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Groups fighting to protect "historic gateway" to Pike Place Market

City dwellers, workers and shoppers have launched a grassroots effort to save the more than 130-year-old Hahn Building, on the edge of Seattle's Pike Place Market, from being torn down for a new development. They consider it the "historic gateway" to the Market. (Photo: KOMO News) 

SEATTLE - A Seattle building more than 100 years old and considered by some to be sentimental to Pike Place Market could be next in line for the wrecking ball.

That's not sitting well with some city dwellers, workers and shoppers at the market, who have launched a grassroots effort to save the building.

"It's the historic four corner cobblestone entrance into the Pike Place Market," said Seattle resident Jean Bateman. "It is the Hahn Building, and in its earlier state it was called the Elliott Hotel."

The Hahn Building has stood at the corner of First Ave. and Pike Street for more than 130 years.

But, if a developer gets its way, the three story building will be demolished and replaced with a 14-story hotel.

Jean Bateman argues replacing any one of the buildings on the four corners at First and Pike with a high rise would kill the character of Pike Place Market and its historic context.

She and at last count, more 8,000 others consider the intersection the "Historic Gateway" to Pike Place.

"We need to preserve the integrity of the atmosphere," said Bateman.

Those 8,000 people have signed the ‘SaveTheMarketEntrance.Org’ petition.

"We are really about calling attention to the city about, 'is there a way to change the course of this trajectory?'" said Bateman.

Here's why: the building failed twice to get landmark protection status, that makes it fair game for development.

But, the proposal is still under review and the design board recently asked the developer to make refinements, including reducing the scale and mass of the high rise.

In a statement, the Developer, Marketview Place Associates, said in part that it's working with the review board on creating a project that complements the Market's character and would be an amenity to Pike Place.

The statement said: "he development group of the 103 Pike Building has met with and will continue to work closely with the Design Review Board and many others to create a project that will not only complement the character of the neighborhood but will be an amenity for the Pike Place Market. The project will bring even more visitors and shoppers to the Market and will improve the street level experience without adding additional traffic.

"The ownership group is comprised of multi-generational Seattle families and we understand the significance of this location and take our responsibility as stewards of this property very seriously.

"Like many others, we believe the Pike-Pine area should be the best urban experience in the country connecting the Pike Place Market to the Waterfront, Retail Core, Convention Center and other cultural attractions, and this project has an opportunity to be an important part of that renaissance."

Their spokesperson told KOMO News the building has no parking, and the developer considers that a plus. She said no parking would mean traffic congestion.

In addition to the opposition, the downtown review board has received letters of support including a letter from local businessman Rick Yoder, who owns three area businesses.

Other comments can be read here.

For some, saving the Hahn and blocking the high rise is also about protecting some residential views of the Market, Elliott Bay and the Cascade Mountain Range.

Bateman lives in the high rise behind the Hahn Building, which sits to the east.

But, despite losing part of the view from her condo, Bateman insists what would upset her more is losing the longtime gateway to one of the city's most valued treasures.

She said she doesn't want to imagine what it would be like if the Hahn was gone.

"You want to see a grown woman cry?" Bateman said.

The Downtown Review Board meets again on April 3 to reconsider the developer's proposal changes.

Once approved, proposals then go to the city's Department of Construction and Inspection for review and public comment.

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