Score one for Googie

While three charming old Capitol Hill buildings are sentenced to be razed by Sound Transit, two modern buildings get approval from the Seattle landmarks board: a sleek International-style office building and a quirky Ballard diner.
No longer standing: the Ballard Denny's. An empty lot is at the intersection. (Chuck Taylor)

No longer standing: the Ballard Denny's. An empty lot is at the intersection. (Chuck Taylor)

The former Denny's in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood, aka Manning's Cafeteria. circa 1964. (Eugenia Woo)

The former Denny's in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood, aka Manning's Cafeteria. circa 1964. (Eugenia Woo) None

Fans of preserving modern architecture had two victories to celebrate after the meeting of the Seattle Landmarks and Preservation board on Wednesday, Jan. 2. Two mid-20th century modern buildings had their landmark nominations approved and now head for an official designation hearing early next month, Feb. 6, where their fate will likely be decided.

Interestingly, the two buildings anchor opposite ends of modern architecture's bell curve: One is a sleek high-rise box of reflective glass that epitomizes the sophisticated International style, the other a swooping 1960s Googie diner with all the chic of a Stan Boreson polka.

The first is downtown's Norton Building, a marvelous late-1950s reflective box that is one of the last examples of its kind in Washington. The building was built by Northwest timber baron, businessman and patriarch Norton Clapp. It was one of the first buildings to be nominated by the city as part of a controversial new city initiative to pro-actively nominate important downtown structures. While some downtown building owners have objected to the city's nominations, the owner of the Norton Building did not – they only expressed hope that the board would show some future flexibility if they need to make changes or upgrades to continue to offer Class A office space in the downtown core.

The second was the Ballard Denny's/Manning's "Taj Mahal," which has been covered extensively on Crosscut, which first sounded the alarm that the building might be landmark-worthy last summer. The building is currently owned by Benaroya Companies and sits on the site of a planned condo development on a key intersection – Northwest Market Street and 15th Avenue Northwest – that many regard as the gateway to the Ballard business district. It was built in the mid-1960s as part of the Manning's restaurant chain, a company founded at the Pike Place Market in 1908 as the city's first premium coffee company (the Starbucks of its era). It was designed by Clarence W. Mayhew, an important modern architect from the San Francisco Bay Area. The building was saved from demolition once before in the mid-1980s when Denny's took it over.

While the vote for the Norton Building was a no-brainer (it was approved unanimously by the board), the Ballard diner posed a more difficult problem. For one thing, the current owner and the prospective condo developer, Rhapsody Partners of Kirkland, want to tear it down and submitted the nomination to the board in the hope that it would be denied. As Benaroya's attorney Jack McCullough told the board, they were "not looking for a positive outcome."

The property owners felt completely blind-sided by the fact that there was any question about the building's significance. For one thing, the Seattle Monorail Project had planned to tear it down for a station. When the project went belly up, Benaroya picked up the property, confident that the site and been cleared in a review of possible historic sites along the route. However, the monorail project was not required to look into buildings fewer than 50 years old, so the Denny's was never researched. Marc Nemirow of Benaroya said the diner looked "like it ought to be torn down and replaced."

To get the landmark hurdle out of the way, the nomination was placed in the hands of an architectural consultant, Larry Johnson. He was hired after the first consultant, hired by the developer, Mildred Andrews, was let go, reportedly for being too sympathetic to the Denny's.

Johnson put together a nomination package [5.4 MB PDF]. At the meeting, he did a PowerPoint presentation that frequently seemed designed to put the building in the worst possible light. Highlighted, for example, were pictures of the Denny's boarded up. The restaurant was still operating this fall when it suddenly closed. The owner insists this was not a ploy to make the place look worse, but Johnson certainly took advantage. He used grim shots of the now-boarded-up diner, when other perfectly good pictures were available – some even included in Johnson's own written report. One opponent called the tactic "cynical." The pictures were meant to underscore Johnson's argument that the building met none of the six criteria for a landmark and that the building was too altered and too junky to be a viable landmark.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 8:51 a.m. Inappropriate

We Won This Battle, But Will We Lose the War?: Congratulations to the Ballardites and others who care deeply about maintaining their community's uniqueness in the face of the creeping sameness happening in the rest of the city. While groups such as DoCoMoMo WeWa may appear to be David against Goliath, the preservation laws exist to level the playing field against thoughtless development, and preservationists have used this ground to huge advantage in this case.

