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Originally published Monday, October 25, 2010 at 5:51 PM

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Ballard Denny's site sold to big builder of apartments

The site of the former Ballard Denny's — one of Seattle's most contentious properties — has been sold to the country's largest publicly traded apartment owner.

Seattle Times business reporter

The site of the former Ballard Denny's — one of Seattle's most contentious properties — has been sold to the country's largest publicly traded apartment owner.

Equity Residential of Chicago bought the property at 15th Avenue Northwest and Northwest Market Street from Seattle's Benaroya Companies Monday for $12.5 million — the same price Benaroya paid for it four years ago, according to county records.

Equity's chairman, billionaire Sam Zell, is among the nation's wealthiest people. His holdings include Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Seattle's KCPQ-TV.

Like Benaroya, Equity plans to build a 288-unit residential building on the 1.38-acre site, according to a prepared statement. A start date was not available.

Benaroya demolished the boarded-up Denny's in 2008 after a fight that attracted national attention.

Hundreds argued the 1960s building, with its distinctive "Googie" architectural style, should be preserved and restored. They got a boost when the city's Landmarks Preservation Board designated it a landmark.

But the board later decided preservation would impose an unreasonable economic hardship on the owner. That paved the way for the restaurant's demolition.

Equity Residential's apartment portfolio includes more than three dozen complexes in the greater Seattle area, according to the company's website.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or epryne@seattletimes.com

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