Thursday, August 7, 2014

Music in the Park returns this evening

Every Thursday this month there will be Music in the Park, presented by the Madison Park Business Association. On the boards tonight is The Moonspinners, a "60's-esque" trio. You can get a good idea of their particular vibe by watching this YouTube video.

In upcoming weeks, three groups that have appeared in past years at Music in the Park will be back:  August 14, The Side Project, August 21, Two Scoops Combo, and August 28, Gin Creek.

The music begins at 6:30 and ends at 8.  The venue is the grassy area of the park, near the tennis courts.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

HomeStreet gets the doors open

After a very long gestation period, Seattle-based HomeStreet bank birthed its Madison Park baby today, finally revealing to the world its long-awaited branch along the neighborhood's main thoroughfare. The prominent Madison Street location next to Bert's Red Apple was most-recently the site of the Tully's, the much-lamented and long-departed coffee shop.  It's been almost two years since that exit.

HomeStreet would have been here earlier had it not been for the involved design and permitting processes and the fact that the hundred-plus-year-old building was in worse shape by far than originally anticipated.  The end result of all that rehabilitation is pretty impressive, however.  If you're willing to accept the fact that Madison Park is now a banking hub with five bank branches calling the neighborhood home, you will probably be pleased with the attractiveness and compatibility of HomeStreet's finished product. The bank sign apparently meets the community standards for its modest size, and the building doesn't look too bank-like. That, we're told, sits well with the neighborhood "powers that be" who try to enforce the various "village" standards.  Another concession to the community: the fireplace that graced Tully's is back in an improved form to add to the ambiance of the bank's interior.

While we certainly can't claim that HomeStreet is not a bank, it can be argued that it's a bank that is different from the others that (with the exception only of KeyBank) have been part of the Madison Park community for many decades.  Though they certainly didn't start out that way, each of the neighborhood's other four bank branches is a part of a big national bank organization based out of state---far out of state, in most cases (New York in the case of Chase, Ohio in the case of Key and North Carolina in the case of Bank of America).  Only Wells can make the claim that it's even based in the general region (California).

Not that there's anything wrong with being from out of state.  However, HomeStreet is definitely home grown, having been founded in Seattle as a mortgage company 93 years ago, later becoming a federally-chartered savings bank.  HomeStreet, with about $3.3 billion in assets, operates 31 branches, ten of these in Seattle.

In charge of HomeStreet's Madison Park location is Ila Wagner, who joined the bank from Chase during the past month.  She told us that she understands the fact that "there's a fear of over-saturation with banks in Madison Park."  But "HomeStreet will be a different kind of experience."  She cites the bank's intense involvement in the communities it serves as one example.  Also, HomeStreet is, we're told, the "official bank" of both the Seahawks and the Sounders, with promotions related to both teams (special deals for season ticket holders, for example).

While today is Day One for HomeStreet's Madison Park incarnation, the big official grand opening will take place for the community in early September.  That's when the bank will be giving away a lot of money.

Just kidding.  (About the money give-away, that is).

[As a matter of self disclosure for those not already aware of the fact, the Madison Park Blogger is a banker by day, though not an employee of any of the banks who operate branches in Madison Park.]

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Speaking of trees

It's just a lovely memory now. It was trucked away, for the most part, over the weekend. But for multiple decades this majestic tree, believed to be a Chinese Elm, graced the E. Highland Drive road end near Lake Washington, just off of 43rd Avenue E. It split apart Friday morning at around 2 am, and a significant portion crash landed in the owners' backyard with a big kaBOOM (though at least some neighbors, we understand, slept through the whole thing). While the tree had not been known to be diseased, a not-very-close inspection shows the rot that must have caused the collapse.

There was no saving the standing portion. We're told that the arborist who made the initial inspection of the downed tree commented that what remained upright could fall at anytime: ten months, ten weeks---or perhaps ten minutes.  The homeowners wisely decided not to take the chance.

As an aside, we note that this Lake Washington road end has something of a reputation, or perhaps multiple reputations.  "Lovers' Lane" is one descriptor.  We've heard that when the tree fell in the dark of the early morning there was a car either directly underneath or close by. It was occupied by a couple who were not only startled out of doing whatever they were doing but also seriously impeded in their efforts to exit the scene.  No injuries reported, however.

