Preservation board nixes landmark status for Park View

The days are numbered for the Park View apartment house across the street from Kerry Park on West Highland Drive.

The Queen Anne Historical Society wanted to save the aging, run-down building as a protected historical landmark, but the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board on March 16 voted 4-3 against the designation, said board spokeswoman Beth Chave.

"It was sort of a borderline one for a lot of people [on the board]," she said. That didn't include board president Virginia Wilcox, who was strongly in favor of giving the building landmark status, Chave added.

But in the end, even a reversed vote wouldn't have done the trick. "In order for it to pass, it would have required a majority of appointed board members," she said. That means six of the seven board members present needed to approve the landmark designation, Chave went on to say.

Community interest on both sides of the issue was high. "There were a lot of Queen Anne people at the meeting, and a lot of good testimony," she said. But to become a landmark, a building has to meet at least one of six criteria, and the focus of discussion about the Park View concerned two, Chave said.

One was that the building "embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style or period or method of construction."

More important, according to Chave, was the second criterion. That one reads: " Because of its prominence or spatial location, contrasts of siting, age or scale, it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood or the city and contributes to the distinctive quality or identity of such neighborhood or city."

People have different ways of interpreting the second criterion, said Chave, but Queen Anne Historical Society members had no doubts, according to member Bob Frazier. "We're disappointed it wasn't designated because we feel the building is an important part of the most important street in the city," he said.

Historical Society president Bruce Jones was disappointed with the vote, he said in an e-mail to group members. Jones also said the best chance for designating the building as a landmark was by using the second criterion, and he believes there is something that could have helped.

"My interpretation of that aspect in the meeting is that if the Park View had been part of a Historic District or similar, it would have not suffered the same result," Jones wrote.

The family that owns the building and developer Lorig & Associates have said that it would be impossible to repair the building enough to bring it up to modern building codes, and there is also the issue of owners' rights to do what they want with their property.

"I'm personally for freedom and property rights and so on," Frazier said. "However, the landmarks order is for the common good."

While that may be, seeing the building disappear won't be easy for the owners, either, according to Karen Freeman, the resident manager and a niece of the owners.

"We've always maintained it was a somewhat sad decision," she said. "Nothing lasts forever, unfortunately." Nobody living in the Park View wants to leave, Freeman conceded. "I have to move, too," she noted.

Lorig & Associates plans to buy the property, which will face the wrecking ball in about a year, Freeman said. "I'm looking forward to seeing Mr. Lorig work with the community to build a new Queen Anne jewel," she added.

Design work and permitting will take more than a year for the project, said Alison Lorig from Lorig & Associates. But, echoing Freeman, she stressed that the company wants to work with the Queen Anne community on the design even before it reaches the city's formal design-review stage.

Lorig is pleased with the Landmarks Board decision. "It allows us to do something nicer on that property," she said of a planned condominium. The new condo complex will be six stories tall and will have around 30 units that cost approximately $1 million apiece, she added. Plans also call for two levels of underground parking that will provide two spaces for each unit, Lorig said.

As for Freeman, who grew up on Queen Anne Hill, the sale and destruction of the family apartment house will bring changes she figures she can handle. "I'm going to grow up and go buy something to live in," is how Freeman put it.

Frazier said he was frustrated that the Park View couldn't be saved, a feeling he also had when the historic Hansen Baking Co. building was torn down more than a decade ago to make way for the Larry's Market complex in Lower Queen Anne. "But you can't win them all," he observed.

Staff reporter Russ Zabel can be reached at or 461-1309.[[In-content Ad]]