Isn’t It Time to Landmark the Coliseum?

Supporters at the Seattle Center Coliseum
Supporters celebrating a “HeartBomb” at Seattle Center’s Coliseum last Valentine’s Day
(courtesy of the author)

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Four years ago Michael Herschensohn was published on Crosscut.com asking the same question I am asking today.

A landmark designation for the Coliseum, or KeyArena as newcomers might call it, is a certainty. But as a relative Seattle newcomer myself, I beg the question, why wasn’t it landmarked before? My guess is the recession, plus a dash of politics, had something to do with it.

Let’s hypothesize for a minute, that the Coliseum is landmarked this year – now what? Seattle Center is motivated to keep the Coliseum as an entertainment venue and ideally attract a professional basketball team and unrealistically attract a professional hockey team. Seattle Center is inclined to keep their revenue stream alive and well for themselves. I understand Seattle Center’s intentions, but I view them as solely self-serving.

Are Seattle Center’s self-serving intentions justified? As a subset of the City of Seattle shouldn’t they do what is best for the city as a whole? For those that are hell-bent on attracting professional sports teams and building an arena, one that is supposedly paid for with private funds, SODO is an obvious option. Although at a recent QAHS board meeting my fellow QAHS board member Leanne Olson also reminded Seattle Center that no action is also an option. Leanne’s “no action is an option” also holds true for the City of Seattle.

Continuing to hypothesize, if an arena is built in SODO, then what should the Coliseum become? Seattle Center has responded by stating that they would investigate other entertainment attractions to stave off loss of revenue.

For a second, I propose we ignore the driver of revenue and ask what does the city need? Does it need more classroom space? Does it need more affordable housing? Does it need temporary housing for the homeless?… Does it need another entertainment venue?

It turns out the greater Seattle community is currently discussing all of these questions, except that last question. Only private investors, who have everything to gain and nothing to lose, are asking for a new arena.

After asking myself these questions, I have come up with a proposal: landmark the Coliseum, consider an arena in SODO if you must, and discuss with the Queen Anne community (not just Uptown) what the future of the Coliseum should be.

More Infomation: 3rd Annual HeartBomb–at the Coliseum

Are Historic Districts or DADUs the Best Way to Preserve Queen Anne?

Torn by the perceived conflict between preserving Queen Anne’s historic character and of increasing urban density, I waver between historic districts and backyard cottages as the best way to preserve historic fabric. Across the country, we find contiguous districts such as the Ballard Avenue Historic District and thematic districts where scattered buildings of the same general type, style or age are protected as if the buildings were contiguous. Both types of districts protect all the buildings within their boundaries.

The relatively absence of individual landmarks and historic districts in Seattle underlies my angst. Ours is no longer a young west coast city, yet we have but eight historic districts and only the Harvard-Belmont District includes residential properties. The rest are commercial neighborhoods (Ballard Avenue, Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market, International District and Columbia City) or former military bases (Fort Lawton and Sand Point). Seattle has no neighborhood historic districts like Queen Anne, upper or lower and no thematic districts. …Continue reading “Are Historic Districts or DADUs the Best Way to Preserve Queen Anne?”

Endorsing Landmark Designation of Edris Skinner Nurses Home

The Queen Anne Historical Society continues its active support of the city’s landmark processes with this email sent May 15, 2018 to the Landmarks Preservation Board prior to its deliberation on May 16 of the designation of the Edris Skinner Nurses Home on the campus of the former Seattle Children’s Orthopedic Hospital once located on Queen Anne Hill.

Dear members of the Landmarks Preservation Board:

Due to unexpected conflicts and with apologies for the tardiness of this message, the Queen Anne Historical Society enthusiastically endorses the designation of the Edris Skinner Nurses Home which will be before the Landmarks Preservation Board tomorrow May 16, 2018. In our opinion the Edris Skinner Nurses Home meets five designation criteria. A, B, C, D. and F.

…Continue reading “Endorsing Landmark Designation of Edris Skinner Nurses Home”

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”