Ordinance aimed at improving building

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NORTH BEND - We're going to help you clean up your dilapidated building and if you don't, we're going to take legal action to get it done.

That's the message being sent by a City Council ordinance proposed by Councilman Mark Sollitto aimed at upgrading a building located in the heart of downtown North Bend.

If the ordinance is approved next week, the city would offer the building's owner, John Glazier, $6,500 from the 2004 facade assistance program as a financial incentive to remove a portion of the historic former garage built in 1929. The portion, or "prow," is a small storefront to the building that faces the corner of North Bend Way and Bendigo Boulevard. In January, the facade was once again damaged by a semi-truck making an illegal turn.

Under the proposed ordinance, any plan review of the project would be expedited by the city.

If after 180 days the restoration is not complete or completed substandardly, the city attorney would begin the abatement process. That process would likely find the city selecting an architect, preparing the design and construction drawings, making cost estimates, soliciting bids and awarding a construction contract while placing a lien on the property for all costs, including legal.

"I have prepared this plan because nothing has been done by the land owner or the city to remove the prow in the years since [my family has] lived here," said Sollitto. "Waiting 12 years for action is long enough."

In July 2000, the City Council passed a minimum maintenance requirements ordinance affecting buildings in the North Bend Historic District. According to Sollitto, the prow of the garage is in violation of at least six different requirements outlined in the minimum maintenance ordinance, including having inadequate weather protection and substandard exterior wall covering.

When contacted early last week Glazier said he was surprised to hear about the ordinance as he was never approached prior to it being introduced at the March 16 meeting.

Before the moratorium, Glazier said, renovation plans were prepared with a potential tenant lined up when the city pulled his water rights.

Glazier did not want to comment on the specifics of the ordinance until he learned of its details.

Although he and Sollitto did discuss the issue later in the week, Glazier did not return subsequent phone calls from the Valley Record. According to North Bend Community Services Director Larry Stockton, because the property is historical, a Certificate of Appropriateness from the King County Landmarks Board is required before any repairs can be made. Once that certificate is received, Stockton said, the permitting process from the city's end would be routine.

Among the members of the King County Landmarks Board is Fall City resident Susan Sherman. Sherman, who operates a Valley political Web site known as the Valley Ghost with her husband, has been openly critical of the building. Sherman and her husband restored the McGrath Building in North Bend earning them praise from local business owners and King County officials.

Julie Koler, manager of the King County Historic Preservation Program, said under the group's guidelines Sherman would not be allowed to vote on the issue.

Sollitto said he would limit any work to the prow and does not expect Glazier to revamp the entire building. Between the facade assistance program funds and insurance money collected by Glazier regarding the last semi-truck accident, Sollitto said, the project should be financially viable despite the tough economic climate.

Once the prow is removed, the city would eliminate the right-turn lane on eastbound North Bend Way in front of the Glazier's building, turning it into parking, Sollitto said. The three-foot sidewalk in front of the garage would be widened to six feet, he added. Funds for the sidewalk improvements have not been procured. The re-striping of the right-turn lane likely would come from the transportation improvement fund, he added.

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