It was just a few weeks ago that another prominent Washington Park tree experienced its own sad separation. This tree overhung E. Lee Street near 39th Avenue E.:

In this case the the rest of the tree has been saved, at least for now.  Though some of the tree is still there, it's standing with a lot less elegance and artistry than before the fall.

And speaking of trees, these two very tall trees located on the lot of a soon-to-be-demolished house at the northeast corner of E. Galer and McGilvra Boulevard are the subject of some concern.  It's not because they are in imminent danger of collapse, however.

In this case the issue has to do with the possibility that the recent purchaser of the property, Chaffey Building Group, may decide to remove the trees as part of its redevelopment plans.  The immediate neighbors and some other Madison Park residents are interested in petitioning to keep the trees. If you would like to help you can contact Gayle Jack, who is heading up this effort:

[Middle photo courtesy of Nancy Dobrin.]

Friday, August 1, 2014

Lakeside story elicits ugly commentary

Blogger rethinks policy on reader comments

By Bryan Tagas

Our recent posting on the SEC shutdown of Lakeside Capital Management has had higher readership than any story we've ever reported, with over 2,200 page views to date.  The posting has also resulted in a higher-than-normal volume of reader comments on the Madison Park Blogger website.  Unfortunately, some of the commentary is scurrilous. Specifically, unwarranted personal attacks have been made on the family of Lakeside's owner, Dennis Daugs, all of them anonymously.

This low level of discourse has prompted one horrified MPB reader to challenge me to enforce a minimum standard for reader commentary on blog postings.  While Daugs may be fair game, she correctly points out that his family is not. I've always taken the view that readers of this blog should have an open forum to say what they think, even if they wish to remain anonymous.  But because this privilege is now being abused by some, I agree that a standard of behavior for commentators should be enforced: no more ad hominem attacks. In plain English that means inappropriate or irrelevant commentary, such as statements about the supposed physical or personality characteristics of people who are not even the subject of the blog posting, will be removed from the site. This rule applies retroactively to the reader comments on the Lakeside story.

[The Peter Steiner cartoon, shown above, is from the New Yorker magazine. It's a famous take from the 1990's on the freedom the internet provides.  But with freedom comes responsibility.  Cartoon used without permission.]

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Seen or heard in the 'hood

New restaurant to take MP Conservatory space

Though we don't yet have the details, we do know that the space on 43rd Avenue E. vacated by Madison Park Conservatory in February will soon be the site of a new restaurant.  Owners Maria and Ricky Eng, doing business as Eng Seattle Restaurants, Inc., applied earlier this month for a liquor license for the site. Ricky Eng confirms that while the name is yet to be determined, the restaurant will definitely be a full-service, sit-down affair. We'll give you the full scoop when we have it.

Founder moves on but pizzeria still going strong

Tom Siegal, who created The Independent Pizzeria in 2010 and who has been the mainstay pizza maker ever since, moved to Providence, Rhode Island earlier this summer.  His wife was admitted to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design--and Tom, quite naturally, decided to relocate to the East Coast to be with her while she's in school.

While Tom is maintaining his ownership of our neighborhood pizza joint, Joe Heffernan and the rest of The Independent Pizza crew are carrying on the four-year tradition of making excellent Neapolitan pizza in Madison Park.  National foodie website Epicurious tapped The Indpendent as having one of the 10 Top Pizzas in the U.S. last year.

Former Mad Pizza space undergoing refurbishment

Construction of a new interior, along with some exterior refurbishment, is underway at the old Mad Pizza location on E. Madison St.  So it looks like what's rumored to be an Asian eatery is going to be part of Madison Park's future.  What's apparently not in our future, however, is a taco stand at the location of the old Best Buds flower shop on E. Blaine.  Nothing much happening there since the notice was taken out of the window months ago.   Both sites have been vacant since last year.

Ann Marie elects to stay

Although Ann Marie Lingerie announced during Spring that it was giving up its "bricks and mortar" in the neighborhood and migrating to an exclusively on-line business, apparently the moving-out sale and the interest generated from the publicity resulted in a re-thinking of that business strategy.  Manager Felicia Klabo reported to us earlier this month that the shop is staying in place.  The efforts to increase Ann Marie's on-line presence continues unabated, however.

