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!”

Two new landmarks: Bressi Garage and the Coliseum

Castle at Tarascon; among France’s first landmarks; designated in 1840.

Introduction

Visiting the south of France on a lazy day in August, I rode my bike past the Tarascon Castle on my way to the European festival of basket weaving. Occupied for the first time in 1435, the castle is one of the best preserved in Europe. In 1840, it was among the first buildings in France to be designated a landmark. In 177 years of landmark protection, only its use by the German army during WWII ever put it at risk of demolition. In fact, precision bombing of the bridges on the Rhone River by American pilots in June 12, 1944, purposefully dodged French landmarks like this one. Now, thanks to the recent landmark designation of the Bressi Garage and the Seattle Coliseum, they will share a long life with the castle at Tarascon.

Bressi Garage

Known to us as Pottery Northwest, this wonderful survivor of Queen Anne’s early automobile age is now protected. The Landmarks Preservation Board identified both the exterior and the truss system supporting the roof, effectively an interior feature, as protected elements. The nomination prepared by Artifacts, a Tacoma preservation firm, did not dwell on the significance of Pottery Northwest tenancy. It also minimalized the importance of the successful suit filed by community activists at Sacred Heart Church, which lies between Bressi and the Century 21 World’s Fair site, stopped the fair’s ‘taking’ of all the land from Second to First avenues for the 1962 event. …Continue reading “Two new landmarks: Bressi Garage and the Coliseum”