Landmarks Preservation Board votes on B & O landmark nomination

In an 11-1 decision yesterday, the City of Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board voted against  the nomination of 1650 East Olive Way for landmark status.  The Board’s vote terminates the current nomination process (initiated by Nicholson Kovalchick Architects, the firm working on the plans for the new development at the location), and this building cannot be considered for nomination for another five years, except at the request of the owner (B & O Development LLC).  

From the brief board discussion, a key factor appeared to be that the building’s character was created by its current tenant, B & O Espresso, who has been at the location for 34 years.  The Board found that on a stand alone basis, the 1650 East Olive building was not architecturally distinctive.  Jack McCollough, the owner’s attorney, reminded the Board that there is no guarantee that B & O will remain a tenant at this location.  B & O only has 15 months remaining on their current lease.  Mr. McCollough then offered that the owners had attempted to negotiate in good faith with B & O (even offering them rent reductions) to tempt them to stay.  

As linder seattle mused in comments a couple of days ago, it looks as if the landmark nomination was a preemptive (now succesful) measure by the owner/developer to ward off community opposition.    Now that the mixed-use 7-story 83-unit  proposed for the site has one less obstacle, we have attached the DPD Early Design Guidance as well as the Landmark Nomination document (fascinating stuff) for your review.

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13 thoughts on “Landmarks Preservation Board votes on B & O landmark nomination

  1. Thanks Sea — I’ve been chasing interviews with all the B&O players since before Christmas. Playing hard to get. CHS will be talking with the developer, the architects and B&O owners. What we’ve found so far is that they have a plan for B&O to be part of the future development so those sides are happy now. But there remains opposition from some in the community about the development. We’ll know more when we get to speak directly to the people involved.

  2. But we’re going to have some in the community who are against ANY development on the hill. And many feel that if there is new development, it should only have 1 br. apts. that rent for $500/month.

  3. So, should we not cover the community opposition? Let’s see what they have to say. Directionally, I’m happy when people care. The next level is for people to sort out what they think about it all.

  4. This is a big issue on the Hill, always has been.

    You can scoff, but, affects thousands of folks at lower end of the pay scale jobs.


  5. Just wanted to correct something in your blog posting today. You say “David Peterson of Nicholson Kovalchick Architects reminded the Board that there is no guarantee that B & O will remain a tenant at this location. B & O only has 15 months remaining on their current lease. Mr. Peterson then offered that the owners had attempted to negotiate in good faith with B & O (even offering them rent reductions) to tempt them to stay.”

    That wasn’t me, that was Jack McCullough, the owner’s attorney.

    I was the one who presented the landmark report last night.

    Thanks -dp

  6. I’m very curious about this pre-emptive strike position. i hjappen to agree that the B&O building does not deserve historical status but this tactic seems to me a bit…..slimy. Is this common occurance?

  7. Well, the developers did it with the Denny’s project in Ballard, and it didn’t work in their favor. Yes, the building still got demolished, but they had to do some more work on it than they had anticipated (documentation work, that is).

    Is it any less slimy than when third parties try to declare a business, not a building historic? It’s a tool both sides use, I think people become emotionally attached to certain businesses due to their memories of experiences with these businesses.

  8. Smart players – avoid an angry somebody who doesn’t like your plan and ties you up for years.

    And that has happened a fair number of times on the Hill.

  9. Oh yeah. I could tell you a long story about how the Historic Lincoln Park/Cal Anderson Park came to be designated (1998) and selected (1999) a Seattle Historic Landmark site that would put a curl in your tail. (It has a rocky beginning but a happy ending.)

  10. of course you should cover the “community opposition”, but it would be nice to get a sense of how much community opposition there really is to this project. Is this a case of a small number of people being loud or is there really a groundswell against development at this spot?

  11. Actually, re-reading the post, I feel compelled to clarify something. The application for nomination of this building was required as part of the application for getting a Land Use permit from the DPD. You need to have a land use permit before you can get a building permit. Whenever someone wants to get a land use permit (called in Seattle a Master Use Permit or MUP), you have to demonstrate compliance with the State Environmental Protection Act, or SEPA, part of which covers the identification and protection of historic landmarks. The DPD (which handles land use and building permits) works with the Dept. of Neighborhoods (DON, which handles historic landmarks) to identify landmarks through the process of nomination hearings, before the DPD will move forward on the land use permit process. So there is nothing “pre-emptive” about it–it is required by the DPD.

    I will say however that in some cases an owner of property will nominate their own building in order to have the nomination hearing process clarify what they’ve got. They’ve either got a landmark or they don’t. That judgement by the Landmarks Board is good for 5 years. You might call that “preemptive” but to the property owner, what that does is it gives them clarity and certainty, By taking one element of uncertainty off the table for a while, which is worth a lot when you are trying to do a master plan. And property owners of all types do this–private homeowners, institutions, churches, schools, etc., as well as housing developers.