Former Denny’s site reportedly sold for $12.5 million

The Puget Sound Business Journal is reporting that a Chicago-based real estate investment firm has purchased the empty lot at 15th Ave NW and NW Market for $12.5 million.

The demolition of the old Manning’s/Denny’s building in June of last year was controversial, with the Seattle Landmarks and Preservation Board voting that there was no economically-feasible solution to preserve the old building, which they designated a landmark. On June 24th 2009, just days after the demolition permit was issued, the building was razed.

Rhapsody Partners, the developers hired by the property owner, continued with the design process and won final approval for “Market Street Landing” (above)
even though the rocky economy made it nearly impossible to get financing. “Our intention is to take this project through the MUP (Master Use Permit) and hope that this economy and the new president and all these things that are being put into place are a catalyst to move this forward,” Rhapsody’s Katie Vance told the Ballard District Council in January of 2009.

There’s no word whether the new company is buying the plans for Market Street Landing or is planning a new development for the property.

Benaroya selling former Denny’s property

The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce is reporting that the Benaroya Company has a buyer interested in purchasing the former Manning’s/Denny’s property at the corner of 15th Ave NW & NW Market. “A buyer signed a letter of intent last week for the multi-family site, according to Larry Benaroya,” Marc Stiles writes, “He expects the sale to close in two or three months, which is relatively fast for a commercial site.”

Demolition of the Manning’s/Denny’s building in June 24th.

The demolition of the old Manning’s/Denny’s building was controversial, with the Seattle Landmarks and Preservation Board voting that there was no economically-feasible solution to preserve the old building. On June 24th of 2009, just days after the demolition permit was issued, the building was razed.

Rhapsody Partners, the developers hired by the property owner, continued with the design process and won approval by the Design Review Board went through an entire design process and won final approval even though the rocky economy made it nearly impossible to get financing. “Our intention is to take this project through the MUP (Master Use Permit) and hope that this economy and the new president and all these things that are being put into place are a catalyst to move this forward,” Rhapsody’s Katie Vance told the Ballard District Council in January of 2009.

Marc Nemirow with Benaroya Companies sent us this response via email, “We have no comment at this time.” (Thanks Catherine for the tip!)

Demolition permits issued for vacant buildings

More than a year after the Denny’s building was torn down, demolition permits have been issued for the two remaining buildings on the property.

The permits specify demolition of the single-story commercial building and the and the residential property that have been sitting vacant for more than a year. Just because the permits were issued doesn’t mean demolition will happen soon — they don’t expire until January 2011.

Rhapsody Partners received the green light from the Design Review Board back in March for the Market Street Landing development that is slated to be built on the corner of 15th & Market. We’ve contacted Rhapsody Partners for an update on the project, and we’ll update you when we hear back.

Market Street Landing wins design approval

First on My Ballard: Rhapsody Partners and architect Arthur Chang won approval from the Design Review Board on Monday night for Market Street Landing, a new condo/retail complex replacing the Denny’s at 15th St. and Market Ave. The board attached several conditions to the approval.

The new design (above) features several changes suggested by the board from January’s proposed design. The two most obvious changes are the corner tower, which was modernized with more glass, less brick and a “subtle glow” at night (see below for a closer angle). And the lighter color palette at the top floors of the buildings, which was designed to diminish the perceived height of the development. The board’s reception was mostly positive, although member Jean Morgan said the new design “looks much bigger.”

The board spent the most time discussing the merits of these two design aspects, quizzing Chang about different options, even at one point debating the difference of several inches in the height of the corner building. “For better or worse, you picked the most prominent place in Ballard,” said board member Bill Singer. “We’re holding you to a high standard.” Board member Mark Brands emphasized the importance of the corner tower’s design as a new focal point of Ballard. “People are going to name this,” he said. “What’s it going to be called?”

In the end, the board voted to approve the design, but it attached a list of conditions. For one, they asked that Chang tweak the tower design to make it look more like “a single element” and “less vertical,” as well as increase the size of the gazebo on the top, which ties into the rooftop garden. They also wanted the height of the corner building to be slightly reduced, differentiate the window trim and add a community board at the bus stop.

Next stop for Rhapsody after they incorporate the required changes: apply for a Master Use Permit. Rhapsody’s Katie Vance told us after the meeting that until they receive the MUP, they’ll be unable to seriously shop Market Street Landing for financing. By the way, only five people from the public attended tonight’s meeting, and the two people who spoke gave mostly positive feedback — a far cry from the controversy over the Denny’s demolition last June.

Market Street Landing is back up for review

Rhapsody Partners and architect Arther Chang will be presenting their updated proposal for Market Street Landing to the Design Review Board tonight. Back in January, the board told Chang that the design for the large retail/condo complex was an improvement but still needed some work.

Here’s January’s design shown from the perspective of 15th and Market. Tonight’s meeting is in the Ballard High School library at 6:30 p.m. Citizens are encouraged to attend and comment on the design. (If your computer can handle a huge .pdf file of 107 MB, then you can download the updated design here.)

