Perfect weather for Lake Union fireworks show

More than 10,000 pounds of fireworks are locked and loaded on a barge floating on Lake Union. It’s all for the annual Fourth of July show at Gas Works Park.

The temperature around fireworks time is expected to be 72 degrees.

Our friends at GeekWire boarded the barge on Tuesday to watch workers prep for the 20-minute fireworks display. One of the new additions this year is called “The Lollipop,” which is suspended by a forklift on the barge and rotates in a circle. And at the beginning of the show, hundreds of white strobes will float on the surface of the lake.

While the fireworks get underway after dark, the festivities at Gas Works begin at noon with a full schedule of musical acts and plenty of food and drink.

Of course, this time of year brings the usual chaos to Fremont and Wallingford, as thousands of people descend on Gas Works, looking for parking. And it’s also time for Seattle PD’s usual but very real warning that fireworks are illegal — it could cost you a fine of $5,000! — but there’s always that neighbor who fires it off, anyways.

“911 call centers are typically inundated on the 4th with reports of fireworks-related injuries and house fires,” explains Seattle PD. “Because of that influx of calls, please only use 911 to report life-threatening emergencies.”

Seattle firefighters responded to 68 fireworks related incidents last year, and there were 262 injuries. So perhaps you should just watch the Lake Union show and call it good.

PS. Happy Fourth of July everyone!!

Busy summer on Ballard’s events calendar

Just a quick reminder that My Ballard is home to North Seattle’s largest community events calendar, especially now that summer is in full swing.

We only post a small fraction of events here on the home page, so it pays to keep an eye on the events page. (Not to mention, many of these events are hosted by Ballard breweries.)

If you have a community event, submit it right here. Please give us 24 hours or so to approve it.

California company buys 2 Market St. properties

The old Kress building at 2220 NW Market St., home to Bop Street Records and the Ballard Discount Store, has sold, according to the Daily Journal of Commerce. So has the building at 1740 NW Market St, which is the current home of FedEx Office.

The buyer for both properties is Wang Brothers Investments in Orinda, California, according to King County records. The developer bought 2220 NW Market St. (Kress) for $4.2 million and 1740 NW Market St. (FedEx) for $8.3 million.

Wang Brothers plans to build an 8-story apartment building at the FedEx location, according to a land use “pre-application” filed with the city. It’s unclear what its plans are for the Kress building. We’ve reached out for comment.

The Kress sales listing explained that the building’s “long and narrow shape” could make it difficult to redevelop by itself, and it has “potential rental upside” through “renovation and re-tenanting.” It mentions that current tenants are paying “rents towards the very low end of the submarket range.”

Those tenants include vintage music shop Bop Street Records (above), one of Ballard’s most iconic small businesses. It opened in 1974. The Kress building itself was built in 1929 as part of the “five and dime” Kress department store chain.

We’ll let you know if we learn anything more about the buyer’s plans.

(Top photo from the CBRE listing. Second photo from Bop Street Records).

High-density neighborhoods like Ballard absorbing most of Seattle’s growth

It certainly feels like Ballard is growing faster than other North Seattle neighborhoods. Now there’s visual data that shows that Ballard is absorbing a disproportionate amount of population growth compared to most neighborhoods in our area.

“Last year 88 percent of the city’s new housing was crowded into dense neighborhoods that make up just 18 percent of the city’s residential land area,” explains Seattle Times reporter Mike Rosenberg in a Sunday column.

Rosenberg points to this interactive map (image displayed above) which shows the last decade’s worth of new residential buildings (blue dots) and permits issued for upcoming residential buildings (yellow dots.) By looking at the map — updated by the city of Seattle — it certainly appears Ballard has added more residential housing than any other neighborhood in North Seattle over the last decade. The University District and Lower Queen Anne also show a lot of growth.

“So in reality, most of Seattle is not growing – only certain parts are,” Rosenberg writes in the Times. “Single-family neighborhoods like Magnolia, Laurelhurst and Arbor Heights are absorbing virtually no growth.”

Density is a function of zoning. Central Ballard and Crown Hill are designated as “urban villages,” which makes it easier for developers to gain approval for higher-density projects. The University District is the largest urban village in North Seattle, and parts of Fremont, Greenwood, Green Lake, Ravenna, Northgate and other stretches along 99 and I-5 are designated, as well.

While other parts of Seattle are growing faster than Ballard — like South Lake and Capitol Hill — it’s certainly interesting to see how Ballard compares to our other North Seattle neighborhoods. You can browse the map right here.

Update: Central Ballard grew 54.1% in population since 2010, and that’s faster than any North Seattle neighborhood, according to this earlier Seattle Times report by Gene Balk.

Motorcycle collides with car on Sunset Hill

A motorcycle heading along 32nd Ave. NW on Sunset Hill collided with a parked car near NW 80th St., neighbors say.

The collision happened Saturday evening, sending parts of the motorcycle skidding down the street. The dashboard was resting 40 feet away from the rest of the bike.

Fortunately the rider was alert and talking as he was loaded up in the ambulance, according to witnesses.

