Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Batelle/Talaris Historic Landmark Designation Status To Be Decided Tomorrow At Public Hearing

Talaris Campus (courtesy of Talaris website)
The City's Landmarks Preservation Board will hold a designation hearing tomorrow to announce their decision to approve or not the Historic Landmark Designation for the Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center / Talaris Conference Center (4000 NE 41st Street).

The public hearing and announcement should start around 4:15 at the Seattle Municipal Tower (700 5th Avenue, 40th Floor, Room 4060).  Attendees should arrive a little early as agenda item timing is an approximation. 
At this meeting the Board "will receive evidence and hear arguments as to whether the site, building or object meets the standards for designation. If the Board does not designate the property, the proceedings terminate and the property can't be considered for designation for five years, except at the request of the owner."

In September the Landmarks Preservation Board voted unanimously to accept the Landmark historic nomination for the Talaris property. Many Laurelhurst residents as well as the Friends of Battelle/Talaris and others presented information.
Friends of Battelle/Talaris, a group of Laurelhurst residents who have an avid interest in preserving and protecting the Battelle/Talaris site, landscape and buildings based on their unique modernist design and intact original character, submitted the nomination to seek formal recognition of the property’s historic, cultural and architectural significance.

"Recent development proposals may adversely affect the integrity of the site," the group said in a recent press release.
The designation standards for a site mandate that it must be at least 25 years old and must meet at least one of the six criteria for designation outlined in the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (SMC 25.12.350).  At the September meeting, the site met four out of the six at outlined here:
a) It is the location of, or is associated in a significant way with, a historic event with a significant effect upon the community, City, state, or nation; or

b) It is associated in a significant way with the life of a person important in the history of the City, state, or nation; or

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; or

f) Because of its prominence of 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 the City.
Although the Landmarks Preservation Board does not have to cite specific criteria at the nomination stage, there was discussion that the Battelle/ Talaris site meets standards c,d,e and f.

The City website says of the designation step being discussed tomorrow:
This section requires a Certificate of Approval for alterations or significant changes to the features proposed for preservation. Following Board approval of the nomination (or designation) the owner may give written notice of a desire to confer and consult with the Board and Board staff to reach agreement on specific features to be preserved and methods to achieve such preservation. A timetable is established by Board, Board staff and the Owner. This written request by the Owner is the only procedure which may alter the time requirements or the public meeting on designation. If the Board designates a property, the next step is the Controls and Incentives Agreement for the landmark, which is negotiated by the Board staff with the property owner. Once an agreement is reached and signed, it is then sent to the Landmarks Preservation Board for approval at another public meeting.

The City website says that "controls define those features of the landmark to be preserved and outline the Certificate of Approval process for changes to those features. Incentives may include, but are not limited to, zoning variances, building code exceptions, and financial incentives."

After the agreement on the Controls and Incentives has been reached with the property owner and approved by the Landmarks Preservation Board, a designating ordinance is sent to the City Council for approval.

Once landmarks have been approved and gone through the process they are then subject to protection by city ordinance, as stated on the
City's Landmark and Designation website.

Here is the nomination for Talaris/Batelle posted on the City's Landmark nomination website, City Project # 3015404, which includes pre-application analysis to understand the nomination for designation prohibiting the owner from making changes to the property until the nomination is approved or denied. The owner has submitted plans to potentially subdivide the 7.8 acre parcel into single family lots, tracts for open space, utilities, and private roads.

For more information on the City's nomination process go here and here for the City's ordinance pertaining to the nomination, designation, and Controls and Incentives process and appeal procedures.
To contact Friends of Battelle/Talaris email preservetalaris@gmail.com or go to their Facebook page or website.
The Landmarks Preservation Board is coordinated by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Historic Preservation Program. The Historic Preservation Program handles the identification and protection of more than 400 historic structures, site, objects, and vessels, as well as eight historic districts throughout Seattle.
The Friends of Batelle/Talaris told us "We invite all our neighbors and supporters of the site to join us at the important meeting tomorrow.


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