The property owner of the site of the devastating March 9 natural gas explosion in downtown Greenwood says his company is planning to rebuild the site into “the living room of Greenwood.”
The blast destroyed Mr. Gyros, Neptune Coffee and Greenwood Quick Stop, and damaged another 50 surrounding businesses.
“We are 100 percent committed to rebuilding Greenwood,” Mike Slattery of Slattery Properties said at tonight’s Greenwood Community Council meeting.
With insurance dragging its feet, Slattery said his company is moving ahead anyway and has hired an architectural design firm to begin designing a mixed-use building that will cover the west side of Greenwood Avenue North between 84th street and the soon-to-open Flint Creek Cattle Co. restaurant on the corner of 85th (the restaurant plans to finally open Oct. 1.) The building that housed Better Hearing, Kouzina and Insurrection Apparel and Boots will be demolished.
Slattery said that before the explosion, his company planned to restore buildings on that block to look like Greenwood in the 1930s, taking cues from the Flint Creek building. They had done some work on roofs and windows, and were very excited to have Flint Creek sign a lease to turn the former antique store into an upscale restaurant.
Then came March 9.
“When you see your son calling at 3:30 in the morning, it ain’t good,” Slattery said. “He said the place is kindling and in pieces.”
It’s now been more than six months of cleaning up and dealing with insurance companies. With this morning’s Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission report that places blame for the explosion on Puget Sound Energy for failing to properly decommission a gas line attached to Mr. Gyros that was later damaged by transients, Slattery hopes the insurance money will start flowing.
“With the partial finger pointing to PSE, it strengthens our case,” he said.
Slattery said the plan now is for two levels of underground parking, ground floor retail of seven or eight small businesses, then apartments on top. He said the company will offer retail space to all seven businesses that were destroyed or displaced. (G&O Family Cyclery, which was next to Neptune Coffee, suffered extensive damage and has temporarily moved a block north.)
“We’re looking to do something that blends with the neighborhood, that will be a first-class project,” he said. “We’re hoping to make that retail presence the living room of Greenwood.”
He said the retail spaces will likely range from 600 to 1,200 square feet. He wants small, local businesses in there, not national chains, with outdoor seating, a green roof, and “having a belly full of PSE, we want to put as many solar panels on the roof as possible.”
The community will have opportunities to comment on the project once design gets officially underway.
Update Wednesday: Slattery Properties has applied for a permit with Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections to construct a 91,400 square foot building with 75 apartments, ground floor retail, and 70 parking spaces. The project will be subject to Early Design Guidance meetings (open to the public) and environmental review.