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Real Estate

Brian Miller
Real Estate Editor
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September 2, 2021

On the Block: Reconsidering a landmark during an affordable housing crisis

When the city owns a building put up for landmarking, as was the case five years ago at 157 Roy St., it's unlikely to protest the effective prohibition on future sale or redevelopment. Back then, the Uptown neighborhood had much lower, less dense zoning than today. The light rail station planned nearby, perhaps to arrive by 2035, seemed more distant on the horizon. And the squat, Brutalist-style former Power Control Center, as it was originally called by Seattle City Light, was a surplus old structure then mostly used for community meetings — and as a homeless shelter run by Downtown Emergency Service Center.

But the shelter closed during the pandemic, and the 1963 building has been fenced, closed and vacant for well over a year. Weeds sprout from the roof; its few windows are broken; and there's a 24/7 security guard to keep the squatters out. I pass by the precast-concrete hulk on a regular basis; it was landmarked just before I landed at the DJC, and I never gave it much thought.

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