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December 11, 2009

Elliott Bay owner says new store will feel like the old one

  • Peter Aaron is working with the interior design firm 5ive Creative on the new space.
  • By KATIE ZEMTSEFF
    Journal Staff Reporter

    Elliott Bay Book Co. is moving from its longtime home in Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill in the spring, but store owner Peter Aaron said the new space will seem familiar to customers.

    Aaron is working with an interior designer, 5ive Creative, on the new space, which is at 1521 10th Ave. The building owner, Hunters Capital, is making the building improvements and has hired Studio Meng Strazzara as architect and WG Clark as contractor.

    Elliott Bay has been in the Globe Building at 101 S. Main St. for 36 years.

    Aaron said the new store will have the same fir floors as the Pioneer Square location. Perimeter shelving in the current store, made of rough-cut cedar, will be dismantled and reassembled in the new store. “All of that is going to look very familiar,” he said. “It's going to be very warm and woody.”

    The high ceilings will be similar, though the new store's ceiling has large cedar beams. The team is uncovering and restoring five large skylights.

    Unlike the current store, the new store will be fully accessible by wheelchair. There will be a lift from the lower level of the building to the street level, and a lift along one staircase, Aaron said.

    Aaron said the new store will have more areas where people can sit, browse and “graze books.”

    “It's not something that we've been able to do in the current store,” Aaron said. “We'll make it a point to improve that very dramatically.”

    Another difference in the new space will be the absence of brick. The old store is in a brick building; the new store will be in a concrete building. The concrete walls will create a lighter look.

    The Capitol Hill space is about 20,000 square feet. While the space in Pioneer Square is a little larger, Aaron said there will actually be more selling space in the new store. “There's a lot of waste where we are.”

    On Capitol Hill, 11,000 square feet of the store will be on the street level and 3,000 square feet will be on a mezzanine. The reading room will be 1,800 square feet and the office area will be 2,200 square feet. Both will be located below street level.

    The reading room is about 40 percent bigger than the current space, Aaron said.

    The new store will have 25 parking spaces in the basement. Elliott Bay will offer validation or have cheap parking at a nearby lot with 60 spaces. It currently has no parking spaces.

    The new store will have a cafe though there has not been a decision about whether it will be run by the current operator, Tamara Murphy. Aaron said he hopes she stays on.

    Though a number of factors contributed to the move, the main one was sales. “I'm expecting that we will see a very significant and immediate increase in our sales volume,” Aaron said.

    Aaron said he expects to see a big jump in children's book sales because the new location will be more attractive to families.

    Michael Oaksmith, director of development for Hunters Capital, said Elliott Bay is taking about 50 percent of the building. A car storage operation will remain in the basement and a small retail tenant will take space at the northern portion of the building, he said.

    The building has been owned by Michael Malone, president of Hunters, for 25 years. The 1918 building was a Ford truck service center for Seattle, Aaron said. Recently, it was a music system company's offices and warehouse space.

    Hunters Capital is rehabbing the entire building, upgrading mechanical, electrical, plumbing and lighting systems. WG Clark is awaiting permits. Oaksmith said crews will work on the core and shell for the next six weeks.

    Work should be done by the end of February and the book store needs two weeks to move. Aaron said the goal is to open in the new space by the end of March.

    The interior and exterior storefront is being replaced with a full wood system. The magenta and blue exterior will also be changed.

    Aaron, who lives on the north end of Capitol Hill, said he is excited about the change. He said he loves the way the store is starting to unfold, and the vitality of the neighborhood. His only regret is leaving Pioneer Square.

    “It's hard and sad to leave the place that the store has always been for 36 years. Both the store itself and the neighborhood. That's a little bittersweet.”


     


    Katie Zemtseff can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.


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