Olympia's Site Plan Review Committee held a presubmission hearing on the possible reuse of the historic Greyhound Bus Station at 107 7th Avenue East on Wednesday, January 4.
According to Bill Sloane of MSGS Architects, Bird's Eye Medical bought the property at the beginning of the pandemic to provide a downtown Olympia site for drive-thru COVID-19 testing and other medical procedures related to the pandemic.
"Now that the pandemic is under control, the building is no longer needed as a medical services provider. Bird's Eye Medical is exploring possible reuse of the building, preserving the original building's authentic and unique architectural styling," Sloane said.
He added the bus station was designed in 1945 in a 'streamline moderne' architectural style.
The property, Sloane said, consists of two parcels with a total of 18,033 square feet. He said they looked at three possible ways to reuse the building:
But the developer would keep the 'streamline moderne' style exterior of the building.
Marygrace Goddu, who served as Historic Preservation officer in the meeting, announced that Greyhound Bus Station is important in local and national history. "It is a bit of an icon for downtown Olympia. It speaks to a place in time and style of travel."
Goddu noted that Olympia's standard for adapted reuse or rehabilitation of historic properties emphasizes the exterior historical features of the building, and very little is said about the interior.
"The city's emphasis is on the exterior of the building. You have much more flexibility with the rehabilitation to make alterations to the interior," Goddu told the developer.
She said the city standard requires:
Goddu strongly encouraged the developer to preserve exterior signage that says "See America by bus" in a big arc on the side of the building and retain the interior's original material, such as the lunch counter and the ticket counter.
Olympia's associate planner Jackson Ewing said a joint committee would review the project with the Design Review Board and Heritage Commission. "You would be expected to submit a detailed design showing the different elements and how you are modifying the building."
Ewing said all three proposals – a restaurant, a medical office, and a general office – need to meet applicable standards and permits.
The project, located downtown, is exempt from commercial parking requirements for vehicular parking, but it is required to have short-term and long-term bicycle parking.
Ewing said if the developer opted for a bar/restaurant, a short-term bicycle parking stall per 1,000 square feet would be required. "So you would be looking at likely five spots, whereas offices and medical facility require fewer bike parking lots."
The Site Plan Review committee members voted on exempting the project from land use review.
Ewing explained that the project is an existing adaptive reuse of the building with no significant changes to the site or ground disturbance activity.
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