Market Street Lot in Ballard to Break Ground

After sitting vacant for the past 3 1/2 years, Equity Residential is finally breaking ground on the vacant lot at 15th Ave NW and NW Market St. Home to the former Denny’s in Ballard, the prominent 1.4 acre lot will be transformed into a large apartment complex to meet the demands of young adults who are opting to rent instead of buying. The multi-use apartment complex will stand at 8 stories tall, with over 250 units, over 30,000 sq. ft of retail, according to design meetings held back in January and March 2009.

It’s certainly not the first construction that has resumed progress after sitting vacant. Recently, the East Green Lake lot at Woodlawn Ave NE and 71st ST NE announced that it will be starting construction soon as well. While there was much controversy about razing the Denny’s Restaurant and many of the “Free Ballard” residents might oppose these changes, I’m thankful that construction is FINALLY underway. It is a welcomed change preferred over having a vacant, empty lot that no one can use. In the meantime, there are still some retail and offices in Ballard to fill. Slowly but surely, Ballard is transforming.

Golden Gardens Playground in Ballard to Close This Week

Yarr Matays! Have your lil’ Vikings sail to different ships and embark on adventures at other Ballard playgrounds this week, as the Golden Gardens vessel will be closed this week until Saturday. It appears the Golden Gardens Explorer Dome needs a bit of fixin’. In the meantime, venture over to the Salmon Bay vessel or the Ballard Playfield for adventures and playtime expeditions. The Golden Gardens Explorer Dome will be good as new by Saturday.

Thanksgiving Talk: Light Rail Proposal – Ballard Spur

While you’re prepping for the big feast today, here’s an idea to nibble on. A local Ballardite and Sound Transit business analyst, Keith Kyle, has drafted up an independent plan to get light rail from the University District to Ballard. It’s called the Ballard Spur.

Courtesy of Ballard Spur's Facebook


The Ballard Spur is a grassroots effort to get light rail over to Ballard by way of Wallingford and Fremont. Under Sound Transit’s current plan, Ballard would likely not have light rail in the next 30 years or so. Under this plan, Kyle is hoping to get the initiative on the 2012 ballot. It’s an ambitious goal but he has already received coverage on numerous news sites, as well as rapid support on its Facebook page.

While it is still in the exploratory design phase, the Ballard Spur Facebook page is receiving significant engagement from interested people in the Ballard, Wallingford, and Fremont neighborhoods, whether supporting or opposing the idea. As a Ballard resident, I would be ecstatic to have the option of getting to Capitol Hill in 10-12 minutes. The 44 bus line is already a fairly active bus, so there is ridership for a light rail line like this. If it does gain support, I hope it doesn’t follow the same fate as the 2006 proposed monorail extension to Ballard – a failed plan and a waste of money and time. Ideas, like this, would hopefully make Ballard more accessible and certainly more attractive for new residents.

For more information or to get involved, check out the Ballard Spur’s Facebook page.

Don’t Miss Ballard’s Thanksgiving Turkey Trot!

If you’re hoping to consume a few more helpings of stuffing than normal this year, it might be wise to get some exercise beforehand. Fortunately, Ballard is hosting its 5th annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, a casual 5k run/walk that takes place Thanksgiving Day and benefits the Ballard Food Bank.

Pre-registration ended November 22nd but you can still register day-of and participate (You just won’t receive a Thanksgiving shirt). The run starts at in Ballard at 32nd Ave NW and NW 85th Street by Caffe Fiore at 9am . The route winds down 32nd and 34th until it switches back at NW 57th St and heads down Seaview Ave NW towards Golden Gardens.

To register day-of,  bring a $25 check, with all proceeds being donated to the Ballard Food Bank. This year, the organizers are expecting around 2,000 participants.

For more information, visit the official Thanksgiving Turkey Trot website. Costumes are encouraged!

Ballard Stone Gardens Only a Stone’s Throw Away…

Last month, the popular Ballard climbing gym, Stone Gardens, opened its newest expansion gym, Stone Gardens Bellevue. The new gym is located at the Bellevue Crossroads Mall, in the former Circuit City building, and boasts over 21,000 sq.ft of indoor climbing.

Similar to the Stone Gardens in Seattle, Stone Gardens Bellevue focuses primarily on bouldering, a style of climbing without a rope but limited to much shorter heights. However, similar to the Ballard gym, there is a large, dedicated section for those interested in top roping, rock climbing requiring a rope, harness and a belayer. While Stone Gardens Bellevue is much larger, it also has a few nice features for climbers. The Ballard days of dragging crash pads around are over, as the entire Bellevue gym’s floor is cushioned and springy. There’s also a top out area, as well as a pirate ship for kids. Yaar matay! The routes are nicely spaced and the walls can even lean in or out, depending on the angle the route setters would like. Similar to the Ballard gym, there’s a workout room in the back of the gym, with plenty of equipment for pre- and post climbing.

The Bellevue Stone Gardens is a wonderful option for Ballard climbers who want to venture over to the East side for different routes, as well as bringing more East side residents to the sport. It’s also a convenient option for those working at Microsoft. Also, there’s free Wi-fi. Fantastic.

