By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
After four public reviews in six months, there’ve been none in the past 10 months for the plan to fix/rebuild the city-landmarked Alki Homestead. But the site is back under scrutiny because of tree-cutting that has drawn a complaint to the city, which subsequently posted a “stop work” order so it could investigate.
We learned about this Tuesday afternoon, when a nearby resident called to tell us a tree crew was at the Homestead site (2717 61st SW). She wondered why, asking whether work was finally beginning on the rehabilitation/reconstruction of the site. We went over to investigate; the crew was gone, but in subsequent hours, running late into the night, we obtained information from the city, from a representative of the coalition of historical-preservation groups that’s been watching the site, and from Homestead owner Tom Lin, who also provided photos of the trees before they were cut, and spoke with us about where the project stands, 3 years and 4 months after the electrical fire that closed the Homestead, a historic lodge open for decades as a popular restaurant.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The process of discussing with the city how to restore/reconstruct the fire-ravaged landmark Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge is so far as painstaking as the actual project itself eventually may be.
This morning, in their fourth informal appearance before the city Landmarks Preservation Board’s Architectural Review Committee downtown, Alloy Design Group architects Mark Haizlip and Greg Squires presented the three options they’re discussing.
All three options assume that the Homestead’s roof and foundation must be replaced – though committee members indicated they’re not all convinced about the former.
For the first time in more than three months, the proposal to restore/reconstruct the historic-landmark Alki Homestead (originally the Fir Lodge) will return to the city Landmarks Preservation Board‘s Architectural Review Committee next week. This will be its fourth review before the committee, which holds informal reviews with project teams – multiple times, if they request it, as has been the case here – before they take proposals to the full board for a vote. Two and a half years now have passed since the fire that ravaged the Homestead’s interior; here’s our report on the most recent review of the proposal to restore/reconstruct it for use as a restaurant/banquet facility (our full coverage archive is here). This next review is listed as a “briefing on proposed building elements condition survey”; it’s set for 9:35 am next Friday (July 29th) on the 40th floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower downtown.
(WSB photo from 1/16/2011)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
It’s come up before, and now it’s come up again:
To reopen the city-landmarked Alki Homestead (originally the Fir Lodge), will it take restoration, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or some combination of all of the above? The scope of the proposal came up this morning downtown as owner Tom Lin and his architect team from Alloy Design Group returned to the Architectural Review Committee of the city Landmarks Preservation Board for a third review, with historic-preservation advocates watching from the sidelines.
The same question arose when Lin and a different architect brought a different proposal to the committee a year and a half ago, as reported here. Back then, they were proposing adding “other uses” to the site – a bar, maybe a bed-and-breakfast – but that plan was scrapped, and the new plan is all about bringing the Homestead back as a restaurant and banquet facility.
But how can it be done, when it needs a new foundation and a new roof – and some degree of replacement inbetween? “Tricky” is one word that was used.
The architects who are working on the plan to renovate the Alki Homestead, closed since an electrical fire in January 2009, will return to the city Landmark Preservation Board‘s Architectural Review Committee this Friday morning. It’ll be the third time they appear before the committee, which doesn’t vote, but rather advises applicants on their project before they get to a vote of the full board – whose approval is required for an official city landmark to proceed with renovations/modifications. The meeting is open to the public and is scheduled for 9:30 am this Friday at the Municipal Tower downtown; here’s our report on the first review in January, and the second review last month. The proposal seeks to renovate the historic Fir Lodge as a restaurant, with banquet facilities, and an added structure to its rear (west side) that would house the kitchen among other things.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At the Muni Tower downtown, the architects working on the proposed restoration of the closed-by-fire-damage Alki Homestead appeared today for the second time before the Architectural Review Committee of the city Landmarks Preservation Board.
No vote was taken – meetings of the Architectural Review Committee are informal gatherings for architects, property owners, and developers to get feedback before bringing complete proposals to the full board, which has to sign off on projects affecting official city landmarks like the Homestead (historically known as the Fir Lodge). But the discussion represented another step toward restoring and reopening the Homestead, a popular restaurant for decades before a January 2009 electrical fire put it (for now) out of business.
