Presentations by an architect, hydrogeologist and an engineer at a March 11 meeting did little to quell neighbors' fears that the construction of the new Greenwood Fred Meyer would have dire consequences on surrounding properties.
Half of the site for the new Fred Meyer at 100 N.W. 85th St. is located on a peat bog, one of the largest in the Seattle area.
GeoEngineers' Michael Kenrick, working for Fred Meyer, said it is important to not disturb peat because it is sensitive and compressible. If you take water out of the peat, it will shrink, leading to settling buildings, he said.
"Nobody wants their building to settle because it causes so much damage," Kenrick said. "It basically condemns the building."
The March 11 meeting was a chance for the Fred Meyer development team to explain how it is dealing with soil and groundwater issues on the site and for the Seattle Department of Planning and Development to received public feedback before deciding on whether an Environmental Impact Study is warranted for the project.
Some Ballard residents are concerned that Compass Center Ballard, a housing development for formerly homeless individuals, is being snuck through the planning stages and will seriously damage the neighborhood.
Dave Jarrell owns an apartment building across the street from the Compass Center Ballard location at 1753 N.W. 56th St. He said few people in the neighborhood are aware of what the project is.
Mike Yamaguchi, owner of the Landmark Apartments to the east of the site, said Compass Housing Alliance is trying to sneak the housing development into Ballard.
He said the community needs to have a chance to voice their opinion on the project – an 80-unit residential building for homeless men and women that includes services for residents who have substance dependencies or other disabilities.
Rick Friedhoff, executive director of Compass Housing Alliance, said they sent out notices to nearby property owners when the property was acquired in February 2008.
The project was announced at more than one Ballard District Council meeting and covered numerous times by both the Ballard News-Tribune and MyBallard.com, he said.
The East Ballard Community Association and 14th Avenue Visioning Project are awaiting potential funding from a number of sources to complete a two-block demonstration park boulevard on 14th Avenue Northwest.
Volunteers submitted an application for money from the city's Opportunity Fund in early February and a second application for money from the Parks and Green Spaces Levy is due in April.
"We told Parks we don't care where the money comes from, we just want it," said Dawn Hemminger of the East Ballard Community Association.
At the Feb. 10 Ballard District Council meeting, Peter Locke, an east Ballard resident and the vision behind the 14th Avenue park boulevard, said the purpose of the project is to create open space in an area that is lacking it while improving safety for pedestrians and vehicles.
The plan for 14th Avenue from Market Street to Northwest 65th Street, which was conceived five years ago, is to move traffic on the 100-foot wide street to one side, get rid of the parking median, and create a park on the east side of the street.
First-term Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw touched on topics from transportation to parks to the council's rocky relationship with the new mayor when she opened herself up for questions and comments from the neighborhood at the Feb. 10 Ballard District Council meeting.
Stephen Lundgren got the transportation ball rolling when he told Bagshaw that Ballard has gotten density, a civic center and parks, but no public transportation infrastructure.
Bagshaw said the city needs to connect the densifying urban hubs, but King County is in the middle of a budget crisis.
"What's tragic to me is how Metro right now is just struggling," she said. "When we need transit most is right now."
The question is what residents are willing to give up so more money can be spent on transit or are they willing to submit to more taxes, Bagshaw said.
"We're spending a pot-load of money on light rail," she said. "I would like to see much more on RapidTransit (Metro bus service)."
Architectural firm Weinstein AU, who are behind such Ballard buildings as the Majestic Bay, presented very early designs for the low-income housing development Compass Center Ballard to the community and Northwest Design Review Board Feb. 8.
Compass Center Ballard is being planned as a seven-story, 57,000-square-foot development with 80 units for single men and women.
Residents will pay 30 percent of their income to live in the center, which will include services for residents with substance dependencies and other disabilities.
Rumi Takahashi from Weinstein AU presented three different proposals for the shape and orientation of the building, located at 1753 N.W. 56th St.
The design preferred by Weinstein AU and the Northwest Design Review Board is a 75-foot-high building set back 10 feet from the sidewalk.
The design has notches taken out of the top five floors on the east and west sides, creating second-floor decks.
Takahashi said Compass Housing Alliance, developers of Compass Center Ballard, very much wants a green roof, such as the one on the Ballard Library, with a rooftop deck.
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.
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.
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.