The last five months of the pandemic have thrown nearly all aspects of life into limbo, and the federal sale of Seattle’s National Archives is no exception. The sale of the city’s National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), located in Northeast Seattle, was first made public in January, and has been fraught with controversy and delays ever since.
Despite efforts by local organizations to slow the process in order to keep historic archival materials in the region, it seems likely that the sale of the property will eventually move forward, whether or not the contents of the archive find a new home in the state.
The archive itself is located on a sprawling 10 acre property — a rare find in a city as densely packed as Seattle. Specifically, NARA is nestled on the eastern edge of Hawthorne Hills, an affluent neighborhood with Seattle’s second-highest median household income and the lowest crime of any neighborhood in the city.
The property NARA sits on is also historic to the region, as the archives are housed in a World War II-era warehouse that was converted for use as an archive in the 1960s.
Despite the controversy over the sale and disbursement of the historic collection, the federal property NARA currently occupies is an attractive, high-value parcel. It will likely be slated for redevelopment as a residential area similar to the surrounding neighborhood, and is anticipated to sell for multiple millions of dollars.
Whether or not the archives’ contents remain in Washington State, the potential for a large new development in one of Seattle’s most sought-after neighborhoods is likely to turn some heads. With both Magnuson Park and the Burke-Gilman trail nearby, future residences will certainly be attractive to buyers looking to invest in one of Seattle’s prime neighborhoods, complete with a storied past.