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Elliott Bay will move to Capitol Hill

Bookstore's new location will open in the spring.
Elliott Bay Book Company will move into this space at 1521 10th Ave. next spring.

Elliott Bay Book Company will move into this space at 1521 10th Ave. next spring. Hunters Capital

Elliott Bay Book Company, the Pioneer Square icon, will be moving to Capitol Hill this spring, according to store owner Peter Aaron. The bookstore, which has been in trouble and losing money the last two years, revealed earlier this fall that it might have to close unless it could move to a better location with better terms. Their lease on the current store is up early in 2010.

There has been widespread concern about the future of Elliott Bay, battered by the economy, changes in book retailing, the rise of Amazon, and a climate in Pioneer Square that has made business more difficult for the store. In addition, the store was hurt by last year's snowstorm.

The store's new location, at 1521 10th Ave., is between Pike and Pine on Captiol Hill in a 1918 vintage building that was an old Ford Truck service center. The new space is a bit larger than the current store and will incorporate a cafe and space for author appearances, says the company in a statement.

Aaron says, "I am convinced that this upcoming relocation will afford us the best opportunity to remain, and further develop as a thriving enterprise." The move to the Pike-Pine corridor could literally be a new lease on life for the store, which has been seeking financing to keep going during tough times.

Aaron confirmed that the bookstore has received new financing, but would not give further details. The new landlord is Hunters Capital, a Seattle-based real estate company founded by Michael Malone that specializes in historic properties.

Malone says he knew Elliott Bay was struggling and made some concessions to help them out. It was either that or risk seeing them die. Malone believes that the Pike-Pine area, where his firm has several properties, will benefit from having a new "destination retailer" and a quality bookstore that's not a Borders or Barnes & Noble chain outlet. "Neighborhoods have to be balanced," he says, and the bookstore will add to a neighborhood already known for its nightlife. Malone thinks the new Elliott Bay will open by April.

Aaron says they'll be bringing Elliott Bay's signature wooden bookshelves and adapting them to the new space. Malone says the old Ford building is brick-and-beam, an interior architecture that fits Elliott Bay's traditional sensibility. They've been careful rejuvenating the wood, and they've fixed up the building's skylights. "It's important that they don't change their positioning and feel," Malone says about the bookstore. He predicts a rousing welcome to Capitol Hill and thinks the city should be happy. "Seattle had saved Elliott Bay," Malone says.

This story has been updated

Knute Berger is Mossback, Crosscut's chief Northwest native. He also writes the monthly Grey Matters column for Seattle magazine and is a weekly Friday guest on Weekday on KUOW-FM (94.9). His newest book is Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes On Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice, published by Sasquatch Books. In 2011, he was named Writer-in-Residence at the Space Needle and is author of Space Needle, The Spirit of Seattle (2012), the official 50th anniversary history of the tower. You can e-mail him at mossback@crosscut.com.


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