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RSS icon Comments on The Denny's Landmark Designation


Is that a picture of the original interior? Honestly, that is kinda cool in a retro sorta way.

Maybe someone should buy it and put a supper club in it?

Posted by Andrew | February 21, 2008 2:15 PM

Or maybe a bowling lane and a cool nightclub.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 21, 2008 2:19 PM

Why can't they restore the original ceiling and run HVAC up through the floors?

(I'm sure there's a solid engineering reason why not, but drop ceilings are evil! EEEVIILLLL!)

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 21, 2008 2:23 PM

I vote titty bar.

I'd do it if only I had the cash... Anyone want to be my investor???

Posted by Queen_of_Sleaze | February 21, 2008 2:23 PM

I agree that saving the structure without restoring, or at least USING, the interior is pointless. But maybe they should do that. I suspect we'll just see a boarded up building for 20 years, though -- or maybe a suspicious fire. It worked on the Twin Tepees.

Posted by Fnarf | February 21, 2008 2:26 PM

Anaheim, CA used to be Googie Heaven.

Posted by Hooty Sapperticker | February 21, 2008 2:27 PM

If they don't put it back into use within the next year, my prediction would be suspicious fire, as well.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 21, 2008 2:29 PM

It's cool looking maybe but it's still a fucking drive-in place and should be turn down.

Posted by Andrew | February 21, 2008 2:31 PM

@8, it should be torn down because it's a drive-in?

Let's tear down all five Dick's too! They're hideous!

Posted by joykiller | February 21, 2008 2:33 PM

Roller rink?

Posted by Levislade | February 21, 2008 2:34 PM

I'm glad the board saved it. It's pretty, in that ugly sort of way. It's ugly-pretty, if you will. And its style is seen in few remaining buildings around town.

But the logic that its value lies in being able to "remind you where you are" is, at best, a reach. The Tour Montparnasse in Paris is the city's tallest navigation tool... Where am I? In beautiful Paris, under that ugly tower. It should be torn down post haste.

Posted by Dominic Holden | February 21, 2008 2:40 PM

Nice info - I was wondering about the architecture of that building. It isn't a classic Denny's design. It's reminiscent of Stuckey's or Horne's (for those of you who remember road trips of the '60s). Daytona Beach, Florida must have been Googie capitol of the world at one point.

Posted by Bauhaus | February 21, 2008 2:42 PM

Wasn't this discussed below? Why was it dragged back up to the top?

Slow news day folks?

Posted by Reality Check | February 21, 2008 2:47 PM

man, i love that stuff. restore it old-school. no smoking in one of those places would be a first. by just looking at those photos, i can smell smoke.

Posted by cochise. | February 21, 2008 2:50 PM

She added context about the decision

Posted by vooodooo84 | February 21, 2008 2:51 PM

In a strange moment of web zen, this morning boing boing linked to a series of postcards of seattle's 'Century 21' worlds fair, including this one of the information booth:

Is there a connection?

Posted by boyd main | February 21, 2008 2:54 PM

there are several reasons this was a dumb decision (from a tax revenue perspective, from a land use perspective, from an aesthetic perspective) but the most obvious and glaring one is; what the fuck moves in here and if the business fails then isnt that an indication that something is wrong?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 2:54 PM

Being recognizable to everyone in the neighborhood is one of the criteria? That's the stupidest criterion ever. By that label, the house in my neighborhood that looks like a barn and was painted half white and half black (the border is at a 45 degree angle) would qualify. I'm waiting for it to be torn down and replaced with something pretty, or at least bland.

Posted by Gitai | February 21, 2008 2:55 PM

Why does this get landmark designation and that block on pine filled with what used to be a nightlife doesn't. That is far more recognizable to me.

Posted by kyleen | February 21, 2008 2:59 PM

Denny's operated there for 24 years, which is not the definition of a failed business.

Posted by elenchos | February 21, 2008 2:59 PM

elenchos, why isn't denny's in there now if they were succesful?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 3:01 PM

#7 makes a good point. What's to prevent a disaster from happening to it. That real estate has got to be pricey too. Was the developer not able to get a determination on the historic value of the building before buying it? Does any one know how that works?