There’s no word from Seattle Police on the cause of the collision. Neighbors say that people often speed down 32nd Ave., a long, downhill stretch of road.

(Thanks to Mac for sending us the photo).

Sailor rescued from the waters off Shilshole

Updated: Fire crews responded to Shilshole Marina this morning for a report of a man in the water, separated from his sailboat.

The sailor was rescued by another vessel nearby, according to Seattle Fire. He was then transferred to the fire boat on scene. He did not suffer any injuries.

The sailboat that was in trouble is beached near Anthony’s, according to the scanner.

This is second time in less than a year that a Good Samaritan has come to the rescue at Shilshole. Last November, a man was rescued by fellow boaters nearby after his fishing boat sank. The rescuers were honored by Seattle Fire.

(Thanks to Silver for the scanner updates).

Apartments slated for Crown Hill Hardware site and two other lots

Since Crown Hill Hardware announced it was closing back in November — one of the longest-running businesses in North Seattle — we’ve been waiting to see what’s planned for the property.

Today plans were filed with the city to build apartments at both the Crown Hill Hardware site and the adjacent parking lot — and on two other lots on the same block, as well.

That’s a total of four lots and four different 4-story, 21-unit apartment buildings. The Crown Hill Hardware site will have two side-by-side, and 7709 and 7711 15th Ave. NW will be the home of the other two (currently occupied by two houses.)

Of the 21 units for each building, 18 of them are small efficiency dwelling units. Since these are high-density developments along a major transportation corridor, each building is planning to offer parking for 4 vehicles.

The architect on the project is Lemon Architecture.

Cruise ship heads through the Locks

Updated: The Star Legend made history today by becoming the largest cruise ship to ever navigate the Ballard Locks and the Ship Canal.

A crowd gathered to watch the big event, along with media helicopters and a KING 5 drone:

Here’s the perspective from on the ship:

Then it headed to the Ballard Bridge, where the ship exceeded the height of the bridge itself:

A view from the bridge:

And a shoreline perspective:

It was quite the sight, and it also generated lots of free publicity — another successful marketing campaign at Ballard’s favorite tourist attraction.

(First bridge photo by Adrienne Erickson on Twitter. Second by Meghan Walker. Third by Annie on Twitter. Other photos above from Windstar Cruises.)

Earlier: The largest cruise ship to ever traverse the Ballard Locks will make the journey around 1 p.m. and again between 6 and 7 p.m. today (Wednesday).

The 440-foot-long Star Legend carries 212 passengers, and it’s taking a side-trip through the Ship Canal as it heads to Alaska. The ship will have 7.5 feet of clearance on each side in the Locks.

The cruise ship will then go under the Ballard Bridge around 2 p.m. and the Fremont Bridge a short time later. It takes a spin around Lake Union, crosses back under the Ballard Bridge at approximately 6 or 6:30 p.m. and then heads back out of the Locks between 6 and 7 p.m. Then it will be visible off Shilshole as begins its journey to Alaska.

The Star Legend is run by Seattle-based Windstar Cruises.

New Gemenskap Park waits for utility work

With most of the street work complete, 14th Ave. NW has reopened to traffic through the Gemenskap Park construction project.

But workers are waiting for utility hookups before they can place the plants and grass, according to Seattle Parks and Recreation.

“We are in the queue for SPU to tap the main and install the meter which hooks up to our irrigation. We are also in the queue for SCL to install power to the meter which powers the irrigation controller and lights,” explains Toby Ressler with Seattle Parks.

There’s no estimate on how long this will take. The goal was to have the new park up and running by the end of spring.

Where will the Ballard light rail line go? Process enters next phase

Sound Transit has poured through community feedback and narrowed the list of alternatives for where to build the Ballard light rail line. Now Sound Transit has entered the next phase — called “level two” — as it works toward agreeing on a single route by early next year.

Ballard now has 8 routes on the table. This is a bit hard to read — here’s the Sound Transit deck with more detail — but here there are on a single map (click for larger):

You may remember Sound Transit’s first proposal — down 15th Ave., across a movable bridge to a station at 15th and Market — was countered by Ballard and Interbay businesses who said they’d be impacted by the traffic disruptions.

After receiving a plethora of options over the last few months, Sound Transit has narrowed them down to this list, in addition to their original proposal. Each of these end with the Ballard station:

– Enter on 20th Ave., fixed bridge to 17th Ave. and Market
– Enter on 20th Ave., tunnel all the way to 15th and Market
– Enter near 16th Ave., fixed bridge to 15th and Market
– Enter near Interbay railway, movable bridge to 14th and Market
– Enter near Interbay railway, fixed bridge to 14th and Market
– Enter near Interbay railway, tunnel to 15th and Market
– Enter on Armory Way, tunnel to 14th and Market

These options now enter level 2 discussions with an updated set of evaluation criteria, which include rising construction costs and how the proposed stations fit in with local land use plans. The stakeholder advisory group and elected leadership group have several more meetings before making its level two recommendations — a shorter list — by September 26.

Then things move into — you guessed it — level three discussions before landing on a single route to propose to the leadership team for a vote by early next year.

(Photo of planning session from