The indispensable Capitol Hill Seattle blog broke the news that Starbucks have signed a lease on the 15,000 square foot building at 1124 Pike, on the westward downhill rolling heart of Seattle’s Pike / Pine corridor. A rep from Starbucks, speaking to CHS, said “The project is still in its early stages, but our vision is a mixed-use manufacturing and retail site that will include a specialty coffee roasting operation.”

Capitol Hill’s amenable light manufacturing zoning laws have helped foster several other neighborhood roasting facilities, for companies like Victrola, Caffe Vita, and Stumptown. This roaster / retailer model concept is the very first of its kind for Starbucks, who until now has roasted their beans in massive unseen roastworks, tucked away in obscure suburbs around the United States.

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This can rightly be seen as a logical next step for Starbucks and their aping of specialty coffee trends, from their recent release of a “blonde” roasted line of coffees, to the introduction (and eventual failure) of a series of “Inspired By Starbucks” high end retail stores. We were first in line at the new Roy Street Coffee & Tea back in January 2010, but today, holy smokes, let’s call it like it is – CHS skunked the world on breaking this news, and so as to better serve you, our readers, let’s turn to an at-length excerpt from their original reportage:

The 1920-built building, the longtime home of the Bob Byers Volvo dealership and Utrecht Art Supplies, neighbors the bustling Melrose Market complex and the changing food, drink and retail scene of lower Pike/Pine. On the other side of the Market on Pine, work to build this eight-story development is slated to begin in October. Meanwhile, below Melrose, the Pine+Minor building and its $2,300 per month 655 square-foot studios opened earlier this year.

The planned Starbucks facility and retail elements are destined to fill the spaces previously home to the 4,000 square-foot art store and the 9,000 square-foot dealership and garage. Parking will push the planned overhaul of the single-story building to a development weighing in at more than 30,000 square feet in total. We’ll have to verify with the Department of Planning and Development but it appears that because this will not be fully new construction, the city’s design review process will not be invoked. Any new commercial project larger than 4,000 square feet in the building’s zone would normally go through the full design review gamut.

In a neighborhood where large food and drink chains can struggle, Starbucks has been a major player in the Hill’s cafe scene. The neighborhood was home to one of the company’s most ambitious recent projects — and, some would say, failures — in creating “indie styled” cafes that strayed, briefly, outside the Starbucks brand. One of the “Fauxbucks” lives on as Roy Street Cafe while the E Olive Way Starbucks and many more in the company’s global empire benefitted from facelifts inspired by the short-lived experiment. Its most recent project transformed a former Tully’s and long ago bank at Pike and Broadway into its sixth Capitol Hill store.

Starbucks, which employees more than 120 people at those six company-owned stores on Capitol Hill, hopes its new neighbors will be excited about its latest Hill project.

“Starbucks is proud to have been part of the Hill’s vibrant coffee culture and community since 1979, and we are looking forward to sharing more in-depth plans with the neighborhood over the next few months,” the company representative told CHS.

Read the full feature here on CHS, and check out this update from today, including quotes from an understandably not too stoked Victrola Coffee Roasters.

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