The City of Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board approved a nomination for historic preservation of the "Washington State Coliseum Site" and a few neighboring buildings at Seattle Center. It's the first step towards an official designation which may take place in August.
Jill Crary, the redevelopment director for Seattle Center, helped lead the near half-hour presentation to the board, which included a history lesson on the site dating back to the 1930s. The presentation explained the history of the Seattle Center Coliseum, and it's transition to KeyArena 1995. Erin Doherty, a coordinator for historic preservation, says the nomination includes the exterior of the Coliseum/KeyArena and the building’s extant historic structural elements, the exterior of the NASA Building, and the Blue Spruce Apartment Building.
The vote was 9-0.
Related: What constitutes a Seattle landmark?
The Seattle Center staff also made a case for the Bressi Garage, which was built in 1923. The building, which currently houses Pottery Northwest, is in the current KeyArena redevelopment area. Ironically, is still stands because Dominick Bressi fought its demolition for the World's Fair.
The Oak View Group proposal seeks to eliminate the building for construction of a new tunnel, a three-story building, and an access point for a renovated KeyArena. It would also serve as a construction staging area during the renovation. That nomination, as approved by the board, includes the interior and exterior.
OVG’s Lance Lopes quietly attended the meeting on Wednesday and observed the lengthy discussion. All the nominations were forwarded to the board for approval, by Seattle Center staff.
The Landmarks Preservation Board unanimously recommended the landmark nomination for the Bressi Garage, based on “its significant aspect of the cultural, political or economic heritage of the community, city, state or nation, and embodies the distinctive characteristics of an architectural style."
A handful or people spoke in favor of preservation, including Michael Herschensohn, the President of the Queen Anne Historical Society. He told the board, "I have a problem with this building because I love it," saying it's is important to the "historic character" of the lower Queen Anne area.
Both nominations now get a public hearing on August 2, in which the buildings could receive a historical designation. If designated, it triggers a “controls and incentives” phase in specific rules for construction outlines.
As noted before, landmark status does not preclude a developer from demolishing or renovating a building. The process can allow developers to seek historic credits, and reduce assessed value. Oak View appears, in its bid, to be seeking a historic tax credit for the KeyArena remodel.