation, which will also act and owner’s rep.

There’s no need for a construction loan or any pre-signed tenants says Kendra Walker, a consultant and advisor to the foundation. And there’s no need for federal historic tax credits, as are often employed in Pioneer Square (usually a long, protracted process). The foundation is underwriting the entire project budget, which it hasn’t disclosed. The building sold almost two years ago for $5.5 million.

The restoration project will target LEED Platinum certification, with rooftop solar panels and other green features. A rooftop penthouse would have around 1,564 square feet. A subsidized daycare center is also planned. That could serve area office workers as well as the currently envisioned eight small offices within the Metropole.

The foundation website states, “The Metropole will provide affordable office space and potentially other community amenities to non-profit organizations, particularly those led-by people of color or serving communities of color. Through the development of this building, the Satterberg Foundation is committed to creating a diverse and equitable space to the highest of environmental and sustainability standards.”


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