Say goodbye to the Denny's in Ballard. Crews began demolishing the boarded-up chain restaurant this morning at the corner of 15th Avenue...

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Say goodbye to the Denny’s in Ballard.

Crews began demolishing the boarded-up chain restaurant this morning at the corner of 15th Avenue Northwest and Northwest Market Street, much to the disappointment of hundreds of residents who rallied to preserve the 44-year-old building in their rapidly modernizing neighborhood.

Some paused on their morning walks today to take in the scene, as a bulldozer rendered the structure into a pile of wooden and metal debris. Nearby, a public notice described the eight-story mixed-use project slated to be built in its place.

“Great. Another condo building. Do we really need another one of those?” said Michael Johnson, 25, gesturing to the surrounding condominiums in the one-block radius.

“This just makes way for a more homogeneous culture,” he said. “Years from now, people are going to ask, ‘What happened to all of our culture?’ Well, too bad, we destroyed it.”

Efforts to preserve the restaurant, which closed late last year, got a boost in February when the Landmarks Preservation Board designated it a landmark. The 6-3 decision was based on the opinion that the building contributed to the identity of the neighborhood. The structure’s “Googie” architectural style was made popular during the 1960s with its upswept roofs, large plate-glass windows, boomerang shapes and starbursts.

More than 600 people, including national experts on Googie architecture and staff members from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, supported the designation.

But last month, the board reversed its decision and gave clearance to tear down the building, saying landmark preservation would result in an unreasonable financial hardship on the owner, BCC Mikie Ballard LLC, an offshoot of the Benaroya Co.

Lauri Miller, who moved into her Ballard condominium three years ago, said she was sad to see the Denny’s go. One of her favorite waiters worked there, and she remembered the time he surprised her at the restaurant with cake, candles and balloons for her birthday.

“I’ll miss seeing it,” she said. “But I guess that’s my karma for buying a condo here.”

Information from The Seattle Times archive was used in this story.

Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or