The rehabilitation plan for the historic Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge has cleared a huge hurdle: Wednesday afternoon at City Hall, the Landmarks Preservation Board gave its unanimous approval.
This came five days after the plan went to the board’s Architectural Review Committee (WSB coverage here), one year after Dennis Schilling bought the landmark, seven years after its beloved restaurant was closed by a fire.
Architect Jeff Hamlett walked the board through the plan, with the same points made on Friday, plus a little more elaboration: “We’re going to try to restore the old Homestead to a period when (it was a residence). … We’re going to totally remove the bar, use (the space) to put in some new parking and an accessible entrance to the ground floor, tear down the existing kitchen to the foundation and rebuild a new kitchen on the foundation.”
The “protected” part of the building – “we’re just trying to restore that to the way it was,” Hamlett said, except for a fireplace which as discussed on Friday is in bad shape. “We’re going to restore the fireplace to what it looked like when it was a residence, as best we can” – there are no photos, he noted. They’re putting in accessible restrooms; but heating, ventilating, lighting “is not part of the permit we’re doing right now.” They’re building a stair that won’t be usable – they’re not expecting upper floor users to come down to the restaurant – and one in the back that will be.
The second floor, which is not landmarked, will have three studio residential units, all accessed from one stair on the back – they have requirements for emergency-exit windows – there will be a slot in each double-hung window to create that space.
They’ll rebuild the visible part of the chimney with river rock, same height, same shape, “and we wil use that chimney for venting, range hoods.” There also are “skylights that we’re adding, four skylights to the top of the facility.” And they’re building a wall with wood shingles – the existing building had some “up where the upper floor windows are.” The back door will be replaced, larger because of some space that will be created when the raised floor is removed.
For seismic purposes, “we have to brace the building.” So they’re building a “moment frame” on each of two walls – “wide flange beams and big steel tube columns.” They’re not covering up any of the existing windows or space; everything will be painted to match the logs. “You can see them a little bit but not stand out,” Hamlett promised.
They’re taking out existing fir flooring for some concrete work that needs to be done but will replace it.
He showed more samples and said they’ve been working on color matches for materials both inside and outside of the building.
Other discussions included materials that would be used, including the materials to be used for restoration, and even what the indoor sprinkler heads might look like.
The one public comment came from Clay Eals, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society: “We’re in full support of what they’re doing … very impressed with the creativity and the sensitivity … everybody knows this building is a challenge … they’re going the extra mile … continuation of the integrity of the work that’s already been done.”
Shortly after that, the board voted unanimously to give the project team a Certificate of Approval, certifying that the work would not take away from the landmark.
This is separate from the building-permit process, which is still under way.