As was the case at the January review, the architects from Alloy Design Group (above) made the presentation, with Homestead owner Tom Lin in the audience. When they appeared last month, the focus was on the overall concept of what they intend to do – this time, the focus was on the “accessory structure” that is being proposed on the east side of the Homestead, to hold its kitchen as well as an elevator for accessing proposed banquet facilities on the second floor. As the architects explained, they need feedback on what will be OK with the “accessory structure” before they can figure out the plan for restoring the fire-damaged Homestead building itself. And that’s part of why projects come before the committee before going for an official vote – to get feedback on whether they’re going down the right road.
Much of the discussion centered on a proposed third-floor view deck, 598 square feet. Here’s a rough sketch from this morning’s informal presentation:
Alloy’s Mark Haizlip and Greg Squires suggested that a third-floor deck would bring back a historic aspect of the Homestead – the reason the Fir Lodge was located on that site in the first place – what was then a view of Elliott Bay.
For those tracking the future of the Alki Homestead (historically known as the Fir Lodge) and owner Tom Lin‘s new plan to restore it – the project is scheduled for another review before the Landmarks Preservation Board‘s Architectural Review Committee, a required step before the full board votes on the project (their approval is required because the Homestead is an official city landmark). The agenda for the meeting has just arrived. It’s open to the public, with this item scheduled at 10 am next Friday (February 25th) on the 40th floor of the city Municipal Tower downtown. (Here’s our recent coverage – last month’s committee meeting here, a look into the city files regarding the restoration plan here; our Homestead coverage is archived here.)
(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.”
For the first time in more than a year, the city Landmark Preservation Board‘s Architectural Review Committee is about to be briefed on the proposed future of the fire-damaged Alki Homestead (historically known as the Fir Lodge). A review is set for this Friday morning at the city Municipal Tower downtown; that’s the first step toward the approvals required to alter the structure, since it’s a city landmark; the Homestead was last brought before them in November 2009. Shortly after the recent 2-year anniversary of the accidental fire that shut down the Alki Homestead restaurant, the language regarding the project changed on the project’s city webpage; instead of mentioning “reconstruction,” it now reads “Restoration of the Historic Fir Lodge/Alki Homestead Restaurant, removal of the non-historic accessory structures, and new construction of an attached facility at NW portion of the site.” Before finding out about this review, we had in fact just checked on this project at city Department of Planning and Development headquarters downtown, and they told us the plans haven’t been submitted to DPD yet, so this Friday may be the first official look. (Added: Since we’re still downtown, we’re going over to the Landmarks Board office to take a look at what they have on file.)
ADDED 5:35 PM: The restoration project’s description, according to what we subsequently found on file at the Landmarks Board office downtown – read on: Click to read the rest of Landmarks Board committee to review Homestead restoration plan…
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.
Tomorrow marks two years since the fire, blamed on a Christmas-lights malfunction, that blackened the inside of the city-landmark Alki Homestead and forced its beloved restaurant to close. While its owner has proposed “reconstructing” the historic log structure and including other businesses on the site, and even took steps toward applying for a permit, it’s been 14 months since that proposal went before the Architectural Review Committee of the city Landmark Preservation Board, whose signoff is required – and it has not reappeared in that venue.
Last July, owner Tom Lin announced he would sell the Homestead, offering it first to preservation/cultural groups, then to the general public. No public listing ever appeared, and no deal has ever been announced. We have left Lin messages asking for comment on its status, but no reply. However, an announcement came Friday afternoon from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, headquartered half a block away at what was the Homestead’s carriage house: They plan a media event Sunday morning, on the fire anniversary:
A coalition of four heritage organizations — the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, Historic Seattle, 4Culture and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation — will hold a press conference to provide updates on the potential for protection, preservation and restoration of the city-landmark 1904 log building known as Fir Lodge and the Alki Homestead Restaurant.
