Thursday, August 29, 2013

Italian cuisine invades the Valley

Bar Cantinetta set to debut this week

With its five French restaurants plus a patisserie or two, Madison Valley has evolved into something of an à la française neighborhood over the past few years. French influence, however, took a big hit recently with the demise of both Rover’s and La Cote. Now a new entry onto the scene is about to mix things up in the Valley with a dose of Italian. Later this week, Bar Cantinetta will open its doors in the space vacated by La Cote.  Where crepes were once the thing, diners can now expect something Tuscan inspired.

Since it opened in 2009, Wallingford’s Cantinetta has been a successful and well-regarded Italian restaurant (rated, in fact, “Best Italian” by Seattle Magazine last year). Bar Cantinetta is intended to be a worthy offshoot, but with a more intimate space and a less expansive menu.

Owner Trevor Greenwood tells us that there are several things that drew him to Madison Valley. “It just seemed like it was the right time and right place,” for one thing. “We’re going to try to be a good neighborhood restaurant,” he says, and Madison Valley seemed to have a lot of the attributes of the Wallingford neighborhood.  Another factor is that Greenwood lives in Leschi, so the commute is easy for him personally.  Finally, Greenwood is friends with La Cote’s former owner, Arnaud Guerin, and had the inside track on moving into the space when La Cote exited.  It all just fell in to place.  Guerin will be a part owner in the new venture.

Greenwood says he’s not trying to duplicate Cantinetta but rather create a smaller version of the restaurant, with one of the possible benefits being “opening people’s eyes to what we can do and perhaps driving them to try Cantinetta.”  But the new restaurant will certainly stand on its own, Greenwood notes, catering to the people who live in the neighborhood and who want Italian.

Bar Cantinetta will be half the size of the original, but Greenwood says it will be similar in terms of offering the same kinds of traditional Tuscan foods.  There will be 12 antipasti dishes, four primi dishes (pasta), and at least one secondi dish (“halibut or something else that’s fresh”).  There will also be a full-service bar and a “fairly extensive” wine list, Greenwood promises.

Structural changes to the La Cote space have resulted in a bit more seating, with about 35 seats, including at the bar. There will be eight large tables as well as a Tuscan long table, seating 8 or 9.  Unlike Cantinetta in Wallingford (or its sister restaurant in Bellevue), Bar Cantinetta will offer lunch, Greenwood says, as well as a “nice Italian Sunday brunch.”

Those who’d like to get a preview of what’s to come at Bar Cantinetta are invited to a “Friends and Neighbors” pre-opening party tonight, August 29, at 6 p.m. The restaurant is slated to open for business on Friday.

[Bar Cantinetta is located at 2811 E. Madison St.]

Monday, August 26, 2013

Police investigating accident

Vigil planned

The tragic early-morning collision of a cyclist with a pedestrian on Friday has prompted a Seattle Police investigation, we learned today. The incident has also motivated a group of concerned community members to plan a vigil at the site of the accident. The purpose of the vigil is to heighten awareness of the inadequate pedestrian safety measures at the crosswalk and, presumably, put pressure on the City to take corrective action.

The Seattle Police Department's public information officer, Mark Jamieson, has confirmed that the Traffic Collisions Investigation Squad of the SPD has started looking into the
accident. This does not mean, however, that anyone should assume that this is a criminal incident. The investigation was triggered by the seriousness of the injuries to the pedestrian, he noted. Jamieson told us that this kind of investigation often takes months to complete and typically involves the interviewing of witnesses and reconstruction of the accident scene. Investigative techniques include taking photos and measuring distances to determine such things such as speed and velocity. When the investigation is completed, he said, SPD will send a recommendation to the Prosecutor's office, where the determination will ultimately be made on whether to charge anyone with a criminal act.

Although many readers have asked us to follow up on the accident victim's condition, we have been unable to learn anything other than what was in the initial report from the Fire Department, which was first on the scene Friday with its emergency personnel. At that time the SFD reported that the victim apparently had no I.D. on his person. He may therefore have been admitted to Harborview Medical Center as a "John Doe."  The hospital was unable to provide any information to us when we checked with their press officer today.

As a result of privacy laws, we may learn nothing further about this accident for some time.  Without any charges having been filed, the police will not give out the names of anyone involved in the accident, including witnesses.  This is standard procedure, according to Jamieson. The police, however, are likely to know by now who the victim is, since his cell phone was reportedly found down the block from the point of impact. The Fire Department, meanwhile, is referring inquiries to both the SPD and the hospital. Because of partient-privacy laws, however, Harborview is limited in its ability to provide information to the public even when the patient's name is known.

Meanwhile, Alice Lanczos of the Madison Park Community Council, notified us today that a vigil is planned for 10:00 on Saturday morning to be held in front of the Madison Park Wells Fargo branch, where the accident took place last week. She told us that while the Community Council has been trying to get the City's attention to the problem, this particular crosswalk did not seem to be a priority for the government because there weren't enough "documented accidents" to warrant corrective measures.  She, the Council, and other concerned community members are hoping that the Saturday vigil will help focus attention on this site and get the priorities changed.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cyclist severely injures pedestrian in crosswalk

Horrific accident apparently resulted from inattention

At about 8:40 this morning, an unidentified man described as being in his 40's or 50's was struck by a bicyclist at the crosswalk in front of the Wells Fargo branch near the intersection of E. Madison Street and McGilvra Boulevard E.  The man was knocked to the ground unconscious and suffered what are described as life-threatening head injuries as a result of the collision.  According to a witness, the man was convulsing when the ambulances arrived. He was taken to Harborview Hospital, but information on his condition has not been released.

