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The plan to rehabilitate three historic Pioneer Square buildings into apartments

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Unico’s plans for the Grand Central Block include plans for Occidental Park

A rendering of the finished project.
Courtesy of Graham Baba Architects

Three familiar, historic Pioneer Square buildings could be getting a new life as apartment buildings: The Buttnick Building; the Gottstein Building, better-known as the City Loan Building; and the Squire Latimer Building, better-known as the Grand Central.

Unico Properties, the real estate company that rehabilitated Smith Tower, has big plans for what’s known as the Grand Central Block, bounded by First Avenue on one side and Occidental Park on the other. The goal for the buildings themselves: adapt the use from office to multifamily residential.

In addition to adapting the existing structure, the current proposal would add extra floors of housing atop the Buttnick Building and the Grand Central. Unico plans for the units to be market-rate. They’re looking at a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units, which they hope will make the building affordable to different income levels.

One of the project’s three goals, along with the rehab and adaptive reuse, is to “activate the square,” Unico said in a press release.

That includes renovating the retail facade facing the Occidental Park and a “significant contribution” to the Seattle Parks Foundation for improvements.

Renderings of the proposed project from Occidental Park, including the “Grand Passage.”

Part of the rehabilitation plans include adding a public right-of-way—they’re calling it the “Grand Passage”—through the City Loan building, the thinnest of the three, to connect Occidental to First Avenue mid-block.

A rendering of the passage through the City Loan Building.

As for the current retail tenants, which include the Comedy Underground (whose bar currently sits by where the Grand Passageway entrance will be), a spokesperson for Unico told Curbed Seattle there are no specific plans around them at this time.

Despite the renovation and rehab, the buildings won’t look too jarringly different from the outside—they’re all historic buildings in the Pioneer Square Historic District. But Unico plans to do some renovations, including electrical, safety, and ADA upgrades. Seismic upgrades are necessary, including a possible retrofit. The project would seek LEED certification.

As the project moves forward, Unico is forming Stakeholder Advisory Committee steer project recommendations.

The Grand Central building previously rehabilitated by Ralph Anderson during his Pioneer Square revitalization efforts in the 1970s, and the City Loan Building was previously restored by NBBJ in 1982. The Buttnick Building has seen fewer changes, but gained its eye-catching signage in the 1950s.

This article has been updated since its original publication to add details about the apartment unit mix.