WeWork to take 2 floors of new office building

We already know that Equal Exchange Coffee will be setting up shop in the new office building under construction at 15th and Market, and now there’s word that the flexible workspace company WeWork will be a tenant, too.

WeWork leases plug-and-play office space to individuals and companies alike, and they’ll be taking two floors of the new 5-story space — 1,500 desks in all, according to GeekWire.

GeekWire says WeWork is doubling its Seattle footprint in 2018.

City to remove trees at Gemenskap Park site, new trees to be planted

Construction is underway at Ballard’s newest park on 14th Ave. NW, and you may have already noticed the road is now closed between 58th and 60th.

As part of the Gemenskap Park project, crews have marked 12 trees along the east side of the street to be cut down — all but a large maple tree that lives between 59th and 60th, according to the East Ballard Community Association (EBCA). The marked trees include 11 Kwanzan cherry trees and one big leaf maple tree.

Here’s the view from Google, looking east, of the trees along the east side of 14th Ave.:

We received a note from one reader — who included Seattle Parks in the email — urging the city to protect the trees marked for removal.

“(The) Parks Dept. is interested in mowing down trees instead of accommodating and working WITH existing trees,” he wrote. “When is the city and its agencies going to step up and protect our tree canopy?”

The EBCA did some research on the trees and discovered the city’s arborist advised that the cherry trees were infected with an invasive insect and the maple was “high risk.” The other maple, which will remain, was deemed healthy.

The project calls for 24 new trees to be planted to replace the 12 that will be removed — 6 of the new trees will be 14-feet tall when planted.

“Although we will be losing the spring blossoms from the cherries, the new trees were selected for their spring flowering nature and many will have beautiful colors in the fall,” explains the EBCA.

Fire in vacant house on 6th Ave.

A large response of firefighters responded to 4323 6th Av NW just before 8:30 p.m.

When they arrived, they said over the scanner that the house looks like it’s vacant. The blaze appears to be limited to the living room. An investigator was called to the the scene.

If the house is vacant, it would be the 6th fire since November in an abandoned building in the Ballard area. We’ll update as we learn more.

(Thank you Silver for the updates in the My Ballard Facebook group).

Bicyclist killed in collision on Seaview

Updated: A tragic accident along Seaview Ave. early this morning has left a bicyclist dead.

At 4:30 this morning, police and medics responded to the 7000 block of Seaview Ave. — near the Shilshole Bay Marina — for a collision between a car and a man on a bike.

Seattle Fire attempted to revive the bicyclist, but he was declared dead on the scene.

The driver was evaluated for any signs of impaired, but none was detected, Seattle Police said. He was interviewed and released at the scene.

Photos shared with My Ballard by Lucas Bonnema, who arrived after the crash, show the vehicle stopped in the middle of Seaview Ave. just short of a crosswalk.

The Burke Gilman Trail runs parallel with Seaview Ave. There are streetlights along Seaview, but it can be dark in spots at night.

Seattle PD says its traffic detectives are investigating. (Thank you Lucas for the photos.)

The Original Pancake House closes, to reopen as Crown Hill Broiler

Longtime customers of the Original Pancake House on 15th Ave. just north of 80th St. were surprised to learn the restaurant was abruptly closing. Today (Sunday) was its last day.

A sign on the door explains the establishment is closing for remodeling, then it reopen as a new restaurant called the “Crown Hill Broiler” in early April. It will be a “beautiful space” with “high-quality foods, service and beverages,” the signs says.

“This is very sad news!!! (I) love their breakfast!” said Lynn in the My Ballard Facebook group. Added Rachel, “My children will be devastated.”

The restaurant has called Ballard home for over 10 years, attracting good-sized crowds on weekend mornings. The Original Pancake House is a franchise with hundreds of locations nationwide. Besides Ballard, there are restaurants located in Redmond and Bothell.

“We thank all our wonderful customers that have supported the Original Pancake House in Seattle for so many years,” the sign explains.

We’ve reached out to the owners to learn more about why they’re making the switch — and if any the employees will stick around. (Thanks to Deb, Tim and Debbie for the tips.)

Salt and Straw giving away free ice cream, to open in Ballard soon

Update: LOTS of people came for the free ice cream on Sunday afternoon.

The line stretched over a block, merging with the crowd from the Ballard Farmers Market.

Earlier:The Portland artisan ice cream company, Salt and Straw, is planning to open its first Seattle stores next month: one in Capitol Hill and another here in Ballard.

To drum up some excitement, they’re going to be giving away free ice cream cups this Sunday in front of their upcoming store at 5420 Ballard Ave. NW (across from La Carta de Oaxaca). The craziness will begin at noon and end when they run out of ice cream. (Yes, the Ballard Farmers Market will be in full swing nearby. Be prepared.)

They’ll be serving the flavors Double Fold Vanilla, Freckled Woodblock Chocolate and Roasted Strawberry Coconut (vegan).

