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Landmark hearing scheduled for Ballard diner

Here's an update on the old Ballard Denny's, the historic Googie-style diner that is threatened by the wrecking ball and slated to be replaced by a large condo project. Earlier this fall, the Denny's closed. The building is boarded and vacant, awaiting its fate. That could be determined in a matter of weeks.
Here's an update on the old Ballard Denny's, the historic Googie-style diner that is threatened by the wrecking ball and slated to be replaced by a large condo project. Earlier this fall, the Denny's closed. The building is boarded and vacant, awaiting its fate. That could be determined in a matter of weeks. The city's Landmark Preservation Board has scheduled a nomination hearing on the building for Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008 at 3:30pm in Room 4060 of the Seattle Municipal Tower, 40th Floor, 700 5th Ave. The public is invited to attend and speak. A representative of the owner, Benaroya Properties, and the developer, Rhapsody Partners, will make the nomination presentation. The nomination was pulled together by Larry Johnson, a local architect and well-regarded preservation consultant who has previously speculated that there are too many buildings being considered for landmark status. Needless to say, his boss, the developer, hopes the landmark nomination will be rejected. The board says that written comments should be received by Dec. 31, 2007. A copy of the nomination can be viewed here. Meanwhile, on Monday, Dec. 17, there will be a Ballard Design Review Board meeting about the condo project proposed for the site at Ballard High School at 6:30 pm. The design has been previously criticized by some in the neighborhood. The unusual Denny's building was originally designed in the 1960s by noted Bay Area modern architect Clarence Mayhew as a Manning's cafeteria, part of a chain founded in Seattle at the Pike Place Market as a pre-Starbucks coffee company. That connection with Mayhew was first reported here on Crosscut. The building's exotic lines echo those of structures from the 1962 Seattle World's fair and were intended to convey both a Polynesian and Northwest Indian longhouse feel. Somewhat humorously, it was also referred to as Ballard's "Taj Mahal." Some architectural historians believe the building is significant and should be preserved. The original Manning's cafeteria became Denny's in the 1980s and was slated for demolition, but community outcry saved it. The diner was a favorite Ballard gathering spot. It was later picked to be the site of a station for the proposed monorail Green Line, but when that project collapsed it wound up in the hands of developers. The building sits a the key intersection of NW Market Street and 15th Ave. NW, the gateway to the Ballard business district.

Knute Berger is Mossback, Crosscut's chief Northwest native. He also writes the monthly Grey Matters column for Seattle magazine and is a weekly Friday guest on Weekday on KUOW-FM (94.9). His newest book is Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes On Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice, published by Sasquatch Books. In 2011, he was named Writer-in-Residence at the Space Needle and is author of Space Needle, The Spirit of Seattle (2012), the official 50th anniversary history of the tower. You can e-mail him at mossback@crosscut.com.


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