Seattle’s Chinatown-International District

Status: In the works!

Year Listed: 2022

Location: Seattle, King County

Located in the heart of Seattle, the Chinatown-International District (C-ID) has a long and rich history dating back to the late 1800s. Chinese immigrants first came to the region in the late 19th century to work in the booming lumber mills, fishing operations, and railroads. These immigrants established the first Chinatown in Seattle south of Pioneer Square. In 1889, this Chinatown was destroyed in the Great Seattle Fire, and the Chinese community relocated to a new Chinatown on South Washington Street. In the early 1900s, the City of Seattle underwent a major regrading project called the Jackson Regrade, which caused the Chinese community to relocate once again, this time to the current location of Chinatown-International District on King Street. Despite being completely bisected when Interstate 5 was constructed in 1969, the neighborhood has become a hub for the Asian community in Seattle, with a diverse mix of businesses, cultural institutions, and residential buildings. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of eight local historic districts established by the City of Seattle.

Today, however, the neighborhood is facing still new challenges. Sound Transit, the public transit agency serving the Seattle metropolitan area, is currently undertaking the third phase of its multi-billion-dollar regional Link light rail expansion, which will require the construction of a new tunnel under the Chinatown-International District. Sound Transit is considering two alignments for the tunnel: Fifth Avenue or Fourth Avenue. If built under Fifth Avenue, the tunnel construction will take place in the heart of the neighborhood and have a devastating impact on the Chinatown-International District’s Asian businesses and residents. The Fourth Avenue alignment, while not without impacts, would largely take place on the edge of the district, on the west side of Union Station.

A coalition of neighborhood businesses, community organizations, residents, and supporters called Transit Equity for All—alongside such partners as Historic South Downtown (HSD), Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), the Wing Luke Museum, and the Uwajimaya supermarket corporation—is urging Sound Transit to give the Fourth Avenue options a more thorough consideration and to remove the Fifth Avenue options from the table. Transit Equity for All is led by Betty Lau and Brien Chow, two longtime community leaders who are concerned about the future of the neighborhood. “This is our third and final Chinatown,” said Betty Lau. “The original Chinatown was forced from the waterfront onto Second and Washington. Then Chinatown was forced to move to the current location. If we’re forced out again, where are we going to go?”

Our decision to add the Chinatown-International District to our Most Endangered Places list highlights the importance of preserving this unique and vital neighborhood. It is crucial that any plans for development or infrastructure consider the C-ID’s cultural and historical significance and do everything possible to minimize the impact on the community. The C-ID has already endured too many disruptions and must be protected so that it can continue to thrive and serve as a vital part of Seattle’s diverse community.

Official Sound Transit Publications:


Transit Equity for All [advocacy group]

Petition to Move Forward on 4th Ave [4500+ signatures]

Email Sound Transit Board [comment letter template included]




4th Ave S, Yesler Way, Interstate-5 and 8th Ave S, and S Dearborn St. [The endangered place is Seattle’s Chinatown International District as it relates to Sound Transit’s Link light rail extension through 4th or 5th Avenue and the adjacent construction zones]

National Guard of Washington Armory

Status: In the works!

Year Listed: 2006

Location: Bellingham, Whatcom County

Built in 1910, the heavy masonry walls, crenellated parapet and rounded towers distinguish the Washington National Guard Armory as a site for military training. Both the National Guard and the Army Reserve used the facility full-time until 1953, when reduced training schedules allowed the National Guard to convert the main floor into a public roller-skating rink. In 1972 the National Guard sold the Armory to Western Washington University which used the upper and lower floors for storage and continued leasing the main drill hall as a roller rink. This lease ended in 1989 after water damage to the oak flooring became a cost issue for the university.

The 2006 addition of the Armory to the Washington Trust’s Most Endangered list was instrumental in raising awareness and interest amongst the university’s Board of Trustees, who were resolved to see the Armory preserved. In 2009, in part through advocacy and assistance provided by the Washington Trust, Director of Facilities Management Tim Wynn, a long-time advocate for the building, was successful in obtaining funding for stabilization, roof repair, and completion of hazardous material abatement.

In June 2018, the building and the adjacent site were purchased by Curt O’Connor and Pete Dawson who are anxious to put this historic community asset back to use. They are currently working on adaptive reuse ideas for the structure and ideas for new construction on the adjacent site.

For more information about the building’s history, see “A History of the Bellingham National Guard Armory.”

See Saved Story:

Old Tumwater Brewery

Status: In the works!

Year Listed: 2003

Location: Thurston County

Tumwater, Thurston County

The six-story Italianate brick brewhouse, erected in 1906 by Olympia Brewing Company’s original owner, Leopold Schmidt, is Tumwater’s best known landmark. Part of Tumwater’s New Market Historic District and listed on the national and state registers of historic places, the Old Brewhouse is vacant and in deteriorating condition. Bricks have detached from the building and are unstable. Wooden roofs have collapsed, and water damage is widespread. Owner SABMiller Brewery has announced it will close its entire plant in July 2003. It is unclear whether the 1906 building will be closed, demolished, or left in its present state. The City of Tumwater supports a public-private partnership for restoration and adaptive re-use of the Old Brewery. Discussion of such a vision continues between the City and prospective developers, but no resolution has been reached.

P-I Globe

Status: Most Endangered Places, In the works!