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | February 21, 2008 3:01 PM

the decision only landmarked the outside of the building, leaving the fate of the interior in the hands of its future owners.

How generous of the Landmark Preservation Cabal.

Posted by JMR | February 21, 2008 3:02 PM

Also, by defining successful in terms of existence for X amount of years yet clearly not existing now, couldn't you argue Harley isn't a failed business?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 3:03 PM

Actually I should have said Packard, or some other defunct car company. You're the one who says the writing is on the wall for Harley.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 3:04 PM

@JMR, this is actually something that could be useful although I dont expect the property owners to actually redevelop the building's interior. that would fall on the new tenant who would almost have to be a restaurant based on the internal layout of the building.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 3:08 PM

Bellevue Ave,

Denny's sold to the Monorail Company, who sold it to the new developers. Denny's didn't leave because it failed, they left because the monorail was going to build a station there.

Posted by Andrew | February 21, 2008 3:09 PM

20: Not so. You don't fail until the doors close for good. 23.9999 years, maybe yeah, they did well. Not 24.

Posted by Jason Josephes | February 21, 2008 3:10 PM

It's so unfair that some people get to start drinking while they're still at work and I have to wait until I leave the office.

Posted by elenchos | February 21, 2008 3:14 PM


this makes it seem even more stupid to preserve it. it was slated to be destroyed anyway, but then the plans fell through. now all of a sudden that something useful like condos are going to be built there on private company dollars all of a sudden we need to landmark it?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 3:14 PM

Denny's sold to the Monorail Company, who sold it to the new developers. Denny's didn't leave because it failed, they left because the monorail was going to build a station there.

Where was the outcry about this invaluable piece of history being whacked when it was going to be replaced with a monorail station?

Monorail Good, Condos Evil

Posted by JMR | February 21, 2008 3:17 PM

Bellevue Ave,

I didn't say it was smart to preserve it. I was just explaining that Denny's didn't fail.

Personally I could care less if they tear it down. I'd like them to build more affordable condos and not $500,000 ones though.

Posted by Andrew | February 21, 2008 3:18 PM

correction, tim rood is an URBAN PLANNING prof.

Posted by holz | February 21, 2008 3:21 PM

Bellevue has made his mind up, and little annoyances like "facts" aren't gonna change it. BTW - you can distinguish between a public use like a Monorail station and privately funded condos, yes?

For that matter, the IHOP in the U-District was desperate to renew the lease on their now-demolished Googie building, but Safeco (and the U of W) didn't want them impeding their development plans. So they - and the building - are gone. Would you call that a failed business, too?

Posted by Mr. X | February 21, 2008 3:22 PM

Andrew, that is affordable to someone somewhere (but I'm not here to argue about the semantics of affordable).

The thing that is just galling is that there is a process where a group of 8 people can inevitably prevent any sort of development from Occouring so long as someone puts forth a peitition for historical status.

Part of me feels like I should exploit these procedures to spite Seattle.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 3:22 PM

The fact that a certain type of person finds our process so galling is part of the beauty of it. I heard a bunch of economists in Austria had a stroke when they heard what we just did.

Posted by elenchos | February 21, 2008 3:28 PM

FWIW, the "landmark status" designation generally ONLY applies to the exterior of a building, as that is the part that is considered architecturally relevent.

Unless the interior is so unusual (e.g. the inside of the 5th Avenue Theatre), it is almost unheard of for it to be also landmarked.

Posted by COMTE | February 21, 2008 3:29 PM

Mr. X, the fact is there is a now empty building, yes? and the fact is housing supply is useful, yes? and the fact is there would be no tax payer dollars spent on creating this housing supply, yes? and the fact is condos would generate tax revenue, yes?

and the fact is tax breaks and monies are provided via federal government to maintain a historical landmark like this. the majority of revenue coming in would be from sales tax, you can imagine that the net benefit to tax payers is nill and potential new home owners is nill.

