Seattle Apartment Vacancy Rate at All Time Low Now, but Will Ballard be Overbuilt?

Ballard Hjarta IIAccording to a Seattle Times article, apartment vacancy rates in Seattle are at an all-time low. In the past few years, the Seattle rental market, especially in Ballard, has shifted from a tenant-market to a landlord-market. What does that mean for people searching for apartments? High rents.

Using the basic economic theory of supply and demand, there hasn’t been much new supply. The amount of new apartments is one-third of what was offered in 2009. Additionally, demand is higher, MUCH higher. People who can afford houses are fearful to buy, so they are staying in apartments, despite the evidence that it may be more affordable to buy. Additionally (and this is my own theory), the economy is picking up, meaning more young professionals can afford to move out or live with fewer roommates than before. Demand has skyrocketed and that has caused the Seattle vacancy rate to be under 5%! The higher rents are definitely noticeable in Ballard.

Fortunately, Ballard is working hard to meet that demand. It is impossible to not see the cranes that dot the horizon as you look across Market or look up 15th or 24th. Tenants should feel some rent relief in the next year or so. However, some are worried that Ballard may be overbuilt. In my opinion, I think people will continue to flock to the neighborhood. But I’ve said that in previous posts. What do you think?

If you’re interested in seeing what’s available in the apartment market in Ballard and the surrounding areas, use the search tool here.

New Ballard Restaurant: The Gerald

Ballardites, add a new restaurant to your radar. The space at 5210 Ballard Avenue will now be known as The Gerald, a restaurant/bar tapping into our desire for American comfort food. In an effort to fill the void created when Denny’s was torn down, The Gerald will be offering classic American diner options, such as Mac ‘n cheese. For the full menu options, please check out its website.

Perusing the menu, you know that I’ll be checking this place out in the next few weeks for three reasons:

  1. Poutine –  The heart attack-inducing food, poutine, is fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds. Slowly but surely, the Canadian classic has been sneaking down south in to the States. So, I cannot wait to taste The Gerald’s poutine creation.
  2. Swedish Meatballs– Despite living in the Nordic capital of Seattle, it is surprisingly difficult to find a place that serves Swedish meatballs. The only place I know that serves Swedish meatballs in Ballard is The Copper Gate. Besides that, the only option to satisfy my craving was to hop in a car and get lost in a Swedish maze of modern home furnishings that is IKEA. Now that The Gerald is open, you can bet I will order the Swedish meatballs. Thank you, The Gerald, for honoring Ballard’s Nordic roots.
  3. Cocktails – The Gerald offers an intriguing cocktail menu, inspired by the 50s and 60s. Highlights include the numerous gin cocktail options (the Ruby Gin Fizz, the Gimlet, and the James Bond-inspired Vesper), various ginger options, and more. I cannot wait to sip on a Silent Third while enjoying a sunny afternoon. Wouldn’t you like to try a “sexy coupling of lemon & vanilla,” otherwise known as the Sidecar? Oo, I’m thirsty!

The Gerald looks like a restaurant-bar hybrid. In the sea of restaurants and bars in Ballard,  it will be interesting to see how this one succeeds, as there are a few other restaurants that offer the comfort food options. It opens tonight, but an official grand opening will happen in the next few weeks. If you stop by, tell me what you think!

Don’t forget to check out The Gerald’s Facebook!

Celebrate Norwegian Heritage Day and Run the Leif-to-Leif 5K in Ballard

Couldn’t get enough of the St.Paddy’s Day Dash, but still a traditional Ballardite at heart? Lace up your red, white, and blue running shoes and warm up for the Leif-to-Leif 5K Run/Walk this Saturday, March 24th. The race goes from the Leif Erikson Lodge to the Leif Erikson statue at Shilshole Marina and back. Check-in begins at 8am and the race starts at 9am. For more information, please visit the Leif Erickson Lodge website. It’s all a part of the Norwegian Heritage Celebration taking place in Ballard.

If running isn’t your forte, you can still honor Norwegian Cultural and Heritage Day. The Leif Erikson Lodge is hosting numerous family-friendly activities to participate in, including a Taste of Norway. Starting at 10am, you can sample traditional Norwegian cuisine, such as pickled herring, krumkake, smorbord (open faced sandwiches), rommegrot (cream porridge), and more. Kids can enjoy arts and crafts, and even dance to the traditional Norwegian music, provided by the various choirs and bands. For more information, please visit the Norway Embassy website here.

Embrace your inner Norwegian (whether truly or honorary) and stop by the Leif Erikson Lodge on Saturday, March 24th. Festivities will go from 10am – 4pm. Admission is free. It will truly be an event honoring the culture of the people who settled Ballard and made it what it is today.

Safer Biking Becoming More Likely in Ballard

Are you a cyclist? If so, you’re probably aware that the Ballard District Council is working to make biking and walking safer in our neighborhood. Not too long ago, the Seattle Department of Transportation approved greenways throughout the city, including Ballard, in an effort to promote safe bicycling and walking in the city. According to the Ballard Greenways website, greenways are “slow, low-traffic streets connecting parks, libraries, schools, and businesses for pedestrians and bicyclists who need safe and comfortable routes through the City.” Ballard’s greenway would go along 58th Ave NW from 6th Ave to Golden Gardens. If adopted, it will create a safe east-to-west bicycling option in the heart of Ballard!

However, this route still poses challenges, as 58th St NW crosses multiple busy roads (8th Ave, 15th Ave, 20th Ave). So, it may require a Neighborhood Project Fund grant to make those crossings a bit safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

If you’re interested in hearing more about the greenways, attend the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways meet-up tomorrow. SDOT staff, Peter Hahn and Dongho Chang, will be there to answer greenway questions. The meet-up is on Thursday, March 22nd from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. It will take place at the Phinney Neighborhood Center. For more information on the advocacy group, check out the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Facebok page.

Ballard Bridge Gets a New Paint Job

With the weather still fairing, we’ve been waiting for the Ballard Bridge paint project to take off, but the project was postponed from it’s original scheduled date of March 11th to March 15th, and had to be rescheduled again to begin yesterday, due to eery weather conditions. The contractor of the project is planning to close one Southbound lane of traffic during the week, now through April. This lane will remain open during peak traffic hours but will be closed from 10am-6pm Tues-Fri, and in the evening from 8pm-6am Mon-Thurs.

Southbound Lane Closure on Ballard Bridge Today

Painting crews are moving over to the other side of the bridge this week after finishing up on the Northbound side of the bridge, and the outside southbound lane will be closed from 10am-6pm today. The lane will be closed 10am-6pm Tues-Fri this week, and will close the following week 8pm-6am Mon- Thurs. Bicyclists should also note that the sidewalks will be closed on the west side, but the east sidewalk will remain open. Bicyclists can use the Fremont Bridge, or cross the ship canal  to the Ballard Locks during this time. For more traffic updates, click here.

Parking Prices Change Around Town

If your a driver stopping in and around the Seattle area, you might want to pay attention to the parking rate changes in several neighborhoods. According to the  Seattle Department of Transportation, 10 areas around town will see hourly rates extended to 4 hours, or all day parking available, and 5 areas will see an increase of .25/hr or .50/hr to the going rate. No paid parking changes will be made to the Fremont, First Hill, Green Lake or Cherry Hill areas. Please visit the SDOT for further details.