HomeStreet almost ready to enter banking scene

It's taken a long, long time to get to this point, but the new Madison Park HomeStreet Bank branch seems to be nearing completion, with an anticipated late August/early September opening date.  The one-time Tully's site, which was vacated in October 2012, has been under such an extensive repair program that it could almost be argued that the result is a new building.  The original structure is over one hundred years old and has served host to many different businesses along the way, but never a bank. What's happening to this space is part of a trend, however, of Madison Park becoming a banking hub. HomeStreet, when open, will be Bank Branch Number Five.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Feds shut down Lakeside Capital

Firm's principal misused client funds says SEC

Madison Park's Lakeside Capital Management, founded in 1997 and solely owned by portfolio manager Dennis Daugs since 2010, is ceasing its operations as a result of a recent action by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  The SEC, in an order today instituting administrative "cease and desist" proceedings against both the firm and Daugs, states that Daugs "used over $8 million in client advisory assets to conduct undisclosed actions that fraudulently breached his fiduciary duty."  (The full text of the SEC order can be found here.)

Daugs, according to a report by Reuters, neither denies nor admits the allegations of the SEC but agreed to be barred from the industry.  A separate news report on the website states that Daugs is paying $590,000 to settle the SEC charges.  The website states that Lakeside has paid out almost $15 million in customer settlements over the past nine years (though we could not independently confirm this based on the information the SEC released today).

Lakeside has been a prominent neighborhood business, making real estate investments in this area and elsewhere on behalf of its well-heeled clients.  It recently negotiated the sale of the investor-owned Villa Marina apartment building on 43rd Avenue E. at the foot of Madison, which is next door to Lakeside's headquarters (shown above).

According to the SEC, "Daugs breached [his fiduciary] duty beginning in 2008 and 2009,
when he invested a senior citizen Lakeside client in $3.1 million in personal loans to himself. Daugs used the loans to buy a vacation home and refinance his purchase of a rare automobile, and the loans involved a material conflict of interest between Daugs and the client. Yet Daugs did not disclose the loans to the client until early 2010."  The auto in question, according to the SEC, is a rare 1955 "Gullwing" Mercedes, similar to the one shown below:

Also, says the SEC, "Daugs used over $5 million from [a Lakeside managed] fund in undisclosed self-dealing."  These and other compliance violations, say the feds, constitute willful violation of securities laws by the respondents, Lakeside Captial Management and Dennis Daugs, who have therefore been censured by the SEC for their conduct.

Daugs has six months to wind down Lakeside's operations.  The press report by Reuters notes that Daugs, in a recent letter to the firm's investors, states that their investments are not at risk.  The SEC reports that Lakeside had approximately $150 million in assets under management on average and served as investment adviser to about 100 individuals and over thirty private real estate funds during the period the alleged violations occurred.

[Gullwing photo from Wikipedia.]

Fat Salmon here Saturday

Expect neighborhood parking to be impacted

The annual Fat Salmon Open Water Swim will be returning to Madison Park this weekend, brining hundreds of swimmers, kayakers, and spectators to the neighborhood Saturday morning.  Check-in for participants starts at 6:15 am and the first swimmers are expected to arrive at Madison Park Beach at around 9:15. The 3.2-mile race begins at the Day Street Boat Ramp, just north of I-90.  Following the Swim there's the awarding of the fat salmons, so expect the crowd to remain around the 'hood through late morning.  It's always a fun event.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Welcome to Summer!

Bastille Bash returns

Bastille Day is just around the corner, so get prepared to enjoy a brief dip into French culture with Bastille Bash, Madison Valley's tribute all things francaise. The fun begins at 3 pm on Saturday, July 12, and continues until 8 pm.  Events will occur up and down Madison Street between 27th and 30th Avenues in this, the third year for the French-themed walkabout. There will be plenty of opportunities to eat, drink, listen to live entertainment, and shop the sidewalk sales. You can get the full rundown of participating establishments, slated entertainment, and how to purchase food and wine tickets here.

Who dosn't love a parade?

It always ends almost before it begins (the waiting time for participants is generally several multiples of the parade's duration), but it's an annual neighborhood event that is much enjoyed by participating and onlooking kids, parents, grandparents and (presumably) the assorted pets and occasional farm animals that (sometimes literally) get roped in to walk the five- or six-block route.  We are of course speaking of the Kids Parade, a part of Madison Park Days, sponsored each year by the Madison Park Business Association. This year the parade happens on Saturday, July 12.

Madison Park Days also includes sidewalk sales, beginning on Thursday July 10, and it ends with a picnic in the park following the big parade.  Those wishing to walk the parade route behind the fire engine may begin lining up in front of the Madison Park Wells Fargo branch at 11:45 am.  The parade begins at noon.  Straight down Madison Street to the park.