Those are the same four Lin mentioned in his July announcement offering the Homestead for sale. They also were part of last July’s “This Place Matters” photo gathering, part of this nationwide historic-site-awareness campaign. But at the time, at least one of those organizations made a point of saying they’re not in the building-buying business. So what’s their plan? They’ll discuss it at the Log House Museum, 11 am Sunday.
That’s our view from the third floor of the apartment building across from the Alki Homestead, as the official ‘This Place Matters’ photo was taken as part of a rally organized by preservation groups including the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, whose headquarters are in what was the Homestead (originally Fir Lodge)’s old carriage house. By our rough count, around 200 people had gathered by the time the photo was taken. (6:10 pm update: We used our photo-from-above to count: 162.) The photo was preceded by short speeches from those groups’ reps as well as King County Executive Dow Constantine, State Sen. Joe McDermott, County Councilmember Jan Drago, and former mayor Greg Nickels. This came one day after Homestead owner Tom Lin (whom we did not see at the event) announced he’s putting the Homestead up for sale (WSB coverage here), starting with a one-month offer for $2 million to preservation groups. We talked to reps of two – SWSHS executive director Andrea Mercado told WSB they have no official comment yet on the offer; Washington Trust for Historic Preservation field director Chris Moore (a West Seattleite) says his group “unfortunately” doesn’t buy buildings. ADDED 5:53 PM: Video of the politicians’ speeches. SWSHS’s Clay Eals said they’d been asked to speak for 30 seconds each (here’s Eals with a historic Homestead photo during a pre-rally talk at the Historical Society’s annual picnic):
By our count, most of the rally speeches ran closer to a minute-thirty, still relatively brief. Here’s former mayor Greg Nickels:
King County Executive Dow Constantine, more formally dressed than he was in his appearance at the Admiral 4th of July Kids’ Parade three hours earlier, alluded to that as he began:
Next, State Sen. Joe McDermott – a West Seattleite like Nickels and Constantine, and also a candidate for the County Council seat vacated last year by the now-executive:
Finally, the former city councilmember who currently holds the County Council position for which McDermott is running (though she’s not seeking to keep it), Jan Drago, who – Eals pointed out – sponsored the council resolution that made the Homestead a landmark:
Regarding the crowd count, always a thorny issue in any story in which turnout might matter (ever seen those protest stories where police say 2,000 and organizers say 10,000?), our estimate was a rough count, looking at the photo we took with the view from above. Just because we love precision when it’s possible, we’re working right now to blow it up and print it out so we can do an exact count. We can tell you unequivocally that the “nearly 100″ in the lead line of KING’s story is too low. 6:09 PM: Finished the photo count: 162. Have adjusted the headline. MONDAY MORNING: As noted in comments: The “official photo” is now online. You can click on it, then click again, for a very high resolution version. We are told Historic Seattle counted 199 in the mega-high-resolution version, to which we didn’t have access yesterday. So we are going to revise our headline to “more than 150″ and leave it there, for WSB purposes … no time to print and count yet again … this isn’t an election; we’ll leave the counting from hereon out to the folks who are directly involved.
With a rally/group photo planned tomorrow afternoon at the Alki Homestead, organized by local preservation groups including the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, owner Tom Lin says he’s offering those groups first crack at buying the fire-ravaged landmark, now that he’s decided to sell it, a few weeks after he told us he was considering that option. Here’s the text of his letter (from this PDF):
Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge is being offered for sale to Seattle’s concerned historical organizations such as:
Southwest Seattle Historical Society
The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation
Sale Price – $2,000,000 An endowment fund of $500,000 would be provided from these funds by the current owner Tom Lin
Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge was offered to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society under the same terms in 2004 by the previous owner, Doris Nelson, according to her family.
These historical organizations claim to have more extensive resources and the expertise needed to ensure that the Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge retains its historical place in the community and would not be torn down.
Tom Lin will accept offers from interested historical organizations no later than July 31, 2010. Beyond July 31st the property will be offered to the general public at a different sale price and terms.
