Showing posts with label Chase. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chase. Show all posts

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Short takes No. 11

The case of the vanishing swings

The big swing set in the play area of Madison Park was suddenly missing its swings last week, though the cause was not immediately evident. On Wednesday, however, an explanation was provided by the parks department, which reported that it had removed the swings due to safety concerns.

It seems that during a routine safety check, an inspector detected that the swing set’s top rail, which is twelve feet high, tends to bow considerably, especially when “a large person” is on the swings. According to Seattle Parks spokesperson Dewey Potter, the top rail was actually bowing as much as two or three inches. This, in turn, was causing other structural bending, which is unusual. The swings have been removed until the problem can be addressed with the manufacturer.

While the swings are presumably in the Park for the use of children, their occasional use by “a large person” must be engineered for. As Potter notes, “play equipment safety is the highest priority for us.” The opportunity to swing in the Park still exists for those who can maintain proper ground clearance. The much lower, two-seat swing set remains functional—though probably not comfortably so for “a large person.”

Spa del Lago on the move
One of the neighborhood’s several spas, and the only one with a hair salon, is getting ready to pack up and move out. But it’s not going very far. When the New Year opens, Spa del Lago will be located just across the street from its current location. Its new digs will be on the first floor of the Villa Marina building, 1928 43rd Avenue E.

The move is reportedly necessitated, at least in part, by the recent sale of the building in which the Spa has long been located. But the move also fits nicely into the plans of Villa Marina owner Lakeside Capital Management, which is in the process of converting the building from apartments to retail/commercial use. Another ground-floor retail unit in Villa Marina is being built out as retail space on the 43rd Avenue side of the building. That space, which is next door to Maison Michel, should be available for lease in the first quarter of next year.

As MPB readers may recall, the Villa Marina Apartments was slated last year to be replaced by a ten-unit condo project. Changes in market conditions, however, forced a change of plans; and the conversion of the existing building to commercial use was the outcome.

No word yet on what will be happening to the current Spa del Lago space at 1929 43rd E.
Madison Park Café to ring in the New Year

Karen Binder is about to celebrate her 31st New Year’s at the Madison Park Café and would like us all to come celebrate the occasion with her. She reports she’s planning a special fixed-price New Year’s Eve dinner, promising both a glass of free sparkler and “great fun.” The menu is available here.

Binder and a business partner opened the Café in 1979, and it’s been serving French-bistro cuisine since Binder assumed full ownership of the restaurant in 1999. It is, without challenge, the longest-running white-tablecloth eatery in the neighborhood.

The Madison Park Café will also be doing a Christmas Eve Dinner this year, with an “early-ish” seating, says Binder. For reservations to either event call (206) 324-2626 or visit the website. The Café is located at 1807 42nd Avenue E.

Chase lowers the voltage

From the moment the large neon sign was installed above the Chase (née WaMu) branch in the summer of 2009, it was controversial in certain quarters. The Madison Park Community Council (MPCC) certainly took a dim view of the bright sign, which it felt violated the sign standards for the Madison Park business district. The goal of those standards is to exclude large, lighted commercial signs from the neighborhood. Though not every Madison Park commercial establishment adhers to the voluntary standards, the MPCC still hoped that it could get Chase’s attention to the issue and, hopefully, convince the Bank to be a bit less visibly present at nighttime.

Now, almost 18 months after the effort began, the Council can finally report success. Chase this week installed a smaller neon version of the Bank’s logo above the entrance to the branch. To get this action, the MPCC’s Kathleen O’Connor reportedly went straight to the top at Chase, asking for the help of Chase’s Washington President, Phyllis Campbell.

Rumor has it that the next target of the tone-it-down effort may well be Madison Park Conservatory’s newly installed representation of a flying Canada Goose, a skeletal image which is lighted at night. No confirmation of this, however.

Update: Since our original posting, the Community Council put to rest the rumor that anyone there has a problem with MPC's goose. Board member Lindy Wishard, in fact, reports that she "worked directly with the owner to insure that his sign was in keeping with the guidelines," adding that "we're grateful to Cormac [Mahoney] for caring about the sign and his storefront."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Too garish for the Park?

The refined sensibilities of some Madison Park residents have been sorely tested by the oversize neon sign installed earlier this month by “Washington’s Newest Bank” (aka Chase Manhattan). Believing that the New York-based bank has violated our community’s tasteful-sign standards, they reportedly took their complaints directly to Chase last week, requesting that the sign be downsized and possibly de-neoned. The issue was important enough to be discussed at the Madison Park Community Council meeting this week, with the decision taken to formalize a request that Chase cease and desist.

Chase’s offense was also discussed at the Madison Park Business Association meeting today. It is the MPBA which has the sign standard of which I am told Chase is clearly in violation. However, the standard is a voluntary one; in other words, enforceable only through community pressure.

For awhile this afternoon it looked as though the complaints were being heeded. A sign-company truck rolled up to the branch, the offending sign was removed, and for a brief moment some had hope that a New York bank could actually react to our community’s input.

However, it was not to be. A new metal facing was installed above the branch to cover the bricks (which had been scarred previously by WaMu’s awning), and the offending sign was promptly reinstalled. In fact, the sign now stands out even more than it did before.

It remains to be seen whether Chase will eventually back down, but there is at least one precedent for a big bank responding to the community’s complaints. According to MPBA member Lola McKee (Madison Park Hardware), many years ago Bank of America put up an offending sign but reversed course after the violation was pointed out.

Chase’s sign is not the only one in the neighborhood that is legal under City code but still in violation of the MPBA standard. Also on the blacklist is the new Fitness Together sign, next to Bing’s.

For some, the sign issue may seem like a pretty unimportant battle to occupy people’s time. But for others, such as Council President Ken Myrabo, taking a stand has to do with preserving the character of the neighborhood and keeping our little piece of Madison Street from becoming another Lake City Way. Now that’s a cause a lot of us can get behind.