Monday, September 16, 2013


Driver gets off track

In fairness, it was a very rainy afternoon yesterday, with lower visibility than usual. Also, part of the roadway was missing. For the driver of this vehicle, reportedly an elderly woman (though she disputes the description), the combination of unusual factors was unfortunate. This was the scene in front of Broadmoor at about 5 pm, after the car entered the construction zone.  The driver was apparently unharmed, though perhaps a little embarrassed (though she says her actual emotion was anger---over the fact that the construction area was not properly covered).

[Photo courtesy of Nancy and Paul Dobrin.]

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Art Walk: Year 4

Bronze casting by Richard Rhodes

Artists and their fans celebrated the start of Madison Park's Art Walk 2013, Friday, with a reception at Starbucks and an evening of leisurely paced art viewing. More than 40 artists, most from Madison Park and surrounding neighborhoods, are participating in Art Walk this year, with their art on display in 33 neighborhood shops, offices, and restaurants through October 6.

Art by Barbara Noonan at The Guest House

This year three additional events have been added to the Art Walk schedule. On September 28, there will be an awards ceremony at the Bath House (awards given based on the votes of art viewers), as well as a lecture on art history and a studio experience for children.  Details are available at Art Walk's website.

Ceramic art by Liz Gamberg at Cookin'

Those who experienced Art Walk on its first night, seemed appreciative of the art, the artists, and the surprisingly decent weather.  Those who missed out still have plenty of opportunity to catch the wide variety of art on display in the Park throughout the month.

Monday, September 9, 2013

August police blotter

There were three residential burglaries, two stolen cars, three car prowls, and one case of shoplifting reported in Madison Park during August.

A brazen forced-entry burglary occurred on August 7 at a home on the 1400 block of 37th Avenue E. The homeowners reported that the perpetrator(s) had kicked in their front door, gained entry to the house, and stole an Xbox video game console, MacBook laptop, and a Wacom interactive pen display. The victims were not on the premises when the incident occurred during the afternoon. There were no fingerprints found at the scene, but there was a shoe print on the glass of the kicked-in door.

On August 30, a residence on the 1200 block of 39th Avenue E. was burglarized sometime between 9 am and noon. The victim told police she had returned to her home to discover that several rooms had been rifled and that many items had been stolen, including a Mac laptop, an iPad Mini, and four cell phones.  It appeared that the burglar(s) may have made a hasty exit from the house, perhaps upon the homeowner's return.  Several pieces of silverware, taken from a drawer, were stacked neatly on the kitchen counter top and a pillowcase filled with expensive perfume was left behind. Several expensive handbags and purses, as well as some costume jewelry, were also stolen from the house.  The victim reported that the doors to the house were normally locked and that she had recently lost a spare key. There was no evidence of a forced entry.

Also on August 30, homeowners on the 3300 block of E. Ford Street returned to their house at about 6 pm and discovered their back door was wide open and several items were missing from the premises, including a Kindle, a TV, two Coach purses, some costume jewelry and a pair of reading glasses.  Also missing: one of the victims' passport.

Cars were stolen on August 23 at 41st Avenue E. and E. Garfield Street and on August 31 on the 2300 block of Broadmoor Drive E.  Cars were broken into on August 1 on the 4200 block of E. Lynn St., on August 24 on the 2300 block of 42nd Avenue E. and on August 30 on the 1900 block of 38th Avenue E.

In addition, there were several cases of damaged property and a shoplifting incident at a store on the 4200 block of E. Madison on August 26.

"It Didn't Happen Here" Crime of the Month:

Woman Arrested After Spraying Baby With Soy Sauce

by Jonah Spangenthal-Lee (Seattle Police Blotter)

Officers carted off a woman from an International District restaurant Saturday [August 24] after she sprayed a baby with soy sauce and doused other patrons with chocolate milk, ruining what had undoubtedly been a perfectly delightful afternoon Dim Sum.

Just before 1 pm, officers were called to the Dim Sum King at 6th and Jackson after a 52-year-old woman walked into the restaurant, told everyone to “go back to China,” began flipping over guests’ plates, spit on a man and then squirted him and his baby with soy sauce.

