New Alki Homestead plan: Advocates say they’re ‘thrilled’

January 28, 2011 at 10:17 am | In Alki Homestead, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

(WSB photo from 1/16/2011)
From the city Municipal Tower downtown, here are the toplines from the first public meeting to reveal details of the new plan for the Alki Homestead. It was brought to the Architectural Review Committee of the city Landmark Preservation Board. Though the committee does not vote, the board will have to approve a plan before any permits can be issued for work to proceed on the Alki Homestead, aka the historic Fir Lodge, closed since an accidental electrical fire two years ago.

We wrote about the restoration proposal on Monday, after reviewing new additions to the file here at the Municipal Tower.

(Alloy Design Group principals at left – Greg Squires, seated, and Mark Haizlip, standing)
Though the new architects from Alloy Design Group made it clear they were not here to discuss intricate details of how the Homestead would be “restored,” they did verify that restoring it and reopening it as a restaurant is the goal now, and that the previous proposal involving other components on the site – a spa, a bar, a “small inn” had all been mentioned in 2009 – is “water under the bridge,” declaring that they were brought in for “a fresh start.”

They asked the board to indicate support for the two-story structure they want to add on the west (rear) side of the Homestead to house its kitchen and possibly access (elevator/stairs) to what’s envisioned as an upper-level banquet facility (the building previously had upper-level apartments) – they say it will have an 890-square-foot “footprint,” not much larger than the “non-historic additions” they want to remove from the site; as for its height, they said it was not expected to reach the 30-foot maximum allowed for the zoning on part of the site.

After the presentation, representatives of the four groups that spoke to the media at the Log House Museum on the 2-year anniversary of the Homestead fire, reiterating their concern for protecting and restoring the landmark, all stood up to say they’re “thrilled” that the discussion is now about restoration rather than demolition. However, what would be involved in “restoration” is clearly up for much discussion – the architects say the building needs a new foundation, and that depending on how much of the existing logs were reusable, some “new material” will have to be brought in. Homestead owner Tom Lin was at this morning’s meeting but did not speak to the committee.

Next step – the architects are expected to return to the Architectural Review Committee on February 11th, for more discussion/review of the project before a potential future vote on whether the board will grant the required “certificate of approval.”

10 Comments

  1. Just wondering, whom is paying for all of the work? Does the building have new owners?

    Comment by coffee — 11:32 am January 28, 2011 #

  2. OMG! What a turnaround.
    I’m absolutely thrilled – I’m sure the entire community will be thrilled – but…. as coffee posted above, “who is paying for all of the work?”
    .
    I live across from the Log House Museum when the entire back log wall was replaced. It was absolutely fascinating to watch David (forgot last name) chip out, by hand with an aul, the log-ends that fit together. No power tools.
    .
    Good luck on this project, Tom.

    Comment by jo — 12:33 pm January 28, 2011 #

  3. Best of luck….use to live across the street and had dinner every Sunday there, still miss it!

    Comment by RJB — 2:45 pm January 28, 2011 #

  4. This is welcome news! I and my family have been regular customers of the Homestead for as long as Mrs. Nelson owned it. And we’d been back several times with the new owner. It’s a place we take our out-of-towners at least once during their visits. I wish them well and hope they do manage to re-open as a restaurant again.

    Comment by Ronald McCarthy — 3:52 pm January 28, 2011 #

  5. I hope they saved the Pan Fried Chicken recipe. That was my favorite!

    Comment by Fritz — 5:07 pm January 28, 2011 #

  6. @ Coffee, Tom Lin has paid all costs since the fire – mortgage, taxes, repairs, engineering studies, consultants — all of it during the past two years. Though the ‘big four’ complain that he hasn’t done a thing and just wanted to build a hotel, all of this background work was going on in the process of bringing back the Homestead – a promise he made the day of the fire. It was difficult to secure funding when there was so much acrimony going on about his ownership of the building and all the negative assumptions made about his intentions. And insurance usually doesn’t pay the balance of the funds until the building has been brought back to essentially what it was before the disaster.

    Comment by AMW — 5:41 pm January 28, 2011 #

  7. Yes, I’m also wondering who is paying for all of this resoration? We also use to eat there quite often, and really miss it; look forword to eating there again. Thanks!

    Comment by Marcia — 11:37 am January 29, 2011 #

  8. AMW, really? Insurance companies aren’t responsible for paying claims until restoration has been done? Are you sure about that?

    And lenders were hesitant because of acrimony? Seems more likely a viable business plan was needed. The only acrimony I heard was a call to not let an historic building fall into further disrepair.

    Best wishes to Tom and associates on a successful venture! I don’t care if it’s a restaurant or not – I will be proud of a historic building preserved, with a profitable business to help maintain it.

    Comment by DFK — 5:37 pm January 30, 2011 #

  9. Obviously DFK doen’t understand the importance of Alki Homestead Restaurant. He surely does not understand that many local residences have been going there for generations. How do you shut down a restaurant that has been around for 60 years?
    It sounds like DFK is from a historical society that does not appreciate an establishment deared to many people’s heart.
    Maybe he wants an antique store? Maybe he wants a doctor’s office? Maybe he wants a electronic store? Or maybe he just want another empty museum? Any good ideas?
    Shame on you DFK. Why don’t you open your wallet and buy it for the historical society?

    Comment by Alki Resident — 7:52 am January 31, 2011 #

  10. Since you asked: Because I don’t have the millions of dollars to acquire, rebuild, and operate the restaurant. It’s the history of the building, not the history of the business, that I would like to maintain.
    I’m definitely not opposed to a restaurant, that would be ideal – but as a former restaurant manager, I realize that most fail, and I’d like to give the owners their choice of the best opportunity to succeed.

    Comment by DFK — 3:03 pm January 31, 2011 #

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