George & Dragon hoping to expand to Ballard

The owner of Fremont’s George & Dragon Pub has his eyes on Ballard.

We spoke with owner John Bayliss this morning who says that he is moving toward opening a pub in the old Mandrakes location at the corner of 24th & Market. It “won’t be a high end bar,” he says, “just a casual English pub.” Right now he’s waiting to hear how much it will cost, in total, to add a sprinkler system. If the dollar range is within his budget, he plans to sign the lease. He’s not planning to close the Fremont location. In February, Mandrakes announced it was closing after 19 years.

Bastille Cafe and Bar gets board approval

Bastille Cafe and Bar, a new French restaurant at 5307 Ballard Ave., is on track for their June 29th opening. This morning, restaurant owners Deming Maclise and James Weimann along with architect Mike Skidmore won approval from the Ballard Avenue Landmark District Board for outdoor lighting, signage, rain barrels and a refuse enclosure. The sign out front will be a key, shown to the right, “which represents the key from the Bastille,” Skidmore explained.

There will be outdoor seating for 76 people along the side of the building, although some of the seats will be reserved for those 21 and over. The front will have lights that shine up and down showing off the architecture of the building, giving it a nice glow, the three told the board.

They’ll have four rain barrels that are “old oak barrels that used to hold some other valuable liquid,” Skidmore joked. Maclise and Weimann plan to reclaim the rainwater for the rooftop gardens (shown below.) They plan to grow lettuces, herbs and other foods that grow nicely in Seattle.

Stay tuned for “Free Frites Day” coming on the Sunday before they open. They’re also looking for servers who live in Ballard. If you’re interested and have restaurant experience, send your resume to

Surf shop moves to Seaview Ave.

Just in time for summer (really, summer is coming!), Cheka-Looka Surf Shop closed their Fremont storefront and moved to 6300 Seaview Ave.

They’ve got surf equipment, clothing, skimboards and stand-up paddle board rentals. Jeff, the owner, tells us the paddle boards have been extremely popular. For $20 you can rent one for two hours. Wear some polarized sun glasses and, he says, you can see everything under the water. They’re open 11-8 except on Sundays when they’ll probably close around 6. (Thanks Erin for the tip!)

Three Girls Bakery expanding to Ballard

The popular Three Girls Bakery at the Pike Place Market is heading to Ballard for their second retail location.

We spoke with Ryan Gaylord of CW Development, the contractor on the project, who tells us that he’s busy transforming the old Ballard Pet Store on 15th Ave. and 61st St. into the new bakery. He says they’re aiming for a June 1st opening, but with any construction project the date isn’t set in stone. He says that Three Girls has been contracting out their baking, but plans to do all their baking at the new Ballard location and send their fresh breads and pastries down to the Market. Three Girls is well known for their selection of breads, pastries, sandwiches and soups. (Thanks Sarah for the tip!)

Building replacing Sunset Bowl gets green light

After a two hour meeting, the Design Review Board unanimously approved the design (.pdf) for Avalon Ballard, the 233-unit apartment building replacing Sunset Bowl at Market St. and 14th Ave. NW.

Board members praised AvalonBay Communities and Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects for incorporating many changes from the last Design Review meeting. But the board set four conditions on approval.

“To me, the biggest issue is the west facade,” said board member Mark Brands of the patterns on the west side facing 15th Ave. The same sentiment was reflected in public comments. “It looked like the project is due tomorrow,” said Cynthia, a neighbor who lives nearby. She asked for “something a little more subtle,” suggesting the architects commission a mural or bring in a graphic artist. The board set a condition requiring that AvalonBay tone down the pattern using a warmer, more subtle texture. Other conditions included adding a stoop on the north side, enhancing the northeast corner and softening the parapet.

As part of the project, AvalonBay will bring a bike lane, landscaped median and wider sidewalk area along 14th Ave. in front of the building. They said they’ve been working with SDOT and the 14th Ave. NW Visioning Project.

This is the entrance to the courtyard, off Market St. across from Safeway. After the meeting, we spoke with AvalonBay Development Director Derek Bottles about financing for the project given the economy. “It’s a little different because we’re a public company,” he said, declining to estimate when the building may be built. “We’re at the mercy of the economy like everyone else.” About 20 people attending the meeting, and Bottles said he has been reading the comments here on My Ballard for feedback about the development.

‘Take 5 Urban Market’ to open soon

The Take 5 Urban Market at 8th Ave & NW 70th St is close to opening.

We stopped by and spoke with the owners, and they said they’re putting together the finishing touches before opening in the next couple weeks or so. You should see a sign going up in the next few days. They’ll sell produce, made-to-order sandwiches, espresso, pastries, artisan breads and wine. The new corner market replaces the Wicker Basket which closed last August.

More cottages to be built in Ballard

High density living doesn’t mean you have to share walls with your neighbors.

The Department of Planning and Development just approved a project at 1548 NW 61st St. (street view map) for six two-story cottage-style homes, similar to the 60th Street Cottages shown above. The proposal shows the site as two parcels of land which will be broken down to six lots that range from 1,349 square feet to 2,051 square feet. The homes will have surface parking that is accessed from the alley. The neighborhood is a mixture of single family residences, newer townhomes and a 16-unit apartment complex.

Plus: See the project proposal and analysis (.pdf file)

Denny’s site developer: ‘There is zero financing’

Exclusive: Months after the controversial demolition of the landmark Denny’s building, the developer of a new condo-retail project at the 15th Ave. and Market St. site says they have no money to begin construction. “There is zero financing right now. Institutional, private, you name it, there’s none,” said Rhapsody Partners’ Katie Vance at the Ballard District Council meeting last night. “Our intention is to take this project through the MUP (Master Use Permit) and hope that this economy and the new president and all these things that are being put into place are a catalyst to move this forward.” Vance said there’s interest in financing the project, but investors are waiting to see how the permit process plays out over the next several months.

Meanwhile, architect Arthur Chang gave the council a sneak peek into the new but not entirely completed renderings of “Market Street Landing,” the planned complex. “There’s a lot of differing views in the community,” Chang said of his experience gathering feedback from the neighborhood. Chang said the goal was to make the prominent corner structure “iconic,” and he gathered inspiration from the old Ballard City Hall as well as Ballard’s maritime history.

“What we’re trying to do is play off the idea of a lighthouse,” he said of the corner tower. (The photos were shot off a projection screen.)

Chang said they made multiple changes to the initial design including rotating one of the structures, adding a turnaround for cars in the courtyard, eliminating an entrance off 56th, adding two escalators, dropping one story of residential housing along 15th and integrating the bus shelter into the building itself. Chang is slated to present the new plans before the city’s Design Review Board on January 26th at 8 p.m. at Ballard High School — a presentation that may end up going nowhere if no financing is found.

Update: This story has been corrected to reflect that Rhapsody Partners expects to take this project “through the MUP (Master Use Project)” not the “month,” as we initially reported.

Spray-painted messages protest LA Fitness

We’ve written before about how LA Fitness’ introduction to the neighborhood hasn’t been entirely popular, partly because it’s located right next to the symbol of Old Ballard, Edith Macefield’s old home. And now there’s this:

The messages spray-painted on the gates on either side of the house read, “LA Fitness killed Edith” and “Save Ballard.” We drove by tonight and they were painted over. “LiveSimply,” who happened upon the scene on Sunday and sent us the photo, also wrote her thoughts about the juxtaposition of LA and Old Ballard in the forum right here. Edith died of natural causes in June at the ripe old age of 86, and the fate of her home — which was built around by developers — is still unclear. LA Fitness is due to open in the next few weeks.