CLASSIC HOME TOUR

Looking South from 6756 17th Avenue NW

Looking South from 6756 17th Avenue NW

On June 10th tickets go on sale for the 2016 Ballard Classic Home tour. Organized every three years by the Ballard Historical Society, this year’s tour will be comprised of eight homes built between 1892-1934. Tickets are $20.00 and can be purchased from Brown Paper Tickets (http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2530147) or the Ballard Public Green Market, the Secret Garden Bookshop, and Scandinavian Specialties.

The town of Ballard was settled in 1887 and remained an independent entity until 1907 when it was annexed by the city of Seattle. Despite only existing as an autonomous entity for 20 years, Ballard retains much of its original independent identity as a small town.  Housing in Ballard ranges from early pioneer farm houses, to post-war ranch houses.  The majority of the housing stock reflects Ballard’s history as a middle-class enclave.  Small Queen Anne houses, early-twentieth century catalogue cottages, craftsman bungalows, and Cape Cod-style houses are very prevalent. Despite their modest sizes, many of these homes feature impeccable craftsmanship, fine millwork, leaded glass, and unique architectural detailing.

All proceeds from the Ballard Classic Home Tour go to the Ballard Historical Society, which supports community projects, presents free lectures, and maintains extensive archives.

In Ballard, Portland Seeks Lessons on Affordable Housing

Ballard

A tech-boom, soaring real estate prices, and a very tight vacancy rate are causing the city climate of Portland to seem very similar to its neighbor to the north, Seattle. In an attempt to avoid the housing crisis playing out in the West Coast’s premier tech hub, San Francisco, Portland’s city planners are looking to Seattle, and specifically to Ballard, for innovative ways to preserve affordability. Yet, Seattle’s response to its booming population growth has not been universally applauded, especially in Ballard.

The city of Portland is particularly interested in Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). The two major components of the agenda are an Affordable Housing Impact Mitigation Program, which requires developers to pay a fee on all new commercial development that directly funds the construction of affordable housing, and a Mandatory Housing Affordability Program, which requires builders to designate five to eight percent of units in new multifamily residential developments as affordable.

While most, if not all, of Seattle residents, can agree that affordable housing is a critical issue, backlash against HALA developed when an unfinished draft of recommendations was leaked to the press in July of 2015.  Among the recommendations was a proposal to increase density in Seattle’s single-family neighborhoods. Neighborhood density is a hotly contended issue, especially in the wake of Seattle’s 2010 land use code change for low-rise multifamily zoned areas.  Many urbanists, as well as developers and builders, argue that increasing density is the only way to provide sufficient housing units for the growing city.  Neighborhood activists and preservationists argue that new out-of-scale development is irreparable changing the unique character of the city’s residential neighborhoods.

Density is a particularly sensitive issue in Ballard.  Livable Ballard, a neighborhood advocacy organization argues that “under the code changes, modest and affordable houses and duplexes are being torn down and replaced with tall, expensive groups of three or four townhouses, which tower over the existing houses and sidewalks and are not at all compatible with the neighborhood.” Furthermore, the group argues that the type of new development being seen in Ballard is particularly worrisome as the neighborhood is already poorly served by mass transit. Neighbors are also concerned by the aesthetic implications of new development.  Chris Bodan, who moved to Ballard in 2004, described the new apartment buildings being constructed in the neighborhood to the Oregonian as “aesthetically and architecturally horrendous.”

Despite opposition from neighborhood groups, Seattle’s City Council passed the Affordable Housing Impact Mitigation Program component of HALA last fall and will be soliciting public feedback on the rest of plan this year. Meanwhile, Portland is in the midst of rewriting its own plans for growth and infill and while a HALA-like collation has not formed, city officials have said much about the need for affordable housing. Portland’s mayor, Charlie Hayes, however, has garnered much criticism from affordable-housing advocates for his support to preserve the low density of the city’s residential neighborhoods.

Hayes’ desire to preserve residential neighborhoods, best seen in his recommendation to reduce the allowable density in the affluent residential neighborhood Eastmoreland, is felt throughout the city. One merely has to scan the comment section of the Willamette Week to find an overwhelming number of diatribes against the city’s new apartment buildings. Yet, there is also consistent public outcry over increasing rents and real estate prices.

The current affordable housing conflict occurring across west coast cities has many wondering if  historic low-density neighborhoods have the ability to accommodate the type of growth the region is seeing?  Looking at Ballard, one might presume no.

May Real Estate Report

The real estate market for the North Seattle area continued the year long trend of being a sellers’ market. Houses are selling faster and at a higher price point than a year ago. The average days on market for a North Seattle home in 2013 was 24 days, this past month a home sold on average in 20 days. More buyers are having pre-inspections completed, writing cash offers, and waiving other contingencies, all to compete for their dream home. Compared to May of 2013, the median price on a home sold in North Seattle increased by 10%. That increase is a result of more buyers who are looking to live in North Seattle.

