Monday, September 3, 2018

Chambers Prairie Grange Starbucks Open Soon

Above: Luis Smith of Shelton steps back to check the position of a tree he just planted at the site of a new Starbucks at the former Chambers Prairie Grange on Yelm Highway in Tumwater. Opening day could be as soon as September 20, said property owner Tom Schrader.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

A new Starbucks in the former Chambers Prairie Grange in Tumwater may be open for business as soon as September 20, said property owner Tom Schrader earlier this week. 

The 108 year old building is located at 1301 Yelm Highway on the corner of Yelm Highway and Henderson Boulevard.  

Bought by Schrader from the Washington State Grange in 2015, the building had sat neglected and unused for years, but still retained its historic character and structural integrity. 

After a series of messy misunderstandings between Schrader and the city, Schraders original vision of lightly converting it to a neighborhood cafe and bistro began to disappear. 

Property rezones, negotiations and compromises between the city and Schrader are documented in several articles by Little Hollywood.

Earlier this week, contractors working for Starbucks were busy working on the inside and on a large outdoor deck jutting from the opened up western side of the grange. 

Meanwhile, Schrader was busy outside planting several liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree) with two employees. 

Although several large trees were cut down, Schrader said he left 26 trees on the property. Two stormwater retention ponds were created to mitigate the impact of new impervious surfaces and make up for the work performed by the large Douglas firs and maple trees that were on the property.

The property now has 30 parking stalls. The drive thru lane, a non-negotiable feature for Starbucks, can accommodate nine vehicles before traffic starts spilling out onto Yelm Highway. 

The drive thru access points provide both left and right ingress and egress on both Yelm Highway and Henderson Boulevard.

In a nod to the former grange’s roots as a community center for farmers, Schrader has placed authentic, rusty farm equipment on the property, sourced from Rochester.

In past interviews, Schrader said numerous national businesses contacted him about the high-profile corner, but chose Starbucks because it is a coffee business where people also enjoy meeting. 

Above: With Tomás Wilson of Shelton, Tom Schrader loads up another liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree) to plant on site. 

A Brief Chambers Prairie Grange History

Historically, granges served as the community center for social, agricultural, educational and political activities for farmers.

According to the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, the Chambers Prairie Grange No. 191 was first organized in 1906. Grange members built the wooden, one story 5,668 square foot building through donated work on land donated by the Wickie Family.

The Chambers Prairie Grange, completed in 1910, was one of the first in Thurston County. It is not on any local, state or national historic register. 

When Schrader bought the grange, he quickly announced his vision for it to be a neighborhood café and bistro. 

Wanting to save the building’s historic character and integrity, Schrader received a successful rezone of the property from single family low density to community service.

Because the building sits in the city’s right of way and the city has future plans to expand the intersection, city staff made some development concessions with Schrader in support of his efforts to save the building. 

Intent on building a new 4,000 square foot building after entering into negotiations with Starbucks, Schrader declared that the building could not be saved and began dismantling the interior. 

City staff told Schrader he would have to conform to land use regulations for new construction if he was going to destroy the building. 

Schrader purchased the adjacent property from The Farm Homeowners Association and received a rezone for that property in 2016. 

Through negotiations with the city, a developer’s agreement was hammered out and Schrader moved forward with his new plans. 

For more photos and information about the history of the Chambers Prairie Grange, the building’s purchase by Tom Schrader, and related land use discussions with the City of Tumwater, go to Little Hollywood, and type key words into the search engine.