Madison Park Blogger descends into rumormongering
Someone started the rumor last week that the now-vacant Tully’s space is soon to be taken over by a bank—specifically, US Bank, the Madison Park Blogger’s former employer. This perverse idea began making the rounds within a day or two of the announcement that Tully’s was abandoning its Madison Park location. As the week progressed, it became clear that many people had heard the story, including the managers of some of the neighborhood’s bank branches. So we, of course, had to investigate. Unfortunately, in doing so, we ended up asking a lot of people about the possibility of another bank invading the ‘hood, thereby further spreading a story that may have no basis in fact. How irresponsible of us.
Just to be clear, there is no evidence that US Bank—or any other of the few remaining major banks not already represented in Madison Park—is planning to open a branch in the hallowed space that had for almost two decades served as the neighborhood’s anti-Starbucks. At the time the shocking bank rumor got started, the “we regret we’re closing” notices had just been posted on the building’s entry doors and the brown-paper coverings had just been applied to the windows. Lack of information breeds speculation, and given the outsized reaction of some Madison Parkers to the introduction of Key Bank into the neighborhood (and the more recent dust up about the Wells Fargo signage), what more provocative rumor could be invented than the introduction of a fifth bank branch into Madison Park?
The wood-frame building at 4026 E. Madison St. that for almost two decades had housed Tully’s was originally built in 1900 and has had many incarnations, including, apparently, hosting a mini-mart. The property covers 4000 sq. ft., of which the one-story building comprises just over half the total space, 2,080 sq. ft. It could therefore easily accommodate two shops or one larger tenant, such as a bank. Interesting enough, the tax-assessed value of this prime commercial property in the heart of Madison Park is only $401,000 and has been held by the assessor at this level, with virtually no variation, since 2001.
King County records list Wallace Properties of Bellevue as the property’s “taxpayer.” Tully’s founder Tom O’Keefe, in a recent email exchange we were copied on, stated his belief that the building is actually owned by a family trust. And indeed, when we called Wallace regarding the current disposition of the lease, we were told that the company only serves as the leasing agent for the property. Although we left a message with the listing agent at Wallace, we did not receive a return phone call following up on our request for comment.
So we decided to go directly to US Bank to see if the bank is indeed in the hunt for space in our neighborhood. We were aware that in past years the bank had been interested in the potential of Madison Park, so the idea did not seem farfetched. Unfortunately, US Bank was only slightly more forthcoming than Wallace Properties in providing an answer. At least we did get a call back, though all Chris Heman, the bank’s regional Retail Banking manager, was willing to give us was an official “no comment.” Now you might think that if the story were absolutely untrue the bank would be willing to deny it. But that’s not how things work in the corporate world, so we probably should not make any assumptions.
Except perhaps one. Late last week Wallace Properties slapped some “For Lease” signs in the windows of the building. So, whatever the status of any behind-the-scenes negotiations for tenant space, at this point we may assume there’s no done deal. And with regard to the idea of another bank coming into Madison Park, is that concept really crazy? This is, after all, where the money is. And, as one of the neighborhood’s bank managers pointed out to us last week, the Magnolia neighborhood already hosts five or six bank branches. So why not Madison Park?