Back Online – Recent Preservation/Heritge News

MAin2 is back in action after a two-week summer hiatus. Here’s some recent interesting preservation/heritage news:

Screenshot of MOHAI website

Mayor McGinn to MOHAI: Give Up Some of Your Money to the City

The Stranger’s SLOG (“Mayor’s Office Angry Over $40 Million Given to History Museum”) reports on how Mayor McGinn’s office wants some of the Museum of History and Industry’s (MOHAI) SR 520 mitigation money for the City’s use. MOHAI’s home is in a City-owned building that will be demolished by the State for SR 520 expansion related work. MOHAI deftly negotiated considerable mitigation money to cover the major expense of having to pack up, move, and store museum materials and artifacts for transfer to its new location in to the designated landmark Naval Reserve Building in Lake Union Park. The new building on Lake Union will undergo a major rehabilitation to convert to museum use. The museum had originally built the current building with private funds but later donated it to the City.

MOHAI and the City agreed that the museum would be in a better position to negotiate with the State given the displacement of a cultural institution rather than the City negotiating mitigation for a vacant building. City Council authorized MOHAI to negotiate with the State directly and the City and MOHAI have an agreement to save MOHAI, restore a landmark building (Naval Reserve Building), and enhance the experience of learning about our heritage and history. MOHAI Executive Director Leonard Garfield wrote a response to the Mayor’s letter to MOHAI . Read the response on the SLOG, “MOHAI Rejects Mayor’s Request to Give Up Funding.”

MOHAI is the keeper of Seattle’s history and one of the most well-respected heritage organizations in the Pacific Northwest. We hope this issue resolves amicably and MOHAI can continue with its plans for relocation with the mitigation money from the State. Update (September 3, 2010): Crosscut published an excellent piece by Jordan Royer on this issue. Read it here.

Lloyd Building / Source: City of Seattle Landmark Nomination

Lloyd Building Owner Files Lawsuit Over Landmark Designation

MAin2 previously wrote about the designation of the Lloyd Building by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board on August 4, 2010. Well, it didn’t take long for the owner to file a lawsuit over the designation. KING5 and both reported on the Lloyd Building owner’s lawsuit (filed on August 24th) and how it continues to claim the building is not worthy of designation because it is “a hodgepodge of design of no distinctive significance.” Although for marketing purposes, the owner boasts about its downtown properties on its own website as “A collection of buildings in Seattle’s downtown core, each with unique architectural character. Excellent locations.” Can a building be both insignificant or mediocre AND have unique architectural character? Don’t think so.

The Lloyd Building is just one of the latest downtown Seattle buildings nominated and designated by the City of Seattle as a result of its 2007 Downtown Historic Resources Survey and Inventory. The lawsuit claims the survey is unlawful procedure, despite the fact that the landmarks ordinance states that “Any person including the Historic Preservation Officer and any member of the Board may nominate any site, improvement or object for designation as a landmark.” The survey was established by City Council which directed the City’s Historic Preservation Program to do the survey because zoning changes in downtown would potentially adversely affect smaller scale older buildings and downtown’s historic fabric and streetscape. The survey is a planning tool that benefits developers and property owners so they know what’s considered potentially historic and landmark-eligible.

The lawsuit also claims the Landmarks Preservation Board failed to consider future development potential or plans. The landmarks ordinance clearly states what the designation standards are for properties and the Board based its decision on the proper criteria. It looked at the merits of the building as it exists today within its historic context. The Board doesn’t use a crystal ball approach to see what may or may not happen in the future when considering designation. MAin2 will follow this lawsuit and provide updates in future posts.