Contact Information: Tom Lin at email@example.com
Lin had been trying to proceed with a plan to rebuild the historic log building and add other uses to its site – uses without which, he says, it wouldn’t be financially viable; he discussed his challenges in this story we published two weeks ago. This morning, he tells WSB, “It has been over a year and a half since I have tried to bring Homestead back. The cost has become a burden. I had a long conversation with [previous owner] Doris Nelson’s estate yesterday. They understand the dilemma I am in and they respect my choice. In fact, [they] had already told SWSHS to buy the building again 6 months ago … I think when I spoke to you a few weeks ago, I told you I was pretty close at giving it up. Now it is time. I hope they can address that during the rally.”
The rally – to which Lin tells us he finally did get an invitation, after he pointed out to Historic Seattle that he had not received one – is scheduled for 1:30 pm tomorrow on the sidewalk and street (which will be closed for the event) in front of the Homestead. Clay Eals from SWSHS says there’s been one change in the slate of political leaders scheduled to be there – City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen will be out of town, but County (and former City) Councilmember Jan Drago will be there, which Eals notes is “quite fitting because (she) was the Seattle City Council sponsor of the landmark designation ordinance for the Alki Homestead building in 1996.”
Previous WSB coverage of the Alki Homestead is archived, newest to oldest, here.
To preview next Sunday’s 4th of July “This Place Matters” group photo on the street/sidewalk in front of the Alki Homestead – the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s plan to show community concern about its future - Paul Dorpat‘s “Seattle Now and Then” in today’s Seattle Times (WSB partner) looks at the Homestead and its history, while previewing the event. Dorpat published even more Homestead history on his own website the yesterday, recalling it as “A Soap Manufacturer’s Log Mansion on Alki Point.” (His site also republishes the Times piece with a few “Web extra” photos.) Here’s our original June 8th story about the photo plan; here’s our June 20th story about where the Homestead stands from its owner’s perspective.
Two weeks from today is the 4th of July, the day the Southwest Seattle Historical Society plans a rally of sorts outside the Alki Homestead to take a group photo to publicize how many people are concerned about the landmark’s future. Its owner Tom Lin, meantime, says concern is great, but contends nobody’s contacting him directly to help save it from sitting, idle, indefinitely, as it has for a year and a half since the electrical fire that charred its interior and closed the restaurant. As noted in our original report on the Historical Society’s plan, we asked him for comment – to respond, he sat down with us this past week at an Alki coffee shop: Click to read the rest of Alki Homestead’s owner: “You always want to keep hoping”…
(Wikimedia photo of Alki Homestead, pre-fire)
Almost a year and a half after an accidental electrical fire gutted the historic, city landmark Homestead Restaurant in Alki, it remains empty; its owner has publicized a proposal to “reconstruct” it and add other commercial buildings on the property, but has not taken it to the next step of city Landmark Board approval, after an early review by its Architectural Review Committee last November. Now, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is planning a Fourth of July event to call fresh attention to its plight – and inviting public participation in a big way. We’d gotten a few hints about it (as noted here) but tonight, the full announcement is public:
Independence Day event says ‘This Place Matters’ for Alki Homestead
Southwest Seattle Historical Society plans July 4 group photo in front of Fir Lodge
The people of Seattle will have a public opportunity to stand up for a century-old West Seattle city landmark at a mid-day rally on July 4, 2010.
The Southwest Seattle Historical Society has organized a mass photo event to take place at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 4, in front of Fir Lodge, the 106-year-old log structure that many have known for decades as the Alki Homestead restaurant. The building was damaged by a January 2009 fire and since then has sat vacant.
A crowd of neighbors, joined by prominent political leaders, will gather on the sidewalk and street in front of the structure at 2717 61st Ave. S.W., just a half block from Alki Beach. Participants will hold signs saying, “This Place Matters,” a slogan promoted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The resulting photo will be used in a poster that will be disseminated throughout Seattle and distributed widely online.
Those attending include King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen and former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, all residents of West Seattle, and other representatives of the Seattle City Council, King County Council, and Seattle city government.
