Boren Investment Company Warehouse Designated a Landmark!

334 Boren Avenue N., Boren Investment Company Warehouse / David Smith Furniture. Photo: Eugenia Woo

On Wednesday, November 2, 2011, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) voted 6-3 to designate the Boren Investment Company Warehouse (334 Boren Ave N, South Lake Union) as a Seattle Landmark. The vote was close. This was a big victory for supporters of the designation. Representatives from preservation organizations (Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and Historic Seattle), community members and other advocates provided public testimony in favor of designation. The comments demonstrated broad and passionate support for a warehouse building that represents the significant light industrial heritage of South Lake Union.

The LPB concluded that the property met three of the six designation standards. A property just needs to meet one of the standards. The Board designated the exterior of the property under standards C, D and E. These standards are described in the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (SMC 25.12.350). “It” refers to a building, object or site that is at least 25 years old:

C) It is associated in a significant way with a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community, City, state or nation; or

D) It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or a method of construction; or

E) It is an outstanding work of a designer or builder.

For more background on this advocacy issue, go to MAin2’s October 18, 2011 post.

The Boren Investment Company Warehouse sits at the corner of an entire city block. The Troy Laundry Building (311-329 Fairview Ave N), an existing designated landmark, is on the opposite corner. Touchstone Corporation owns the block and has plans to redevelop the site. We have been monitoring progress of the proposed plans as they are presented to the Architectural Review Committee of the LPB. Touchstone will present its latest plans at the November 10, 2011 ARC meeting. Download the agenda here.

Previous preferred alternatives showed little more than the primary facades of one or both buildings being retained. We hope to see revised plans that show a more preservation-minded approach that meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and allows the project to meet its program needs. Later down the road we also hope to see a new design that incorporates the two landmarks in a compatible manner. Embracing the old and the new can make for an exciting project.