SEATTLE — A historic building in Seattle's International District is back open with a fresh coat of paint and a purpose to preserve the neighborhood's character.
The property at 7th and King St. was heavily damaged in a fire on Christmas Eve 2013. But after extensive renovations, it's now affordable apartments and storefronts.
“We're trying to retain our identity and our history and honor our past,” said Tanya Woo, whose family owns the Louisa Hotel property, built in 1909.
It once housed Asian immigrants arriving to work in Alaska canneries. The property was also the site of the 1983 Wah Mee massacre, where 13 people were shot and killed in a gambling club.
The building has been vacant since the 2013 fire.
“It was just really hard, just really painful, especially seeing the businesses that have been in the building for over 30 years having to leave,” Woo said.
A team of investors and developers poured millions of dollars into renovations, and today the Hotel Louisa is reopening as 84 income-restricted apartments.
Tenants, who are already settling in, must make between $35,000 and $75,000 a year to qualify for a unit.
“We wanted to retain a lot of the seniors who live here and a lot of the people who live here and also retain local small retail as well, a lot of mom and pop shops are coming back,” Woo said.
The developers found all kinds of artifacts during renovation, and even uncovered hand-painted prohibition-era murals along a staircase, leading to what was a jazz club.
They're still working to preserve the paintings and hope to eventually display them to visitors, Woo said.
For now, they're celebrating a new chapter of history on a corner that almost crumbled.
The building will be open for tours on June 29 during the Dragonfest street fair.
More info on the Louisa Hotel apartments here.