The announcement continues after the jump: Click to read the rest of You’re invited to ‘stand up’ for the Alki Homestead on July 4th…
Right in the middle of West Seattle’s bright beautiful Saturday morning, its headquarters for history – the Log House Museum – got some love from a small but dedicated cleanup crew – below, that’s Southwest Seattle Historical Society president Judy Bentley and a young volunteer in the next photo, checking out the “to do” list.
For the latest roundup of what the Historical Society is focusing on – including a current pledge drive – you can check out their most recent newsletter (PDF) here. And expect to hear more soon about the Alki Homestead awareness event announced by board member Jim Del Ciello at this past week’s Southwest District Council meeting. Meantime, the museum’s open Thursdays-Sundays, noon-4 pm, 61st/Stevens (map), and well worth a visit.
Today marks exactly one year since the landmark Alki Homestead restaurant caught fire in the early morning; Fire Department investigators traced the fire to faulty Christmas lights. No one was hurt, but the beloved restaurant has been closed ever since. What happens on the site next will require approval of the city Landmarks Preservation Board, because of the Homestead’s status as a city landmark. Working with a team of experts who say the structure is too damaged for restoration, Homestead owner Tom Lin has been working on a proposal to instead reconstruct it and add other structures on the site, as first outlined in a presentation to the Alki Community Council in September (WSB coverage here), then brought to the Landmarks Board’s Architectural Review Committee in November (WSB coverage here). The Landmarks Board will have to have a full hearing before voting on whether to approve the development proposal; no date has been announced yet. The project will also require Southwest Design Review Board approval, according to the permit applications recently filed with the city Department of Planning and Development. Here’s the land-use-permit page, summarized as “reconstruction of Fir Lodge/Alki Homestead Restaurant”; here’s the construction-permit page, which summarizes the proposal as “Reconstruct restaurant and structure, remove existing surface parking and add below grade parking, commercial/retail space, and a small inn,” same as outlined in the September and November presentations.
That’s the question members of the city Landmarks Preservation Board will want to see sorted out, as became clear during this morning’s meeting of the board’s Architectural Review Committee. This was the first public meeting at which Tom Lin, owner of the fire-damaged landmark, and his consultants have discussed its status and its future since a comprehensive presentation before the Alki Community Council two months ago (WSB coverage here). The meeting also provided a reminder of the fact the historic building’s future is of interest outside West Seattle – those who offered comments included representatives from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, which five months ago declared the Homestead among the state’s most endangered buldings, and Historic Seattle; the Southwest Seattle Historical Society was represented as well. Read on for details on what was discussed and what the landmarks board – which has jurisdiction over the site’s future because of its landmark status – will do next: Click to read the rest of Alki Homestead future: Restoration or reconstruction?…
Because the Alki Homestead is a city landmark, any change to its landmark-designated features must be approved by the city Landmarks Board – and the first step in this case is a meeting with its Architectural Review Committee. We’ve just confirmed with city Landmarks Board coordinator Beth Chave that Homestead owner Tom Lin is scheduled to take his proposal for the closed-by-fire property before the ARC next Friday, for the first public presentation since he discussed it with the Alki Community Council in mid-September (WSB coverage here). No final decisions will be made, as this is truly a group that reviews proposals and offers suggestions to those working on them, before they are brought up for official board action, but it’s a public meeting, 8:30 am, Room 4070 at the Municipal Tower downtown.
