KGY and the port of Olympia again at odds over the construction of a radio station

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The KGY building, perched on the peninsula of the port of Olympia since 1960, has been nominated for a local historic register. The port opposes the nomination.

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KGY radio and the port of Olympia are again at odds over the building the station has occupied since 1960 at the far north of the port peninsula.

Earlier this year, KGY considered a possible sale of the building to a Tumwater company called Glacier Aviation who wanted to turn it into a possible bar and restaurant, including round-trip helicopter flights.

That idea did not move forward, said KGY radio general manager Nick Kerry. There was a “general reluctance to continue the conversation from a port perspective,” Kerry told The Olympian in April.

Today, the property, considered to be of historical importance, has been nominated for inclusion in the Heritage Register of Olympia. The idea has the support of Kerry and members of the city’s heritage commission, but the port opposes it.

“At this time the Port of Olympia cannot support and does not consent to the nomination of the KGY Radio Building for local heritage registration,” said Allyn Roe, Port Business and Property Development Manager. , in an email to the committee on Sept. 16.

“We believe it would be appropriate to discuss the appointment process after the lease expires and in future planning efforts,” Roe added.

The lease between KGY and the port expires at the end of 2024.

Roe writes that the ordinance that governs the historic properties “would be viewed as a charge on the property that KGY has no right to approve and would place them in conflict with the terms of their lease.”

The Olympian could not reach a port official on Friday to further explain the opposition.

Details of the appointment and Roe’s email emerged during a Sept. 21 meeting of the Olympia Heritage Commission at City Hall. A port representative did not attend the meeting.

The KGY building was named by Greg Griffith, director of the Olympia Historical Society/Bigelow House Museum, with the support of the managing director of KGY Kerry, according to meeting agenda documents. A Heritage Commission subcommittee visited the building in July and toured it.

“The port of Olympia was invited but did not participate,” read the agenda documents.

The committee members returned from the visit with the feeling that the building meets the conditions for inclusion in the heritage register. Among the criteria it met: (The building) “embodies the distinctive architectural characteristics of a type, period, style or method of design or construction, or represents a significant and distinct entity whose components may lack individual distinction.

Heritage Commission chair Holly Davies was enthusiastic about the appointment.

“I can’t say enough good things about the building,” she said. “It’s a fabulous building and is still used for its original purpose, inside and out. All the parts are there. »

The September 21 meeting was originally supposed to be a public hearing and a vote on whether or not to approve the nomination to the registry, but after the port email, the meeting only resulted in a discussion on the nomination. A date for a hearing and a vote remains to be determined, said historic preservation officer Marygrace Goddu.

Kerry spoke at the meeting and expressed disappointment with the 11 a.m. email from the port, “despite our best efforts to provide significant lead time and discuss the idea and process with our landlord.”

He disagrees with the port’s idea of ​​addressing the appointment after the lease expires, saying he fears that if the lease isn’t renewed with the radio station, it puts the building at risk at risk of being demolished. At the same time, Kerry said he saw the building included in the port’s “waterfront destination” plans.

“I’m a little puzzled as to why they don’t have a positive feeling at this point in this process, but I think we should have a discussion with them and get them to reconsider,” Kerry said.

Historic Preservation Officer Goddu said the local register had more “teeth” than the state and national registers. It largely regulates the exterior of buildings, ensuring they remain intact without major alterations, although the local registry allows paint color changes and solar panels, she said.

If the heritage commission votes to approve the nomination, but the port still opposes it, then it would go to the Olympia city council, Goddu said. If the building was eventually listed on the register and there was a desire to demolish it, this demolition permit would still need to be approved, and the Heritage Commission would make a recommendation on whether to approve it to a building official. from the city.

If the city denies the demolition permit, it could be appealed to the city’s Hearing Examiner, Goddu said.

But before that happens, the commission and the port need to talk, she said.

After the building was visited in July, the subcommittee made a recommendation to the commission and a letter was sent to the port’s executive director, but the commission heard nothing until September 16.

“All of a sudden it hit their radar,” Goddu said, adding that they had yet to have an in-person meeting with the port.

“The first step is to talk to them,” she said.

Rolf has worked for The Olympian since August 2005. He covers breaking news, the town of Lacey and business for the newspaper. Rolf graduated from Evergreen State College in 1990.


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