More specifically in Ballard, the median home price rose from $436,000 in May 2013 to $500,000 in May 2014. That is a 15% increase from the previous year and 5% higher than the average home sold when compared to the rest of North Seattle. If you are looking to buy or sell your home and would like more information, feel free to contact me with any questions.

 

*Data provided by the NWMLS

Skateboarder Hit by Car After Smashing Window

Last night at the intersection of 15th Ave NW & NW 80th Street there was an altercation between a mini van and an adult skateboarder. According to the Seattle Police Department blog, the skateboarder was blocking the path of the van and began to smash the hood of the vehicle, shatter the windshield, and yell racial slurs toward the driver. While this was going on the van drove forward running over the skateboarder and pinning him underneath the vehicle.

By the time the medics and police responded, other bystanders had lifted the vehicle off the ground and got the injured person out. The injured party was transported to Harbor View Medical Center with what is being reported as serious injuries. According to the SPD blog, the mini van driver was released pending the results of the investigation. No updated has been given yet of the skateboarder.

Tug Boat Sinks in Ballard

According to The Seattle Times, a 72 foot wooden tug boat that was being moored at a dock in Salmon Bay sank early Monday morning near the Ballard Bridge. The Department of Ecology was on hand to assist as some fuel had leaked into the bay. While details of how this happened are still coming in, it did not appear to be a large quantity.

The Coast Guard received a call from the boats caretaker around 7:30 AM to notify them that the tug was sinking. This wooden tug boat was in the middle of being transformed into a floating residence when this incident occurred. For more information on this developing story, please check out The Seattle Times. 

Man Calls Police to Report Finding a Leg

This past Friday a Ballard man (according to this report on the Seattle Police Department Blotter) called 911 to report that he had found what he believed was a leg on top of a building on the 2600 Block of NW Market Street. The Ballard man told the Seattle Police that it did not appear to be a leg belonging to an animal, however it was unclear whether that is true or not. Police have sent this to the medical examiner for further information but no details have been released on this.

We will monitor the SPD Blotter for more information on this strange case and update the blog if we hear any more information.

Ballard Homeowner Clubs Burglar

In a bizarre story, around 4:00 am last Thursday the Seattle Police Department received a call from a Ballard homeowner that a drunk burglar was in her basement and that he was being pinned down by fellow family members who had armed themselves with a brass elephant among other objects.  Prior to the confrontation with the family members the intoxicated burglar had urinated in the corner of her basement. It was unclear at that point if the suspect had actually taken anything.

When the police showed up, they found an 18 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon hidden inside the homeowners dryer with only 6 beers left. When questioned by police at the precinct, the 21 year old suspect said that he mistakenly thought he had walked into his own house. Needless to say I will not be going into his basement anytime soon!

For more information please go to the SPD Blotter at spdblotter.seattle.gov 

Ballard Edible Garden Tour

This Saturday June 29th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm there will be a walking garden tour of local Ballard gardens.  If you are in need of creative ideas for your own home gardens or just want to view various Ballard ones, this tour will be a great opportunity. They will also have on hand different local gardening experts who will be able to answer any of your questions as well as provide tips for your own personal gardens. 

The tour will start at the parking lot West of Trinity United Methodist Church (6512 23rd Avenue NW) and from there you will walk to various gardens throughout the Ballard neighborhood. Tickets for this event are $10 each (children are free) and that includes a raffle ticket to win various garden themed prizes.

For more information you can check out the Ballard Chamber of Commerce site.

 

Ballard’s Copper Gate Bar is Closing

This week is your last chance to grab a beer at the Copper Gate Bar in Ballard as they are set to close their doors at the end of this month for the final time. The Copper Gate is known for their classic Viking ship bar top, quality food, and live music performances.

A brief message can be found on the Copper Gate Facebook page that reads, “We enjoyed serving people for seven years. It’s been a good run,” says the owners of Copper Gate. “We would like to thank our loyal customers, our staff, the musicians who performed at our space, and Ballard for having us. We had a great time having the place and we wish the new owners the best.”

Also on their Facebook page they state that a celebration of the Copper Gate will be held on Sunday June 30th starting at 5pm. So head on down for one final drink and celebrate the many years of tradition that the Copper Gate has provided Ballard.

Ballard Residents Buying Up Air Rights

The latest trend in the Seattle real estate market may not be the buying or selling of the house on your property but rather the air rights above it. According to this KING5.com story, people around the Seattle area including Ballard are buying their neighbors air rights in order to protect their priceless views. Whether it be a panoramic view of downtown Seattle or a clear look at Puget Sound, people are spending money to protect their views as the trend to build higher continues to grow.

One of the main reasons for this trend is that the population density in neighborhoods like Ballard have grown so fast that people can no longer build out to increase their houses square footage, leaving the only other option which is to build up. According to the article air rights are selling for anywhere between $50,000 to $250,000 which some neighbors are happy to pay if it means their views remain the same. 

So the next time that you see your neighbors house for sale, one thing that you may want to consider is if the new owners were to build up, would they block my priceless view?