Cap Hill Demo 4
Demolition, photo by flickr user subsetsum (Wil Taylor). Taken April 18th.

The demolition of the buildings on Broadway and John (and Broadway and Denny) is now complete. Sound Transit made a goal of recycling many of the building materials from the buildings, which seemed like it would be easy since most of the buildings were relatively old and thus had valuable fixtures and old-growth timbering. In this week’s CEO Corner, Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl catalogues some highlights of the 2,890 tons of materials that were salvaged from the demolition site:

• 224 doors • 180 cabinets
• 18 restaurant booths • 50 light fixtures
• 29 ranges • 31 refrigerators
• 13 claw foot tubs • 21 sinks and toilets
• 60 radiator fins • 121 feet of wrought iron railing
• 90 feet of wood railing • Hundreds of feet of trim and molding
• 3500 square feet of fir flooring • 500 square feet of tin ceiling panels

I supposed that’s pretty good. 2,890 tons sounds like really a lot, and obviously that list isn’t complete, but I’d bet there were more than 13 claw-foot bathtubs and a lot more than 50 light fixtures. I supposed the building owners might have ripped out some of the most obviously valuable items, but I just have this sad feeling that more could have been saved. Maybe I’m asking for too much – I know I have a real softspot in my heart for old buildings and their fixtures – and I suppose I should be impressed with Sound Transit for saving anything.

11 Replies to “Capitol Hill Recycling”

  1. If you are really into both salvage and old fixtures you must check out Second Use in North Park/Georgetown. They run a huge, commercial, salvage and resell operation of everything from windows and flooring, to high school gymnasium scoreboard and lockers (I kid you not), to marble paneling and flooring from some of Seattle’s original downtown buildings. We used a ton of stuff from Second Use when we built our surfer-pad in the dunes out at Westport last year. All of the windows, doors, door hardware, appliances, and some detail stuff are rescued and reused. While our place is decidedly modern, we enjoy the sense that it was built green in a slightly different way by saving so much good stuff from an older house, and from the dump.

    1. An old coffeeshop ( now defunct ) by the UW, called the Last Exit, had marble tables which were urinal dividers and were held up by old truck axles. I believe it had an old piano which was recovered from one of the hotels torn down in the ’50s as well…

      I love seeing old fixtures and appliances re-purposed instead of scrapped or, worse, dumped.

  2. If anything was valuable, it would have been taken. Nobody was saying “leave this one, we have enough of these” during demolition – the recycling contractor was taking anything they could possibly reuse.

    Light fixtures in most of those places were likely cheap cans, or fluorescent boxes, or had been removed by tenants. Chang’s had nothing left in it for years before ST got there.

    1. Chang’s had nothing left but my memories. *sniff*

      Seriously though, you’re definitely right that everything that could be sold at a profit was removed. Maybe the kitchy stuff that couldn’t be sold could have been given away?

  3. Summary of article:

    Sound Transit demolished this building, and said they recycled everything of value. I’m unhappy, for some reason, because I think they could have recycled more. I don’t have any evidence at all to back this up, but that won’t stop me from whining about it, because the numbers “seem low” to me.

  4. I suspect many vintage fixtures had been “upgraded” to cheap crap over the years.

    There was a time when clawfoot tubs were just old, not “vintage,” and people replaced them with “modern” fiberglass or steel. Other fixtures were probably damaged over the years and had to be replaced. Drop something heavy and hard into that old iron tub, and you need to either re-glaze it or replace it.

    Seattle has a good market for good used building materials. I don’t think anyone was leaving money on the table by tearing down what could be reused.

    Second Use is definitely one of the top reuse retailers — we’ve made extensive use of their shop in renovating our hundred year old home. They don’t just take easily-removed fixtures like plumbing and lights, we’ve found good, solid, pre-WWII built-in cabinets carefully removed from their original homes that were a perfect fit in our vintage high-ceiling kitchen.

    Seattle even has a good market for used bricks from building demolition. Bonus if they’re over-fired clinker bricks or old street paving bricks.

  5. I can vouch for the bricks at least – one of my neighbors went down to try to pick up some to use in his back yard, and they were totally out – guy told him they went like hot cakes.

    1. That would explain why i saw some random guy picking them up off the street in pioneer square when they were doing some repaving work.

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