The Starbucks building at 505 1st Avenue South

Starbucks Coffee Company owns a property on First Avenue South in Seattle, near Safeco Field and Qwest Field.  It’s a little over one acre-sized property, and on it, they built a beautiful office building.  Construction was completed in 2009 by Lease Crutcher Lewis.  Starbucks bought the property in 2006, at a time when they saw growth of the corporation and possible need for increased office space for corporate partners.  I quickly looked at the King County Assessor’s website and saw that the date of sale was April 4, 2006 for the sales price of $28,687,546.  The Seattle Post Intelligencer reported the sale here:

The article describes Starbucks buying two side by side buildings on First Avenue South, but not buying a tiny triangle tip of that block where the historic Triangle Pub currently operates.  The picture featured here on this blog shows the recently completed building still with a fence around it.  At one time, there was very unsubstantiated, and perhaps completely false, gossip that Starbucks intended to move Tazo Tea into this building, from their current Portland location.

The new construction was only at 505 1st Avenue South.  The historic building on the north side of the new construction already has Starbucks partners in it.

Wouldn’t it be great if Starbucks would move their whole headquarters to the new building? It makes me giddy to think that Starbucks could relocate within a short walk of my office, and be even closer to “Starbucks Melody” than they already are. This neighborhood is a fun little neighborhood to work in.  From that building, it is a short walk to Grand Central Bakery, a wonderful little cafe in historic Pioneer Square.  And Starbucks could have great neighbors like Dry Soda which has their headquarters about one block north of 505 First Avenue South.  Another thought might be that Starbucks could add a third “mercantile” Starbucks on the ground level of the building.  That would make my day.  I would be able to go there almost every day!

The truth is, I have no idea what Starbucks plans to do with this office space. Your guess is as good as mine. Guess away…

And for those reading this who want to see a little more of the Pioneer Square neighborhood, a few pictures are attached:

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  • CD

    What a great city you live in! Maybe the building could be used for Michelle Gass’ new SBC empire! ;-p

  • CD

    BTW, and way off topic, I received a coupon book from Starbucks for a free drink a month for the next 6 months because of the cancellation of the Duetto card. Nice touch.

  • Melody

    @CD – Well I think I live in a great city too but I have an amazing bias!! The coupon book IS a nice touch. I notice that I’ve been getting fewer and fewer coupons from Starbucks. There have been a couple of “two-fer” type coupons people have posted about here which I never received. I guess it doesn’t matter – I’m not likely to use that kind of coupon.

  • Melody

    @CD – One more thing … I guess I should have put this in the blog, it may just be that Starbucks isn’t planning to do anything with this property. They just want to sell. Though probably the market was more favorable in 2006.

  • CanMatt

    Well, yet again Melody, you have produced another facinating and informative article about Starbucks, with a topic that one living up in Canada would never have known about!

    Also, just by looking at these pictures, makes me sad that the last time I was in Seattle, I did not take the time to explore more of these types of neighbourhoods. It makes me look forward to beautiful summer days (despite that these pictures were not taken in summer…) And of course, my next trip to Seattle!

    Happy Easter weekend,


  • Melody

    @CanMatt – I started writing this blog post in December, so those pics are from a crisp, clear, winter day. I actually don’t know that this blog post is so informative: It’s an empty building owned by Starbucks, but it’s fun to think about what might go in there! I like CD‘s idea of putting all of Michelle’s empire in it! It could be the new SBC World Headquarters! Happy Easter to you too.

  • Karl Dahlquist ~ karldotcom

    Isnt 20% of commercial office space in Seattle empty? Columbia Center is teetering on default and isnt there an empty WaMu building?

    While Starbucks probably thought it was a good investment at the time, I am sure Starbucks would rather renegotiate their SSC rents lower before building a whole new tower and moving everyone to these buildings. I wonder what the occupancy rate is now (the article listed 96% full) I would think they would want to stay near the light rail and Sounder station. (Does Starbucks rent out their parking spots for sporting events?)

    Or buy the Columbia Center! You could wrap the top floors as a Venti Cup and the steam would rise above and into the ever present cloud cover!

  • Melody

    @Karldotcom If we remodeled the top of the Columbia Center as a Venti cup, I believe there would be plenty of room for a “The Way I See it” quote. I thought this 505 1st South building is just an empty building. I don’t know what the vacancy rate in Seattle is, but I think it must be alarmingly high. I’ve lived here since ’89 and I don’t remember ever seeing so much open space everywhere. There is a small Starbucks on the bottom of the Smith Tower, which just emptied out of people due businesses leaving, the economy … That store is so slow. I have no idea how it stays open. The little sundry store next to it also folded when the businesses emptied. And the WaMu building Starbucks has this great store design, but it’s now an extremely slow Starbucks for the same reasons. Since they own this building, they could just move in, but that could be a bad idea for a million different reasons.

  • txmgr

    very interesting post Melody! I visited the store in the Smith Tower last month and we were the only customers for about a half hour. My partner made a comment about how he had always believed that stores in Seattle must be non-stop lines of customers from open till close with twelve partners on the floor! It reminded me of my old store that closed in 08…

  • Skooter McGoo

    I have the perfect idea for this place. Turn it into a youth hostel and have young adults from all the locations world wide to teach them the start to finish of the business of coffee. It could bring the next generation of world views together, with what I can only imagine would be a better understanding of each other and the connections of the whole.

