Monday, June 18, 2018

Mistake on the Lake Deconstruction Underway

Above: The ongoing deconstruction of downtown Olympia’s much reviled nine story building provides a surreal view through the buildings framework to Budd Inlet, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains. The almost unencumbered view has not been seen since 1964.

Mistake on the Lake by the Numbers

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

The scene is surreal.

With window frames and outer metal sheathing removed, a stunning sight looking north from the Washington State Capitol Campus toward Budd Inlet, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains is revealed through the buildings framework for the first time since 1964.

It is a visual tease that will not last long and gives false hope to those who may think that downtown Olympia’s much reviled nine story building is coming down once and for all.

We are talking about, of course, the building best known as the Mistake on the Lake, or the Capitol Center Building. The building at 410 Fifth Avenue is now known as Views on Fifth.

The owner, Ken Brogan, his investors, and representatives successfully navigated city permit processes and appeals to create a mixed-use commercial and residential building of the same height and two, three story buildings nearby.

City staff said on Monday that they do not have a schedule for the project, but estimate that it should take about a year to complete.

Above: A City of Olympia hearing examiner approved the redevelopment proposal for Views on Fifth. A public hearing on the project held January 9 lasted nearly six hours, with one five minute break. Hundreds of community members were in attendance.

Although the project could have been handled by the city, the building is so controversial that the city deferred to a hearing examiner to determine whether the proposed project is a permitted use within the urban waterfront-housing zone, and if it complies with all city codes.

“The Capitol Center Building is unattractive and its location is truly unfortunate. In a perfect world it never would have been constructed, and it could not be constructed today,” wrote City of Olympia hearing examiner Mark Scheibmeir, in his decision dated February 2.

The building cost two million dollars when construction started in 1964 and was completed in 1966. Although the state department of archeology and historic preservation deemed that it was eligible for the national register in 2013, it was never listed.

Above: The deconstruction of the nine story building as seen earlier this week in downtown Olympia.

Mistake on the Lake by the Numbers

2,000 + pages of case documents were available to the hearing examiner related to the redevelopment project.

$1,500 dollars was spent on overtime for additional City of Olympia police presence the night of the hearing on January 9. Despite advance chatter of possible disruptions, there were no known police actions related to the meeting.

1,022 new weekday daily trips are expected to be generated by the project. The applicant will mitigate the traffic impacts by payment of a traffic impact fee of $167,224.83.

248 wooden pilings are under the Capitol Center Building, according to a civil and structural engineer for the applicant. The timber is sound, according to a 2012 analysis.

200 feet from the Ordinary High Water Mark of Budd Inlet is a northeast parking lot adjacent to the project. It is owned by several individuals, some of whom own Views on Fifth through a different corporation. Ownership of the parking lot was jettisoned by the applicant, ostensibly to circumvent scrutiny by the city and state Shoreline Management Act jurisdiction. The applicant asserted that there was no evidence in the project record suggesting improper future ‘piecemealing.’ Just in case, the hearing examiner added a condition that precludes the applicant from using the parking lot for commercial use without undergoing a Shoreline Management Act review. This does not include parking on the property.

143 units of rental apartments are anticipated, some of which are defined as live/work spaces. These are defined in International Building Code as a dwelling unit or sleeping unit in which a significant portion of the space includes a nonresidential use that is operated by the tenant.

60 percent (over) of Olympians voted for the creation of a Metropolitan Park District in 2016. Purchase of the Capitol Center Building was specifically part of the ballot language, with the hope the area could be made into a park. 

15 feet is the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) of the southeast corner of the Capitol Center Building, which lies within a Flood Zone. City ordinance requires the Capitol Center Building to be flood proofed up to 16 feet BFE, or one foot. Sea level rise in downtown Olympia is predicted to be one foot by the year 2050.

7 former Governors of the State of Washington, some of whom who have since passed away, represented by local attorney Allen Miller, who want the building removed: Albert Rosellini (deceased, 2011), Dan Evans, John Spellman (deceased, January 26, 2018), Booth Gardner (deceased, 2013), Mike Lowry (deceased, 2017), Gary Locke and Christine Gregoire.

7 magnitude earthquakes are the standard for minimum design loads for buildings and other structures in Western Washington, relied upon by the International Building Code and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). 

6.8 was the magnitude of the Nisqually earthquake in 2001. The Pacific Northwest is overdue for an earthquake larger than magnitude 7. Current simulations and research generally focus on the possibility of a magnitude 9 for the region.

For more photos and information about the Views on Fifth, or the Views on 5th, Mistake on the Lake, Capitol Center Building, owner Ken Brogan, downtown Olympia, sea level rise, flood events, King Tides, the proposed hotel, or the isthmus, go to Little Hollywood,, and type key words into the search button.

Editor's Note/Clarifications, June 19: Little Hollywood made a couple numerical corrections to this story. Little Hollywood appreciates the feedback.

Above: Children play in the Heritage Fountain in downtown Olympia earlier this week.