Nix Auto site will get cleaned up, child care facility planned

The longtime site of Nix Auto Wrecking, the lot at the corner of Leary Way NW and 14th Ave. NW will be getting an environmental makeover.

The city approved plans today to demolish the buildings on the site, remove contaminated soil and replace it with fresh fill.

Once the new soil is stable, the plans call for the construction of a “2-story, 13,000-square-foot child care building (Kiddie Academy of Seattle at Ballard), including new 4,000-square-foot outdoor play area and 20-stall surface parking lot.”

This would make Kiddie Academy’s fifth location in the Seattle area.

Nix Auto Wrecking has quite the history in Ballard. As documented in Vintage West Woodland, original owner Edward Prestek bought the lot in 1939. Over the years, the Seattle Municipal Archives has 36 photos of Nix Auto, some documenting violations that include parking junkers around the neighborhood. Like this one from 1958:

There’s even a story about Prestek — back in the 1950s — driving a car backwards all the way from Ballard to Shoreline and back. Those were the days…

(Photo from Seattle Municipal Archives. Top photo is from Google Maps in August.)

Briefs: Banned from the gym, Night Out, no parking, Gather Kitchen and more

A few quick news updates from Ballard and Fremont…

BANNED FROM THE GYM – The NW Fitness Project (pictured above at the corner of N 36th St. and Greenwood Ave. in Fremont) has banned a known white nationalist leader from attending the gym. The owner says he’s received some threatening messages — as well as lots of 5-star reviews — after the Stranger ran the story.

BALLARD NIGHT OUT – The monthly neighborhood art event is tonight (Thursday) from 6-9 p.m. Here’s a list of participating venues and artists.

DROP-IN TOWN HALL – Rep. Noel Frame and Rep. Gael Tarleton will hold a “drop-in town hall” this Sunday at Flying Bike Coop (8570 Greenwood Ave N) from 4 to 7 p.m. “We’ll keep it informal and in small-group conversation,” Frame said. “Drop by anytime in the 3 hour window that works for you! We look forward to hearing from you!”

PHINNEY NO PARKING – A new 57-unit development on Greenwood Ave. N does not plan to offer parking, which prompted an appeal from Phinney residents who said it doesn’t meet the “frequent transit” rule because buses didn’t arrive as often as scheduled. The city does not agree.

HOP IDOL – Attention homebrewers: the deadline to enter Reuben’s Brews’ annual “Hop Idol” contest is tomorrow (Friday). Good luck!

GATHER KITCHEN – The Seattle Times reviews Gather Kitchen in Ballard and gives it “hits and misses” — after the reviewer visited three times.

BALLARD HIGH MUSIC – The choral director of Ballard High, Courtney Rowley, will receive the prestigious “Outstanding Educator” award from the Elliott Bay Music Educator Association at the Washington Music Educators Association conference on Saturday. Congrats Courtney!

BALLARD CIVIC ORCHESTRASeattle Weekly profiles Paula Madrigal, who leads the Ballard Civic Orchestra and the Young String Project.

See news? Let us know at If you have a community event, submit it here.

Neighbors fight back against high-density Fremont development

A proposal to build a high-density apartment building across from B.F. Day Elementary School in Fremont has sparked a particularly loud outcry from neighbors.

How loud? A petition with 155 signatures. 115 public comment letters. And an editorial with the headline, “Even as a newbie, I know tiny apartments don’t belong in Fremont,” that was linked on the home page of the Seattle Times.

The subject of the outcry is a proposal (.pdf) for a 3-story apartment building at 3959 Fremont Ave. N. with 29 units — 26 of those “small efficiency dwelling units” — in the space of two lots. It’s located on the northern edge of the Fremont Urban Village, which allows higher-density zoning.

“On Fremont Avenue, profits can still be made reasonably with a handful of high-density homes like my own instead of a maximum-density sardine can with six times the population on the same amount of land,” writes neighbor Angela Elson in the Times editorial. “(The project) sets a precedent for other venerable neighborhoods facing hatchet jobs to accommodate more and more people.”

Neighbors point out the building has no parking and the entrance is situated on a narrow alleyway, not on Fremont Ave. Complicating matters is all the kids from B.F. Day Elementary who frequent the area, and neighbors are worried that it’s unsafe.

