Former Fish Cafe Building on Kirkland Shore Being Renovated for Offices

A new owner is converting into office space the location of the Third Floor Fish Cafe, closed in 2009, but the city is requiring that one floor be maintained as space for a restaurant as mandated by its Shorelines Master Program.


Work has begun to renovate as office space the lakeside Chaffey Building in downtown Kirkland -- former home of the beloved Third Floor Fish Cafe -- but the city is requiring that the owner seek a restaurant tenant for one floor.

The building at 205 Lake Street South is now owned by the company Brinkley LLC, which bought it for $6.1 million from Herbert D. Chaffey in December of 2011. The Washington Secretary of State’s office lists as principal of Brinkley Richard Hotes, the president of the Kirkland company Alaska Structures.

Two attempts by Kirkland Patch to reach Hotes were unsuccessful. Alaska Structures designs and sells large, commercial-grade tents for use in extreme environments.

The building permit issued to Brinkley by the city of Kirkland requires that “Owner shall sign City approved document ensuring restaurant use is maintained as future tenant is secured, prior to final inspection.”

That’s because the building is within Kirkland’s shoreline zone and the work is subject to regulations of the city’s Shorelines Master Program, which implements the state’s 1971 Shoreline Management Act. Those regulations mandate uses that allow the public to enjoy the water.

City planner Sean Leroy said the owner asked to use the second and third floors of the three-story, 19,263-square foot building as office space, and was allowed to do that if the first floor was built for a potential restaurant -- what's known as a "like-for-like" swap. Some office space is also being added to the basement, which had been used for parking. The first and second floors of the building were previously used as office space.

So far, however, there is no known restaurant tenant, according to city officials.

The property features 100 feet of Lake Washington shoreline and the upper floors of the building offer a superb territorial view.

Until 2009 the top floor was the home of the Third Floor Fish Cafe, known for excellent food, dramatic sunset views from picture windows and, at one time, its piano bar. The restaurant closed in 2009 after 15 years, to the dismay of many in Kirkland.

Senior city planner Teresa Swan said Kirkland adopted its Shorelines Master Program in 2010 as required by the state's Shorelines Management Act. Under those regulations, office space is considered a "non-conforming use" in the shoreline zone. However, existing use prior to the adoption of the program is allowed to continue, as long as the size of the space is not increased. Restaurants are considered a preferred use that benefits the public.


Are you eager for a new restaurant in the former Third Floor Fish Cafe building? Have great memories of dining there? Share your thoughts in the comments box below!

S. Anderson April 09, 2013 at 04:38 AM
My fond memories of dining at Fish Café ended this past weekend when the night security guard working for the new owner while under renovation had my car towed from the empty Fish Café valet parking lot across the street from the building. I parked to dine at Milagro and came back to a towed car and a $400 fee to recover.
Greg Johnston April 09, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Wow, that's pretty hardcore, sorry to hear that!


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