• City Council tells developers told to keep old city character

    By: David Ham


    Quick Facts: 

    • Seattle developers required to preserve "character structures."
    • That means keeping original building facade.
    • Buildings would look similar to Crystal Pool site at 2nd Ave. and Lenora St. in Seattle.

    A City Council committee voted Tuesday to require developers to preserve more "character structures" if they wanted to enjoy an incentive to build higher.

    "What we've done is created incentives to do that so we don’t lose what we love about the pike pine neighborhood," Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen said.

    Five years ago the city decided to offer developers an incentive for preserving facades in the Pike Pine Corridor on buildings that were built before 1940 -- like the old Auto Row on Pike.

    Developers could build up to seven stories instead of six if they kept the original facade.

    However, preservation activists discovered that some developers weren't keeping all of the facade.

    "What happened in the last two years is a few rather large sites were assembled by out-of-town developers in a way that wasn't originally imagined when the ordinance was originally passed," David Dologite of the Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council added. "Instead of one building being purchased they purchased several buildings on a block and redeveloped the whole block, kept one corner and knocked everything else down."

    Dologite said an example where a developer did retain the entire facade is the Sunset Electric building on 11th and Pine.

    "When they do get redeveloped you get a better sense of what was originally there," Dologite said.

    A City Council committee voted to change the rules to the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District to require developers to keep the entire facade of a character structure instead of part of it if they wanted the building incentive.

    "People say they like what they see but we have to strengthen those incentives so this continues," Rasmussen said.

    The full City Council is expected to vote on the changes Monday.

    Editor’s note: In 2007 and 2008, there was a fight to preserve the Ballard Denny’s restaurant, which had been a Manning’s Coffee shop and was declared a landmark by the Seattle Landmark Preservation Board. The developer fought that designation, and eventually was issued a demolition permit. The site is now a mixed-use residential and commercial building that includes a Bartell Drugs. Today, we found footage of that 2008 demolition and included it as related content.

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