Posts Tagged ‘Historic preservation’

Backtracking on Ballard Denny’s decision?

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Key Seattle landmark staff are advising the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board against preserving the former Denny’s on the corner of 15th Avenue Northwest and Northwest Market Street.

The recently boarded-up landmark

The board voted in February that the building’s prominence for the Ballard neighborhood makes it a historic landmark worth protecting. But what that actually means for the building and plans to build a multi-use development on the site has been up in the air.

Over the past several weeks, board staff and site owner the Benaroya Co. have been negotiating over controls and incentives for the building. That will establish what the owners and developers can and can’t do with the site.

The board meets at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Seattle Municipal Tower in Room 4060 at 700 Fifth Ave. to go public with their decision.

As first reported on Crosscut, Historic Preservation Officer Karen Gordon and Landmarks Coordinator Beth Chave say in the memo that they can envision no scenario that preserves the building’s “character defining features” while allowing the developer “to realize a reasonable return on their investment.”

The Seattle Monorail Project bought the one-acre site for $7.5 million in 2005, before voters rejected the monorail plan. Benaroya paid $12.5 million for the site in 2006 and said the price reflects the high-density development planned there.

Just six months ago, Denny’s was still operating in the building. But Benaroya said in February that the building is not up to code and Denny’s does not pay enough rent to justify using the space as a restaurant. Denny’s paid $5,295 a month for rent in 2007 and covered the site’s $26,485 property tax bill.

The building was designed by San Francisco Architect Clarence Mayhew in 1964 for the Manning brothers in the flamboyant roadside “googie” style. The original oversized sign and glazing are gone. Denny’s remodeled the interior to add modern mechanical equipment when it took up the lease in 1984.

Board members said in February that the building still conveys its architectural significance through its unique roofline, and is a visual marker for Ballard.

Grace Architects' vision for adaptive reuse of the building

Some still argue the building can be kept without depriving the developer.

Above is a rendering Grace Architects submitted to the landmarks board that envisions denser development while keeping the 1964 building on the site.

“The only way that a reasonable financial return can be realized at this site is by embracing a creative
approach to the site, allowing additional density on the remaining site area to compensate for the
lower retained height at the landmarked structure,” writes Ralph Allen of Grace Architects in a May 19 letter to the board.

Rypkema is coming to town

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

National preservation expert Donovan Rypkema is coming to Seattle on May 8.

Donavan Rypkema

Historic Seattle is hosting the lecture as part of its celebration of National Historic Preservation Month in May. Rypkema is recognized as the leader in the economics of preserving historic structures. The lecture will be from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 8 at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd Center at 4649 Sunnyside Avenue N.

The event is co-sponsored by Daniels Development. Tickets cost $15 for Historic Seattle members, $10 for students and $20 for eveybody else.

Rypkema is a principal of PlaceEconomics, a Washington, D.C.-based real estate and economic development-consulting firm that specializes in downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization and reuse of historic structures.

Here is an excerpt from a speech Rypkema gave two years ago in Portland, at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual conference:

“Razing historic buildings results in a triple hit on scarce resources.

First, we are throwing away thousands of dollars of embodied energy. Second, we are replacing it with materials vastly more consumptive of energy. What are most historic houses built from? Brick, plaster, concrete and timber — among the least energy consumptive of materials. What are major components of new buildings? Plastic, steel, vinyl and aluminum – among the most energy consumptive of materials.

Third, recurring embodied energy savings increase dramatically as a building life stretches over fifty years.

You’re a fool or a fraud if you claim to be an environmentalist and yet you throw away historic buildings and their components.”