The boarded up building at 1753 NW 56th is an eyesore and transient hangout, and the owner of the land knows it. In fact, they’d like to tear the place down, but a lack of financing has put a stop to their plans.
Rick Friedhoff, executive director of The Compass Center, says that no matter what they do they can’t seem to keep transients out of the building that’s slated to become a 60-unit facility to house single homeless women. People break in and smoke and use little stoves to cook and keep warm, he told the Ballard District Council on Wednesday. He’s afraid that if there’s a fire, there’s no easy way out. “To us it’s a threat to life, so we have petitioned the city to take it down. But it’s very difficult to take down a building like this, because the city wants you to have a Master Use Permit for what’s going to go up next.”
Unfortunately for a non-profit like The Compass Center, that’s very difficult. “Due to the economic crisis, low income housing, just like any other housing, the financing for it right now is very difficult,” Friedhoff said. The organization wants to get financing lined up from start to finish before applying for a Master Use Permit. In the meantime, he’d like to make the land something that Ballard could use. “We would take the structure down and it would just be a vacant piece of property. We would put in grass or we would allow it to be used by some method that the Ballard community wanted it to be used.”
In a week, a city inspector will head out with Friedhoff to check out the property. The goal is to determine if the building fits the criteria to be torn down. “To make it habitable,” Friedhoff said, “It has be more than one half the replacement cost of the property.” He believes the place is beyond repair, helping their cause to tear it down without a Master Use Permit. But for now the green boarded up building sits and waits.