By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board voted on Nov. 15 against giving landmark status to the H&K Foods building on Beacon Hill.
Designed by Seattle architect and social activist Benjamin Woo, the building (7118-7144 Beacon Avenue South) was built in 1957. It was one of Woo’s earliest solo projects.
A landmark designation would have meant that the building could not be demolished unless the owner could demonstrate there is no reasonable economic use. Landmarks cannot be significantly altered without a permit from the board.
Assunta Ng knew Ben Woo personally. In a letter to the board, Ng said that Woo shied away from any personal accolades or attention. “Ben was invested in community and people, not in buildings. He supported the advancement of those around him. In fact, he and his wife Ruth rejected naming any buildings in their honor.”
Monisha Harrell, a consultant brought in to help the owner prevent landmark status, told the board that there are other buildings that would better honor Woo.
In an interview with the Northwest Asian Weekly, Harrell said that Woo was commissioned by the Dijulio family to build the structure as an investment property that would generate revenue. “It was never meant to be pretty,” said Harrell.
One of the reasons the Landmark Board was considering the building for landmark designation was because of the building’s roofline. “The building and roofline are functional, but not remarkable,” said Ng.
“Most of the Landmark Commission agreed that Ben’s work in the Chinatown/International District were much better quality and more appropriate,” said Harrell.
On Nov. 15, the board agreed — clearing the way for Glen Dea, who has owned the building since 2002, to finalize its sale.
King County records show it was sold for $3.1 million to Isola Real Estate. The new owner plans to demolish the existing structure and build 9 new three-story buildings townhouse buildings that will feature some retail space.
“Right now, the area is not a retail or commercial destination,” said Dea. “This (the sale) will be good for the neighborhood.”
Ng agreed. “In a residential neighborhood, directly across the street from a school, in a city that needs more housing, we need more homes for families to live. This will be a win-win for the community.”
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.