IHOP failed to renew their lease. they are a failed business because they didnt secure the land needed to continue to operate their business. I don't know if IHOP is a franchisee operated or corporate operated so this might play a role in the desire to retain the lease. Why is IHOP entitled to renew their lease at below market rates if the property owner has better offers?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 3:32 PM

elenchos, of course you love bureaucracies deciding things. before you talk about democracy winning here, look at who actually made the decision; bureaucrats. democracy didn't win, the state did.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 3:42 PM

The Ballard Denny's Landmark Designation discussion has officially entered the Slog Overkill Hall of Fame. It was joyously welcomed to the club by "ECB's Bird Flu: It's Gonna Gitcha!", "Mudede's Photos of Hot African Babes", "Various Sundry Vicious and Potentially Misogynistic Attacks Against ECB" and lots and lots of stories about "Pit Bulls and Negligent Parents: Who's Putting the Baby in the Microwave?"

All involved had a party at Moe's and got drunk and tried to take advantage of "Christopher Frizzelle's Big Penis".
Several West Seattle threads bitterly complained that the Slog Overkill Hall of Fame NEVER has events in West Seattle and vowed to stay home next time, but no one cared. Oh, and "Various Semi-Nude Pictures of Hot Men" drank too many Manhattans and ended up going home with a tired, clapped out "Monorail: the Future of Seattle!" and "Liberty: Best Bar on 15th Street!" and had a nasty threeway which ended badly and flaccidly for all those involved.

Posted by michael strangeways | February 21, 2008 3:44 PM

In the larger scheme of things, the tax revenue from a few more generic condos in Ballard is neither here nor there. A typical auto dealership generates more tax revenue for the City than other uses, but I somehow doubt that they would merit preference under your rather uninformed interpretation of New Urbanism and its purported benefits.

If Benaroya chooses to keep the building vacant and/or otherwise neglect their "investment" to create the rationale to demolish it, it ought to be regarded as the churlish negotiation strategy that it is rather than a rationale for demolishing what is in fact a historic building.

BTW - in re IHOP - that site is a surface parking lot for the UW now, there is no other tenant ("Market rate" or otherwise) who took IHOP's place, and there won't be for the 10+ years that it will take to build light rail to the heart of the U-District.

Losing your lease is not the same thing as running a failed business - and IHOP would be in business in that location today if the UW didn't have longer term plans for the property - but your bold assertion that it is certainly points up the piss poor logic that underlies most of your posts.

Believe it or not, Seattle will survive an empty building should it come to that.

Posted by Mr. X | February 21, 2008 3:44 PM

"Andrew, that is affordable to someone somewhere (but I'm not here to argue about the semantics of affordable)."

yeah, i'll spare ya all from my prickish pedantic hair-splitting, 'cause i'm too cool for that sort of thing, and it keeps me from my true calling as a whiny, harping little ass. alas there's so much to be done on that front, you'll see.

Posted by blahblah ave. | February 21, 2008 3:47 PM

Rebuild the Monastery!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 21, 2008 3:48 PM

So they failed because the plans of the owner were different. Maybe you are taking issue with the semantics of "failed business". Anyway should owners of property not be able to do what they want with the land because someone deems mid-century architecture that only subpar restaurants inhabit important?

Of course Seattle will survive an empty building. This does provide a precedent for developers that their investments in property and development are at risk of being fucked and might prove to stop development from happening. Which doesn't bode well for Seattle if the projections on incoming residents hold true.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 3:54 PM

blahblah ave. = eli?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 3:55 PM

The U District IHOP was not Googie. It was generic IHOP, of which many hundreds of identical examples still exist across the country, some of which are still IHOPs.

Seriously, the level of willful ignorance of architectural history, historical preservation, and this building in particular, on this comments thread is stunning.

@24, 25: Harley and Packard are businesses. Businesses are not subject to historical preservation. BUILDINGS are. This place is not a business, it is a BUILDING. It once had, and may have again, a business IN it, but it is not itself a business. The preservation board protects buildings, not businesses.

@35: These "8 people" cannot arbitrarily protect anything UNLESS IT HAS PRESERVATION VALUE. This building had it, so they protected it.

Seriously, why is this so hard to understand?

Posted by Fnarf | February 21, 2008 3:56 PM


I had been told by a number of reasonably well-informed folks in the neighborhood who had expressed an early interest in trying to preserve the UD IHOP that it was a googie building - but I could be wrong. Definitely a moot point, now....

Posted by Mr. X | February 21, 2008 4:03 PM

It would be a good place to put a Dennys.

