People are MAD about the exterior of the building in Ballard that houses Stoneburner, the subject of this week's restaurant review, and rightly so. It's hideous and Vegas-y, especially compared to its handsome, classic Ballard brick next-door neighbor. In fact, when I was walking in one evening, a woman in front was saying to her friend, "It looks like it belongs in Las Vegas!"—and she did not mean it in a complimentary way. Check out the comments over here for more, including this from commenter d.p.:
Rumor has it that one of the owners got himself elected to the Ballard Avenue Landmark District, after the initial approval but before the design changes and substitution of crappier materials could come to public awareness. If true, this should be a scandal, but since we live in ahistorical Seattle, such cancers are left to fester with impunity. It is impossible to find out anything about the Landmark District Board, which seems to operate in secret and without any written standards.
Heather McAuliffe of the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods confirms that the owner of the building, James Riggle, is indeed a member of the Ballard Avenue Landmark District Board and that he has been a member since June of 2006.
Also from commenter d.p.:
You don't see any problems with a behemoth of yellow stucco punctuated by air conditioning vents and balconies that wandered in from a Southern Plantation mail-order catalog? You have no qualms about archways of chalky, chunky sandstone on loan from the Magic Kingdom collection?
The entire Hotel Ballard facade (and the hotel interior, I'm told), screams of money without context or taste.
The design that was approved by the Ballard Avenue Landmark District was already mediocre and of questionable appropriateness. Everything about the final installation (which strayed far from the approved version) is worse.
Hotel Ballard owner James Riggle has not responded to a request for comment. How about a poll?
UPDATE: Hotel Ballard owner James Riggle responds:
I am an elected member of the Ballard Avenue Landmark District Board.
Much of the project was approved before I was elected to the Board.
I have no idea why anyone would think there was a "substitution of crappier materials."
With Board approval, we substituted a copper roof for composition. This was a much more expensive material to use. Also, in my opinion, it’s much nicer. The Sandstone and Stucco were approved in the original submittal as were the balconies and canopies.
I was required by Heather McAuliffe, the Board Coordinator, to recuse myself whenever the hotel submittals were discussed, which included leaving the room during discussion and voting.
We do need to be concerned with the rapid growth in Ballard.
The Landmark Board meets every month in the Community Center next to the Library.
The Guidelines and meeting minutes are available online.