The Donahoe Building—better known as the Bergman Luggage building, thanks to its coating of neon signs—is up for landmark nomination after a Landmarks Preservation Board vote last week.
While the longtime home of the luggage shop, the building on the border of downtown and Belltown was originally built as an Ford auto showroom and service center in 1921, although it was remodeled to accommodate multiple storefronts just a few years later. According to the landmark nomination, the building used to be completely coated in terra cotta for more of a Spanish Eclectic look, but much of it was removed, save for the parapets, when the building spent time as a bank, later replaced with stucco in the late 1980s. While many Seattleites are familiar with the first floor, there’s a less-obvious second floor, which has sat unoccupied for quite some time.
The structure is unreinforced masonry—a large issue in earthquake-prone Seattle. It sustained some damage in the 2001 Nisqually quake, requiring some patching and reinforcement of the parapets.
The property is currently under contract for purchase by Bellevue-based Continental Properties, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports. It’s not unusual for a building to be up for landmark status in advance of a land deal or development plans; landmark nominations can mean tax incentives for preserving historical aspects of a building. The nomination was written by a consultant at both the current owner and Continental’s request.
The Landmark Preservation Board meets next on November 21. If the board votes to designate the property a landmark, legislation would go to the Seattle City Council for approval.