Unfortunately, preservation in the larger context faces a continuing uphill battle. Even in the slowing real estate market, the pressure is constant to tear down for fun and profit without regard for the people who live in the victimized neighborhoods. Seattle is going through a building-by-building urban renewal project as destructive as the urban renewal schemes of the 1960s that took down whole sections of eastern cities and nearly destroyed the Jet City icons of the Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square. The McDonaldsization of Seattle shows no sign of letting up, and preservationists need to redouble their efforts. That said, the Mannings/Denny's victory is one to savor.

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 10:25 a.m. Inappropriate

significant: This is far from the end of the effort to keep Mannings as part of the city, but it is a great step. Preservation groups in every city always have an uphill battle when they first propose a Googie building for landmark status, and usually they lose the first few before the public, the city, and the development community realize that this type and era is as significant as the Victorian or Deco. But the preparation done in support of this nomination, and the inherent quality of the architecture won the day.

alhess

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 11:03 a.m. Inappropriate

What the hell?: Another stupid "crusade" by Seattle's idiot brigade. I lived within a block of the Ballard Dennys for 10 years. It is a piece of crap building that keeps the neighborhood ugly. You want to save that building? Then buy it. Otherwise, shut up, get out of the way, and stop forcing other people to bear the cost of your kitschy taste. If this a beautiful building, or even an old building, I might see some point in saving it. But, what the hell?

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 12:47 p.m. Inappropriate

huh?: Can't say I'm mystified but I'm definitely disappointed.

Four different groups have diverging opinions:

1. Some Ballardites mostly want to preserve a touchstone, and/or fight development.

2. Many architects and historians get really excited about saving examples of architectural types.

3. Most of us urbanists generally see it as a crappy little building with no value, making the entrance to Downtown Ballard ugly, and getting in the way of our beloved density and furthering sprawl.

4. The general public supports preservation of historic buildings, but they're mostly referring to higher quality stuff -- mostly brick or stone, in older styles. They latch onto kitsch sometimes but very selectively.

Some people straddle camps 1 and 2. But I doubt the majority of the people in #1 really care about preserving architectural types. It's mostly about keeping Ballard the way they like it, or some misinformed effort about how to address affordability.

The urbanist point of view isn't universal either. But it matches people's environmentalism once they connect the dots, and it matches the concept of healthy neighborhoods and a healthy city.

If the building is saved, I hope it's used somehow. Maybe it can be the lobby and office of a redesigned apartment complex. Please tell me this corner won't be blighted by a vacant building and a PARKING lot.
mhays

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 2:10 p.m. Inappropriate

Which Capitol Hill buildings?: Sorry if I'm missing something obvious, but the subtitle mentions 3 Capitol Hill buildings to be razed, but I didn't see anything in the actual article about them. What buildings are we talking about?

Sean

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 2:55 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Which Capitol Hill buildings?: I did mention them but not by name. If you go to the Seattle Landmarks Board website and click "current nominations," you will see nominations (text and picture files) for three buildings: Marynel/Chevlier Apartments, Marianne Apartments, and the Agincourt Apartments. The board turned down their landmark nominations last night. No one from the community was there to speak up for them and the board was nearly unanimous in turning them down. They are part of a group of some 17 buildings Sound Transit wants to tear down in order to construct the light rail station on Broadway. This includes the block north of John and wonderful places like the building housing Vivace Cafe.

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 3:48 p.m. Inappropriate

Quick correction: I am informed that the Norton Building approval was its final designation, so its fate has been decided by the board. The Ballard Denny's/Manning's will have its designation hearing on Feb. 6, as mentioned.

