Thursday, May 16, 2013

Battelle/T​alaris Site Named "Endangere​d" By Washington Trust for Historic Preservati​on

Friends of Battelle/Talaris
The Talaris property (4000 Ne 41st Street), located in Laurelhurst, has been included on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation's Most Endangered list of Historic Properties in the State of Washington, as announced yesterday at the RevitalizeWA conference in Vancouver, Washington.
Jeff Davies, one of the members of the neighborhood grassroots group, Friends of Batelle/Talaris group, focused on preserving the Talaris property, previously known as Battelle, said:
This is great news, bringing this exceptional property to the attention of the local, regional and national preservation community.
Our efforts to preserve and retain essential elements of this community assets are proceeding and we will have more exciting news in the future.
The Friends Group is comprised of a "group of Laurelhurst neighbors who have come together as advocates for the preservation of the property and care deeply about the community and value the former Battelle property as one of the most historically and architecturally significant sites in the neighborhood and the city," their website says. 

The Friends group, is preparing a document to be submitted to the City of Seattle Landmark Preservation Board for nomination of the property for the Historic Landmark designation. The document has already  been presented to the Historic Seattle group as well as to the Laurelhurst Community Board last month. 

The nomination will move through the review process sometime this summer. If the property is approved as an historic landmark, any future  development would require public hearings and reviews. Development is not prohibited but must conform with the original integrity of the design, according to the Friends group.

The Group said they "believe that the site, including the landscape, wetlands and buildings, meets the designation criteria for listing as a Seattle landmark. Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian, has confirmed our opinion of its significance by determining it is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places."

Friends of Battelle/Talaris said in the  latest Laurelhurst Newsletter, put out by the Laurelhurst Community Club:

We are not opposed to thoughtful, sustainable development. Owners of any property are entitled to the benefits of ownership, which include the enjoyment of a return on their investment. The preservation of this unique, historically and architecturally significant site will take a concerted, cooperative effort involving the ownership and all the various elements and interests within the neighborhood.

We do however, believe the Battelle/Talaris campus, which joins the grounds and buildings in a holistic harmony has intrinsic historic, cultural and artistic merit and deserves to be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations," the group said in the latest Laurelhurst Newsletter, put out by the Laurelhurst Community Club says regarding.

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, which puts out its annual Most Endangered Historic Properties List, has brought attention to over 100 threatened sites nominated by concerned citizens and organizations across the states since 1992. 

"The Washington Trust assists advocates for these resources in developing strategies aimed at removing these threats, taking advantage of opportunities where they exist, and finding positive preservation solutions for listed resources," their website says.

Yesterday's Washington Trust for Historic Preservation Press Release says in part:

The Battelle/Talaris Campus n Laurelhurst is included in the 2013 list  and is a former research campus dedicated to science and technology.  From the late 1960s the campus served as the Seattle campus of the Battelle Memorial Institute, a science and technology development company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. With the company’s objective of benefiting mankind through science, technological innovation, educational activities and the dissemination of knowledge, the campus provided a unique environment for scholars to engage in advanced creative research.

The property is also architecturally significant to the region as the campus concept, landscape and building design represents an important example of a mid-century move toward environmentally responsive design.

David Hoedemaker of the Seattle-based architectural firm NBBJ was the project architect, while Richard Haag, the award-winning designer of Seattle’s Gasworks Park, designed the landscape. By 1997, Battelle outgrew the location, which subsequently served as home to the Talaris Institute, an organization dedicated to early childhood development. In 2012, the property changed hands once again and the new owner presented plans for redevelopment. 

The preferred development scenario retains many features of the designed landscape, but indicates several key buildings are being considered for demolition, leaving only the foundations. A second development scenario envisions over 90 single family homes on the site – an outcome that would all but erase the existing campus setting.

Concerned with losing the site’s delicate balance of the built and natural environment, a group of concerned neighbors formed Friends of Battelle/Talaris. The Friends have engaged with the owners and other neighborhood stakeholders to support a plan for the site that meets the owner’s development needs while retaining the historic integrity of the resource.

In a  recent article from Laurelhurst Community Club's Newsletter regarding the potential upcoming re-development of the property it says:

Last month,  4000 Property LLC, who now owns Talaris,  informed LCC that they have submitted a draft Seattle Municipal Code text amendment to the City DPD for review and consideration. George Thurtle and 4000 Property representatives have met with City Council members to present their plan to upzone the Talaris site from its single-family (SF) designation to one that accommodates multi-family housing. They expect the Council to vote on this in August. Should the Council not give them what they want, they intend to "focus our efforts solely on the zoned single-family (SF) option." (90+ lots)

It has been suggested that the property owner may choose to sell the property to another developer instead of pursuing the single-family option. Their preferred development alternative would yield between 250 and 333 market rate apartments and a short plat for 8 single-family residences. This alternative would be a substantial increase in density in the neighborhood. Their ultimate intention may be to sell the developed property to a real estate investment trust (REIT), in which case local ownership likely would be lost.

LCC continues to work with its legal, land use, and architectural consultants to devise a better solution for the site’s development in an effort to balance the neighborhood’s quality-of-life issues with the property owner’s desire for a reasonable return on investment. LCC’s goals are to preserve green space, absorb manageable density, offer ownership opportunities in new housing units, and develop smart plans for transportation mitigation that will be important with any increased use of the site. LCC is hopeful that the property owners will develop a legacy plan that meets both their needs and the desires of the community.

For more information about the Friends of Batelle/Talaris, go to their website, Facebook page, Twitter @preservetalaris or email

For previous posts on this subject on the Laurelhurst Blog go here.

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