The Two Bells Bar & Grill — locals know it as Two Bells Tavern — is closing. Owner Jeff Lee, who is retiring, sold the property to a developer who plans to build a mixed residential-commercial building.

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The Two Bells Bar & Grill, around since World War II, will have its last call on New Year’s Eve.

Despite rumors and hearsay, the reason is simple, owner Jeff Lee said. “I will be 71 in February. I’m tired, and I’m retiring.”

Lee sold the property to Security Properties for an undisclosed sum. A spokeswoman for the developer confirmed the property will be developed into a mixed commercial-residential building, with three retail spaces on the ground floor.

The 74-year-old Belltown dive was once a hangout for ink-stained reporters and old-timers from city hall. To the mainstream, it was known more for its charbroiled burger (served on a baguette with mustard and mayo). Regulars swear this is the best burger in Seattle. Its secret sauce: ground beef from a fattier cut than you would usually find in the supermarket, the owner said. “People don’t come here to go on a diet.”

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Lee refused to put a television, jukebox or video game in his bar because he wanted strangers to mingle. “Social intercourse as we call it,” he said, laughing.

The bar opened in 1943 and had several owners, the last 18 years under Lee. “My wife told me, ‘If you can convince me you are immortal, you can stay at Two Bells forever.'”

Point made. Lee sold the property in the fall.