Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Going…Going…Almost Gone: Demolition of Blight on the Isthmus

Above: Building demolition today in downtown Olympia across from Bayview Market opened up the view to the Capitol Building.
By Janine Unsoeld
At long last, building demolition at 505 Fourth Avenue in downtown Olympia across from Bayview Market has begun, facilitated by Seattle-Tacoma based contractor Dickson Company.

According to the City of Olympia, this work is expected to take no more than 10 days and no site improvements are planned or funded.  
In recent years, Olympia acquired two properties on the isthmus at 505 and 529 Fourth Avenue West. Demolition of the second building, the former Thurston County Health Department, will occur in early summer.

This project is a funding partnership of the City of Olympia, Thurston County, and the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation.
But What About The Mistake on the Lake?
The Olympia Capitol Park Foundation sent out a news release in late March detailing progress at and near the site, including the vacant nine story building, the Mistake on the Lake, also known as the Capitol Center Building, which is not currently scheduled for demolition: 

The City of Olympia asked the state Legislature for help in removing the long vacant Capitol Center building from the Isthmus. The proposed capital budget released this week by the House Capitol Budget Chair recommends an appropriation of $900,000 that may be used to help with acquisition and demolition of the building…. Representatives Sam Hunt, Chris Reykdal, and Senator Karen Fraser are working together in support of getting state support for funds in the capital budget,” said Jerry Reilly, Foundation chair.

“Although the exact costs of acquiring and removing the Capitol Center building cannot be precisely known until a purchase agreement can be reached with the current owner, best estimates are that the cost, including demolition, could be as high as $12 million….
“The Olympia Capitol Park Foundation has already pledged to raise $400,000 in private donations for development of the Capitol Olympic Vista Park. Both the city of Olympia and Thurston County have been outstanding partners in the progress made so far….

 “There are still a variety of opinions as to how to re-develop all of the land on the isthmus….The position of the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation is that the best use is as a publicly owned civic space, with structures, if any, no higher than 35 feet. But, above all, it is most essential to get ownership (site control) of all of the land as soon as possible. The owners of the Capitol Center building want to re-develop it as a hotel. If this happens, we may live with this building for another fifty years and miss the opportunity to perfect the unparalleled view from the Capitol campus to Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains beyond as envisioned by Capitol designers Wilder and White and the Olmsted brothers a century ago. Our immediate goal is to get the site “down and green” or “down and clean” and then have an open community process to decide what comes next.” 
The Olympia Capitol Park Foundation was established in 2008 as a 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation. Contributions to the Foundation are tax deductible charitable gifts under the federal Internal Revenue Code. Undesignated or general donations will be used for land acquisition, park development, and/or related expenses, such as operations or publicity. Donations for Land and Park Acquisition will be used to acquire some or all of the land and also for park development.

For more information, contact Jerry Reilly, Chair, Olympia Capitol Park Foundation, at vistapark@capitolvistapark.org or mail donations to Capitol Vista Park, PO Box 1964, Olympia, WA 98507.
For more information about the demolition from the City of Olympia, contact Brett Bures, Project Manager, at (360) 753-8290.

Above: Looking northwest from Simmons Street, on-site building demolition workers knocked off today about 4:00 p.m.