Which, I would hasten to add, Ballard needs.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 21, 2008 4:04 PM

fnarf, I wasn't aware of the vacating of the property for the Monorail. but there still stand the issue of protecting a building despite it not having any use beyond it's architecture. Do you really like the precedent of allowing buildings to sit vacant because they have significance on the outside?

now if I was into protecting architecture for its own sake, I'd build an architecture park/museum and move buildings there.

and here is the problem with your contention that they can't protect just anything; they decided that this has preservation value based on what they deem valuable.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 4:04 PM

just htink about it; don't like condos, just try your damnedest to get anything and everything landmarked.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 4:06 PM

Historically protected buildings sit vacant?

Like the Paramount or the Moore?

Like oh, anything in Pioneer Square?

Just because they jumped the gun in their haste to knock it down doesn't mean its not habitable, or cannot be productive.

What a completely bogus argument.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 21, 2008 4:09 PM

Napoleon, how many buildings are in use when they are given landmark status?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 4:14 PM

@47: The IHOP buildings are googie-styled but several hundred of them across the country were built off the same set of plans, so they're not unique.

Posted by J.R. | February 21, 2008 4:14 PM

Generally all of them.

And the Ballard Denny's was in use until only very recently--it wasn't given up because it wasn't fit for its purpose.

That said, I hope the designation doesn't commit future generations to that pukey shade of gray on the present exterior.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 21, 2008 4:19 PM

Well hopefully denny's will come back in or some business that is successful so it doesn't just sit there, useless.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 4:24 PM

Rent is rent is rent.

Unless the Benaroyas secretly plan to torch the place, it will be a restaurant again.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 21, 2008 4:25 PM

It'll be something corporate to be sure.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 4:29 PM

I think I'll step outside and take a hammer to any parts of my house that may be Historically Significant, it is 60 years old and sooner or later a landmark-eureaucrat might decide it is worth taking away my right to tear it down.

Posted by JMR | February 21, 2008 4:32 PM

Im on the wrong side of this after reading over it, but I don't like the precedent it sends to potential new development.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 4:37 PM

btw... my vote with what to do with it, is to create another Triple XXX Burger joint like Issaquah has...

Now THAT place is an institution!

Reality Check

Posted by Reality Check | February 21, 2008 4:37 PM

I don't like the precedent it sends to potential new development.

The Kondo Kritics in this town always complain that the townhouses and condos being built aren't sufficiently stylish and unique, but over the long term this landmark preservation crap is actually a disincentive to building something interesting and unique - do too good a job and you'll lose your rights in a few decades.

Posted by JMR | February 21, 2008 4:54 PM

what is the incentive to building something interesting and unique for something that is a basically necessity? is this why we dont have artfully created tampons?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 4:59 PM

The building will not sit empty except as part of some devious negotiating tactic (as noted above). Benaroya presumably still wants to develop the non-landmarked portion of its property, and you can't sell condos next to a bum magnet.*

(*Unless said condos are on Capitol Hill, in which case vagrants are considered part of the "urban vibrancy" of the area.)

Posted by joykiller | February 21, 2008 5:11 PM

A googie style light rail station/mixed use development in Ballard that connected to downtown via Seattle Center would be about the coolest thing ever. Seattle should OWN it's 60s kitch! In small doses of course... I think revisited, that style could really turn out to be something amazing.

Posted by Cale | February 21, 2008 5:23 PM

IHOP was NOT GOOGIE. Not even close. It had zero Googie elements. NOTHING! I don't care what people in the neighborhood said, that style is closer to Mormon Church Colonial or Bogus Stick-on Roof Tudor than it is to Googie. It's as close to Googie as the red-roof KFC was, i.e., not at all.

Googie does not mean "built in the 1950s or 60s". It doesn't mean "seems kitschy to me". It doesn't mean "cheap and nasty", and it doesn't mean "designed in a corporate headquarters".

Posted by Fnarf | February 21, 2008 5:37 PM

"I suspect we'll just see a boarded up building for 20 years, though -- or maybe a suspicious fire. It worked on the Twin Tepees."

