Thursday, May 22, 2008

On the Other Hand

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board can be embarrassed after all:
Three months after declaring the defunct Ballard Denny's building a landmark -- which, for some, put into question the very meaning of the word -- Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board unanimously said the owner may tear it down.

....The landmark designation for the Denny's, which Benaroya shut down last year, sparked passions because it touched on property rights, historic preservation, growth and the continued evolution of once-quaint Seattle neighborhoods. Hundreds of Ballard residents banded together to try to save it.

Their efforts worked at first, but Wednesday the board was required to consider its decision's economic impact on Benaroya -- a factor that by law it could not take into account three months ago.

....John McCullough, Benaroya's attorney, said the company looked at a dozen redevelopment alternatives that would have preserved the building, but no plan was feasible.

Even the rosiest option -- turning the Denny's into a high-end restaurant and building condos on the rest of the site -- posted a near 25 percent loss for Benaroya, he said. That's because the number of units built would have to have been reduced from the original redevelopment plan.

Board member Alyce Conti, a real-estate finance expert, agreed with McCullough's assessment.

"No lender is going to lend on this project, especially in today's environment," she said. "It's impossible."

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