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November 20, 2018

Bush Garden building in ID sells for $7.5M; apartments planned

Journal Staff Reporter

Photo by Brian Miller [enlarge]
The three-story building was developed in 1910, and is not landmarked. Vibrant Cities and Graham Baba Architects are working on a mixed-use project.

The Bush Garden building, at 614 Maynard Ave. S. in the International District, has sold for $7.5 million, according to King County records.

The seller was HHS Realty Group LLC, which acquired the property in 2016, before last year's upzone, for $5 million.

The buyer was Jasmine Maynard LLC. The LLC is associated with developer James Wong's Vibrant Cities, which has its offices nearby. The buyer also assumed the $2.1 million loan from the seller in the prior 2016 transaction, with about $1.1 million still owed.

Vibrant Cities and Graham Baba Architects have an early plan, not yet filed with the city, for a mixed-use apartment building with an undetermined number of units.

Ross Klinger, Todd Gauthier and Jason Bloom of Kidder Mathews represented the seller.

The property had been listed, with no set price, for almost two years. It's on the northeast corner of Maynard and South Lane Street. It's in the International Special Review District, and the ISRD Board will need to approve redevelopment plans.

The sale also includes the corner parcel next door at 620 Maynard, which has a one-story warehouse structure. The entire property totals 14,400 square feet.

For the land, the deal works out to about $521 per square feet.

The three-story Bush Garden building was developed in 1910, with later additions, and is not landmarked. And, because it's outside the National Historic District, it could be demolished.

It has 21,600 rentable square feet, including the bar and restaurant space.

The property is zoned for residential construction up to 170 feet. KM marketed it with a pro forma plan for an eight-story hotel.

Instead, when Wong and Graham Baba briefed the ISRD board in July, they proposed an apartment building of unknown height, which might preserve part of the Bush Garden building.

Johnson Partnership's historical study of the building says that no seismic work has been done on the structure, which is on the city's list of unreinforced masonry buildings (URMs).

KM says that Bush Garden is on a month-to-month lease. It's generally considered to be Seattle's oldest Japanese restaurant. It was founded in 1953 by the Seko family, which sold it to Masaharu and Karen Sakata in 1997. (The building was sold to a separate group.)

The restaurant moved from a nearby address to the present building, formerly the SRO Elgin Hotel, in 1957. The restaurant once extended to the upper floors. They now appear to be vacant.

The restaurant reportedly closed in 2016, leaving only the bar open.

Karaoke was introduced in the 1970s, and the current owners say Bush Gardens was the first karaoke bar in the U.S. According to a feature in Crosscut, famous diners included Joe DiMaggio, Shirley MacLaine and Vic Damone.

The Sekos also had a catering business for first-class passengers flying to Tokyo on Japan Airlines. In its prime, the restaurant had also branches in Portland and San Francisco.

According to the ISRD, Karen Sakata would like to return Bush Garden to the new building after construction.

Wong has ties to the ID; he says his father once worked at the nearby House of Hong restaurant.

Meanwhile, Vibrant Cities is planning two buildings in Lower Queen Anne with a total of 222 units. It's also planning the 70-unit Pivot at 1208 Pine St.

Earlier this year, Vibrant Cities sold the new 60-unit Cove, also on Capitol Hill, for a little over $32 million.


Brian Miller can be reached by email at brian.miller@djc.com or by phone at (206) 219-6517.

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