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2008-02-21

Nitpicky zoning's unindicted co-conspirator - Landmarks Preservation

SEATTLE, Washington - The neighborhood busybodies and resentful bittermen of Seattle (and elsewhere) have multiple avenues available to attack property owners and casually impose their subjective style preferences on every new building in their radar range. One is zoning "design reviews", which I have discussed before; another tool on their belt is the Landmarks Preservation process.

This week's "landmark" is a building in Ballard that recently ended a 24-year run as a Denny's restaurant. The property was acquired by Benaroya Companies with the intention of tearing it down and building condos. Benaroya (in a strategy that many developers end up using) actually applied for Landmark Preservation for the property, so they could (hopefully) get landmark status rejected and out of the way before some neighborhood types file for preservation later in the process and gum things up.

The Landmarks Preservation cabal met last night and, despite Benaroya's best efforts, voted 6-3 to declare the exterior of the building to be a historical landmark. No tearing it down now; options include building condos (or other stuff) around the structure, renovating the interior and doing something else with it, sell it, or let it rot.

You can tell from reading the comments of the supporters of restrictive classifications (just as you can tell from the people that throw darts at design review meetings) that many of them just use the process as an indirect, spiteful way to oppose condos and development in general, because developers are rich and greedy and the proposed condos would not be "affordable". In fact, this building was recently slated to be torn down and turned into a station for the proposed Monorail. The Monorail project vaporized, and the land was subsequently sold to Benaroya. No one seemed to give a shit about the historical significance of the building when it was going to be replaced with a noble, politically correct mass transit project, but try to tear it down for condos that a barista can't afford and suddenly the building's a piece of Seattle, Architectural, Washington State, and World history.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is proof to me that many Seattle people live in some other dimension than I do and clearly lack all common sense. This is a dilapidated, piece-of-crap Denny's that they "saved"! Since that actually went through, literally anything could be next...

christine said...

I made the comment...didn't mean to put anonymous.