‘Landmark on the Sound’ sold for $14 million; city wants to retain its façade

by Jack Mayne

The Des Moines City Council was told the Masonic ‘Landmark on the Sound’ has been sold for “in the area of $14 million” and the city will meet with representatives of the new owners to discuss how the building can remain a local icon and retain its historic façade.

The Council also heard some objections of residents, but the city is moving forward with construction of an elevated crosswalk and the “traffic calming” intersection of Redondo Beach Drive and 287th. Bids for will be opened on Monday (Feb. 1).

In addition, soon to retire City Manager Tony Piasecki said he would continue working to resolve the Valley Cities property problems and other issues right up to his final day on the job.

Landmark investors named
During public comment period, resident Jim Langston wanted to know who purchased the old Masonic Lodge property at (23660 Marine View Drive S., and what the new owners were going to do with the property.

Assistant City Manager Michael Matthias said the Landmark on the Sound “is currently under contract – there’s two principals.” One of them is George Heidgerken who owns the historic Olympia Brewery site in Tumwater and other properties. His partner is a Californian named Eric Brandenburg, active in Silicon Valley investment “who has now turned his interest to Washington,” Matthias said.

The transaction price was “in the area of $14 million” and Matthias said there is a meeting set for next week to discuss the plans for the property. He said one of the things the city wants and the “Mason’s were respectful on was to at least retain the façade of the building if not the entire building – probably retrofit the building but we would like to see the architectural structural of that structure retained and also we told them we’d like to see mixed use, but a multiplicity of uses that are integrated and synergistic.”

There may be some rezoning needed later, when the plans are developed, he said, “but we are hopeful that this is going to become a very iconic public, accessible economic development project that really adds to the city.”

As we’ve previously reported, in 1926, the Masons decided to build a retirement home for themselves on a ridge with a commanding view of Puget Sound in the then-town of Zenith, which is now part of Des Moines. Constructed of slate and copper, Terra Cotta and Terrazzo, marble and stained glass, this majestic “castle on the hill” has played host to the Des Moines Poverty Bay Wine Festival in the past.

Traffic calming not needed
Resident Pete Stream told the Council that the proposed elevated section of Redondo Beach Drive to slow or “calm traffic” is not necessary and the project does not meet standard criteria for such an installation. It should be dropped, he said.

Stream said a three-way stop would also accomplish the goal of slowing traffic in the area. Since the city has a grant for the work, Stream suggested the funds could be used to put in closure gates on the Redondo Boardwalk from dusk to dawn as a safety measure and to prevent after hours mischief. The city said the money couldn’t be used for that.

Residents had expressed concern that such a raised intersection would create noise as cars went over the raised portion of roadway.

Carol Stream also asked for removal of the raised intersection from the project and said a review of an earlier meeting about problems on the drive showed only a few persons were concerned with speeding and a raised intersection was not proposed as a solution at that time.

City Manager Tony Piasecki responded to the Streams in an e-mail sent Friday morning.

“The proposed raised intersection on Redondo Beach Drive at 287th responds in part to the multiple concerns heard through the Redondo Parking Study process. The location is centrally located in the corridor and is at the primary neighborhood access point.”

Nothing in the email indicated any change in the city prospective work at the 287th intersection with Redondo Beach Drive. Bids on the project will be opened on Monday (Feb. 1).

Keep working on Woodmont
Sheila Brush urged that City Manager Piasecki, even though he is retiring in August, and the city staff would help Woodmont residents to urge Valley Cities to sell the controversial site “so we can bring in new owners that bring in a revenue stream that the community needs.”

Piasecki said he would “keep full attention, provide you with my full support, my hard work right up to the very last day and I want to assure you that is in my DNA and I can’t just slack off on things.” He said working with staff on future matters continues and the city work ongoing even after he leaves.

“Woodmont is at the top of that list” of things Council wants him to keep working on until his retirement.

Don Carmignani told the Council he wanted the city to withdraw its permit to allow demolition and reconstruction of the Wesley Gardens retirement facility. He said the rebuilding of the facility could infringe on he and his wife’s health.

Also, the Council unanimously confirmed the Mayoral appointment of Sheri Verberg to a three year term on the City of Des Moines Arts Commission effective immediately and expiring at the end of 2018.


8 Responses to “‘Landmark on the Sound’ sold for $14 million; city wants to retain its façade”
  1. RedondoRick says:

    Lets hope the new owners of the Masonic Home keep it’s integrity and its historic preservation to the community. Leaving as much as possible its exterior presents.

    For those of you that have never been inside, it takes you back in time. The craftsmanship is remarkable to the present day error. It deserves to live for years to come, to enjoy for generations to come…Rr

    • Robert Wingert says:

      An exceptional building–I especially remember the Masonic Auditorium which I saw several years ago, beautifully done and typical of many built in that era. It would make a beautiful concert space–unfortunately rather run down when I saw it. It would be very sad to lose it.

  2. AF says:

    “castle on the hill” is playing host to the Des Moines Poverty Bay Wine Festival this weekend.

    Incorrect statement in article

  3. Allaiyah Weyn says:

    Here it is, a year later, & it’s up for sale again. This time for 20 mllion.

  4. Molly Daker says:

    I was fortunate enough to get a job as a CNA in the Health Center at The Masonic Home in the early 1990’s. I was twenty two when I moved into a room in the section that the Masons provided for their employees on the fifth floor . I lived there for over one year and loved roaming the halls at night after my shift ; playing pool in the basement meeting room , or reading books in the old library. I met my husband of twenty five years there and our two boys played all over the building and grounds as well. I worked there for almost eight years and have many fond memories of the residents and staff. We hope to see inside this magnificent building again someday soon. This building has a unique and rich history from the many wonderful people that passed through its doors. A friend recently reminded us that the stained glass train over the front door was donated in memoriam by the daughter of C. Saunders. I hope it is still being enjoyed…

    • April says:

      Hi Molly Daker, I would love to hear more about what that was like. It must be fascinating! I’ve lived by it my whole life but have no knowledge of it.

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