One of the victims called 911, and officers pulled up to the restaurant to find several people standing outside, covered in food. When officers contacted the suspect—who was carrying a container of chocolate milk—she became very animated and slapped an officer in the arm. Officers then arrested the woman and booked her for harassment and assault on an officer.

The Crepe Myrtles dazzle

Late summer is the time of year when Madison Park's Crepe Myrtles are at their showiest.  The lush-blooming trees, which line the final block of E. Madison Street, get a lot of commentary from visitors to the neighborhood, and workers in the business district's shops and restaurants are often asked, "What kind of trees are those?"

Lagerstroemia (the tree's horticultural name) is a native of tropical and subtropical Asia and Oceania. On a sunny day in Madison Park, the trees' exotic appearance helps some of us preserve the illusion that we're really not a mostly gray and damp corner of the universe after all.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Renting Madison Park

As we reported earlier this year, Madison Park has a surprisingly high proportion of rental properties, fully 42% of the total housing units in the neighborhood.  This statistic comes from the most recent U.S. Census, which unfortunately does not provide any breakout showing the various proportions of houses, condos, and apartments that make up this rental inventory. So we decided to do some research on the kinds of rentals that are available in the neighborhood.

To evaluate the rental market we took at look at the listings that have appeared over the last 60 days on Zillow and on Ewing & Clark’s websites (using information from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service), as well as Craig’s List. At this point there are at least eight rentals available in Madison Park, with monthly rents ranging from $7,500 (for a 5,400 sq. ft. house in Washington Park) to $1,200 (for a 915 sq. ft. apartment in three-story building on 42nd Avenue E.). There are two Washington Park homes currently available for rent at $7,000 per month, as well as one 3,400 sq. ft. home at $5,750 per month.  Filling out the neighborhood’s current rental inventory are three modestly priced ($1,250 to $1,850 per month) apartments.

There are many apartment buildings located in the neighborhood, most of them clustered in the area north of Madison in the area bordered by 41st Avenue on the west and Lake Washington on the east. This is the result of the city’s zoning laws, which for Madison Park generally limit multi-family structures to the blocks bordering the water, north of E. Garfield St.  Washington Park, although devoid of multi-family buildings, is certainly not lacking in single-family rental units, though rentals in Broadmoor appear to be few and far between (or perhaps just not publicly listed). The biggest apartment complex is the 1930s-vintage Edgewater Apartments, located on the water just north of E. McGilvra Street.

By our count there have been 11 houses and 27 apartments listed for rent in Madison Park during the last two months. Eight of the 11 single family residences were located in Washington Park, with the remaining three located in the area north of Madison Street. The least expensive of these was a $1,370 per month cottage with 2,950 sq. ft. of living space. The average size of houses for rent during the period was 3,418 sq. ft., with an average lease payment of $5,540, which works out to be $1.62 per sq. ft. on average. Homes in Washington Park, which were more elegant in addition to being larger, commanded leases equivalent to $1.78 per sq. ft. In general, the terms for renting houses in Madison Park are a one-year minimum term lease and a damage deposit equal to one month’s lease payment.

There were 27 apartments listed for rent in the 60-day period, the most expensive unit being a 930 sq. ft. condo unit at $3,400 per month. Apartments in exclusive buildings on Lake Washington (or with a good view of the Lake) have the highest rents.  Overall, apartments were listed at an average rent of $1,612 per month, with an average of just 950 sq. ft.  There was much greater variability of multi-family rentals than home rentals during the period, which we would expect is typical of the market.  There are really very few cheap rentals to be had in the Park (a studio near Madison Valley with 375 sq. ft. rented for $875 per month and there was one $500 per month listing, but these were very much the exceptions). There was also one mother-in-law apartment offered for rent during the period at $1,150. The average rental cost per square foot per month for apartments was $1.70.  The three waterfront units, meanwhile, were listed at $3.14 per sq. ft.