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 6:06 p.m. Inappropriate

What a joke: First off, the Ballard Denny's is a hideous building that needs to be flattened. Second, I can't believe the board voted to save it as opposed to the wonderful old brick Capitol Hill apartments buildings that are being raised for Sound Transit. There is definitely something fishy going on here. Where was the public outcry to save Manning's when the monorail joke was going to demolish it? I am sure it is a moot point as I can't imagine this surviving the next round.

telly

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 6:44 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Which Capitol Hill buildings?: Wow, I had no idea that Sound Transit's footprint on Capitol Hill would be so huge. I suppose it would be a stretch to call those buildings historic landmarks, but still, it really sucks to see them go.

What will go up in their place? Please tell me they will be replaced by other mixed use buildings and not just a big monolithic train station.
Sean

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 7:07 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Which Capitol Hill buildings?: I'm not sure. The station takes up much of the one block; I think the stuff south of Denny is for staging construction. Hopefully the community will bird dog Sound Transit on the design station and what comes after for those properties.

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 7:26 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: What a joke: If you look at the actual landmark criteria, the Denny's appears to meet at least two or three of the requirements. A landmark need meet only one. One of the most important is the fact that it was designed by a highly regarded modern architect--a fact that was unknown previously. Your point about the public outcry is an important point. When the Denny's was threatened with demolition in 1984, there was large community resistance and it was saved. Denny's kept the old Manning's building, though they made modifications. Today, those old Ballardites are mostly gone, and along them much of the community memory about the place. Though not all: several Ballard people spoke at the hearing about it. nevertheless, those leading the charge to save the place are historians and architects--people who have taken on the task of remembering its significance.

Whatever you think about the Denny's, pro or con, it is truly a shame that those Capitol Hill apartment buildings are not protected somehow. I think they should be. Unfortunately, they either weren't built by anyone considered important, or in the case of one that was, it is considered on of his lesser works and many of his better buildings survive. A number of board members clearly expressed sadness that they couldn't use the landmark law to preserve them, but they just didn't meet any of the criteria.

A last note on condition of the Denny's: that issue was debated and likely the landmarks board will look into it more deeply, but plenty of important landmarks and community treasures worth preserving are in poor condition (look at old Hat 'n Boots) and need or deserve restoration. The place was a fully functioning (albeit not very good) restaurant until Denny's pulled out this fall. It looks really crappy right now, but the architectural essence of the place is still there.

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 9:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Couple of Questions: Thanks for the response Knute. I have a couple of additional questions that maybe you could help to answer. Say they decide to preserve the Googie building. There is what looks like an extension of the structure that runs parallel with Market Street that had a Great Clips and Sudden Printing. Is this part of the building that will be preserved? Or is this a separate structure that was built at a later point in time that will be demolished?

Also, I have read that if the Googie is preserved, Rhapsody partners will design their mixed use condo/retail around the structure. Do you know if this is the case? If yes, seems like that would be really tricky to make it flow and design would be of the utmost importance. The old IHOP in the U-District that looked completely awkward next to the Safeco skyscraper comes to mind.

What do you think is in the cards for 15th and Market?
telly

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 1:13 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Couple of Questions: Telly: The landmark consideration does not include the adjacent building with Sudden Printing, etc., only the Denny's/Manning's. If it is designated a landmark, the representative of Benaroya, Marc Nemirow, told me that Rhapsody would not buy the property for its development because the deal is contingent on it coming to them unencumbered, and landmark status would be considered an encumbrance. Whether a new deal could be negotiated or a new buyer/developer found I don't know, but the property is large enough with its parking lot that it does seem possible that the diner could be built around, but I don't know whether that is feasible or whether the landmark designation would allow that. It's not clear how much of the site would be included in the landmark. It does seem to me that the corner could be developed more creatively than the other corners of 15th and Market.

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 6:22 p.m. Inappropriate

COMMENT?: Knute, I went to the Landmarks Board site and it does not look like there is a procedure to comment on these designations. I thank you for covering it.

kieth

Posted Sat, Jan 5, 8:16 a.m. Inappropriate

There ought to be a law: This whole issue is seriously bothersome from a property rights and liberty standpoint.

