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A look inside the old Ballard Denny’s

Posted by Geeky Swedes on January 31st, 2008

Seattle’s Landmark Preservation Board toured the boarded-up Denny’s yesterday, and today the property owners invited members of the media to tour the building. Benaroya Companies’ Marc Nemirow and architect Arthur Chang took us inside the restaurant to point out the differences between the Denny’s and the old Manning’s Cafeteria: for one, the old Manning’s had a vaulted ceiling with expansive windows, but a renovation in 1984 created a flat ceiling and eliminated the tall windows. “It had a very different feel than this restaurant right now,” Chang said, adding that the building is not up to code and is suffering from dry rot in some places. “If they landmark it, it’s to be preserved in its current state,” he said.

“I have no plan B,” admitted Nemirow, when asked what he would do if the board votes to designate the building as a landmark. “I have no idea what we could use this site for.” When a reporter asked him why they don’t just invite Denny’s back to the restaurant, he said Denny’s had paid “an incredibly low rent” and it wouldn’t be “financially feasible” for the $12.5 million Benaroya paid for the property. “The issue here isn’t growth… or condos or no condos,” Nemirow said. “It’s whether this building is a landmark.”

A shot of the inside, with the boarded up windows.

The ceiling. The media was allowed to walk up a ladder and peer through the hole to see the vaulted ceiling that once was with Manning’s.

The old Denny’s bar. Dark. Cold. A little creepy.

As some will point out, it was smart of Benaroya to tour the media through the building and illustrate the differences between Manning’s and the renovated Denny’s. To an untrained observer, the building is old and tired. It just looks like an old Denny’s. Of course, that decision isn’t up to Nemirow and company, but the Landmark Preservation Board, which meets on February 20th.

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