Also: Ballard High School is hosting the Viaduct town hall tonight

‘Market Street Landing’ makes progress with board

Rhapsody Partners and architect Arthur Chang presented the latest proposal for Market Street Landing to the Design Review Board on Monday night. The condo-retail complex is slated for the old Denny’s site at 15th and Market.

Last time Chang presented his design plans to the board, a member called it a “sprawling octopus.” This time, the board said it applauded many of the changes, but a couple members said the lack of diversity in building materials still made the project “feel big.” The building is large by Ballard standards: it tops out at eight stories in height with 287 condo units, 32,850 sq. ft. of retail space and 445 parking stalls over three underground floors.

One of the design changes is the corner tower on 15th and Market — which would be illuminated at night. Chang had said he gathered inspiration for the design from the Old Ballard City Hall along with a lighthouse. One board member said the tower still needed some work.

This aerial view illustrates the large private rooftop garden area. A board member mentioned the project needed some kind of public space because “the public deserves something” for a project in such a central place.

Overall, the board said the Market Street Landing design had “a lot of great elements” but that Rhapsody and Chang should make some changes and “probably plan on another round” with the board. A member of the audience declared that the project “doesn’t say Ballard at all” and “doesn’t speak to the neighborhood” — a common theme among supporters of the old Denny’s building, once Manning’s Cafeteria, that was designated a landmark and demolished to make room for the Market Street Landing project. Yet despite all the previous controversy, only a dozen or so people attended tonight’s meeting. For Rhapsody, which appears to be making progress with getting design approval, the next hurdle is finding financing for the project — which is currently unfunded in the middle of a recession.

Plus: See the entire design presentation (large .pdf file)

‘Market Street Landing’ design meeting

If you want to have your say in the design of the proposed condo-retail complex at the corner of 15th and Market, often called the “Gateway to Ballard,” then you can attend a public meeting at the Ballard High School library tonight (Monday) at 8 p.m. That’s when the proposed designs for Market Street Landing, previewed here a few days ago, will be presented to the city’s Design Review Board for a recommendation. Earlier in the meeting, at 6:30 p.m., Home for Good will present their early concepts for an affordable housing complex at 1506 NW 62nd St. (which we wrote about here last week.) We’ll be covering tonight’s event and will update any new developments here on My Ballard.

Denny’s site developer: ‘There is zero financing’

Exclusive: Months after the controversial demolition of the landmark Denny’s building, the developer of a new condo-retail project at the 15th Ave. and Market St. site says they have no money to begin construction. “There is zero financing right now. Institutional, private, you name it, there’s none,” said Rhapsody Partners’ Katie Vance at the Ballard District Council meeting last night. “Our intention is to take this project through the MUP (Master Use Permit) and hope that this economy and the new president and all these things that are being put into place are a catalyst to move this forward.” Vance said there’s interest in financing the project, but investors are waiting to see how the permit process plays out over the next several months.

Meanwhile, architect Arthur Chang gave the council a sneak peek into the new but not entirely completed renderings of “Market Street Landing,” the planned complex. “There’s a lot of differing views in the community,” Chang said of his experience gathering feedback from the neighborhood. Chang said the goal was to make the prominent corner structure “iconic,” and he gathered inspiration from the old Ballard City Hall as well as Ballard’s maritime history.

“What we’re trying to do is play off the idea of a lighthouse,” he said of the corner tower. (The photos were shot off a projection screen.)

Chang said they made multiple changes to the initial design including rotating one of the structures, adding a turnaround for cars in the courtyard, eliminating an entrance off 56th, adding two escalators, dropping one story of residential housing along 15th and integrating the bus shelter into the building itself. Chang is slated to present the new plans before the city’s Design Review Board on January 26th at 8 p.m. at Ballard High School — a presentation that may end up going nowhere if no financing is found.

Update: This story has been corrected to reflect that Rhapsody Partners expects to take this project “through the MUP (Master Use Project)” not the “month,” as we initially reported.

Sunset Bowl not a historic landmark

Unlike the now departed Denny’s building, there hasn’t been an outpouring of support to designate the doomed Sunset Bowl as a historic landmark.

But as is customary — which we learned from the Denny’s debacle — the new owners of Sunset Bowl filed a nomination with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Board as a preemptive move to make sure there wouldn’t be any last minute challenges. And the board ruled that Sunset is not historic, reports the Ballard News Tribune. But one board member pointed out that the nomination was brought before the board after the bowling alley’s interior was dismantled and auctioned off, diminishing any potential historic value. Sunset Bowl will be demolished any day now to make room for luxury apartments.

15th and Market demolition not until next year

Demolition crews leveled the old Denny’s landmark in June to make room for a condo-retail complex called “Market Street Landing,” which is still working its way through the design review process.

Meanwhile, two other buildings remain on the property at the corner of 15th and Market St. Some of you have asked us when they’ll be demolished, so we called the development company, Rhapsody Partners, for an update. They told us the current timeline has the demolition scheduled for sometime in the first or second quarter of next year (January to June).

In the meantime, the buildings attract the occasional graffiti scrawl, despite the chain-link fence that surrounds the lot. Photo courtesy of OhNobody.