The Washington State Park System currently foots the bill for Saint Edward Seminary, a long-neglected and damaged local treasure located inside a state park in Kenmore, Washington, outside of Seattle. But that could all change soon.
Currently four rangers live in the building, and its yearly heating and maintenance costs are about $100,000. Like many of the region’s historic buildings, costly upgrades are needed to bring it up to current seismic and safety codes. According to the Seattle Times, the state parks commission has been looking for a solution.
Now, private developer Kevin Daniels, whose firm has restored such Seattle buildings as King Street Station, Union Station and the Starbucks Center, wants to turn the building into a national-park-lodge-style hotel, complete with a spa. The building would include additional visitor parking for the area, which would remain a state park. Daniels would also buy about 10 adjacent acres to deed to the park. Daniels told the Times that estimated costs for such a plan exceeded $50 million.
“Our goal would be to take visitors back in time, to create a true oasis in the middle of an urban setting,” Daniels told the Times.
According to the Times:
Opposition to the plan has already emerged. Ann Hurst, who successfully nominated the seminary building and grounds to the national historic register in 2007, opposes turning the building into an active hotel with thousands of visitors a year.
She said the seminary and grounds were purchased for $7 million in 1977 from the Archdiocese of Seattle for use as a park. Half of the money came from federal Land and Water Conservation Funds, which have restrictions about converting parklands to other uses.
Michael Hankinson, the parks planner who is overseeing the Saint Edward restoration proposal, believes that the proposed project could bring more visitors to the historic building and the park. “For 90 years, the public has only seen the building from the outside,” Hankinson told the Times. “If done right, the renovation will enhance the public’s use.”
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.