Some of the rental property available in the neighborhood at any point is the result of short-term situations, such as when people relocate temporarily to another city or overseas but expect to ultimately return. Additionally, there are cases where investors intend to develop a property but the timing is not right to do so, so the house is temporarily rented while development financing is arranged or design and approval work is completed. Since the housing market tanked, there were many such cases in Madison Park of properties held for development.  And there were also several cases, which we noted, of developers being unable to sell houses they had built. Some of these also entered the rental pool.

With the market in recovery, however, it is likely that there will be fewer homes available for rent in Madison Park in future periods. Properties are being developed all over the neighborhood, with cottages coming down and mega houses going up. An additional factor leading to a decline in rental inventory is the decision of some sellers to place their houses on the market in cases where they had rented out their homes because the market was in decline and they could afford to hold until prices increased. All of these factors will move single-family residences off the rental market and into the listed-for-sale pool.

By the way, if you are interested in knowing what your property might rent for if you decide to go that route, Zillow offers a “Rent Zestimate” that takes into account your property’s square footage and other variables (constituting a “proprietary formula” says Zillow). It is listed for your home if you type in your address on the website. A word of caution, however: there was no case of a house listed in Madison Park over the past two months where the Zestimate was in line with the actual rental price (sometimes off by more than $1,000 per month). For luxury properties in particular, especially those with views, Zillow’s formula does not apply.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Russian consular residence draws a crowd

Anti-Putin rally gets a lot of drivers honking

It's unusual for protesters to invade the neighborhood, but on those rare occasions when it happens, it's always one of the national-bank branches or the "Russian Consulate" that's the target. Today it was the Russians turn again.

The protest was part of the "Global Speak Out for Russia" campaign which is designed to focus attention on Russian President Vladimir Putin's anti-gay legislation, which recently passed the Russian parliament.  "Honk if you love!" read some of the signs, as well as "Honk if you hate hate!" The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog estimates that over 200 protesters attended today's rally, which probably makes it the biggest such gathering ever held in Madison Park (at least in this century).

Monday, September 2, 2013

September events

Art Walk returns

This will be the fourth year for the Madison Park Art Walk, which begins with a public reception at Starbucks at 6 pm on Friday, September 13.  More than 30 "Madison Park artists" are expected to exhibit this year, with art on the walls of various neighborhood shops and restaurants through October 6.  This year there will be a kid's day art walk, an awards program, an art history lecture and art seminars as part of the Art Walk experience.  Details can be found on the official website here.

New Zealand Forest to open in the Arboretum

It cost about $2 million to design and build the new New Zealand Forest portion of the Arboretum's Pacific Connections Garden, and the public will get its first chance to view the results when the forest officially opens on September 15, with opening ceremonies from 11 am until 2 pm.

The new two-acre forest is the first of five "eco-geographic" forests to be fully planted as part of the Pacific Connections project, which will eventually cover 14 acres of the Arboretum.  The New Zealand section has taken two years to develop "and features 10,000 trees, shrubs and grasses propagated from seeds collected in the wilds of New Zealand."  More information about the opening day event is available here, and a great article about the planting of the New Zealand Forest is available here.

Tour Arboretum wetlands by kayak

Did you know that the Arboretum has the largest stretch of saltwater marsh in Washington State?  Well whether you knew that fact or not, you still have the six opportunities this week to take a guided tour these wetlands by kayak. Sponsored by the UW Botanic Gardens and the Agua Verde Paddle Club, the tours on September 5, 6, and 7 will each last 90 minutes and will include commentary about the history of the area and details about the plants and animals you'll meet along the way. Registration and details are available here.

Yo Yo contest  returns after decades-long absence

It was apparently once the thing in Madison Park, so we've been told, for there to be an annual yo-yo contest held in front of the old pharmacy that once graced the space that now houses Bing's.  The folks at Aegis have decided to try their hand at reviving this event and will be sponsoring the first Madison Park yo yo contest of the 21st Century on September 27 at 5:30 pm.  So get out your old yo yos and start practicing. If you don't have a yo yo, never fear.  Aegis will be providing complimentary yo yos, as well as the food and drink.  Prizes will be awarded for "all age groups."  The venue, appropriately, will be the Triangle Park in front of Bing's.

