Alki Homestead fire anniversary: ‘Somebody has to speak for the building’

January 16, 2011 at 10:55 am | In Alki Homestead, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

10:55 AM: We are at the Log House Museum, steps away from the Alki Homestead (above), where 4 groups are announcing their updates on the Homestead’s status, on the 2nd anniversary of the fire that closed it. Historic Seattle says it still hopes to find a way to buy it. The 3 other groups say they have asked the city to step in to prevent further damage to the building. More to come after the media briefing.

12:58 PM: Our video clip contains the complete, unedited 17-minute briefing (including Q/A). It was led by Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s Clay Eals, who, toward the briefing’s end, summarized the event’s purpose: “We are speaking for the building … somebody has to speak for the building.” Full story to come; here’s an updated link to the official news release.

ADDED 1:50 PM: The snug first-floor central space of the Log House Museum was filled with media (including citywide TV crews), historic-preservation advocates, and SWSHS volunteers for the occasion. Speaking, from left, at a table facing cameras were Chris Moore from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, Flo Lentz from 4Culture, Rick Sever from Historic Seattle, and Eals.

Notably absent was the building’s owner, Tom Lin, who says expert studies he’s paid for show that the building is too far gone for restoration, and would need “reconstruction.” The groups participating today said Lin had been notified of the event by e-mail and was invited to be there – as an observer, however, not as a speaker. Last summer, he had announced he would put the building up for sale, and extended an exclusive monthlong window for these same 4 groups to purchase it. Historic Seattle’s Sever would not comment during today’s briefing on the status of any negotiations and whether any talks had occurred recently, repeatedly saying “due diligence” prevented specific commenting. He also would not identify the “private investors” that were mentioned.

Regarding the request to the city regarding protection of the structure, we were told that came in the form of a letter to the Department of Planning and Development, which enforces code compliance; specific concerns were described as including being open to the elements, accessible to potential vandals, and having “waste” left around the site. Whatever complaint was filed, it’s not showing yet on the official DPD page for the Homestead/Fir Lodge site (2717 61st SW), which does note previous complaints (from unknown complainants), all listed as “case closed.”

The third major initiative announced today was creation of a new poster featuring the “This Place Matters” photo taken outside the Homestead/Fir Lodge last July 4th. Volunteers are going around putting up copies – we followed former Log House Museum director Andrea Mercado, her daughter Ruby and other young volunteers immediately after the media briefing, as they put up the first one at Sunfish Seafood a few blocks away:

So now what? As Sever repeated before the briefing ended, “In real estate, the door’s always open.” Whatever happens next, the Homestead, for now, remains closed.

12 Comments

  1. What a bunch of crap! This building is NOT restorable! There is no security risk or risk of vandelism because there is nothing to save. The fire 2 years ago was beyond destructive. You CANNOT restore rotten, burned out logs. YOU JUST CAN’T! Not even with super glue or duct tape!
    And as far as the owner, Mr. Tom Lin, not showing up — well who would want to show up to a “press conference” where he gets to sit and hear all these slanderous remarks made about him and his attempts to do RIGHT, but yet he’s not allowed to defend himself or speak FOR himself. Ridiculous!!! Tom Lin is an outstanding person who has done everything he can to try and save a building that means as much, or more, to him as it does to the community. The experts are right. It cannot be saved. And, for your information, that IS heartbreaking news to Tom as well.
    My husband and I attended the “rally” on July 4th and I’m sorry, but 150+/- people does NOT portray a majority of the community. Let it go already. Let’s demolish the building and rebuild it!

    Comment by J McReynolds — 3:27 pm January 16, 2011 #

  2. In another time the community would have come together and helped someone burned out of their building rebuild. Now people hold rallies, demonize people, and act like they are the victim.

    Sounds like a classic witch hunt to me. Shameful.

    Comment by CB — 4:49 pm January 16, 2011 #

  3. It’s a good thing SOMEBODY is speaking for the building! instead of only the development potential of a piece of property near the beach.

    Comment by visitor — 6:21 pm January 16, 2011 #

  4. Wonder if Mr. LIn is just waiting this out to sell it outright since it will be beyond repair/restoration at some point on the near future.

