Historic Preservation and the Illogical Dangers of Hyperbole

I prepared this article in response to a misleading article published on December 22, by the Sightline Institute. A link to the article appears below. Today, January 17, 2018, the Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) voted not to impose Controls and Incentives on the Wayne Apartment the recently landmarked building discussed by Mr. Bertolet and me. The vote effectively makes my arguments weaker. Even though the building is part of Belltown, I share the article so as to give our readers a sense of the obstacles we face protecting the historic fabric of Queen Anne.

The LPB’s vote is the result of the property owner’s claim that preserving the building would be an economic hardship. It frees the property owner to sell the building with nothing in the way of its demolition. Part of the argument for the vote, which resulted from a rigorous review of all the options by the staff of the city’s Preservation Program and its recommendation to oppose Controls and Incentives that might have protected the building from demolition, rested on the huge disparity between the amount of money owners could realize from selling the Wayne and the cost of repairing and restoring it. It is a very dangerous argument in this time of incredibly high land values throughout the city. The Queen Anne Historical Society plans to begin redrafting the landmark ordinance in cooperation with other preservation organizations and lobbying the city council and the mayor for its eventual adoption, so stay tuned.
…Continue reading “Historic Preservation and the Illogical Dangers of Hyperbole”

Testimony in Olympia opposing SB 5805 bad school district preservation idea!

Here is our Olympia testimony opposing Senate Bill 5805 which if passed would authorize the board of the Seattle Public School District, the only school district in the state with over 50,000 students, to decide on its own whether or not to adhere to the provisions of the city of Seattle’s landmark preservation ordinance.

January 11, 2018

The Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee

SB 5805 – 2017-18: Position of the Queen Anne Historical Society

SB 5805 – 2017-18 (Sponsored by Senators Reuven Carlyle and David Frockt): Concerning the application of landmark or historic preservation regulations with regard to school district property in school districts with more than fifty thousand students.

The Queen Anne Historical Society vehemently opposes SB 5805. It is a broadside attack on the quality of life in our neighborhood and a serious threat to the protection of our historic built environment. Although we could tick off many reasons for our opposition to the bill, an example says it best. …Continue reading “Testimony in Olympia opposing SB 5805 bad school district preservation idea!”

Bleitz Funeral Home: Inside and Out.

The Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) designated the Bleitz Funeral Home at 316 Florentia St. a city of Seattle landmark earlier this year. During the preparation of the nomination the developers supported the nomination of the 1921 portion of the building, hoping the LPB would not stand in the way of demolishing the 1989 west side addition. They succeeded there. Now they are faced with convincing the LPB of the need to replace most of the original windows.

The Queen Anne Historical Society’s Landmark Preservation Committee toured the building inside and out on Wednesday, November 22, 2017. The interiors have been completed gutted with the building stripped out on all floors to the concrete walls. Only the wooden floors and a north south row of studs on the first and second floors remain. As is often the case in buildings whose interiors haven’t been landmarked, the views are the interior’s most interesting features. To the north, the building hovers over the Lake Washington Ship Canal and the Ship Canal Trail that ends just below it at the Fremont Bridge. The view to the north includes the passing ships on the canal and the dramatic (soon-to-be-illuminated) opening and closing of the bridge. The view across the canal to historic (and modern) Fremont is also quite nice. To the east, the vista takes in the George Washington Memorial Bridge (Aurora Bridge) and sweeps across Lake Union, Capitol Hill and the University District. Jacob J. Bleitz showed prescience in siting his funeral home. He understood the value of a great location even in the business of dying. …Continue reading “Bleitz Funeral Home: Inside and Out.”