Detours around West Seattle Bridge as crews work on South Spokane Street Viaduct

Expect congestion and detours around the West Seattle Bridge this weekend as construction crews work to improve the South Spokane Street Viaduct.
If you’re planning to travel around West Seattle and the SODO area this weekend, please plan ahead for a longer trip.  As construction continues to improve the 60 year old South Spokane Street Viaduct, drivers will see added traffic impacts westbound beginning tomorrow night.

Ramps leading to West Seattle Bridge from northbound I-5 and Columbian Way closed this weekend; westbound Fourth Avenue S off-ramp to be permanently closed

Work by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to widen the South Spokane Street Viaduct – the 60-year-old elevated roadway that connects I-5 to the West Seattle Bridge – will have additional traffic impacts beginning Friday, January 22. SDOT’s contractor, PCL Construction Services, will begin construction near Fourth Ave S and S Spokane St that will necessitate the following ramp and lane closures (subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances):

· Permanently close the existing westbound Spokane Street Viaduct off-ramp to Fourth Ave S beginning Friday, January 22, at 10:00 p.m.

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Photo credit: 
Map courtesy SDOT

Closures beginning Friday, Jan. 22, both temporary and permanent, will impact West Seattle commuters.

There was sadness on the face of Roy Lynch, a 25-year employee at Sunset Bowl, as the vacant bowling alley was torn down Jan. 20 to make way for the six-story, mixed-use Avalon Ballard apartments.

"It's really depressing," said Lynch, a former graveyard-shift manager. "This was my first place of everything. I asked my first wife to marry me there. It was my home."

Lynch and dozens others, including many former employees, watched as demolition began on the 51-year-old Sunset Bowl at shortly after 1 p.m. on Jan. 20.

Demolition was meant to began Jan. 19, but was delayed. A crew member said it will take three to four days to fully demolish the building.

Hours before Sunset Bowl came down, Lynch and other former employees and family were allowed to take one last visit inside the building.

Lynch said he wanted to take a final look inside and also grab a few remnants, such as tinted windows for his van.

"It's sad," he said. "It's gutted. It's not how I remember it."

Lynch's Jan. 20 tour wasn't his first trip inside the shuttered Sunset Bowl.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Demolition crews take their first swing at the former Sunset Bowl Jan. 20. CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.

The former Sunset Bowl building, which has stood vacant and fenced off since April 2008, will be torn down Jan. 20 to make way for the mixed-use Avalon Ballard development.

Demolition was set to begin Jan. 19 as soon as crews finished removing asbestos from the interior and cut the power lines to the building. But, the demolition was pushed back because of remaining freon in the building.

Jim Bristow, who led the Save the Sunset Bowl campaign, said the empty building makes him sad whenever he drives by it.

"It's a shame," he said. "But, at the same time, it's better than having a vacant lot."

Nancy Sullivan, front-end manager at Ballard Market across the street, said the building was a kind of landmark for the neighborhood, and she is sad to see it go.

Jon, the manager at the Burger King next to Sunset Bowl, used to work at the 51-year-old bowling alley. He said he was sad when it closed, but demolition is the necessary next step.

"It has to be done," he said. "That's progress."

The closure of Sunset Bowl, located on Market Street and 14th Avenue Northwest, caused a wave of support from inside and outside Ballard.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

A demolition crew prepares equipment to tear down the vacant Sunset Bowl property. The building is scheduled to be demolished Jan. 20.

A number of Ballard residents have complained about the noise and appearance of the rooftop HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) units that were installed recently on the Ballard on the Park development.

One resident told the Ballard Neighborhood Service Center that the units, which look like large metal boxes, detract from the aesthetics of the neighborhood, and the noise emitted from them ruins the peacefulness of Ballard Commons Park.

Jeanne Muir, spokesperson for the developers of the Ballard on the Park Apartments, said the HVAC system was tested recently and was fairly loud.

The system will be running continuously in the future, but will be screened from sight and will include sound dampeners, she said.

Muir said these additional components to the rooftop HVAC units should be installed sometime in March.

Ballard on the Park's 268 units at 5700 24th Ave. N.W. will open for leasing around mid-February, Muir said. The QFC below the apartments opened Jan. 13.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Ballard on the Parks' HVAC system, which has struck some residents as too loud, should be sound dampened and screened from view in the next three months.

Construction workers hoisted the last roof beam of Swedish Ballard’s new outpatient and emergency care building into place at 11 a.m. on Jan. 11.

Erection of the building began in mid-December and is slated to be finished by fall 2010.

The new five-story building will house an emergency healthcare department on the first floor; medical imaging for x-rays, sonograms and MRIs on the second floor; primary care facilities on the third floor; and specialty physicians’ office space on the fourth floor.

The new building is part of a larger renovation plan for Swedish Ballard. The hospital was having difficulty recruiting new specialists, and the building is part of the effort to attract new hires and demonstrate to the community that Ballard Swedish is a permanent part of the neighborhood, said Rayburn Lewis, M.D., executive director of Swedish’s Ballard campus.

So far, Ballard Swedish has hired a new ear, nose and throat team, as well as new obstetrician/gynecologists, midwives, urologists and general surgeons.