From Thursday night’s Alki Community Council meeting: Three major topics – a followup to the Alki Homestead proposal presentation that anchored the last meeting; a report on how an airline’s proposal to change flight patterns would affect the area; and accountability for Statue of Liberty Plaza now that the Plaza Project Committee has phased itself out. Read on for details on all three: Click to read the rest of Alki Community Council: Homestead update; plane talk; Liberty…
(Wikimedia photo of Alki Homestead, pre-fire)
Two weeks after Alki Homestead owner Tom Lin stood before the Alki Community Council to discuss his proposal for the fire-ravaged landmark’s future (here’s our story) – possibly a restaurant/bar/B&B complex – the Southwest Seattle Historical Society has forwarded news outlets a letter they and other groups have sent to Lin. It expresses concern for its condition and a request that it be “restored … to its pre-fire condition.” It’s similar to a statement the SWSHS issued last March, two months after the fire (read that statement here). Here’s the full text of the letter:
Dear Tom Lin:
We are writing to you today to express our collective concern regarding the state of the Alki Homestead Restaurant, a City of Seattle Landmark, also known as the Fir Lodge Estate. As a result of the fire in January, 2009, this site is now included in the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Most Endangered Property List,” announced in May this year. The Washington Trust, together with other preservation and community organizations noted below, have indicated their support for the preservation of this landmark.
Given the state of the Homestead and the on-going damage that inactivity brings to the structure, we collectively urge you to decide and act upon your vision regarding this property.
We collectively ask that you (1) take immediate action to prevent further decay by securing the property and building from vandalism and protecting it as the rainy season approaches; (2) restore the Homestead to its pre-fire condition as befits a city landmark.
We firmly support preserving “a bit of old Seattle” (as Doris Nelson referred to the Homestead) and we believe the community of West Seattle and the City of Seattle will be enhanced by retaining this amazing Seattle landmark. We look forward to working with you to restore the Homestead to its rightful place on Alki. The Southwest Seattle Historical Society stands ready to assist you at every point in preserving the Homestead/Fir Lodge site.
President, Southwest Seattle Historical Society
Director, Log House Museum
Jennifer Meisner, Executive Director
Washington Trust for Historic Preservation
Association of King County Heritage Organizations
Jim Kelly, Director
Patricia Mullen, Executive Director
West Seattle Chamber of Commerce
We have e-mailed Lin a request for comment/response and will publish anything we hear back.
(Long-form full report has been added following this first short summary)
Quick summary from Alki Homestead owner Tom Lin‘s presentation that just wrapped up at the Alki Community Council: His architect and engineers say so much of the building was damaged in the January fire, compounding long-pre-existing deterioration, that the landmark would need to be “reconstructed.” Lin proposes doing that and adding 25,000 square feet of other buildings on the 15,000-square-foot site, with the potential end result a new Homestead, plus a bar/lounge “Seattle Auto Club” and a bed/breakfast “The Fir Lodge” (both names from its past), plus a wellness center/spa. The Landmarks Preservation Board will have to sign off on any proposal. Where will the financing come from? Lin says he hasn’t started working on that yet, but says that the perceptions nothing’s been happening at the site since the fire are incorrect, as the evaluation and planning work has been happening all along. Full report to come. ADDED 2:20 AM FRIDAY: Read on for the long-form story, with more photos: Click to read the rest of Alki Homestead’s future: Restaurant, bar, spa, B&B?…
Three major community meetings are ahead this week in West Seattle, all extending an invitation to you, two with speakers/guests bound to be of high interest:
TUESDAY – WEST SEATTLE CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL: After a summer hiatus, the grass-roots group that brings together law-enforcement leaders and community members each month will reconvene Tuesday night, 7 pm, Southwest Precinct meeting room (Delridge/Webster; map). Special guest this month: King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg (left). If you have questions about what happens to crime suspects once they’re arrested and why, this is the person you want to hear from – his office decides on what if any charges are filed, and how to prosecute the case.
WEDNESDAY – DELRIDGE NEIGHBORHOODS DISTRICT COUNCIL: Reps from key community groups and organizations in the eastern half of West Seattle will gather at Youngstown Arts Center (4408 Delridge; map), 7 pm.
THURSDAY – ALKI COMMUNITY COUNCIL: When the ACC meets at Alki Community Center this Thursday at 7, they’re expected to hear from Tom Lin, owner of the historic Homestead Restaurant, closed since a fire eight months ago. Because of the building’s landmark status, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society has expressed concern about its future post-fire, and brought up the situation at the Sept. 2 Southwest District Council meeting. After ACC rep Tony Fragada told the SWDC that Tom Lin would be briefing the Alki group this week, they tabled the topic to wait and see what’s planned for the property and how best to offer help. The public is welcome at the meeting too, though you have to be an ACC member to vote on anything (membership information is here).
