Thursday, January 19, 2012

Progress in the Battle to Save the Jensen-Byrd

Jensen-Byrd building by Flickr user Terry Bain.
(Thank you Terry for choosing Creative Commons licensing.)
This morning we have some good news about the fight to preserve Spokane's most-endangered historic building, the Jensen-Byrd. According to a Spokesman-Review article, the Historic Preservation Commission has ruled that the Jensen-Byrd is eligible for historic preservation: "The commission’s decision Wednesday designates the Jensen-Byrd building, which has been vacant since 2004, as eligible to be nominated for the Spokane Register of Historic Places.That decision now places a burden on Campus Advantage to establish reasons why it should proceed with demolition, said Kristen Griffin, the city-county historic preservation officer."

The article went on to state that the developer planning to raze the building, Campus Advantage, "has a contract with WSU to buy the building, but that deal has contingencies that could cancel the sale...Macejewski [a Campus Advantage executive] said he couldn’t comment on whether the restrictions on obtaining a demolition permit would jeopardize the sale."

What does this mean for Spokane history? I think if the public outcry is great enough, we can either get WSU to reverse the decision, or perhaps scare off the developer by adding uncertainty and delays to the process. Keep up the pressure! Spokane Preservation Advocates has been spearheading the public effort to save this historic building, their advocacy page has information on how to contact WSU to protest this unnecessary destruction.

Spokane has lost a lot of great buildings that could have been saved. But I have a sense that we as a community have reached a tipping point, where we come together and say enough is enough. If we save this building, it could mark a new era of historic preservation in Spokane.

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