Lewis said the new hospital building is exciting for both the hospital and the community.

Photo credit: 
Courtesy of Swedish Medical Center

The final roof beam is hoisted into place on top of Swedish Ballard's new emergency building on Tallman Avenue Jan. 11.

Some worried about possible pay parking

A construction worker from the QFC/Ballard on the Park site on 24th Avenue Northwest and Northwest 58th Street pops into Scooter's Burgers across the street from the development.

"Long time, no see," he jokes as he orders a couple drinks.

It's the same at Java Bean and Aster Coffee Lounge on the other side of 24th Avenue, where construction workers from the QFC/Ballard on the Park site and the Danielle Condos site across from it stop by during breaks.

But, despite the patronage of the workers, businesses near the two sites are excited to see the years-long construction projects come to an end, bringing normalcy to traffic flow and drawing people to the new QFC and the 299 total units contained in the Ballard on the Park Apartments and Danielle Condos.

"It will be nice to have a few fresh faces," said Karen Gray, operations manager at Java Bean. "From a business standpoint, it's always nice to have more people."

Beth Scribner, owner of Aster, said the construction has driven people out of the area for the last two years. She said people will drive six blocks out of their way just to avoid the construction on 24th Avenue.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

A construction worker places his order at Scooter's Burgers across from the QFC/Ballard on the Park development.

With 2009 coming to a close, here is a look back at some of the biggest stories of the year. Click the image above for a slideshow of the year in photos.


Ballard thief arrested
By Michael Harthorne

A 46-year-old man suspected of stealing from numerous businesses in Ballard in the past weeks was arrested Dec. 31 near 20th Avenue Northwest and Market Street for an outstanding warrant in Missouri.

According to victims, the man is suspected of entering businesses on Market Street and Ballard Avenue during business hours and taking money from back offices, safes and employees’ purses.

“I’m glad he’s been caught,” said Kylee Harris, owner of Cugini Café on Ballard Avenue. “But, I think the real thing we need to figure out is how to bust him for what he’s stolen.”

Macefield house to be sold
By Michael Harthorne

The house once belonging to Edith Macefield that has stood empty in a cocoon of new development since her death in June will be sold by its new owner, Barry Martin of Ledcor Construction.

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Photo credit: 
Shay Isaacson

Bella Isaacson and George Ford chalked a patriotic mural in Ballard Jan. 20 to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. CLICK IMAGE TO SEE THE YEAR IN PHOTOS.

Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Seattle Department of Transportation are working together to clean and paint the Carkeek Park pedestrian bridge that spans the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks on the west side of Carkeek Park.

Starting Dec. 7 through the end of the month, the bridge will be intermittently closed. This bridge provides access to the beach at Carkeek Park.

This cleaning and painting project is one of five projects that Seattle Department of Transportation is working on over the next two months. For more information on the bridge painting projects, click here.

For more information on the Carkeek Bridge project, please contact Seattle Parks and Recreation Project Manager Gary Gibbons at 206.386.1511 or .

Development on former Sunset Bowl site can proceed

Construction of the six-story, retail and residential Avalon Ballard development on the site of the former Sunset Bowl is free to get underway after it passed its State Environmental Policy Act review Nov. 23.

The Seattle Department of Planning and Development gave a determination of non-significance, meaning there are no outstanding negative environmental impacts, for the project at 1400 N.W. Market St.

The complete decision can be viewed with the link to the right.

Avalon Ballard, an AvalonBay Communities development, passed a final design review meeting April 27.

Since that meeting, the number of residential units has risen from 233 to 271, and the number of parking spaces in a two-story, underground garage has gone from 277 to 320.

The project now includes 12,200 square feet of ground-level retail space instead of the previous 13,000.

The 51-year-old Sunset Bowl closed in April 2008 and will be demolished to make room for the new apartment building.

The apartments will rent at market rate, AvalonBay representatives have said.

AvalonBay has built across the country, from New York City to southern California.

Photo credit: 
Images courtesy Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects

Construction on Avalon Ballard is free to get underway after a city decision stating that the project will have no outstanding negative environmental impacts. Click image for more designs from the the project's final design meeting April 27.

Where's the oldest house in our neighborhood?

The Greenwood-Phinney Historical Society would like the answer to that question and invites neighborhood residents to help find it.

There are houses built before 1906 in the neighborhood. There may even be a few houses that were built before 1900.

Any residents who would like to summit a house for the title of oldest in Greenwood and Phinney should take a photograph of it and photocopy documents identifying the construction date of the house.

The winning entry will be determined by oldest construction or building permit date.

The winner will receive a copy of "Seattle's Greenwood-Phinney Neighborhood" signed by author Ted Pedersen and breakfast for two at Mae's Phinney Ridge Café.

Houses must be within the Phinney-Greenwood neighborhood, between 50th to 105th streets and Aurora to Eighth Avenue Northwest. But, contest entrants need not live within the neighborhood as the house does not need to belong to the person who enters it.

More than one entry per person is acceptable. Entries should include the name and contact information of the entrant.

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Photo credit: 
Maris Sovold

Could this house at 8749 Dayton Ave. N. be Greenwood and Phinney's oldest?

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