Olympia City Council to study two proposals for historic 108 State Avenue building


Olympia City Council formed a subcommittee to further evaluate two vastly different competing proposals for the future of the historic 108 State Avenue NW building at the intersection of State and Capitol. Now vacant, the structure once housed Olympia’s fire station and city hall upon its completion in 1912.

At the city council meeting held Tuesday, December 12, Economic Development Director Mike Reid presented the proposals the city received in response to a request for proposals issued in September.


The Olympia Arts and Heritage Alliance (AHA) proposed turning the building into a history, arts, and cultural museum with studio and workshop spaces.

AHA's pitch is for the building "to provide artist studio space, classroom and workshop space for K-12 and college students, a retail shop and small café, in-person and online access to exhibits and historical documents, and meeting rooms available for community groups."

In its proposal, AHA seeks a 25-year lease term with an option to extend for another 25 years.AHA proposes a subsidized lease agreement with the city and requests that the city take responsibility for extensive renovations and ongoing maintenance.

If selected, AHA would ask the city to pay for the building's utility costs, fire and all-perils insurance. The proposal includes a concept for a welcome center staffed by the city as well.

The proposal also includes a welcome center staffed by city personnel.

AHA also proposed providing some free or low-cost public access and programming. They indicate that the city would have no responsibility for the programming of the museum, which AHA would oversee.

The Olympia Arts and Heritage Alliance (AHA) proposes turning the 108 State Avenue Building into a history, arts, and cultural museum with studio and workshop spaces.
The Olympia Arts and Heritage Alliance (AHA) proposes turning the 108 State Avenue Building into a history, arts, and cultural museum with studio and …


The other proposal was from Ladderhouse, a private business enterprise that hopes to purchase the property for redevelopment as a 28-32-room boutique hotel.

According to Reid, while the RFP preferred maintaining city ownership, it also included language that permitted suggestions for acquiring the building via private purchase. Still, applicants were directed to clearly articulate their reasons for acquisition.

"This hotel will boast a multitude of destination amenities, including featuring goods from local shops, a lush walled-in outdoor heated soaking pool, an intimate event space, a covered outdoor patio, a café, a cozy bar, opportunities for socialization and relations in the common space and even a covered rooftop deck," Reid elaborated of Ladderhouse's vision for the building as written in the proposal.

Reid added that acquisition is requested "due to the extensive nature of the tenant improvements to be paid for by the development team, as well as the necessities of the business plan and associated public and private financing required."

Ladderhouse proposes buying the property at only $500,000. Their offer to purchase would be contingent on a 120-day feasibility study period. During this time, they would collect contractor bids and further analyze the viability of their hotel proposal through a formal pre-submission to the city.

The Ladderhouse proposes purchasing the property to redevelop it into a 28-32-room boutique hotel.
The Ladderhouse proposes purchasing the property to redevelop it into a 28-32-room boutique hotel.

Processing proposals

The RFP development and review team, composed of city staff and external stakeholders, needed additional resources to help score or rank the proposals. Reid said the feedback he received from the team underlined that the proposals are sufficiently different in use, financial structure, and other considerations that it isn’t possible to compare them in a numeric ranking system. The reviewer team felt the museum proposal and boutique hotel proposal were not comparable, like trying to compare "apples and oranges."

Reid added that both proposals raised questions about financial commitments from the city, operational costs, parking needs, and other issues.

Reid presented two options for next steps: holding a council study session for presentations and questions, or forming a subcommittee to work directly with the applicants to address questions before a presentation.

The council discussed both options and formed a three-person subcommittee to vet the proposals further. Councilmembers Dontae Payne, Lisa Parshley, and Jim Cooper were selected for the subcommittee via a random drawing of straws. The subcommittee will work to clarify questions with the applicants and report back to the full council in the next few months.


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  • mtndancer

    The proposal from the AHA includes some functions that would seem to duplicate what we will have in the newly acquired Armory building; however, the need for spaces for community groups--other than arts organizations--to meet is very real, and a building such as this would help.

    The proposal from Ladderhouse mentions selling "goods from local shops." Hey, the local shops are already there, many right downtown, and would love to have some shoppers come into their store! And where are all those hotel customers going to PARK? and do we need all those luxury amenities that location? will the outfit go bankrupt trying to develop them?

    Tuesday, December 19, 2023 Report this

  • JulesJames

    The property is assessed at $3.1 Million. The hotel developers are offering $500K. No thank you. But also No Thank You to a non-profit wanting a 25 year lease with an option for 25 more years. Six year lease, two 3 year tenant options to extend. The structure is old, but it isn't a downtown jewel. In 12 years, the surrounding parking lots hopefully will be developed, defining the area. Then Olympia can re-evaluate.

    Wednesday, December 20, 2023 Report this