AKA: King County Medical Blue Shield Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA; Seattle Vault Self-Storage, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings; built works - industrial buildings - warehouses; built works - public buildings - health and welfare buildings

Designers: Grant, Copeland and Chervenak and Associates, Architects (firm); Robert Allan Chervenak (architect); Ross Winnan Copeland Jr. (architect); Austin Grant (architect)

Dates: constructed 1964

5 stories, total floor area: 93,660 sq. ft.

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1800 Terry Avenuie
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98101

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Building History

The notable Seattle architectural firm of Grant, Copeland and Chervenak designed this low-rise, commercial building in Downtown Seattle. It originally accommodated the King County Medical Service Corporation, founded in 1933, in the midst of the Depression. As noted in a 1951-1952 restraint of competition court case between Group Health and the King County Medical Society, "King County Medical Service Corporation... is a nonprofit corporation organized by members of the [King County Medical] Society to furnish medical care and hospitalization to the employees of businesses and industries in the county." (See Leagle.com, "GROUP HEALTH COOPERATIVE OF PUGET SOUND et al., Appellants, v. KING COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY et al.," Respondents.40 Wn.2d 137 (1952), 241 P.2d 1169, Supreme Court of Washington, Department One, 03/13/1952.) King County Medical Service Corporation (KCMSC) used this building from about 1964 until 1990. Washington Physicians' Service also occupied space at 1800 Terry Avenue in 1977. KCMSC later became known as "King County Medical Blue Shield" (KCMBS).

KCMBS took on a contract with Boeing's salaried employees in 1986, and its staff quickly began to ourgrow office space at 1800 Terry Avenue. (While it had 450 workers in 1976, KCMSC had 750 by 1987.) It worked with the developer Wright Runstad to build a new, 16-story, high-rise at 1800 9th Avenue, to which it relocated in 1990. (See "A 16-Story Building Downtown Is Planned for King County Medical," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/11/1987, p. B11.) After KCMBS's departure, 1800 Terry Avenue sat vacant for an extended period.

This area neaby to the Washington State Convention Center became attractive to developers seeking to build high-rise hotel and luxury condominium towers during the 2000s and 2010s. In 2007, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Bosa Properties announced plans to build a 31-story apartment building with 270 units, more than 7,000 square feet of first-floor retail space and four levels of underground parking at 1800 Terry Avenue. (This was scaled back from earlier plans for a 360-unit building with 456,000 square feet, 5,000 square feet of retail space and underground parking for 260 vehicles.) According to the King County Assessor, Bosa obtained a land-use permit on 06/29/2007 to construct "a 30-story building containing 7,670 sq ft of ground level retail & 261 residential units above. Parking for 307 vehicles to be provided within the structure. Existing sturctures [sic] to be removed." (See King County.com, "King County Department of Assessments Parcel Data for Parcel 066000-1580," accessed 09/10/2019.) Plans for this high-rise were stopped by the Recession of 2008 that temporarily dried up lending capital.

Owners converted the King County Medical Services Building into a self-storage facility, Seattle Vault Self-Storage, in 2012.

In late 2015, the building's owners were considering the construction of conjoined twin towers, 35-stories tall, to be built of modular components on the site. This modular building method, patented by Sustainable Living Innovations, a division of CollinsWoerman Architects, was used at the 6-story, 47+7 apartment building in the University District completed in 2015. (See Benjamin Minnick, Daily Journal of Commerce.com, "35-story tower at 1800 Terry may be built using modular system," published 12/14/2015, accessed 09/10/2019.) As of 2019, this prefabricated, modular project was not started.