Park in the Dark! 

The Washington Park Arboretum, an easily accessible amenity for those of us lucky enough to live in Madison Park, has many programs and events each year that are designed to enhance our understanding of the the plants and animals with which we share the planet.  A great example is the UW Botanic Gardens' Park in the Dark series which takes place this year at each full moon during July and August.  Where else are we going to learn first hand about the crepuscular  creatures that inhabit the Arboretum if we don't search them out at night?  Park in the Dark is a bring-your-own-flashlight opportunity, especially for families with kids aged 5-12, to see the animals in their nocturnal environment and learn about their adaptation to the dark.  Information on the program is available here.  Registration is required.  The first full moon this month is on Saturday, July 12.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Locked-out scammer back at it

At about this time three years ago we reported on a guy who was scamming unsuspecting folks in the neighborhood with a story about being locked out of his place of employment and needing money to get a locksmith.  As we later learned, the guy had been using this particular ruse for years. Reports on this scammer, as we discovered, had appeared on the blogs of several Seattle neighborhoods.

Well it now appears that this con artist or someone working the same angle is back on the scene here in Madison Park.  The Seattle Tennis Club this week sent out this warning:

"To Our Neighbors:  

It has been reported that a man is going door to door in the Club's Madison Park neighborhood knocking on doors and asking for money for his car. He claims to be a STC staff member. He is not.  He has worked this scam in the neighborhood in the past and he's back. Please do not open your door to this man or give him any money."

We earlier had this report from a reader: 

"Last night at 10:45 PM someone was knocking loudly at my door.  I went out on the deck to see who it could be at that hour. It was an African American man, guessing in his 50s, claiming to be a janitor at McGilvra school.  He said his name was Patrick, and that he had locked keys in his car and needed $14 more to pay the locksmith.  He also said he was a gay man and I need not be scared." 

The Madison Park Blogger was a victim of this guy many years ago, so we can attest to his being a very convincing fellow.  

You are now informed.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Keeping Up

Tree Walk returns June 21

Last year's first-ever guided tour of neighborhood trees is being repeated this month for those who missed the first go-round, as well as for those who would like to learn more about what makes Madison Park one of Seattle's great arboreal neighborhoods.  The "walk around" will be guided by the former Pacific Northwest editor of Sunset Magazine, Steve Lorton, and Ronald Heibert of Madison Valley's City People's garden store.  Both are current on Pacific Northwest biota, and each of them is a story teller with an historical bent. So come prepared to learn something (and perhaps to take some notes).

Steve Lorton expounds during last year's Tree Walk

The Tree Walk begins at Park Shore Retirement at 10 am, Saturday, June 21, and ends there an hour and a half or so later. This year's tour is a fundraiser for the Madison Park Community Council, which is the sponsor.  Donations to the MPCC, which is a registered non-profit, are encouraged but not required.

Neighborhood-based Arts & Crafts Farm

If you're a kid aged 7-12 (or are the parent of one), you may be interested in knowing that it's possible this summer for neighborhood kids to spend a week at an art camp without having to go anywhere far for the experience.  Madison Parkers Gayle Jack and Ann Wyman, who each have extensive backgrounds teaching kids arts and crafts, will be offering three one-week sessions of an "Arts & Crafts Farm" here in the Park during the weeks of June 23-17, July 14-18 and July 21-25.

The location will be 1601 41st  Avenue E., which is just one block south of Bert's Red Apple.  Activities will include painting, printing, jewelry making, tie dying and beading. The fee is $220 per week. More information is available from Gayle or Ann, (206) 322-4342 or

Madison Park Conservatory for sale

Although the website was recently taken down and the restaurant's Facebook page now reads "Permanently Closed," Madison Park Conservatory is actually on the market, we've learned, with a sale price of $249,000. The current owners apparently have a long-term lease on the property and would like to sell the lease rights, leasehold improvements, furnishings and the name to a new owner/operator. We've heard there's some interest in the space if the lease becomes available. It appears that the MPC has been on the market since it shut down in February, after three years on the local scene.

Villa Marina sold

The 14-unit Villa Marina apartment building at the foot of Madison Street was sold last month for $4,025,000, according to real estate broker Paragon Real Estate Advisors. The building was built in 1921, but many of the residential and commercial units have been recently renovated and we understand the new owners intend to complete that process for the remaining units.

[Art photo above (Kandinsky riff) from the website,]