  • Ryan

    Wow Melody, it’s a little ironic that the “legendary” Starbucks experience can only be found at a non-branded Starbucks. Sharing great coffee and tea is what makes this job more than just benefits and a paycheck, but because of labor cutbacks I do not have the ability to share even a French Press of seasonal coffee with my customers and coworkers. Hopefully corporate management will see past the short-term accounting and realize that amazing customer service and a commitment to great coffee, not just advertising campaigns, is the only way to ensure this company’s survival into the future, I envy you Melody and wish that everyone could have such an amazing experience.

  • Darth Sidamo

    Does anybody else realize that they spent 28 million dollars on a building they do not even use? Alas, that is where my cost of living raise had been hiding.

  • AmazonV

    I would assume they were hoping to use it (rent or sell) to make money, otherwise i would guess they would have made moving plans when it was ready.

    Now that the space market is where it is…I wonder if they ignore it (technically it is a sunk cost), forgot about it, or have plans brewing.

    I think a coffee school o institute would be a neat use!

    I love the pictures @Melody! I keep trying to scheme how to get to Seattle one of these days…well that or Darjeeling India

  • Cindy

    You should see the inside! The offices were beautiful! Open brick with an industrial feel plus it was right above the Elysian Brewing Company. Great coffee in the morning and great beer in the afternoon.

    Starbucks also owes the unfinished property right across the street from 505 1st Ave S. Not sure what the company is going to do with 83 King, 505 1st and the unfinished building. Lots of money being wasted.

  • smoovebcoffee

    Yeah, call someone on commercial real estate- it’s been for sale for some time. I don’t recall the specifics, but 505 could never have housed all of the SSC folks. At its height, the SSC had about 4,000 partners. The 505 building (including 83 king) could have only held maybe 1,500 of them. It was only meant to be expansion space. I, too, wondered (hoped actually) that with the NBBJ departure from Pioneer Square to S Lake Union that maybe all of Starbucks could relocate to Pioneer Square (in a handful of buildings), but it was never in the cards. Pioneer Square has all the transit and food amenities that 1st & Lander never could. To this day at 1st & Lander (in addition to the lame choices in the Starbucks building) there are only (2) bbq joints, a macrina, and 1 pho place within easy walking distance– pitiful for the largest expanse of office space in the puget sound (yes, it has more square footage than the columbia tower).

  • Melody

    @Smoovebcoffee and Cindy and AmazonV – I wish I had a way to make a poll. I like the idea of “What should Starbucks do with this building?” (A) House Michelle and the SBC empire (B) turn it into a youth hostel (Skooter’s suggestion) (C) Move tazo into it (D) other …

    I sort of assumed that they were trying to sell it, but at least as of my writing this, they still own it, and I posted this on April 4th because it was the anniversary of buying the property.

    @Smoovebcoffee – I’ve often where in the world one eats if you work at the SSC. It looks like food HELL. Down the road (from the SSC) there’s that funny looking restaurant made out of old trains that appears to be an oriental restaurant, but from the outside it doesn’t look inviting. What is “NBBJ”?

    @Cindy – Thanks for the skinny on what the interior is like. I dream of Starbucks coming to pioneer square. I’d run into everyone all the time. And the food would be much better for all the SSC folks. You could eat well. If you had time and can stand in a line, you might even be able to run to Salumi from 505 1st.

  • Melissa Allison

    Such an interesting question, Melody! Starbucks recently leased its nearby 83 King Street space to ING Direct.

  • Nob

    Oh… I knew the street well, but did not know that Starbucks owned it. Thank you Melody.
    By the way, I tried a visit to Kent Roasting Plant, too. Of course they said “No”. I tried that 3 times. Haha…..

  • Melody

    Hi all! Okay, so allow me to give a little background to this blog post, and today’s update. I started writing this blog entry in December 2009, when the photos were taken. I remember noticing in the news way back in 2006 that Starbucks had bought this property (link in article). I chatted with my boyfriend off and on about because he works in construction, and this kind of conversation always interests him. At one point, when there were finally tower cranes on the site, in 2007 or 2008, I took a bunch of pics of the cranes to show my boyfriend because it’s the kind of thing that really interests him, and the site is within walking distance of my office. Finally in December 2009, I realized the construction was finally done, and I snapped the pics above.

    Today, I just walked to 505 1st and back from work. It’s about a ten minute walk, or a little longer if you’re a bit out of shape. It is what it is: It is still an empty building.

    The lobby area has big glass doors looking into it, so I pressed my nose and face right up against the door and peered in and saw that there were a few very non-descript brown office lobby seating sofas. On one north wall, you can see the beautiful exposed brick that Cindy talked about, as well as two benches, that look as if they’re made of the same sort of reclaimed wood that would be found in a LEED certified Starbucks.

    But in the end, I never thought this blog entry would be very interesting to anyone. I posted it because I really like the pics, and it is Starbucks related, and I posted it on the anniversary of when Starbucks bought the property. And I need a little content for this dang blog, because my invitation to the Kent Roasting Plant seems to have gotten lost in the mail. 😉

    It’s an empty office building, still.

  • Ryan

    Mmm coffee, Not as glamarous as some Starbucks but I enjoy my coffee in their Glasgow location.

  • bryan

    What surprises me about this is how many people drink coffee! The only way I can drink it is with a packet of Swiss Miss thrown in, and enough sugar to make it like syrup.

    BTW, I really like your Header, with the script and coffee cup. Excellent job.


  • Kat aka Darkkatpouncing

    I love the photos and it makes me wish I worked in that area. The commute would be fantastic! :) YES something like 15th AVE coffee in lower level would rock! I love the idea of bringing life back into the old buildings and restoration and good usage by building community :)

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