Benaroya Partners owns the property, paid what can only be assumed is a substantial sum for it, must pay taxes on it, and must keep it in such a state of repair as to avoid personal injury lawsuits and prevent it from otherwise becoming a hazard to the public.

Those who favored landmark designation have no property interest in the location, aren't out a single penny, yet they effectively control how the property is to be used.

How wrong is that?

Whether the ugliest Denny's in the history of Western Civilization is worthy of preservation is infinitely secondary to respecting the right of the property owner to develop the property as that owner sees fit. The cheaply purchased virtue of preservationists is all too typical of those who think they have a right to tell me how to use my property without any commensurate responsibility on their part to pony up either the cost to me of their insistence or the loss to me of what I otherwise could do with my property.

Here's a thought: Amend the law to require outside interests to post a bond to compensate the owner for additional costs or lost revenue before those interests are allowed to contend that a piece of property ought to be "preserved." In other words, put up or shut up!

And I don't want to hear about tax breaks and incentives to this, that or the other; the property owner is entitled, building codes notwithstanding, to do with the property as the property owner sees fit, and the taxpayer shouldn't have to subsidize anyone's notion of architectural sensibility.

Nor are arguments that preservation benefits the community valid. My guess is that if it were put up to a vote, the Denny's would be dumped. Too often, so-called "community" arguments turn less on what's good for or in the best interests of the greatest number, but on a small number of people dictating to the masses what is or isn't good taste.

To those who contend that the net result would be a deluge of esthetically dead development, you always have options: persuade the owner to develop the way you prefer, buy out the owner's development rights, move, or MYOB. In other words, don't just talk the talk, walk the walk.

What we have now, however, is a butt-ugly boarded up building that will probably stay butt-ugly and boarded up for a long time while the property owner spends a ton of money trying to figure out how to comply with the dictates of a lot of urban gadflies; the trouble they've caused is no skin off their collective nose much in the same way Eddie Haskell used to bedevil The Beav.

This is another sneaky example of ignoring the principle that, "private property (shall not) be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Everyone complains about housing costs. At the end of the day, do efforts like this make housing more or less accessible and affordable? Lawyers and consultants get rich, so-called "preservationists" get to feel smug and self-righteous, and the property owner gets to pay the bill while getting stuck with a very empty bag.

Wrong...just plain wrong!

The Piper

Posted Sat, Jan 5, 5:17 p.m. Inappropriate

It's up to the community to preserve our important landmarks: This is more than just a Ballard issue. While there are many from Ballard involved, people from all over the city are supportive. It is all about the architecture and preserving an important piece of the region's history. The Manning's building is an extraordinary piece of modern architecture by a nationally recognized mid-century architect. It is highly visible, distinctive and unique.

The City's landmarks preservation ordinance was created to preserve and protect historic structures or landmarks that meet rigorous criteria. The process is managed by the City, however, it is driven by the all of us as citizens. It is the citizens who bring forward nominations; the volunteer Landmarks Preservation Board and professional staff that support them administer the process and ensure the standards in the ordinance are met. Seattle is forward thinking in having a landmarks preservation program, if we did not have it, Pioneer Square, the Pike Place Market and countless other structures that define our city would have been lost years ago.

There are incentives for property owners of landmarks to renovate and restore their buildings; and with all due respect to The Piper, this is an important point. Most buildings that become landmarks receive better care after being designated. Landmark status does not mean that a building will sit vacant and in an arrested state of decay. It does require owners to be creative in how they develop a site instead of simply scraping it bare and putting up a new building. I can think of several buildings that appeared derelict when they were designated and are now beautifully restored significantly enhancing their neighborhoods.

I believe the landmark process adds value to our community and helps to preserve distinctive structures that have defined our city and region and ensures that Seattle does not simply become another large city without character or identity.

While I appreciate the argument for property rights, the citizens of Seattle as a whole have the right to determine the quality of life we want to enjoy in our city. It is unrealistic to suggest that property owners will act in the best interest of the community on their own and make responsible decisions that add value to our community without controls and incentives. There are cities in the US with significant land use and/or design restrictions and the results are clearly visible in those communities--Santa Barbara is one such example. And guess what? Developers and property owners still make money even with greater restrictions and the citizens enjoy a high quality of life in their community.