While many proposed developments spark an outcry — we’ve witnessed many of them — these neighbors are particularly well organized. It will be interesting to see how the city responds.

2 apartment buildings planned for 15th Ave. across from Ballard High

The developer behind the Keelson and Soren apartments in Ballard has plans for two more.

Pryde + Johnson has proposed a 6-story apartment, called Blue Birch, for the lot right across from Ballard High School at the corner of 15th Ave. NW and NW 65 St.

That property is currently home to the El Camion restaurant.

The development will have retail space on the first floor and parking for 34 vehicles below.

Right next door to the south, Pryde + Johnson just bought the Corry’s dry cleaning site, according to DJC. The developer has proposed a 4-story apartment building on the parcel. It will also feature retail on the ground level, and the building will have 18 parking spots underground.

The current building on the lot also includes Fuzzy Wuzzy Carpet Cleaning and the Platine Salon.

In the design proposal (.pdf) for Blue Birch, the applicants note its potential proximity to light rail. “Transit expansion studies have identified two stops in Ballard to be located at Market Street and NW 65th Street,” the deck explains. “The commercial corner at the intersection of NW 65th Street and 15th Ave NW needs to target future densities and establish human scale elements, interest and activity along the street frontage.”

In total, both apartments will offer 101 residential units.

5-story apartment planned for Nickerson St. lot near Fremont Bridge

If you’ve driven by the Nickerson Street Saloon just to the south of the Fremont Bridge recently, you may have noticed the land use signs displayed in the parking lot.

That’s a proposal to demolish the restaurant/saloon and build a 5-story apartment building and a single-story retail building on the prominent corner property.

We contacted Nickerson’s GM Chris Martino to see what will happen with the saloon, and he said it will be coming back in the new building. There are also plans for a coffee shop, but it’s too soon to know if it will be Electric Cloud Coffee, which operates the drive-through in the parking lot.

The development is also slated to have a fitness studio and on-site parking for 37 vehicles.

Martino said the project is still in its early phases and is still a couple years away. “We’re not going away anytime soon,” he said. “We’ll be here one way or another.”

Remainder of Ballard Blocks II clears hurdle, 85C Bakery Cafe signs as tenant

A month ago, we reported that PCC was coming to the west end of the Ballard Blocks II project, at the base of the Ballard Bridge (across from Edith Macefield’s old house.)

Today the city has given the go-ahead for work to begin on east end of the project as well, ruling it “has been determined to not have a significant adverse impact upon the environment.”

Sometimes called “Lake Ballard,” much of the land is covered with water (this is the view from the eastern side looking west.) Workers will excavate 50,000 cubic yards of material from Ballard Blocks II to make room for underground parking, and “some localized structural fill may be placed under the building foundation” in areas with “unsuitable soils,” according to the land use ruling (.pdf).

So what’s going into the east side of Ballard Blocks II?

We’ve already reported that Bright Horizons child care and West Marine are tenants in the new space, and now we’ve learned that 85C Bakery Cafe is coming, too. With over 1,000 locations around the world, 85C prides itself on “premium coffee, bread, and cake at affordable prices.”

In a posting by the architectural firm Weber Thompson, there’s a lot of retail and office space still available. Here’s the first floor, and there’s more on the second floor:

The plans refer to a “restaurant space,” which looks like “G” above in the SE corner. The sketches for the project show outside seating in a courtyard area:

Bright Horizons takes up the third floor, and an elevated walkway leads to the roof the other building, where there’s an outdoor play area planned:

The project includes parking for 166 vehicles underground in addition to the ground-level parking lot next to the PCC in the middle. The plans also call for 12 dedicated parking spots for parents and care-givers to drop off and pick up their children from Bright Horizons.

The timeline for the project has slipped over the years, and we’ve reached out to Ballard Blocks for more information. We’ve also asked about any future plans for the Edith Macefield house, which remains untouched behind chain-link fence. We’ll update as we learn more.

‘Don’t Ballardize Bellingham’ becomes rallying cry for neighborhood group

Ballard has become a verb for some residents in Bellingham who are urging their city to take a measured approach to growth.

