Don't let VAA project complicate Center's historic nomination | Editorial

Those who attend the King County Landmarks Commission’s hearing on Center Thursday night might be tempted to make the proceeding a referendum on Vashon Allied Arts’ proposed performing arts center — either in support of the new structure or in opposition to it.

Either stance would be misguided. VAA has already filed a permit application with the county to tear down the McFeeds building and erect a 20,000-square-foot center on the property it owns at the historic intersection. In the parlance of administrative law, that means VAA’s permit request is vested.

Should the intersection receive designation as a historic district, it could make VAA’s appeals for public support a little trickier. Critics might see that designation as a way to again take aim at the size and scale of VAA’s project, as an indication that the building won’t fit in.

But they won’t have any regulatory power at their disposal. To suggest otherwise is to misconstrue the situation entirely.

As long as VAA keeps its permit active — an easy administrative matter — a historic district at Center will have no bearing on its effort to move forward. There are many reasons, no doubt, to support the proposed historic district or to oppose it. But VAA’s future is not one of them.

We hope that when residents gather Thursday night to weigh in on the proposal, they’ll do so in a spirit of intellectual honesty. Unlike the national debates on everything from health care to taxation, we think Islanders are able to stipulate to the facts — and then, from there, opine on the merits of the proposal.


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