SEATTLE-Murray Franklin Inc. and developer Tom Nickerson plan to build a 24-story mixed-use tower at the corner of Second and Lenora that incorporates the best parts of the property’s existing structure. Tentatively scheduled to break ground next summer, the building will feature 15,000 sf of retail space, 60,000 sf of offices and approximately 200 residential units. The cost of development is estimated at $60 million.

Even though the landmark review board declined to grant official historical status to the existing structure, it is a rich part of Seattle history. The first building on the site went up in 1916. The Crystal Pool bathhouse there was a salt-water swimming pool and aquatic center that pumped its water directly from Puget Sound for nearly 20 years. In the 1940s the Bethel Temple remodeled the bathhouse to create a church, laying a floor over the pool for its sanctuary. A subsequent remodel in the 1960s substantially changed the character of the building–the reason it is not an historical landmark–but not the building’s 90-year-old terra cotta façade done in Italian Renaissance style, which the developers plan to spend $2 million restoring in order to use it as the façade of the new structure.

The mixed-use project’s design has gone through several changes as a result of meetings with the Design Review Board and numerous public hearings. Weber Thompson Architects of Seattle collaborated on the most recent version. The project will also include a pergola-dome structure reminiscent of the original built with the bathhouse in 1916. Though the restoration and pergola will add considerable expense to the project, Steve Washburn, an owner of Murray Franklin, says preserving its history will add value to the building.

An appeal may delay commencement of the project. No official sources were immediately available to comment on the nature of the appeal. The city will hold a hearing to discuss the matter on Jan. 16.

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