“Here in Bellingham we want to learn from the Ballard experience,” explains the Bellingham Neighborhood Coalition, a small advocacy group. “We have adopted the slogan, ‘Don’t Ballardize Bellingham’ to create awareness and activate a neighborhood-based movement.”

The group created a 40-minute YouTube documentary of the same name — you can watch an excerpt here — that explores Ballard’s recent growth and urges viewers to “ensure development reflects the needs of our community, not the needs of non-resident property developers.” It opens with scenes from the Disney movie “Up” and Edith Macefield’s home.

The population in Bellingham grew 2.2% from 2015-2016 — the latest available numbers — which made it #26 of the fastest-growing metros in the country, according to the Bellingham Herald.

(Thanks Cris for sharing the link in the My Ballard Facebook Group)

House transported through Ballard, sent on a barge to the San Juans

While most of the neighborhood was sleeping overnight, a house made its way through Ballard — very slowly — on the back of a moving truck.

The 730-square foot bungalow was loaded up at 843 NW 62nd St. — a lot that’s the future home of two single family dwellings. Instead of demolishing the house, developer NW Built teamed up with Nickel Bros. to sell it and move it to the San Juan Islands. It sold for $72,500.

Once on the truck, the house made its way to 8th Ave. and down to Market St.

And from Market over to 52nd and then 14th Ave.

And then loaded up on a barge at the boat ramp at the end of 14th. You’ll notice a second, larger house on the barge — that’s a beach house that was moved from Alki in West Seattle a week ago. While the Ballard house is headed to Lopez Island, the Alki house is bound for BC.

Our thanks to NW Built’s Kate Rappe as well as Axel Adalsteinsson for the photos!

Earlier: Ballard home to be picked up and moved

Ballard house moving to Lopez Island, some parking restricted along route

The big move for a small Ballard bungalow is happening late tonight (Saturday). The city has put up “no parking” signs along the narrow sections of the route.

The home is located at 843 NW 62nd St. (above). Once its loaded up on the truck, it will travel down 62nd St. and turn south on 8th Ave. Then it will turn west on Market St., south on 15th Ave., east on 52st St. and then south on 14th Ave. toward the water.

Parking along 14th Ave. from 51st. down to the boat dock (above) is restricted from 11 p.m. tonight to 6 a.m. tomorrow. The home will start moving just before midnight. If you plan on watching the move — which will take several hours — please make sure you stay out of the workers’ way.

Once it gets to the dock, the bungalow will be loaded up on a barge and shipped to its new owner on Lopez Island. The move is a collaboration between the sustainable developer NW Built and the house moving company Nickel Bros.

Nick Carpenter at Nickels Bros. tells us they move a lot of homes to the San Juan Islands because it’s so expensive to build a home there. “We can deliver a house to them for a fraction of what the house costs in Seattle and also on the island,” he said.

If you have any photos to share of the move, please send them to or tag @myballard on social media.

Earlier: Ballard house to be picked up and moved

Ballard house to be picked up and moved

When a lot is sold and subdivided, developers usually demolish the house on the property. But this small Ballard bungalow at 843 NW 62nd St. is getting a second life.

The developer, NW Built, has partnered with Nickel Bros. to move the house this weekend. It will get packed up on a truck and transported — very slowly — to the boat dock at the end 14th Ave., where a barge will take it to its new owner on Lopez Island. The bungalow sold for $72,500 — which includes the price of delivery.

If all the permits come through, the big move will happen around midnight on Saturday night. A few days ago, Nickel Bros. moved a home from West Seattle via barge to British Columbia.

We spoke NW Built’s founder Keith Hammer — who lives and works in Ballard — and he said he looks for any opportunity to recycle materials from homes they take down or remove. Last summer they saved a cottage in Greenwood. The bungalow will be the second house they’ve moved.

Once the home is gone, NW Built will get to work on two 3-story single family homes that are “sustainable, energy efficient and green built.” They’ll be ready for occupancy in winter 2018.

We’ll keep you updated on the move. If you’re planning on watching, the City of Seattle requires that spectators say at least 50-feet away — and remain on the sidewalks if all possible.