Smith Tower for condos? Uh, why not?

The Smith Tower is hands-down the most appealing structure ever built in downtown Seattle, or in Washington state. It stands in sharp contrast to the Columbia Center just a few blocks away. One terra cotta, one black glass. Smith Tower isn’t doing too well on the commercial market, however.

Smith Tower has struggled a bit to attract and retain business tenants as more modern office towers emerged in recent decades.

“The building itself was never ideally suited to a modern, commercial office-type tenant,” said Kevin Daniels, president of Nitze-Stagen, a private commercial-property investment firm.

The floor space in the upper stories is too small — just 2,000 square feet — and the spaces on the lower levels are either too cut up or too big.

Smith Tower’s occupancy rate was up to 90 percent last year, from 75 percent a decade earlier. But that could reverse itself with the reported departure of two of its largest tenants.

Perhaps my favorite reason to see Smith go residential:

Matthew Gardner, principal in the Seattle-based land-use economics firm Gardner Johnson, said Smith Tower’s conversion “could be incredible.”

“The building itself is iconic, so it does make sense to go down this road.”

Gardner also said the switch would benefit Pioneer Square by bringing more residents into the neighborhood.



  1. 1

    World Class Cynic spews:

    Yeah, that eeeeeevil Alaskan Way Viaduct sure is stopping downtown development dead in its tracks, huh?

    Seriously, I like this idea.

  2. 2

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I like it, too. Seattle needs more density for mass transit, downtown small business, and … well … just about everything else to work.

    But leave some grass for bunnies!!!

  3. 3

    harry poon spews:
    “Here is the full list of the children of Bush and his siblings who have chosen to let other young men and women — mostly poor, rural and minorities — die for them, because they have no desire to die for George W. Bush’s alleged “noble cause” (assuming an eligible age of 17 with parental consent to join the military):”

    Military Service Eligible Children of George W. Bush
    Jenna Bush
    Barbara Bush

    Military Service Eligible Children of Jeb Bush
    George P. Bush
    Noelle Bush
    John Ellis Bush Jr.

    Military Service Eligible Children of Neil Bush
    Lauren Bush
    Pierce Bush

    Military Service Eligible Children of Marvin Bush
    Marshall Bush

    Military Service Eligible Children of Dorothy Bush Koch
    Samuel LeBlond
    Ellie LeBlond

  4. 5

    Right Stuff spews:

    Right Stuff says:

    It appears that I owe Roger a BIG Apology. I was very skeptical that Roger was in fact Goldy. After reaching this conclusion it struck me that Roger/Goldy had been claiming to be a vet etc. which I took exception too. I unfortunately made the leap. Enough people have verified meeting Roger that I now intend to eat crow. First I want to reiterate that I try to maintain a profanity free, personal attatck free approach while posting here. I enjoy this blog because it provides a forum for a view that differs from mine, and for the most part a civil discussion of issues and polictics.

    Roger thank you for your service. As with all people who serve their country, I am always amazed at the sacrifices that the men and women in uniform make every day. Not only those who are serving but the incredible sacrifices of their families as well.

    Please accept my apology and I hope to continue the lively debate in a respectful manner.

    02/22/2007 at 10:31 pm

  5. 6

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    For those on the left and right, there is something interesting about the namesake of the building. It was the Smith of Smith-Corona Typewriter and Smith and Wesson fame. That’s right, the Smith Tower was commissioned by a firearms tycoon.

  6. 7

    Emily spews:

    I had jury duty in 1998 or 1999. The trial lasted all summer long and we jurors had a lot of time to look around Pioneer Square during lunch time. We went into the Smith Tower once to check it out. It had an elevator operator, a real guy who took us to whatever floor we wanted. Who wouldn’t want to live in a building like that.

  7. 8


    Affordable Housing Art?

    Maybe this is an opportunity to create something. Pioneer Squeare is really going downhill since the Stadiopolis was built. More people living nearby could help a lot but which people and what will they do and where will they park .. those are real issues too.

    This may be a unique opportunity to create affordable downtown housing that might be attractive to and subsidized by one source or another:

    a. UW gard students and faculty
    b. artists. some great studio spaces could be made there!
    c. middle income workers.
    d. a central city high school

    I especially like the latter idea. Previous t the current mayer, all of our leaders have emphasized kid-friendly Seattle. Now we have building bome in down town where it appears the planners intend to keep school age children out.

  8. 10

    Tree Frog Farmer spews:

    @5 I’ve met RR as well. In fact, we’ve known him since before he was as a’Rock Star’. . . .
    He’s the cutest little bunny with razor sharp claws on his powerful hind legs you’ve ever seen. . . . . .

    P.S. Make another flying visit to D.L. sometime, Roger.

  9. 11

    kirk spews:

    8: Did you ever visit Pioneer Square in the 80s? It’s hardly gone down hill since then…After that miser dude died all the cheap buildings that used to be used for artists stuff are being redeveloped…don’t know many artists that could afford to rent space in the Smith Tower.

    Same with the school district, don’t think they should be wasting money building new buildings downtown.

  10. 12

    RonK, Seattle spews:

    Step 1: Sell the Smith Tower to Will Smith, to modernize its cachet>

    Step 2: ?????????

    Step 3: Profit!

  11. 13

    ArtFart spews:

    If the Smith Tower gets turned into more condos for the Rich and Beautiful, potential buyers should all be warned that whatever they do in…um…private will be under the watchful eye of Ivar Haglund’s ghost.

  12. 15

    Blackhead spews:
    “We’ve seen this argument that an election can’t be trusted used here in Washington with the 2004 governor’s race. The hand recounts uncovered no proof that the paper ballots were counted dishonestly. On the contrary, everything came up clean on the paper ballots — pretty remarkable in this race involving 3 million votes. There was, however, strong evidence of cheating in Snohomish County — only in those precincts where black box voting was used. And here the advantage always went to the Republican candidate. Even though their claim that Democrats cheated has been refuted, Republicans are still gaining political advantage by asserting it over and over. With black box voting, false accusations of cheating cannot be refuted. ”


    You are a lousy liar. The only way that uSP can survive without becoming a pathetic laughing stock is by banning.

  13. 16


    @ 8

    Stephen, wtf? Pioneer Sq has not, by most metrics, gone down hill. It has challenges like most downtown neighborhoods.

    Pioneer Sq. is also not the dope spot for artists these days. They need cheap space, which is not easy to find near downtown.

  14. 17

    Tree Frog Farmer spews:

    Memo to Stephen. . . Try along Airport Way and on in to Georgetown for cheap studio digs. . . .