What else is up this week? Check the WSB West Seattle-wide Events calendar page any time.
No major public meetings tonight, but tomorrow night, you might want to show up for the Southwest District Council‘s monthly meeting at the South Seattle Community College board room if you’re interested in libraries or landmarks: The agenda includes a Friends of Seattle Public Library rep talking about the SPL budget – hot considering this is the week the libraries are shuttered to save $ – and a Southwest Seattle Historical Society rep discussing what’s up with the landmark Alki Homestead Restaurant, closed since the fire last January. Also on the agenda, Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, and a discussion of the candidates’ forum the SWDC and its counterpart the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council plan to co-sponsor before the November election (as reported here last month). The council meets at 7 pm Wednesday, board room at SSCC (campus map here; map of the Robert Smith Building, containing the board room, here).
Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has just officially announced its 2009 list of the “state’s most endangered historic properties,” which includes the fire-damaged Alki Homestead – one of four Seattle “resources” on the list, along with the P-I Globe. Washington Trust sent media organizations a preview of this for planning purposes last week and we honored its requested “embargo” of the list until this afternoon’s planned announcement, which explains:
Inclusion in our annual list is intended to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities facing historic resources across the state and to encourage collaboration with all stakeholders to develop preservation strategies. In numerous instances, Most Endangered status has worked to facilitate solutions that promote the historic significance of sites while retaining important resources as viable, functional components of our neighborhoods and communities.
So what else does today’s announcement mean for the Homestead? We are at the media briefing right now and will add more later. Meantime, it’s been 4 months since the fire — blamed on an accidental electrical malfunction involving Christmas lights — that closed the Homestead. City records do not yet show an application for repair permits, but they do show that the complaint filed because of roof and window areas “open to weather” was resolved earlier this month and the case is closed.
ADDED 2:30 PM: Video from this afternoon’s announcement – starting with a special sign noting the Homestead’s inclusion, then to comments from Andrea Mercado from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:
Afterward, she told us the group has been in touch with Homestead owner Tom Lin through an intermediary, and is working with him to make sure he has all the available information regarding potential financial help for restoration. Also at today’s announcement, West Seattle-residing King County Council Chair Dow Constantine – who is on the Washington Trust board – with a few words about the Homestead and more about a Vashon property on the list, the Vashon Elementary Gym:
Read on for the full text of today’s announcement, including the complete list: Click to read the rest of Update: Alki Homestead on new “Endangered Properties” list…
Meet Marcus, Josiah, and Taylor Tunison, brothers who went to high school at West Seattle’s own Seattle Lutheran, volunteering their time right now to help clean up the historic Alki Homestead‘s fire-ravaged interior. In a WSB comment thread earlier this week about concern for the Homestead’s future, 2 months after the fire, owner Tom Lin said this:
I found a contractor who can come on Friday to build a temporary roof. If anyone is really interested in helping out, be at Homestead 9 am on Friday. He will start the work at that time.
This morning, four people did that – three of them, the young brothers you see above. A professional work crew is also there:
That worker subsequently invited us inside to see what’s happening – the cords in this photo, next to the huge stone fireplace, lead up through an opening in the roof, which workers are trying to get covered:
The most striking image of the morning remains that of the three young brothers who just showed up to help:
Lin wondered – where is everyone else? He says that contrary to perception, the insurance company he’s working with has been “great” – and finally just this week gave him a green light to do some cleanup, even though the insurance company itself technically now owns the “contents,” including fire-damaged items that the young volunteers are helping bring out. We will check back later in the day to see how this is going; Lin had to leave the site for a while for an appointment at the restaurant he says he is taking over so that his Homestead employees will have work — “Ten people are going to get a job from that,” he called out to us, as he walked to his car. (He is not yet publicly naming the restaurant.) If you want to help with the cleanup happening right now, the Homestead is on 61st just south of Alki Ave (map).
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Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
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