Fire makes way for stunning new addition

After a massive 3-alarm fire in 2009, the Eleanor Roosevelt Building remained only a brick frame. Since then, plans to expand the neighboring Taproot Theater have been in the works, with designs including a space that allows for classes, performances and a cafe/wine bar. On May 14, the plan was approved and real estate in Seattle got that much more enticing for those looking to buy a home in Greenwood.

The 2009 fire was a result of the building falling victim to an arson spree. The owners of Taproot Theater, who also owned the next door Eleanor Roosevelt Building, planned to turn the space into an additional theater before the fire. Now, the conjunction of the two buildings will open in spring 2013 with 21 factory built sections.

“There was just this big hole there,” cofounder and artistic director Scott Nolte told City Arts Online. “I knew that we would need $20 million to build an expansion on that lot, but the economy wouldn’t allow that. Then my wife, and Taproot co-founder, Pam said, ‘Why don’t we [try] doing something modular that will cost less?’ I said, ‘Oh no, we can’t do that.’ Two hours later I was on the computer Googling modular housing.”

The $4.5 million project was unanimously passed during review and the 12,000-square-foot addition will be sustainably built with hopes of earning a silver LEED certification. Developers have innovation in mind, with plans to widen the sidewalk for safety, make the street a brighter area and create jobs for construction workers, cafe employees, actors, technicians and teachers. The building will also likely attract more residents to the neighborhood with its 1,500-square-foot cafe and wine bar and a shopping area.

The storefront of the building will represent a mixture of historic and modern artistry. The wide-open windows overlooking the busy street and punch-out windows above will create a bright and inviting space for the community to enjoy. The modular housing is very modern and will tie in well with the rest of the neighborhood.

The Greenwood-Phinney neighborhood is already a vibrant area boasting more than 450 businesses, and is located just north of Fremont and east of Ballard. The addition of this expansion will play a major role in the area’s monthly art walks, and brighten up the already-lively corner of 85th Street and Greenwood.