New owner confirms: Bon Marché holiday star is saved for a rainy day

Apr 2, 2021, 11:06 AM | Updated: 1:53 pm
Macy's Bon March holiday star...
Reimagined Bon Marché star was installed for the 2020 holiday season. (Feliks Banel/KIRO Radio)
(Feliks Banel/KIRO Radio)

The old Bon Marché building at 6th and Pine in downtown Seattle was sold this week to a locally-based property management and real estate company for close to $600 million.

The purchaser of the old department store is Urban Renaissance Group, which intends to retain the mix of office space on the upper floors, currently occupied by Amazon, and continue with previous owner Starwood Capital Group’s plans to build out retail spaces on the ground floor.

What this change of hands might mean for the building’s holiday star was initially unclear from Urban Renaissance Group’s news release announcing the sale. The original star adorned the building each holiday season from the 1950s to 2019, and a revamped and reimagined star – which included many pieces of the old star – took its place last year.

That reimagined star, full of high tech bells and whistles, and programmable via smartphone for anyone willing to make a charitable donation, was funded, in part, by the building’s upper floor office space tenant: Amazon.

Urban Renaissance Group CEO Patrick Callahan told KIRO Radio midday Friday that the star is here to stay.

“We definitely will continue to have the star,” Callahan said by phone. “I mean, we realize the star and this building are important historically for Seattle. So, you know, right now our largest tenant” – that is, Amazon – “has taken responsibility for that, and we will see that happen well into the future.”

And if Amazon isn’t the largest tenant at some point in the future and if Urban Renaissance Group is still the owner? Patrick Callahan says not to worry.

“Certainly, we would have [preserved the star] if they didn’t,” Callahan said, who clearly gets what the star means to many local people.

“We’re looking forward to maintaining that tradition,” Callahan said.

The star is usually installed in late November, and then lighted (along with a tree and other decorations) as part of the day-after-Thanksgiving festivities at Westlake Park.

So, it would not be inaccurate to say that the holiday star has been saved for a rainy day – sometime in November, to be exact.

You can hear Feliks every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News, read more from him here, and subscribe to The Resident Historian Podcast here. If you have a story idea, please email Feliks here.

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New owner confirms: Bon Marché holiday star is saved for a rainy day