Salt and Straw is the brainchild of Kim Malek and her cousin Tyler Malek (pictured above). It began in Portland with a bang, and they’ve expanded to LA, SF and San Diego. In summer of last year, they landed an investment from a noted New York restaurant group to help fuel their expansion.

“We’re about building strong local community – both in the neighborhoods where we do business and by purchasing as many local products as possible,” explains founder Kim Malek.

Whistles from the Ballard Terminal Railroad

For many in Ballard, the early-morning train whistles are just part of the sonic fabric of the neighborhood, echoing through the fog. For a few others, they’re a bit of a surprise — there’s a railroad in Ballard? — and sometimes they can wake you up.

Several members of the My Ballard Facebook Group said the whistles from the Ballard Terminal Railroad seemed a little louder than usual a couple mornings ago. In our experience over the years, it’s usually a function of the colder weather and inversion layers, which tend to focus sound waves more horizontally, amplifying their distance.

Newer Ballard residents are often surprised to learn about the Ballard Terminal Railroad Company, a working one-engine railroad that transports materials from the tracks near Shilshole Bay Marina — where it connects with the BNSF mainline — to Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel on Shilshole Ave. The company has operated out of that location for the last 110 years, stretching back to the era when trains filled Ballard tracks.

Now there’s just one locomotive, numbered 98 and named “Li’l Beaver” after the Ballard High Beavers. Sometimes people think the engine is a static museum piece; since Ballard Terminal Railroad tends to operate before first light, the Li’L Beaver is rarely seen at work.

If you’re as fascinated as we are with the railroad, you can learn more about the Ballard Terminal Railroad Company here and here. (Thank you to @artemis618 for permission to use the photo.)

What could light rail look like in Ballard?

With Sound Transit’s expansion plans for Ballard and West Seattle gaining steam, one reader of the West Seattle Blog whipped up some UNOFFICIAL renderings of what elevated light rail could look like in that neighborhood. Since there are parallels with Ballard, we thought we’d share one here:

The caveats are many: the routes aren’t finalized, the dimensions may be off, this is just one person’s interpretation… but it provides a little perspective on what’s likely coming our way. The photo above seems similar to the 15th and Market corner; you can see the elevated station in the distance between the buildings (there are more renderings on the West Seattle Blog).

While the West Seattle route slices through the center of the neighborhood, Ballard’s elevated route will run from Lower Queen Anne along Elliott and 15th Ave. through Interbay — across a new movable bridge — and into Ballard at 15th and Market St.

If you’d like to have a say in all of this, now’s the time. Sound Transit is looking for Ballard volunteers to join its advisory board for the project.

Since the project is in very early stages, there are no official drawings.

(Thanks to West Seattle Blog and “Avalon Tom,” who gave us permission to post it.)

Ballard High graduate signs with Sounders FC

How’s this for a “local boy makes good” story? Ballard High School graduate and UW soccer standout Handwalla Bwana has signed a “Homegrown Player” contract with the Seattle Sounders.

“We’re excited to add Handwalla to our squad, giving us another dynamic young prospect from our Academy,” said Sounders FC GM & President Garth Lagerwey in a press release. “We would like to thank everyone in his development pathway who helped get him this far.”

Originally from Mombasa, Kenya, Bwana attended Ballard High School and played for Sounders FC Academy and Seattle United. Then at the UW, he recorded 12 goals and 13 assists over two seasons, earning a two-time All-Pac-12 selection and the 2016 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

The signing of Bwana, a midfielder, marks the 10th Sounders Homegrown Player signing in club history. He’s just 18 years old.

With decision expected any day, Missing Link advocates plan event

Ballard’s long-running battle over the Missing Link may be nearing a conclusion.

Last month the Seattle Hearing Examiner heard another appeal from the Ballard Coalition, a collection of businesses challenging SDOT’s environmental impact statement that clears the way for the trail to run along industrial Shilshole Ave. (above).

Last week attorneys for SDOT, Cascade Bicycle Club and the Ballard Coalition filed their “response briefs”, setting the stage for the Hearing Examiner’s decision. (You can read all the filings here).

Then this Wednesday, Councilmember Mike O’Brien and representatives from Cascade Bicycle Club and other groups are holding an event “to show our new mayor, Jenny Durkan, our support and commitment to breaking ground on the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail in 2018.”

The event at Peddler Brewing will feature “the original organizers who 50 years ago took action to build the Burke-Gilman Trail,” the invite explains. It will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

For its part, the Ballard Coalition is pushing for the trail to travel up Leary to Market St., avoiding the industrial area. During the hearing, the Coalition argued that SDOT’s final environmental impact statement (FEIS) overlooked the dangers of a path that crosses “55 industrial driveways and intersections in just 1.5 miles.” In its post-hearing brief, the Coalition claimed “SDOT repeatedly directed its consultants to downplay the environmental impacts of its proposal.”

SDOT argued it “completed a thorough and comprehensive environmental analysis”, and in a filing after the hearing, stated “the Coalition has not met its heavy burden to sustain its challenge.”

Now the decision rests with the Hearing Examiner. We’ll keep you updated…