    Comment by My two cents ... — 7:10 pm January 16, 2011 #

  5. So the coalition just wants a building there. No more Alki Homestead Restaurant, just a building. So sad, but since none of them have dined there in a dozen or more years, they don’t care about the experiences that many of us in the community have enjoyed in this little gem of a restaurant. Since 2009 Lin has wanted to replace the burned/rotten logs and foundation – all 80%. He wants to bring back the restaurant with those marvelous fireplaces, the yummy food and good experiences – and one that is SAFE and ADA accessible.It’s hard to do when a group of people decide to demonize him and interfere at many levels with his attempts to get the funding and permitting to move forward. Please people, just let the man continue to get his business rebuilt without all the drama.

    Comment by AMW — 7:31 pm January 16, 2011 #

  6. AMW said in above post: :…Since 2009 Lin has wanted to replace the burned/rotten logs and foundation – all 80%. He wants to bring back the restaurant with those marvelous fireplaces, the yummy food and good experiences…”
    AMW, are you sure about that statement?
    That’s not the way I understand it.

    Comment by Jo — 8:21 pm January 16, 2011 #

  7. Restoring that house to be anything but modern and energy efficient would be like shooting yourself in the foot economically. It needs to be totally gutted and remade in a modern and cost affective way. No rational person would invest in the old landmark building unless they could build it how he/she needed to. The Alki Homestead Restaurant is a fond memory, alive in photos and stories that will last for generations. Its original legacy should not be tarnished. Whatever reincarnation the building comes back as, I hope it is as wonderful and unique as The Alki Homestead Restaurant was in her hay-day.

    Comment by Noelle — 10:33 pm January 16, 2011 #

  8. Tom presented his plan to the ACC in September 2009 asking for feedback. He dropped the additional building (on the parking lot)from his plans due to negative feedback. All members of today’s coalition were at that meeting, so I do not understand why they have been stating that he wants to demolish the building and build a big hotel. He showed a scale model of the Homestead in his plan and wanted it to be a place for the community to gather for their meals again. He has stated that he wanted to bring it back since the day of the fire. Others just want a bigger museum.

    Comment by AMW — 11:36 pm January 16, 2011 #

  9. It is sad that these historical societies have not come up with the money to purchase the property if they feel so strongly about it. I watched the clip and they said nothing about funding. Infact, all 4 organizations tried to avoid the topic. They should all get together in public and let people know where they stand. One would show proof of funding and their ability to restore the building. The other show willingness to sell the project. Isn’t that the main point of this meeting? If the historical societies aren’t willing to ask Lin to participate in the public meeting? Why should Lin invite Hitoric Societies to participate in the restoration? Should be a 2 way street. I may be wrong, but it seems like all the actions Historical Societies have taken is pretty one sided. Let’s not forget. Who is the owner? Am I missing something here?

    Comment by Alki Resident — 2:49 am January 17, 2011 #

  10. The shocking part is that some West Seattle residents (including those commenting here) have zero pride, appreciation, and concern for preservation of our history. Everyone in the city should be rallying behind the efforts to save this still beautiful historic building that sits near the birthplace of the city. And, just because someone cannot attend a rally does not mean there is not wide support.

    Comment by Beach Drive Boys — 11:24 am January 17, 2011 #

  11. It’s amazing how easily people can spend other people’s money. A lot of people want to tell Lin how to spend money, regardless of whether there will be any return on such an investment. A considerable amount of money has already been spent hiring experts and developing plans, which the historical societies have shot down. Where are the experts and plans that the historical societies have paid for?
    .
    Even the great-grandson of the original builder, who is a log-house builder himself, was consulted…and people say that Lin doesn’t care anything about the history of the place? Come on, stop using him as a scapegoat.

    Comment by alki_2008 — 11:55 am January 18, 2011 #

  12. I read the press release and it said that His toric Seattle and it’s investors had offered Mr. Lin the commiserate monies he asked for this past summer. They talked about due diligence at the press conference and would not comment on the negotiations. I have never heard any of these groups say that a restaurant would not be at this location. I just hope that the city gets the place closed up so that the neighborhood doesn’t end up with nasty critter infestation.
    I am a developer and I know that when you buy a Landmark Building you are buying the history of a community.It is a huge responsibility. If preservation groups say that the building can be saved I believe them. I was at that meeting and no one said a thing against the owner. They were all solution seekers.
    I am hopeful that the building will be restored properly and the chicken dinners will return to their former glory.
    In all of this I do not understand why he doesn’t buy one of those foreclosed empty condo buildings with all the parking, do a quick remodel and have his beautiful small boutique hotel and restaurant. Why tear down a historic landmark building that holds the memories of a community???

    Comment by alkilifer — 3:59 pm January 18, 2011 #

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