Applications open for PARK(ing) Day 2018

One day each year, parking spots around the city transform into pop-up parklets. It’s known as PARK(ing) Day, an annual global event every third Friday of September to allow residents to get creative in their streets and repurpose public space. This year’s event will happen on September 21; applications close on August 24.

“In Seattle, we want to encourage communities to use streets as sites for public expression and creative experimentation, as well as for enjoyment of health and wellness,” according to city officials promoting the event.

In the past, parklets have included live music, games such as giant Jenga, art installations, and even little wading pools. The more creative, the better.

New this year are neighborhood “clusters”, in which the city will help organize multiple installations grouped together to make for a “safer, less isolated and more engaging experience”. Ballard isn’t included as a cluster, but the following are: Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill, West Seattle, U. District, Lake City, and Rainier Beach.

Also new is an awards ceremony for the best parklet designs. Participants will be eligible to win one of three awards presented by the WASLA Washington Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects, as part of the culmination of the Seattle Design Festival. The awards celebration will be on the evening of PARK(ing) Day at the Center for Architecture and Design from 7 to 9pm.

For inspiration or to learn more about PARK(ing) Day, join one of the city’s info sessions at Bulldog News Parklet in the U. District on August 7 from 11am to 1pm, or at Sugar Plum Parklet on Capitol Hill on August 8 from 5:30 to 7:30pm.

Wildfire smoke settles over King County, air quality dips

Smoke from regional wildfires is settling in over Seattle this week, creating air quality levels that are deemed “unhealthy for sensitive groups”. While winds are expected to help clean the air later today and tomorrow, smoke from BC and the Cascades is currently lingering over the Puget Sound.

“Thankfully, we don’t expect this to last as long as it did last summer,” the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency said in statement.

The agency recommends that those with heart or lung disease, pregnant people, children, and people over 65 should limit their time outdoors until the air quality improves. Wildfire smoke can cause health problems such as chest pain, fast heartbeat, coughing, stinging eyes and headaches.

As a reminder, a fire safety burn ban is in effect for the entire state, as 96 percent of Washington is experiencing drought-like conditions.

To monitor the air quality, visit the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency website for an updated report.

Photo: Satellite image of active fires from Washington Department of Ecology, issued Monday, August 13. 

Plans moving ahead for seven-story apartment building on Market St

Plans to construct an apartment building on the west end of NW Market St are inching forward, with a new land use application submitted with updates to the original plan, including adding an additional story.

The parcel at 2417 NW Market St was sold to San Francisco-based Carmel Brothers earlier this year for $11.75 million. The building is home to recently relocated Twice Sold Tales, Ballard Transfer Company, Healthy Nails salon and Lundgren Enterprises. The seven-story apartment building will have 171 units with ground-level retails, and parking for 100 vehicles.

John Watkins, owner of Twice Sold Tales tells My Ballard that he’s been given until March 31 to move. “I’m still trying to formulate a plan. I’m open to suggestions. I have definitely not found a place yet,” Watkins said. “I’m hoping to find a space in a building in Ballard that’s not going to be torn down.”

Healthy Nails tells us they’ll also be moving next year, but that they plan to find another location on Market St. Janice from Ballard Transfer Company tells My Ballard that the store will be going out of business because, “No one wants to run it. Everyone who works here is at retirement age anyway,” she said.

Craig Lundgren, owner of Lundgren Enterprises, says he doesn’t know exactly when he’ll be moving. He’s been in his current location for two decades. “We’ve been in Ballard for 25 years total – we started on Ballard Ave,” Lundgren tells us. “We have looked at several possible locations in Ballad. We hope to stay here – this has been home.”

No update yet on when construction will start, but we’ll keep you updated.

Annual wild salmon dinner and Norwegian folk dancing is on Wednesday

One of the best Scandinavian events of the year is happening on Wednesday, with a night of wild salmon and traditional Norwegian dancing and music at the Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard.

The dinner buffet starts at 6pm, with a 7:30pm dance performance by Tom Sears and Zena Corcoran, accompanied by dancers of Nordahl Grieg Leikarring and Spelemannslag and music from fiddler Loretta Kelley, and Bill Likens on accordion. Kids from Poulsbo Leikarringen will then take the stage, followed by a public dance and instruction from local Norwegian musicians.

From the organizers: “Come and enjoy the immersion for all levels of dancing from beginning to advanced into all the types of Norwegian folkdancing and music from the bygdedansar, runddansar, songdansar, and turdansar og rekkedansar (figure dances and longways dances).”

Tickets for the event are $30 (ages 13 and over), $15 for kids ages 6-12, and free for kids 5-years-old and under.

Seattle Fire to conduct rescue exercises at Golden Gardens and Carkeek this morning

If you spot helicopters flying back and forth from Ballard today, not to worry – the Seattle Fire Department will be doing an exercise at Golden Gardens and Carkeek Park from 10am to noon. The parks will remain open, however some areas of each park will closed off during the exercise.

According to Seattle Fire, the purpose of the exercise is to practice transporting rescue and supply resources via helicopter to an isolated area. They’ll be conducting the exercises in partnership with Seattle Parks, Police, King County Sheriff’s Office and Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

For the exercise, two helicopters loaded with rescue personnel and supplies will take off from Golden Gardens. They’ll then hover over the Model Airplane area of Carkeek and lower the rescue crews and supplies to ground level. The helicopters will then take the crews and supplies back to Golden Gardens.

