Burglaries at Ballard stores and secured parking garage last week

Burglars broke into a secured parking garage on Shilshole Ave. near Market St. last Tuesday night, and it wasn’t the only Ballard-area burglary over a busy few days for investigators.

“On Wednesday morning we found multiple cars had windows smashed with multiple items stolen such as bikes and computers,” wrote My Ballard reader Celeste in an email. “Our motorcycle sadly was also stolen.”

She said the burglars threw pieces of clothing over some of the security cameras — but missed the one above — and escaped in an old white pickup truck with a big red stripe painted on the hood. She asks if anyone has seen the truck, to please call police.

A night later on Wednesday (1/10), a burglar broke into the Shell convenience store at 8th and Market, stealing “about $5,000” in cigarettes, according to a police report. On the same night, a burglar threw a rock through a window in a business in the 8500 block of 15th Ave. NW in Crown Hill — which is likely the Walgreens — and stole some items out of a display case. There was also a non-residential burglary reported in the 2400 block of Market St.

A night later on Thursday (1/11), there was a report of a burglary in a business in the 6300 block of 15th Ave. NW.

Of course burglaries are not a new phenomenon in our neighborhood, but Seattle PD crime statistics show they’re on a slow, steady rise in Ballard. According to the latest available numbers, Ballard experienced 486 burglaries through November of last year compared to 476 in 2016, 464 in 2015 and 438 in 2014.

It’s all a good reminder to call police if you see any suspicious activity.

Police investigating report of sexual assault in Salmon Bay Park

A photo of a “crime alert” flyer posted at Salmon Bay Park has been shared on the My Ballard Facebook Group — and emailed to us here — and we called Seattle Police for the details.

SPD Detective Mark Jamieson says they received a report on January 10th about a sexual assault that occurred in the park on the night of January 5th. The case has been assigned to a detective in the sexual assault unit, but it’s too early in the investigation for police to confirm what happened.

The anonymous flyer, which was not posted by the police, says a 16 year-old girl was walking through Salmon Bay Park at approximately 10:30 p.m. on January 5th when she was “grabbed by four men and sexually assaulted.” It asks that neighbors call police if they have any information or security camera video.

The flyer lists the East Precinct phone number, but Jamieson said the correct contact is the SPD sexual assault unit at 206-684-5575. The incident number in the case is #18-11435.

Jamieson said that police will update the neighborhood if they believe there’s a public safety threat. Salmon Bay Park is located in Loyal Heights between 19th and 21st Ave. NW at 70th St.

We’ll keep you updated, and thanks to everyone who sent us a tip.

What if the Sounder train added a Ballard stop?

That’s the idea floated by Stephen Fesler in the Urbanist: what if the North Sounder train, which travels between Seattle and Everett, added stops in Ballard, Interbay and Belltown?

Since the tracks already exist (map), the Sounder could add “infill stations” in Ballard just north of the Salmon Bay Bridge and south of NW 57th St. — as well as at Fishermen’s Terminal, Smith Cove (near the new Expedia campus) and Broad St. along the waterfront. If the stations are “modest” and don’t include parking, Fesler writes, they could cost a “few million dollars a piece.”

He continues:

A station serving Ballard could be successful in generating favorable ridership for several reasons. Firstly, riders north of Seattle may find the station useful to access jobs in central Ballard and the industrial area centered on Salmon Bay. A variety of all-day and peak-hour buses make connections to those areas easy. Secondly, local residents might find the service desirable to get quick service to Downtown Seattle, Pioneer Square, and SoDo. Other proposed stations could make intermediary destinations viable, too.

What would this mean for light rail? Fesler says the Sounder could pick up some of the slack before light rail debuts in Ballard in 2035. After that, light rail “wouldn’t fully compete with North Sounder since the commuter line would still serve unique destinations to the south,” he writes.

What do you think of his idea? Fesler has many more details in this post.

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.)