Keep your eyes peeled for the Stone Gardens Bellevue. It’s the one with the giant rock facade and the custom bike rack that says “Climb.”

Embrace your Inner Ballardite at the Annual Yulefest

I’ve only been a Ballard resident for five years. Every once in a while, when I stand in the shadows of the new residential developments, I forget who originally settled Ballard: The Scandinavians. So, it’s great to have museums, like the Nordic Heritage Museum, especially when it holds Nordic celebrations. This weekend, the Ballard museum is hosting the annual Yulefest, according to the Ballard News-Tribune.

The Yulefest is a museum tradition and a fantastic event for the holiday season. There will be Scandinavian musical performances, with fiddlers, dancers and more. For the kids, there will be lots of crafts and activities, as well as a visit from Santa. The fest will also offer traditional Nordic food, including traditional Scandinavian sandwiches, krumkake (a Norwegian waffle cookie), lefse (a Norwegian potato flatbread), and the popular hot, spiced wine, glögg, as well as Nordic beers.

Yulefest is this weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm. For more information, check out the Nordic Heritage Museum website. Stop by for some Ballard fun. Skål!

Ballard’s Cupcake Royale is Team Twilight

To celebrate the upcoming premiere of the final film of the “Twilight” series, the Cupcake Royale in Ballard is baking up exclusive “Breaking Dawn” cupcakes. It even sparkles like the vampire, Edward.

This is the last day to get an exclusive “Breaking Dawn” cupcake in Ballard from Cupcake Royale. Additionally, the cafe is giving away five advance-screening tickets to see the movie on November 11th. To enter the drawing, you must buy a cupcake.

It’s fantastic that Cupcake Royale is embracing the end of a movie saga, like the cultural obsession, “Twilight,” especially notable as Ballard’s Majestic Bay Theatre is located only a few stores down from the Cupcake Royale location. Snag a cupcake and then see the movie or celebrate the ending of this Tween phenomenon.

Does The Potential New School Board Policy Censor Ballard High School Newspaper

Update: The Seattle School Board has decided to pull the censorship policy from their current list of policy updates. Seattle school newspapers can continue to publish without fear of censorship or administrative review.

Last week, the Seattle School Board proposed a new policy, affecting Seattle high school newspapers. According to the Seattle Times, the policy would give principals the authority to review high school newspapers before they are published, with the power to prevent publication if there are articles that are libelous, obscene, or not in line with the school’s mission and values. The editors of the Ballard High School newspaper, The Ballard Talisman, are outraged and have posted flyers around downtown Ballard with the title, “Student 1st Amendment Rights at Risk.” If you have an opinion in support or against this, post a comment or attend the Seattle School Board meeting on November 16th. It starts at 6pm and will be held at the Auditorium of the John Stanford Center at 2445 3rd Avenue South. The Seattle School Board will vote on the proposal on December 7th.

My big question is  Continue reading

Kudos to Ballardites in the National News!

Two Seattleites were in the news this week. Guess what they had in common? Both are from Ballard. It sounds to me like Ballard produces winners!

The first Ballardite to highlight is Meron Kasahun, a Ballard High School senior. She, along with 826 Seattle executive director, Teri Hein, were honored with the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, presented on Wednesday by the First Lady, Michelle Obama. They were honored for their involvement in 826 Seattle, a non-profit writing and tutoring center for students 6-18. For more information, check out the MyBallard article. Congrats Meron Kasahun! What a high honor!

The second Ballardite featured was Tom Nissley, who appeared on Jeopardy’s Tournament of Champions. Brainiac Nissley is the third-highest money winner to come out of regular Jeopardy. Congrats Tom Nissley! (His wife even has her own business, with the products being sold in Ballard businesses, such as Gifted, Ballard Home Comforts, and Kadampa Mediatative Center).


Seattle Coffee Works is Coming to Seattle!

According to Seattle Coffee Work’s Twitter, Seattle Coffee Work’s second cafe is coming to Ballard. It will be serving up its tasty coffee in early spring, located at the old Tully’s location on the corner of 22nd and Market.

As a Ballard resident, I am ecstatic that a coffee shop is replacing the old Tully’s. True to my Seattle roots, we can never have too much coffee. Plus, it’s local! It’ll fit right in with the other local businesses in Ballard. However, it will pose a bit of competition to the local cafe a couple stores down, Cupcake Royale.

The German native Coffee Works owner, Sebastian Simsch, told Seattle Met Magazine, “There’s rarely a piece of real estate like that.” He’s right. 22nd and Market is prime real estate to start a business. There’s moderate foot traffic, due to it being on Market and proximity to the library, condos, and other businesses. Additionally, it’s near Ballard Ave, home to the majority of Ballard’s pubs and the weekly Farmer’s Market.  People are still spending money too. Cupcake Royale almost always has people inside, munching on cupcakes or huddled behind their laptops. (I’m actually a bit surprised Tully’s left us)!

For those of you who are small business owners who missed out on the opportunity to lease 22nd and Market, never fear. There’s still a few other vacancies in Ballard, even on Market. Last time I checked, the old Epilogue Books is still vacant. Let’s put something there!