Year Listed: 2009

Location: King County

Location: Seattle, King County

Built by Pacific Car and Foundry and Electrical Products Consolidated (still in business today as PACCAR), the Globe is a visual representation for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper and remains a post-war tribute to the significant role trade signs and the graphic arts hold in commercial advertising. With the P-I now only an on-line presence, the globe does double duty as a tangible reminder of the challenges currently facing the newspaper industry in a community increasingly reliant on digital media formats. With concerns swirling about how those same challenges might impact the future of the globe, local elected officials have engaged in efforts to recognize the structure as an official historic resource. While no plans indicating the globe’s removal have been publicized, office space within the P-I building is for lease and maintenance needs for the structure could play a role in coming years. These facts have sparked discussion about an appropriate site for the Globe if its relocation ever becomes imminent.

Reard Freed Farmhouse

Status: In the works!

Year Listed: 2010

Location: King County

Once part of a now-lost 80 acre farmstead, the 1890s farmhouse is the last remaining building of the former agriculture
complex. After 1915, the house is remembered as being a gathering place for the community with dances held in the large room on the 2nd floor. It is ready to be moved but is threatened by lack of funding to pay for the relocation and needed restoration. Demolition of the Reard Freed Farmhouse would result in the loss of one of the very few early historic structures that help tell the story of the Sammamish Plateau.

Old City Hall

Status: Most Endangered Places, In the works!

Year Listed: 2011

Location: Pierce County

Location: Tacoma, Pierce County

Constructed in 1893 by the San Francisco-based firm of Hatherton & McIntosh in the Renaissance Revival style, Old City Hall represents Tacoma’s aspirations to be the Northwest’s focal point for commerce and culture. Originally occupied by the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce, the building eventually served as City Hall until the late 1950s. Following a period of vacancy, several attempts over the years to adaptively reuse the structure for a variety of purposes have met with mixed success. The latest plan, conversion of the building to condominium units, has been sidelined due to the economic downturn. In November of 2010, broken pipes released thousands of gallons of water throughout the building, raising fears that structural systems could be compromised. With Old City Hall currently vacant, the hope is that the ownership group will be able to move forward with redevelopment plans. In the meantime, issues of deferred maintenance remain a concern.

Jensen-Byrd Building

Status: Most Endangered Places, In the works!

Year Listed: 2012

Location: Spokane County

Location: Spokane, Spokane County

Returning to the Endangered List for a second time is Spokane’s Jensen-Byrd Building, a visible downtown icon representing the significance of Spokane’s early twentieth century prosperity. At 200,000 square feet and six stories in height, the formidable brick structure stands as the county’s second largest historic warehouse and one of the largest historic buildings in downtown Spokane. Located on the Riverpoint Campus, the base for Washington State University’s operations in Spokane, the building initially faced uncertainty in 2006 as the university prepared to more fully develop the site. Fearing demolition, locally-based Spokane Preservation Advocates (SPA) sought to raise awareness by nominating the Jensen-Byrd Building to that year’s Most Endangered List. Following the inclusion of the structure in the 2006 List, advocates worked with WSU on scenarios designed to retain the Jensen-Byrd Building in the overall redevelopment scheme. After the failure of several redevelopment projects that included an option for rehabilitation, in the fall of 2011 WSU sold the building to Campus Advantage, a Texas-based developer with plans to demolish the Jensen-Byrd Building and construct a new dormitory for the WSU-Spokane campus. This decision was made despite a comparable offer from a local Spokane developer who promised to adaptively re-use the Jensen-Byrd as a dormitory. This action prompted SPA to once again seek Most Endangered status for the structure. While the Jensen-Byrd Building has remained on the Washington Trust’s Watch List since 2006, the organization strongly felt the need to highlight the building once again given the current course of demolition. Recent reports indicate demolition will be delayed until 2013, but overall plans for the site remain unchanged.

Harborview Hall

Status: In the works!

Year Listed: 2012

Location: Seattle, King County

Located in the First Hill neighborhood, Harborview Hall stands as a fine example of the Art Deco style in Seattle and a notable work of architect Harlan Thomas. But perhaps more important is the role Harborview Hall played in training multiple generations of nurses, serving as the base for the University of Washington’s School of Nursing from 1931 to 1961. Despite this, the master plan in place for the Harborview Medical Center Campus called for the Hall to be demolished, replaced with an open plaza. Complicating matters is the fact that King County owns the buildings on the medical campus, but responsibility for facilities management falls to the Harborview Medical Center Board of Trustees.

Under the leadership of County Executive Dow Constantine, King County intervened, asking the Trustees to allow the county time to assess the economic feasibility of redeveloping Harborview Hall. In November 2016, the county included $2.5 million in the budget to convert the building to a homeless shelter. While the project experienced significant delays due to code-compliance issues, an overnight shelter opened in late 2018 on the first floor only. King County Council is still exploring ways to upgrade the building to be an “enhanced” shelter which would be open 24 hours a day with case managers to connect shelter residents to housing and behavioral health services.

As for the rest of the building, there are no immediate plans but the Council is exploring ideas to convert it to low income or affordable housing. Executive Constantine’s office has estimated that a renovation of the entire building that would fully comply with code standards is around $15 million. The county is still determining the building’s long-term plan, a process that County Councilmember Rod Dembowski expects to take at least five years, with the shelter occupying the space in the interim.

We are excited to see the shelter open and are calling this campaign a save — for now. We’ll be keeping an eye on the building and will reopen the advocacy campaign if needed!

In the news:

‘It should have been open a year ago’: Homeless shelter to open in Seattle’s Harborview Hall — but it hasn’t been easy” – The Seattle Times, July 30, 2018

Harborview Hall finally put back to use as homeless shelter set to open” – Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, December 2, 2018

Harborview Hall opening to welcome up to 100 adults and their pets to warm, safe shelter on First Hill” – King County Press Release, December 20, 2018