Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Several University District Churches Set To Be Demolished

A neighbor would like to share this information from Historic Seattle:

University District Houses of Worship: An Endangered Species
The last few years have seen an uptick in the demolition or proposed demolition of historic places of worship in Seattle's University District. The City upzoned much of the neighborhood in 2017, opening the door to more development pressure. Many churches with dwindling congregations do not have the resources to maintain their historic buildings. Offers to purchase their property or co-develop the property are enticing. Because Washington State has a religious exemption for landmarking, there's no avenue for designation unless the church provides consent for landmarking or voluntarily seeks designation themselves. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any loopholes in the case law. 
Last year, University Christian Church was demolished, and now there's just a massive hole on the southwest corner of 15th Avenue NE and NE 50th Street. 

Site of the demolished 
University Christian Church

Also on 15th Avenue, there's a large land use sign for the proposed demolition of the University Temple United Methodist building (1415 NE 43rd Street) - to be replaced with two residential towers (the church will be located in one of the new buildings). Demolition is slated for 2021.

University Temple United Methodist 

The latest threatened church building is the former Third Church of Christ, Scientist on 17th Avenue NE and NE 50th Street (4740 17th Avenue NE) near Greek Row. It's owned by Churchome (formerly City Church). The site is in a LR3 zone which allows for a five-story apartment building. Churchome recently filed for a demolition permit on May 29. They are marketing the property for sale and trying to clear the site. We plan to reach out to Churchome to see if they'll either work with us or allow us time to find a preservation-friendly buyer. This approach was successful back in the early 1990s when we helped save the Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, better known now as Town Hall.

Former Third Church of Christ, Scientist building
If you have connections with Churchome, we'd love to speak with you. If you yourself, or maybe someone you know, is interested in an adaptive reuse project or represents another church looking for a new home, please contact Eugenia Woo, Director of Preservation Services, at eugeniaw@historicseattle.org.

A neighbor told the Laurelhurst Blog:
What a sadness this is. When I  came to Seattle in 1962 to attend the Univ of Wash, this wonderful row of beautiful gothic churches stretching down 15th Avenue NE, made this part of the city extraordinary. Now this avenue will be filled with ordinary flat-fronted apartment buildings, parking lots, and commercial stores to sell us things.  

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