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May 14, 2020

U District church plans demolition and sale

Real Estate Editor

Photo by Brian Miller [enlarge]
The century-old structure could make way for apartments. It last sold in 2006 for $4.5 million.

Yet another church in the University District is bound for demolition, sale and redevelopment. This time it's the former Third Church of Christ Scientist, at 4740 17th Ave. N.E.

Current owner Churchome recently filed a plan with the city of Seattle to demolish the circa 1920 building as a step toward selling.

The corner property, at Northeast 50th Street, totals 21,600 square feet and is zoned LR3(M), meaning that a four-story apartment building eventually seems likely. It last traded in 2006 for $4.5 million. The seller was the Church of Christ Scientist, which originally developed the two-story Beaux Arts/neoclassical-style building. It's currently closed like other Seattle churches, owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Efforts to reach Churchome, formerly known as City Church, were unsuccessful, and its broker wasn't identified in marketing materials filed with the city. Churches can't be landmarked unless willingly nominated, so future demolition is very likely.

Churchome's main location is the former Overlake Christian Church property in the Rose Hill neighborhood in Kirkland. The church was founded locally in 1992 by the late father of Judah Smith, who leads it today with wife Chelsea Smith (both now based in Los Angeles). Its services here and in Los Angeles have drawn the likes of Justin Bieber, Kourtney Kardashian and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

In Belltown, it also owns the half-block former IBEW labor hall property at 2700 First Ave. That's now zoned up to 145 feet.

Assuming the U District property sells before or after demolition, it'll join the ranks of University Christian Church, Seattle Unity Church, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Seattle Unity Church and others whose congregations have aged and dwindled to the point where maintaining costly old unreinforced masonry buildings became untenable.

Downtown, Seattle First Presbyterian Church and Plymouth Church United Church of Christ are likely to later join that list.


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

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