Can zoning laws stop time?
Consider the Denny’s in the Ballard district of Seattle, Washington.
It’s an odd building, and, in its own odd way, a landmark. The community adapted to it. Lots of people talk of it fondly — even the ones who would normally zone out a Denny’s on principle.
But it is a Denny’s. Or was until it closed a few months ago. And the owners want to sell it to a developer.
They filed to get it declared a landmark, hoping that it wouldn’t be. Well, play with fire, get burned. Lots of people glommed on to the proposal. Seattle’s Landmark Preservation Board decided in late February that the building should not be demolished.
There was much yammering about its unique architecture. There’s apparently a style called Google, and while I’ve ogled at the building in the past, it’s still, well, a Denny’s. Because it’s in Ballard, a community of Seattle known for high concentrations of Scandinavians, one architect was quoted calling the building’s style “Scandigooginesian,” because of Scandinavian, Google and Polynesian influences.
Unique, yes. But worth voiding private property right to sell? Hardly.
Sure Ballard defined itself by the building. But communities change, and redefine themselves with new development, like Ballard did when the building was built in 1964.
Besides, if folks in Ballard had patronized the Denny’s well enough, it would still be in business.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.