Photo from

Flatiron Building on Ballard Ave sells for $2.4m

The historic triangle building on Ballard Ave, known as the Flatiron Building, has just been sold for $2.4 million. The previous owner was James Lathrop, who’d planned to open a restaurant/bar called Ballard Republic in the space. However, after waiting over a year and a half for city permitting, he had to forgo his plan and sell it off to pay back his original purchase.

“I was out of money and out of time,” Lathrop says. When he first bought the building in 2015, he wanted to open a second location of Cannabis City, a marijuana store just south of downtown Seattle. However, he then changed tack and decided to open Ballard Republic because he thought it would be more profitable. But he didn’t anticipate the waiting game for permitting.

“I basically didn’t have any choice. I had to sell it because I had to pay off the previous owners.” His deadline to begin building was July 1 – the sale was finalized on July 31.

“It’s another example of how hard it is do business in this city,” he says.

Lathrop said the new owners are going to pick up the permitting process where he left off to open a bar/restaurant. He says they plan to do a wizard-themed bar, aimed at appealing to the gaming crowd in Ballard.

We’ll check in with the new owners soon to find out when they plan to open their wizard bar.

Heat wave causes Ballard Bridge to become stuck open

Our recent heat waves are having a surprising side effect: it’s causing the Ship Canal bridges to malfunction. The most recent headache was on Wednesday, when the Ballard Bridge was stuck open for over an hour. As it turns out, extreme heat can cause the steel components to swell and misalign, which can create issues for raising and lowering.

The Seattle Department of Transportation says crews will be watering the Ship Canal bridges twice daily to keep the components cool and fend off more issues.

This phenomenon isn’t just in Seattle; bridges in Chicago get stuck during summer heat waves. According to Popular Science, firefighters had to hose down the DuSable Bridge in Chicago after the steel surface rose to more than 100 degree Fahrenheit last month.

Photo by Stephen Roach

Skål Beer Hall to open in October

The long awaited opening for Skål Beer Hall (5429 Ballard Ave NW) has been pushed to October, after about half a year of city permitting issues.

Skål tells us they’ve launched into the building phase: “The sound of hammers, saws, and an occasional viking horn is music to our ears!” they write. They’re undergoing a massive remodel from the bar’s former life as the People’s Pub.

“This is a studs-out remodel. We did all of the demo work ourselves and have now (thankfully!) passed the heavy lifting over to our contractor,” they say. They’re opening the doors for a few hours each Sunday in August from 11am to 2pm to anyone who wants to have a peek at the remodel. They’ll have shirts for sale, mug club memberships and three styles of hats to choose from. Only merchandise will be for sale at this point – no food or drink until they’re up and running.

To stay updated on their progress, visit their Facebook page.

Woman chased into laundry room by inebriated man

A Ballard woman was chased by a man into her outside laundry room on NW 58th St at 7:30pm last night, just across from the Ballard Commons Park. Delia Wichrowski wrote about her experience in the My Ballard Group, saying she noticed the man had been watching her, so she hurried into the laundry room and managed to shut the door before he followed her in.

My fiancé witnessed him sprinting towards me and he turned around after I slammed the door. He chased him off and we called authorities…He is a thin white male, around 6 foot, shaved head, and multiple tattoos, including one that says “SOUTHERN” on his chest. He was obviously inebriated and aggressive. Steer clear of this guy.

Wichrowski tells My Ballard that she’s never seen him before at the park. “I walk through there multiple times a day and he’s not one of the regulars.” She said she shared her story to remind people to be aware of their surroundings – even in broad daylight.

When police responded at 11:30pm, she told them not to bother with a sweep because he was likely long gone by then. If you have any information about incident or the man, contact Seattle Police at 206-625-5011.

Speed limit and e-bike regulations coming to Burke-Gilman Trail

The city is rolling out some new policies for multi-use trails, including a 15-mph speed limit and regulations on what types of electric bikes are permitted. It’s part of a one-year pilot program from Seattle Parks and Recreation, and will affect five multi-use trails including the Burke-Gilman Trail, Elliott Bay Trail, Mountains to Sound Trail, Melrose Connector Trail, and the Duwamish Trail.

This is the first time a speed limit has been enforced on multi-use trails, a policy which comes from consistent complaints of speeding cyclists from trail users. In response to a new state law (SB 6343that classifies e-bikes into three categories, the Parks department will allow Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes (those that stop assisting riders at 20-mph) on multi-use trails. The only other motorized vehicles permitted on trails will be ADA-compliant mobility devices.

Seattle Parks will also conduct an educational outreach campaign on trail use and etiquette as part of the pilot. They’ll be placing signs along the trails describing trail rules and etiquette, and will work with the Department of Transportation for an ongoing outreach campaign – details to come.

Seattle Parks will also be conducting surveys throughout the pilot, information from which they’ll use to make a final policy recommendation to the Board of Park Commissioners in summer of 2019. The first survey is available now, aimed at finding out who uses multi-use trails and current user experience on those trails.

Photo by International Photography