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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Denny’s Owner Sues City

posted by on March 13 at 15:19 PM

From a statement by the Benaroya Company:

Today BCC Mikie Ballard, LLC, a development entity of The Benaroya Company, filed suit in King County Superior Court to challenge the action by Seattle’s Landmark Preservation Board to designate the abandoned Denny’s building in Ballard, located at 5501 15th Avenue NW, as a Seattle landmark. “The boarded up former Denny’s is not an important historic or architectural building, nor the work of a significant architect,” said Marc Nemirow, spokesman for Benaroya. “The landmark board agreed with these conclusions, but incredulously decided to designate the building a landmark anyway. This action isn’t legal.”

1) The landmarks board didn’t actually “agree with these conclusions,” so much as they determined the building was a landmark for other reasons—primarily because it’s an icon in that part of Ballard. The Benaroya representatives’ condescending argument—that the landmarks board merely hoped to “satisfy the not unimportant sentimental yearnings for the coffee shops you visited in the past”—probably didn’t do them much good either.

2) I think he meant “incredibly.”

RSS icon Comments


If that Denny's is a historical landmark, so's the Alaskan Way viaduct.

Posted by ivan | March 13, 2008 3:25 PM

I would agree that AWV is Istoric.

So let's keep it.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 13, 2008 3:33 PM

@2 we could turn it into an elevated park, put plants and shit on parts of it that are reinforced, it could be pretty chill, sorta post-apocalyptic in a 12 monkeys or i am legend kinda way

Posted by vooodooo84 | March 13, 2008 3:44 PM

The covered, southbound lanes could be converted into low income housing.

Or art lofts!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 13, 2008 3:49 PM

@3 - it just won't have that post-civilization flair without zombies, feral animals from the zoo, or deadly microbes.

That said, I'm ready.

Posted by some dude | March 13, 2008 3:50 PM

bah...Benaroya sucks...the last time I ate there, they burned my Kobe beef and the chef nearly impailed me with his knife...

Posted by michael strangeways | March 13, 2008 3:53 PM

I feel duty bound to state what I always state: The Mannings building, suitably cleaned up and restored to its space-age kitschy glory, could be the anchor to a new development that would wrap around the north and west of the existing structure.

The resulting project would truly be distinctive and unique (as opposed to the usual horrendous misuses of those words by the real estate marketing crowd, when they talk about "urban living")

It's called "using a little imagination", but that involves more than recycling, for the ten millionth time, some dumbass set of plans drawn up by some Southern California developer (they put a few gables and some cedar on it to call it "northwesty").

And before anyone gets all property rights on my ass, let me say I think they should be given a height variance to make up for the airspace lost in preserving the building, and some sort of tax credit for creative reuse of a historic structure.

Oh, and one other thing: Anyone who whines about how the building isn't historic are the mental equivalents of those same folks who thought that Westin's idea of demolishing the top ten floors of the Olympic Hotel and replacing it with a cylindrical tower was just ducky. Or the same big thinkers who wanted to tear down the public market and replace it with some nice international style hotels.


Posted by catalina vel-duray | March 13, 2008 4:32 PM

I'm sure there are better "icons" in Ballard. That building is ugly, and doesn't deserve landmark status. It's a joke to the designation.

Posted by Hope the city loses | March 13, 2008 4:39 PM

I agree: Anyone who whines about how this building isn't historic also thinks that tearing down the public market is a good idea.

Posted by daniel | March 13, 2008 4:50 PM

Thought, Daniel dear - those people THOUGHT the market should be demolished, because it was old and dirty. Then they saw how neat it was once someone paid some attention to it, and they changed their mind. Now they take out of town relatives there and watch people throw fish.

The same is true of Pioneer Square, but it took the Seattle Hotel being demolished to wake people up. Now they send their young adults there to drink too much and fornicate in public.

...And don't even get me started on the R. H. Thomson Expressway, which many people were happy to see slice through the arboretum.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | March 13, 2008 4:59 PM

Catalina, your posts assume that Stranger readers (and writers!) have at least a modicum of institutional memory and historical context - which is a dangerous assumption, indeed...

Posted by Mr. X | March 13, 2008 6:24 PM

love the building - always thought it was a modern version of the Native American long house

is it historic, no

tear it down, no, use it somehow - maybe a fast food joint

Posted by Adam Kelper | March 13, 2008 8:20 PM

Well, my bad, I rather poorly mis-stated your point. Doubtful we'll ever know whether you would have been proven right about this site though.

Posted by daniel | March 13, 2008 9:13 PM

#7 - take your meds. #9 - wrong. Pike Place is interesting, useful and culture-y, while Denny's is a useless piece of shit building made of cement.

The site needs to be nuked and replaced with a parking ramp and a bus terminal, which will shut the Ballard-oids up for at least 5 minutes.

For a true historical representation of Ballard, add a giant neon sign outlining a drunken sailor vomiting up his Blatz on the sidewalk while fondling a one-eyed whore.

Posted by wbrproductions | March 13, 2008 10:14 PM

Imagine paying $400,000 for a house - after years of saving, perhaps, and months of planning and research - and then having it declared unfit for occupancy.

Now imagine the price was $12.5 million and the decision was made by a dozen people for whom it has zero impact, negative or positive. They won't even walk by it, let alone tour it or get hit with any cost.

Make all this happen in Seattle, a city that just built a $165 million library and had the rest of the country thinking it knew architecture.

Finally, imagine the decision came while the house band, er, Symphony, performed in a hall that you substantially paid for.

Then add a fully-loaded peanut gallery who, despite recognizing this is nothing like a landmark, love the idea of soaking someone else. Stir.

Posted by Troy | March 13, 2008 10:16 PM

@15 Stop! My heart is breaking!

Posted by MadDogm13 | March 14, 2008 12:01 AM

@14, I need no meds, thank you. But perhaps you should consult your physician, or at least learn something about the building, and the neighborhood, of which you speak. For one thing, Manning's is mostly wood and glass. For another, sailors never hung out in Ballard. You may be thinking of fishermen. While they both go to sea, they are two very different groups of people.

And Troy, the Benaroyas are far from victims. They did not scrimp and save to buy Manning's, only to have their dreams squashed by an uncaring government. (Which is a ridiculous cliche in and of itself. Have you been listening to KVI?) The Benaroyas have had a lot of money for a long, long time, and they got the building at fire sale prices. This judgement will not significantly impact their finances, and is just part of the cost of doing business in a town that has made them very, very rich.

And your suggestion that we should somehow give them special consideration because they donated a percentage of the cost of the symphony hall is insulting to the Benaroya family. They did that out of a sense of civic duty, not to use it as a club to push their business agenda through. They don't have anything to prove to anyone. They have already arrived.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | March 14, 2008 7:16 AM

Additionally, Troy, it was clear to all parties involved in the transaction that the building had landmark potential. In theory, that potential was baked into the price paid by the Benaroyas. The Benaroyas themselves applied the building for landmark status -- I have no sympathy just because they didn't like the answer.

Posted by joykiller | March 14, 2008 7:59 AM

See--the smart thing would've been to buy it and start demolish the same day/night. Problem solved. Lawsuits? Maybe, but cheaper to defend...
ps. It's not a landmark.

Posted by Eric | March 14, 2008 9:10 AM

Catalina/@17, my point about Benaroya Hall was that "Good, they deserve it" and "Who cares, they're rich" comments (see past Slog posts) are misdirected.

Posted by Troy | March 14, 2008 8:00 PM

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