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March 3, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Tom Douglas’ new restaurants: But wait, there’s more!

First, we got word that Tom Douglas was at it again — leasing the corner space adjacent to his Pike Place Market seafood restaurant, Etta’s. And if that wasn’t enough, word came down that Seattle’s most visible restaurateur/entrepreneur had signed a lease on a more substantial slab of restaurant real estate — in the roiling river that defines the Amazonian makeover underway in South Lake Union.

Tag, you’re it, Terry Avenue Building!

The Terry Avenue Building, located between Thomas and Harrison streets on Terry Avenue North, is a designated historic landmark built in 1915. It’s served as a truck factory, a cabinet warehouse and headquarters for Kelly-Goodwin, a hardwood-flooring distributor. Today it’s dwarfed by the development of the new headquarters encompassing 11 buildings on six blocks.

Once the structure is Vulcanized (those would be the same Vulcans who helped convince Chris Keff to move Flying Fish around the corner), we can expect it to open under the Tom Douglas banner in June 2011, when it’s slated to look something like this:

The bluest skies you’ve ever seen — in Seattle. South Lake Union’s green as green — in Seattle [rendering courtesy Vulcan Real Estate].

So say the folks at Vulcan Real Estate, who have formally announced the news they’re “positively thrilled to welcome Tom Douglas to South Lake Union.” Tom’s thrilled, too. “It’s one of the few old buildings left around South Lake Union,” he says. Plans call for restoring the exterior, but “inside, it’ll be all brand-new.” Once renovations are complete, a courtyard will provide a leafy oasis amid the office-hustle of the new South Lake Union, with outdoor seating on two levels.

“The building’s almost identical to the Palace,” he says, referring to the Palace Kitchen at Fifth and Lenora. “It’s big, with two natural entrances, one of the first floor and the other on the second, so it’s easily divisible.”

Dividing a single building into separate venues is something Tom’s done to great effect at his signature Dahlia Lounge at Fourth and Virginia, now flanked by the Dahlia Bakery and Serious Pie. And though he’s considering putting one, two or even three different venues in the Terry Avenue Building, “it could be one big restaurant, that’s what we’re wrestling with.”

Regarding what type of restaurant — or restaurants — will go in there, he’s pleading the Fifth. “It’s crazy to give out ideas. I don’t want anybody scooping me,” Tom said yesterday. As for the scoop on what, exactly, is going into the site near Pike Place Market (formerly the home-furnishings store, Habits), “We’re still waiting for the city’s answer on that one.”

For months, rumors and speculation have it that Tom and his wife Jackie Cross will be opening a restaurant specializing in smoked seafood. For now, “the smoked seafood place has been shelved,” he says — though it lives on as a default plan.

Here’s what the new Western Avenue spot looked like on Saturday, complete with the aforementioned shelves.

Tom’s current idea — one of many he’s been considering — is dependent on the city’s approval of particulars that may (or may not) get the green-light. If not, it’s back to the drawing board. And who knew? Looks like he’s got one of those, too — as well as fast-track hope of getting open by June to take advantage of the summer tourist trade.

Shelves, drawing board, now all he needs is a permit.

One thing is for certain, Tom says. “That’s a prime Market location, a great spot. I took that space for multiple reasons.”

Cornering the Market at Western Avenue and Virginia Street, a smoked-fish-toss from Steinbrueck Park.

Among them: “We are really desperate to clean up that corner.” Citing an incessant mix of drug trade and panhandling, he says, “it’s affecting business and the tourists — and it’s ridiculous.” So much so, he’s joined a civic organization with plans to help eradicate the longstanding problem.

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