The city’s Hearing Examiner has denied the appeal from a community group seeking to halt the $49 million overhaul and expansion of Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum. In a ruling issued prior to this week’s scheduled hearing on the appeal, Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner denied the group’s effort to require a costly environmental impact study for the project, reversing a decision from the city’s planning department.
In the ruling, Tanner writes that declarations from Protect Volunteer Park supporters including neighbors and community members Virginia Alleman, John Colwell, Eliza Davidson, Ellen Hecht, Randolph Umston, William Bakamis and a person identified as Sheilan “set forth sincerely held, but unsupported, lay opinion on subjects that are technical in nature.”
The group says it will continue to pursue its fight against the expansion, pointing to a letter from lawyer David Bricklin arguing that the expansion violates city code protecting park land.
Museum officials wasted little time following the June 5th decision with a permit application for the construction — “Construct additions and substantial alterations to existing museum (Seattle Asian Art Museum) and associated site work at existing park, occupy per plan” — filed Wednesday.
Meanwhile, members of the Architectural Review Committee of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board are scheduled to discuss a needed certificate of approval for the project on Friday, June 16th (PDF).
The SAAM project planned to begin construction by the end of this year has been designed to expand the 1933-built museum more than 13,000 square feet by extending the backside of the building 3,600 square feet into the park. The museum will add more display space to represent South Asia and India as well as fix infrastructure issues including a climate control system and seismic upgrades while making the museum ADA accessible. In February, officials put the museum project back in motion after a brief pause. That month, visitors also said goodbye to SAAM before a planned two-year closure for the construction.