EVERETT, WA-Intent on finding space for development of much-needed office building to save on leases and relieve cramped quarters, Snohomish County officials are considering demolition of the city’s historic Mission Building as part of a larger overhaul of their downtown campus.

The officials are reacting to a study showing it would cost more than $7 million to ensure the 89-year-old former seat of county government would withstand an earthquake. Coupled with the cost associated with repairing the building’s roof, ventilation systems and windows, county officials believe it may actually be cheaper to replace the building than repair it.

Considering demolition and actually being able to do it are two different things, however. The Mission Building, which currently houses several courtrooms, the prosecuting attorney’s criminal division, court clerk offices and storage items, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Kristin Ravetz, spokesperson for the Everett Historic Commission, says that if the county does propose demolishing the building, it will face plenty of opposition.

“We are certainly very concerned and I know of a lot of other citizens that would be very concerned, as well,” notes Ravetz. “There are a lot of examples of other buildings in the city that have been beautifully restored and the prices have not been that high. I think they (county officials) should look around and see what’s been done and give serious consideration to restoring the building rather than tearing it down.”

Though other sites are being considered for the proposed office building, which is still in the planning stages, the Mission Building location is considered ideal because it’s next to the county’s administration and courthouse buildings. As such, it could help buttress the buildings against earthquakes, reducing the estimated $14.5 million price tag to earthquake-proof those buildings by as much as half.

County officials, who could not be reached for comment for this article, have said they hope to submit a plan regarding the overhaul of the county’s downtown Everett buildings to the Snohomish County Council for preliminary approval in January. Public hearings will be held before any action would be taken regarding the Mission Building.

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