Nokomis Club of Redmond needs to raise approximately $25-$50,000 in order to pay for legal fees and representation as they appeal the decision to deny the historic significance of the Nokomis building in Redmond. The hearing appealing the City of Redmond’s “Decision of Non-Significance” is scheduled for July 9th and 10th.
A separate appeal has been filed regarding the EPA’s classification of the building.
If you are interested in helping with their fight, please consider donating funds via PayPal on the Nokomis Club website or through their Crowdrise site (both listed below).
The challenge of declaring the Nokomis Building of Redmond as a historically significant building is raising its head as another “us vs. them” struggle between the citizens of Redmond and the City.
There are many facets to the struggle; from disagreements over who actually owns the property to whether the site qualifies and can be maintained as a historic site.
The building was built by the Nokomis Club in 1933 through funds raised by the club. Purchased in 1972 by the Redmond Chamber of Commerce (now defunct), the building was used as a library for Redmond until 1964; and continued to be used as meeting space for the Nokomis Club until 1995. It has been leased to several businesses after that point; the last being McDonald’s Book Exchange.
“OneRedmond was formed in 2010, composed of 35 private businesses and 5 public sector organizations, to promote economic development, which includes land development within the city. By March 2014 the interested members of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce were incorporated into OneRedmond, and the Chamber was formally dissolved. With that dissolution, OneRedmond apparently gained title to the Nokomis Building, and under the aegis of OneRedmond, the 5-story building project was proposed by a board member.”
“The building was inventoried in historic surveys conducted in 1998 and 2005, and both surveys recommend listing it in the Local and National Register of Historic Places. “In view of this recommendation, the association of the building with Redmond, early to mid-20th century history, and the association of the Nokomis Club with women’s history, this proposal [5-story building] would appear to have a negative impact on this historic property,” writes Gregory Griffith, Deputy State [Washington] Historic Preservation Officer, Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, in a letter dated February 26, 2015. Griffith concludes, “As a result, we recommend that alternative designs/site planning be explored that result in the building’s preservation/re-use on site.” (from the Case Statement on the Nokomis website)
The change in ownership was first reported in the Redmond Reporter by Samantha Pak on February 6, 2015.
“OneRedmond (formerly the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce), a public-private partnership focused on economic development in the city, owns the property but the building is currently in the process of being sold to Natural & Built Environments (NBE), a Kirkland-based development company committed to sustainability. According to the company’s website, NBE invests in “creating a transformation of existing and new properties to new levels of sustainability from solar, to wind power, green roofs, rain gardens, salmon-friendly streets, access to public transportation, flex cars, dual flush toilets, regional materials, how to ventilate living spaces with fresh air to reduce the need for air conditioning and more.”
Interestingly enough, the Board of Directors of OneRedmond includes John Marchione (Mayor of the City of Redmond), Tom Flynn (Redmond City Council member), Robert Pantley (CEO and ITS Manager of NBE). Local area investors for OneRedmond include City of Redmond, Cascade Water Alliance, Evergreen Health, Group Health, LWIT, Microsoft, NBE, and the Redmond Reporter. Many other investors have locations outside of Redmond and the State of Washington.
Mr. Pantley is quoted as becoming “interested in the property because he saw it as an opportunity to create a living street. He said living streets are typically landscaped, have areas for seating and are more focused on people rather than vehicles.”
The Nokomis Building is #1 on the City’s map of “Sites of Historic Interest”; and found frequently throughout the City’s listings of “historic” buildings and places of interest.
King County is committed, through their Comprehensive Plan (Chapter 6 ‘Parks, Open Space and Cultural Resources’, page 15) to identifying and ‘preserving’ historic properties because they provide benefits to communities.
“Historic buildings serve as a community touchstone—tangible icons of the present generation’s connection to the past. I believe it is an important function of government to preserve and protect these significant structures and to help maintain the historic fabric of our communities.” (Dow Constantine, King County Executive, p iii)
The second portion of Chapter 6, Parks, Open Space and Cultural Resources of the King County Comprehensive Plan articulates basic policy on historic and archaeological resources.
“Preservation of historic properties provides multiple benefits. Historic properties maintain a tangible connection with the past and contribute to community understanding, character, and diversity. Preservation saves energy, conserves existing housing and commercial buildings, and retains historically significant open space. Historic properties also play a major role in attracting tourists. The mission of the King County Historic Preservation Program (HPP), housed in the County’s Department of Parks and Natural Resources, is to conserve existing historic housing, commercial buildings and other significant properties and foster heritage tourism throughout county. It provides technical and other assistance to cities lacking preservation programs. It also supports the work of the King County Landmarks Commission. “
The City has received several appeals from community members regarding the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA); one regarding parking at the proposed site and two regarding the historic nature of the site.
“the city will hold a consolidated appeal meeting — which will include the SEPA appellants as well as anyone who may appeal the land-use permit. A date has not been set for the meeting yet as the land-use permit has not been reviewed or approved. Fischer said the appeal meeting will be before a hearing examiner, who will hear both sides of the issue. He added that it is a public meeting, but only those involved in the appeals will be allowed to speak.”
“While the old Nokomis building is historic, it is not classified as a landmark. Kim Dietz, a senior planner for the city, said the latter status is something property owners must nominate the site for, adding that OneRedmond has not chosen to nominate the old Nokomis building for landmark status.” (Redmond Reporter 3/13/15)