As for the three buildings on Capitol Hill, they are fine and lovely; I, too, am sorry to see them go. However, as Knute explained, they do not meet the criteria. They have been significantly altered and they are really not distinctive. There are a lot of buildings like these in the city and there are better examples from the period. As I stated before the Landmark process is rigorous, not every building qualifies--a check and balance.

While modernist architecture may not be to everyone's taste, and especially Googie, it is a part of our history and culture and it marks an important moment in time. Manning's is a distinctive example from its period and while it may be difficult to see all the attributes through the boarded up windows and previous superficial Denny's modifications, the sculptural form is there and clearly conveys the building's significance. Best of all--the original building is still there waiting to be uncovered and restored.

Manning's was not called the "Taj Mahal of Ballard" in 1964 without reason. This is a great building, by an important architect, that is the best remaining example of its kind in the city. I think those who are reacting to its current condition will feel differently when it is restored.
Fremont

Posted Sat, Jan 5, 6:19 p.m. Inappropriate

MAYHEW IMPORTANT?: I am puzzled by the repeated claim that Mayhew is an important architect. Are people confusing him with Maybeck?
The Historic Report states that Mayhew worked for Gardiner Daily. Gardiner Daily is, indeed, an important architect. The photos contained in the historic report show Mayhew's work to be, at the very best, mediocre. At worst, derivative and occasionally slightly bizarre.

If one can become an "important architect" by doing capable but undistinguished residential work (mostly) then we have a lot of potential historic buildings in Seattle.
kieth

Posted Sat, Jan 5, 8:15 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: There ought to be a law: Piper: A couple of comments. landmark laws are Constitutional--just like zoning laws. Every property owner understands the concept of buyer beware, and the fact is that if you want to change the use if a property, you have to deal with the regulations and obtain the proper permits and approvals. Also, it is false to suggest that the property is not developable if the building is protected--they would have to develop a new plan in consultation with the city. A new developer might find great promise in restoring the building--imagine it as a new Tom Douglas restaurant or a Top Pot donut shop, or a community gathering place that welcomes people to the Ballard business district. This is being done, for example, with the Methodist Church downtown: with tax incentives and partnerships, historic buildings can revitalize their surroundings, and property owners can make a lot of money from it. That's one reason historic districts can do so well.

Posted Sat, Jan 5, 8:22 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: MAYHEW IMPORTANT?: Among the people who contend Mayhew is important are Al Michelson of the University of Washington and architectural historian Alan Hess of California. No one is confusing him with Bernard Maybeck, who is a personal favorite of mine, but his work was earlier and distinctly non-Googie.

Posted Sat, Jan 5, 8:24 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: COMMENT?: When I get info on comment procedures, I will post them in this comment thread and in a future update on the story. If anyone knows, please feel free to share.

Posted Sun, Jan 6, 10:24 a.m. Inappropriate

There still ought to be a law...: In response to Knute's reply to my first post...

Landmark designation statutes can be Constitutional; I just don't accept the underlying rationale. I'm not, however, a sitting federal judge or legislator of any type, so not much I can do about it other than proffer my POV.

I also know that in property development the best laid plans, etc. can result in failure. Had Benaroya Partners wanted a rendering plant on the site, even wingnut libertarian me would've raised an eyebrow.

Still, it was cynical to engage in drive-by "civic-minded" shooting down of the right of a property owner to develop a commercial piece of property.

Interesting that Sunday morning's Seattle Times agrees with me calling B.S. on landmark designation as a "taking:"

"Involuntary landmarking amounts to a partial taking of the owner's property without compensation, for reasons that are at bottom political."

Even curmudgeonly Ron Judd - second only to you in his curmudgeonliness - said of landmarking the Denny's, "They're joking, right?"

There ought to be a law obligating those demanding landmark status to put their money where their mouths are. Now, their civic virtue isn't just cheap, it's free; they can screw up a propety owner's plans with impunity, and that's not right!

If holier-than-thou preservationists wish to be figurative bulls in a development china shop, shouldn't the sign you see in such shops apply to them? "You break it, you pay for it."