Keeping up

Bar Cantinetta enters the scene

The pre-opening party for Madison Valley's newest restaurant was packed on Thursday evening, perhaps demonstrating the neighborhood's pent-up interest in having a Tuscan-style eatery close to home. We noticed a fair number of Madison Parkers among the crowd.  Described for some reason as a "boozier version of Cantinetta" by food blog Seattle Eater, Bar Canintetta is intended to be both a good neighborhood ristorante and a "small window into what we can do," says owner Trevor Greenwood.

Trevor Greenwood in front of his newest place (photo by Bob Peterson)

Regular hours will begin on Tuesday, 11:30 am until 10 pm, Tuesday thru Thursday; 11:30 until 11 pm Friday and Saturday; and 10 am until 10 pm on Sunday (brunch served from 10 until 3).  Bar Cantinetta is closed on Mondays. Reservations for six or more, phone: (206) 329-1501.

Bing's rated "kid friendly" by Seattle Magazine

In this month's issue, Seattle Magazine anoints Bing's as one of Seattle's 25 most "kid-friendly and parent pleasing" restaurants. "The new menu at this friendly Madison Park spot treats parents to sophisticated flavors—arugula salad with Manchego cheese and pistachios, flat iron steak with chimichurri sauce—while keeping it simple for the kids with an excellent mac and cheese and a tasty lineup of specialty burgers," says the magazine's editorial staff.

This, we believe, is Bing's first inclusion on a "best of Seattle" list since the restaurant changed hands two years ago.

Local gardener in the spotlight

Lexie Robbin's homestead (photo by Mike Siegel/Seattle Times)

The garden of Denny Blaine's Lexie Robbins, doyenne of a multi-generational Madison Park family, was featured this weekend in the Seattle Times' Pacific Northwest Magazine.  The article by Valerie Easton, describes Robbin's garden as "glorious." Lexie, who has working been at it for over fifty years, is pictured in her garden, as is cute granddaughter Gemma.

Sports celebrity buys Madison Park spec house

Beno's new view

We don't usually report on who buys or sells property in the neighborhood, but for those who don't happen to read the local business press we note that columnist Patty Payne disclosed in the Puget Sound Business Journal last month that the recent purchaser of the $4.4 million spec house located on McGilvra Boulevard, several blocks south of the Tennis Club, is professional basketball free-agent Beno Udrih.  "Mansion a slam dunk for NBA guard," says the PSBJ, Payne quoting Udrih and his wife as saying that while they live in Europe part of the year, they like Seattle as well.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A plea for safer crossings

Several dozen concerned members of the community turned out yesterday morning for a "vigil" to focus attention on the need to make our streets safer for everyone who uses them, whether pedestrian, biker, or vehicle driver. The catalyst for the event was the recent pedestrian/cyclist accident in the crosswalk at E. Madison near McGilvra Boulevard, which left one man hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. It was noted during the vigil that the injured pedestrian may be someone who lives in the neighborhood and has a family here. There was a moment of silence in support of his recovery.

Event organizer Bob Edmiston, a member of the Community Council, noted that the crosswalk in question has been the site of at least ten accidents in the last three years, and a total of 57 incidents have been recorded there over the last ten years.  He stated that safety concerns about the crossing were raised with the City prior to the accident. The mayor's attendance at yesterday's event--and the press coverage which ensued--may signal that this tragic incident has prompted a new awareness of the problem by those in a position to do something about it.

And speaking of safer crossings...


Redesigned intersection open in time for school

It only took construction crews two weeks to reconfigure the north side of the intersection of 37th Avenue E. and E. Madison Street.  The new and much improved meeting of the roads began receiving vehicular traffic on Friday.

The redesign was prompted by an accident at that location two years ago, when a boy on his way to school at McGilvra Elementary was struck by a car. The driver said that because of limited visibility she did not see the student, who was on his bike heading east on the Madison Street sidewalk. When she pulled forward to merge onto Madison, the boy sped into the path of her oncoming car.  Fortunately, the boy fully recovered from his injuries.

Last year it was announced that the 37th & E. Madison intersection reconfiguration had been approved for funding under the City's Safe Routes to School Program.  As can be seen by comparing the before and after pictures, visibility has been significantly enhanced.