Worked on the Jolly Roger, too. For those who don't remember -- the JR was a roadhouse on Lake City Way, a historic landmark, and was a gambling den and bordello during Prohibition. They also had a tunnel under the street to the motel or something that used to be there, to be used for nefarious purposes. And a tower used to watch for approaching police. It was a very cool building.

And then in 1989, it was burned out by an arsonist. See which gives some idea how suspicious it was. The article says "police had neither motive nor suspects," but neglects to mention that the owners had recently asked for permission to tear down the landmark structure and redevelop the site, and been turned down. Seems like plenty of motive to me.

There is a gas station on the site now.

Posted by litlnemo | February 21, 2008 5:45 PM

Hm, an article at indicates that some of the legends about the JR might not have been true after all. But still a cool building. (And there is another picture on that page, which mostly matches my memories of the building from the 1970s. It was pink, though!

Posted by litlnemo | February 21, 2008 5:49 PM

To whoever found that picture of the interior of Mannings, thank you- that is almost exactly how I remembered it.

I remember the Jolly Roger too. Sadly.

Posted by Dr_Awesome | February 21, 2008 6:03 PM

IHOP seems more like offensively cartoony Bavarian to me. Seriously, how could people argue it was unique when there was an identical one one Capitol Hill and a million other places around the country

Posted by vooodooo84 | February 21, 2008 9:31 PM

One solution - albeit a solution that will make the Seattle Good Taste Police require the smelling salts - would be to design a condo complex that wraps around it, and is in a similar style (let's call it "Jet City") and use the Manning's structure as the anchor: Restaurant in the high-rise area, lobby in the low-rise area.

But since that isn't in the cookie cutter faux-Craftsman-meets-shopping-mall look that we've come to expect, it will probably never happen. Besides, how can you give a vaguely Italian name to something like that?

Posted by catalina vel-duray | February 22, 2008 7:04 AM

As my overly proud coworkers are so fond of saying, "Only in Seattle!" This building IS NOT an example of Googie architecture. It's an eyesore. Indeed, "only in Seattle!" would they allow a monstrosity like this to exist, yet they'd tear down that gorgeous old Music Hall. You want real Googie? Go here: Washington state is not represented.

Posted by Densky | February 22, 2008 10:44 AM

Densky, is operated by the LA conservancy. That means they focus on LOS ANGELES area buildings. All other entries listed there are there because someone sent the picture to them.

If you don't like that building, fine. But don't try to put forth an academic reason for your dislike - or at least do some real research to back up your claim. If you would have read the "Googie 101" section of that website, you would have realized that this building is indeed a fine example of Googie, and contains several examples of what makes the style distinct.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | February 22, 2008 12:30 PM

Hey, Catalina:

Tear that schitt down!

Posted by ivan | February 22, 2008 2:14 PM

Touche, Ivan ;-)

Posted by catalina vel-duray | February 22, 2008 2:52 PM

Ok, several clarifications here, for people who are spouting off without the true facts. One- Tim Rood is on the faculty of UC Berekely as a lecturer, he is not a professor of urban planning, nor is he an architectural historian. Furthermore, he is not even listed as being on the faculty of UC Berkeley. Judith Sobol is not an architectual historian either. She is an art historian. She is not well known, outside of the LA area, and Tim Rood is from the Bay area. Up until their work on this project, to my knowledge, neither one has ever done any writing on the subject of the Googie architectural style. Alan Hess, the author of two books on the Googie style, has written 3 letters of support of this building, and has clearly stated that it is definitely this style.

Second, the Board voted to designate the building (not the Denny's) by a vote of 6 to 3. The chairman of this board was not swayed by the arguments of lack of integrity. All of the board members got to have a tour of the building, and see for themselves the exact condition of the building. In fact, most of the existing character defining elements are still there, under the alterations that Denny's had done to the building. For more FACTUAL information on this building, and why it is significant, look at the website link Take a close look at the photos on the weblink, as there are several that show what the building looked like BEFORE Denny's was the tenant.

And finally, have some imagination folks. This doesn't have to be the same old ubiquitous condo design that has been springing up all over Ballard. There has been a design proposal done that is more imaginative than the current proposal- one that Benaroya has so far refused to consider, despite repeated attempts at contacting them.

Posted by Fran | February 24, 2008 1:04 PM

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