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A demolition permit has been filed for the Elephant Car Wash. What happens to the iconic sign?

Oct. 7, 2020 Updated Wed., Oct. 7, 2020 at 6:12 p.m.

Iconic signs for the Elephant Car Wash loom over workers at a nearby construction project in October.  (Seattle Times)
Iconic signs for the Elephant Car Wash loom over workers at a nearby construction project in October. (Seattle Times)
Megan Burbank Seattle Times

A demolition permit has been filed for the iconic Elephant Car Wash, which has operated at the corner of Battery Street and Denny Way since 1956. City records show that Seattle property management company Clise Properties applied for the permit on Oct. 4, a development first reported by the Daily Journal of Commerce.

However, the salvage assessment filed with the permit application states that the area to be demolished covers no more than 750 square feet of the property. According to the site plan filed with the demolition application, the footprint of the existing car wash is 4,701 square feet.

It is not clear whether the car wash’s iconic rotating sign will be affected by the demolition. Designed by Seattle’s “Queen of Neon,” Beatrice Haverfield, the pink elephant sign was installed in 1956, and is composed of bent neon with 380 blinking lights. Over the years, the sign has become one of Seattle’s most popular landmarks, and has even appeared in commercials and TV shows about the city.

The business’s current owner, Bob Haney, declined to comment Wednesday.

Clise owns the property the Elephant Car Wash sits on. The permit application includes several forms signed by Ben Barron, vice president for development at Clise, and authorizes Jodi Patterson-O’Hare as the primary contact for the demolition project. Patterson-O’Hare is an employee of Permit Works NW, a permit consulting company based in Normandy Park. Neither responded to requests for comment.

Elephant Car Wash opened its first Seattle location at Fourth Avenue South and South Lander Street in 1951, and was purchased by Haney in 1982. The business operates several car washes throughout the Puget Sound region.

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