What's wrong with requiring them to post a bond in an amount sufficient to buy the property? Why shouldn't an owner be made whole at the end of a process into which that owner is drug kicking and screaming? Why should preservationists get a free lunch? At the taxpayer's expense?

The whole mess is hypocritical The property owner went through a contorted process to tube landmark designation, while a deluge of dilettantes played high and mighty thinking they'd lose only to be handed the winner's cup and a demand for a rematch.

Who pays for this? At the end of the day, us. The net economic effect on taxes, development costs, and property not allowed to move to its highest use means mucho dinero out of the pockets and purses of Joe and Jane Taxpayer.

Seattle doesn't need another Tom Douglas restaurant as much as it needs several thousand other things - think affordable housing units. A new condo development in Ballard will increase housing stock, thus driving down prices generally.

Nothing against Tom, but his is an "upscale" concept, and if there's one thing this town doesn't need it's more "upscale" anything! And I prefer Krispy Kreme donuts, thank you, even if a secondary use for them is bear bait. Can't we all just go without making everything "gourmet?"

Citing other "successful" designation stories doesn't prove it's a good for the Denny's site. What other property owners do is their business. And vaulting a serious eyesore, boarded up or not, to the level of "historic" is a stretch.

While this particular Denny's may take the architectural breath away of a few, if it were put to a vote, a proposition to preserve it would sink worse than last November's Proposition 1.

The raspberry seed in my wisdom tooth, however, continues to be the cheap virtue of some that costs others dearly. No matter how you coat it with high-minded civic virtue and lofty phraseology, it's wrong!

Those among the vox populi who want a result ought to pay for it. If they're either unwilling or unable, then they need to recognize that into every life a little rain, and the occasional wrecking ball, must fall.

The Piper

Posted Sun, Jan 6, 11:46 a.m. Inappropriate

MAYHEW IMPORTANT? II: Knute, thank you. I do not see the name Michelson or Hess in the Report bibliography nor can I find it anywhere in the Report. There is some tepid praise from David Gebhard about one of Mayhew's houses. My recollection is that Gebhard is a respected historian... probably have one of his books around here.

Designating this building is a very slippery slope. That act will tacitly grant potential landmark status to a whole universe of expedient, fatuous buildings which are maybe historic but definitely not good.
kieth

Posted Sun, Jan 6, 12:21 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: MAYHEW IMPORTANT? II: Kieth: The report you're referring to is the one put together by Larry Johnson working for the developer--a report designed to downplay Mayehew etc. The best case for the building was in a length report by the University of Washington's Alan Michelson which was submitted as part of the public response to the landmark nomination. It contains a section on Mayhew's significance. It's part of the public record, but to my knowledge not available online.

Posted Sun, Jan 6, 12:32 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: There still ought to be a law...: Wow "Piper" I don't even know how to respond to that!

What about the age old principle of "buyer beware"? The owners clearly did not do their research before making the purchase. They did hire an architectural historian to research the site last summer and when they received the report that the building might qualify for Landmark status, they fired her (this was previously covered by Knute).

So now you are suggesting that because someone bought a historically significant property without doing due diligence, we should let them simply do as they please? That type of thinking would have caused the Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square to both be mowed down decades ago. I am sorry, but I am happy that Seattle is a much more progressive city that you suggest it should be.
Fremont

Posted Sun, Jan 6, 3:23 p.m. Inappropriate

Googie discussion on the radio: I will be a guest on David Goldstein's radio show on KIRO tonight (Jan. 6) at 9pm talking about historic preservation. It's a call-in show. The number is 1-877-710-KIRO (5476).

Posted Sun, Jan 6, 10:01 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Googie discussion on the radio: That was great Knute! I hope you will continue the conversation and appear again!

