Scott Shapiro, codeveloper of Melrose Market, wants to recreate that magic in the blocks where Queen Anne meets Belltown. He’s got big plans for a similar building at 203 W Thomas, a 1949 industrial space with a nondescript exterior that conceals an arresting barrel-vaulted ceiling, a water view, and way more space than you’d guess.
Most recently it’s been an outlet for children’s clothing company Cotton Caboodle, but Shapiro is envisioning a collection of local restaurants and retailers taking up residence here. His redevelopment plans include carving the 6,700-square-foot building into nine spaces. One of these comes with a killer deck and the flexibility to take over the bays on either side of it. It’s this space Shapiro hopes to fill with an anchor restaurant—a chef or a concept that makes this building a destination the way Sitka and Spruce’s arrival signaled that Melrose Market would be something special.
He’s been in talks with lots of people (and he promises a coffee shop will be in the mix), but says he doesn’t feel comfortable committing smaller spaces until he knows who will be taking up that main restaurant area. That way he won’t end up with two pizza restaurants or sushi spots or what have you.
Shapiro is working with Charlotte and Michael Green (she’s the founder of Cotton Caboodle), who have owned the building for 23 years. When Melrose Market opened, they couldn’t help but notice that their own property had a similar vaulted ceiling and potential for an open, industrial feel. So, says Shapiro, they contacted him and asked if he’d take on its redevelopment and the challenge of creating a new chapter for the structure and a lasting space for the neighborhood—even though selling the property would mean a guarantee of timely cash for the couple.
Shapiro sees a need similar to his recollection of the pre-Market Melrose Avenue: "Capitol Hill is very dense, but that very western part had a few good restaurants and bars, but nothing anchoring it."
The new apartment construction and nearby corporate offices (Holland America, Big Fish Games, and more) don't hurt, either. Obviously there are a lot of unknowns right now, but Shapiro says the permits and financing are in place, so they will open in the latter half of 2014. Stay tuned for updates as Shapiro confirms occupants.