Fremont

Posted Sun, Jan 6, 11:27 p.m. Inappropriate

Two sides to every coin: Good grief, I see the point that you are trying to make, but please I have lived in this nationhood for 35 years, this is my home.
They are tearing it down and building condos as fast as city hall will let them. If you take out every building that is old and different what do you have left? A bunch of people packed into condos in a boring nationhood with no character.
Now the Old Sunset Bowling alley has been sold and being torn down for more condos ,Whoopee..
Sad.
peg~leg

Posted Mon, Jan 7, 10:32 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: There still ought to be a law...: How much of your own money are you willing to invest to "save" the Googie Denny's?

To me, it's a matter of moral principle: property owners ought to be able to develop their property as they see fit. If you wish a different result, then enter the marketplace and purchase the owner's development rights. If you can't do it by yourself, organize fundraisers, start a committee, put out an Internet appeal - these things are done every day with great success. If not, MYOB!

No offense, but just as I have no right to tell you what to do with property you own, you don't have a right to tell me, or anyone else, for that matter, what they can do with property they own.

Now, I'm not talking health and safety issues here, which should be the purpose of zoning. But your sense of esthetic shouldn't govern over anyone else's. If the assembled masses yearning to breath Googie architecture cannot among themselves muster the resources to get the job done, then perhaps the inevitability of saying adieu to the Ballard Denny's was writ long ere the last Grand Slam breakfast was served.

Simply because something can be done doesn't dictate that it should be done. And claiming that saving this building is in the community's interests doesn't make it so. Again, I submit to you that if it were put up to a vote of the people, a wrecking ball would be on the site quicker than you can say, "Waitress! Check, please."

Historically significant? Appomattox Courthouse is historically significant, not the Ballard Denny's. It's even too great a stretch to equate that building to either Pioneer Square, where real history was made, or the Pike Place Market, which epitomizes much of the soul of a Seattle that's disappeared not because of a change in buildings, but because there's been a pall mall race to distance ourselves from our cultural and truly historic roots as a town built and populated by working people, not DINKs.

Fascinating to me that Mossback's ideas for developing the building were of the tres chic nature; no mention of regenerating another working class or senior citizen hangout, which was what it was even in the Manning's days.

Quite frankly, the 12-outhouses on the calendar my youngest daughter gave me for Christmas are arguably as "historically significant" as that building.

Still, you are perfectly entitled to go into the marketplace in an effort to save it; it's still a free country last time I checked. And if you do save it, then you're responsible for developing it such that it's not a blight on the urban landscape, such as it is now. Maybe this is your life's mission? To become the Guru of Googie? Who knows?

If you're to be in for a penny, you need to be in for a pound...or a lot of pounds.

I read the other day that it was something like the over-used phrase of 1997 or something, but, "Show me the money!" still applies and it works for me. While Benaroya may not have conducted as deep a figurative title search as one might hope, that doesn't necessarily give anyone else the right to dictate the property's eventual use.

Unless, that is, you want to, "Show me the money!"

BTW...just how hypocritical is it that the Monorail could raze the damn thing without you being able to utter a discouraging word while Benaroya, interested in building housing for people, is thwarted up the ying-yang? If that's not somewhat unsettling, then I can't imagine what would be.

Still, a quick glance at the landmark designation process offers hope: perhaps a reasonable hearing examiner or the Seattle City Council will have the good sense to remove this ugly figurative carbunckle from our collective urban posterior. One can only hope!

The Piper

Posted Mon, Jan 7, 3:01 p.m. Inappropriate

Is the Googie Worthy of Landmark Status?: Only if the city and Benaroya can arrive at an acceptable agreement to develop the entire lot around the existing structure. As evidenced by the PI/Crosscut articles and resulting soundoffs, the movement to landmark the old Denny's is primarily to halt the mixed use condo/retail development that was set to replace it. A quick check of the facts shows that the city was going to level the entire lot (including the Googie) for monorail without further ado. When monorail fell through, Benaroya purchased the property from the city at a premium knowing that the entire lot was going to meet the wrecking ball.

The fact that several of the members of the landmark designation board are Ballard residents is a definite conflict of interest. Factor that in with the non-action of the landmark committee when the city had leveling plans and the ethics of this entire scenario are stinky.

In the end, with all the good Benaroya has done for the city of Seattle, I can't imagine Nickels allowing anything other than a favorable compromise to Benaroya to be the end result.

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