The cyclist was reportedly traveling at a fairly high speed down Madison, heading towards the water, when the pedestrian stepped into the crosswalk on the Wells Fargo side of the street. A witness stated that the man appeared to be on his cell phone, stepped into the street from behind a tree, and did not look to his left when starting across the street.  The cyclist, who is reported to be 26 years old, attempted to slow down but was unable to stop before the man wandered into the path of the bike. A witness estimated that the bicycle may have been traveling 30 miles an hour at the point of collision. The cyclist was also injured in the accident, but a report by KOMO states that these were only scrapes and cuts.

Wells Fargo's branch manager, Michael Morrow, who saw the accident, told us that there have been at least nine accidents at that crosswalk in the three years he's been in the job.  He says there's a lack of visibility both for those crossing the street and those traveling on Madison. In this incident, he said, "cars were parked on both sides of the south end of the crosswalk, the site lines were blocked, the pedestrian did not see the cyclist nor the other way around, and the cyclist was going too fast."  He notes it could just as easily have been a car that hit the pedestrian.

Morrow was already involved with the efforts of the Madison Park Business Association and the Community Council to get a Seattle city grant to improve the crosswalk. Among the ideas suggested, he told us, are a raised crosswalk (as in the Arboretum), a concrete pedestrian "refuge island" (as on E. Madison in front of the Broadmoor entrance), and redesigned curbs to the west and east of the crosswalk in order to prevent cars from parking too close and blocking visibility.  New signage, flashing lights, and speed bumps are other potential alternatives that SDOT could consider, though some of these ideas might not be practical for this intersection. The city, according to Morrow, was already well aware of the hazard to pedestrians at this site, but today's accident may heighten efforts to fix the problem.

520 Eastbound closed tonight

It's hard to believe that we could have missed another closure of the 520 floating bridge, but we did. Last night the westbound lanes were closed during the night and here's your notice, in case you missed other press coverage, that the eastbound lanes will be closed tonight, beginning at 11 pm and extending until 9 am tomorrow.

Although there are no further eastbound lane closures planned through September, there are three more westbound lane closures that will take place: August 29/30 (11 pm until 5 am), September 6/7 (11 pm until 5 pm), and September 14/15 (9 pm until 9 am).

There are multiple construction-related reasons for the planned closures, including pouring concrete for the new bridge columns on the Westside and shifting traffic onto new highway lanes on the Eastside near Bellevue.  The eastbound closure this evening covers the roadway between the Montlake exit and I-405.

[Photo courtesy of WSDOT.]

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Second rabid bat discovered here

This one found at the playground

It was all over the local news yesterday, but for those who don't follow major media we note that there was another sick bat discovered in our city park last weekend.  The King County Health Department reported yesterday afternoon that this bat, which is of a different species from the sick bat found earlier this summer, was also rabid.  According to the department's press release, "the bat was discovered by a park visitor as it clung to the bottom of a tree on the playground on Saturday, August 17th. Immediately after receiving notification from the visitor, the grounds crew taped off the area and called animal control."

The official line is that the discovery of this second bat does not mean that there is a rabies outbreak in the area but is most likely a "coincidence," given that the two bats were of different species.  Obviously, anyone who comes in contact with a sick bat should seek immediate treatment, and animals who have been exposed should be treated as well.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Madison Park magazine to make its debut

It may be 'old media' but it's new to the local scene

Billed as an exclusive "social magazine" for Madison Park and its enclaves, Madison Park Living will soon be arriving in neighborhood mailboxes, no subscription required. A totally advertiser-underwriten publication, MPL is just the latest monthly magazine to join the local fold of publications from N2P (Neighborhood Networks Publishing), which entered the region in 2008 with a magazine for Newcastle. Since then, N2P magazines have been added in Mill Creek, South Mercer Island, Redmond and at least six other Puget Sound-area communities. In addition to Madison Park Living, N2P will soon launch magazines for Laurelhurst, Snohomish, Sammamish, and Issaquah, according to the company's local "Area Director" Eric Redfern.

The magazine's premier issue, for September, features Broadmoor's photogenic Oaksmith family on its cover, along with an inside feature story on the family (including details of their favorite everythings). There's also a pet of the month, a yard of the month, a kid of the month, an athlete of the month, a non-profit volunteer of the month, a business owner of the month (this month it's the State Farm Insurance agent), a home of the month (meaning a house currently for sale), and coverage of a past event or two (the Madison Park Kids' Parade and the Madison Valley Bastille Bash make the pages of this first issue).  Well, you get the idea.

N2P has developed a time-tested and apparently very successful template for these neighborhood publications, which are aimed at high-net-worth communities. All of the production and distribution work is handled by the North Carolina-based headquarters staff, while all of the local ad-selling and content creation work is done by the Area Director, who is essentially an independent franchisee of N2P's.

For those who follow the trials and tribulations of print media, it may seem a bit surprising that a new magazine can be entering the local scene.  But as Redfern pointed out when we met with him last month, N2P has clearly found the formula for content generation and for attracting advertisers. "By highlighting the people who live in a community, their kids, their charitable interests, their events," these magazines are "a little bit different" in their focus from other media, he noted. "This is the face-to-face component" that can only exist when you're dealing with a neighborhood.  The goal is a magazine that's "warm, personal, and intimate."

Madison Park Living, by its very nature, is not a news publication: it's effectively social media in a very old format.  But this is a very old neighborhood--and one with a relatively old demographic that still sometimes reads things published on paper! Madison Park households, all 1,575 of them, will get the chance to read or not read when Madison Park Living makes its debut during the last week of this month.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Keeping up

NY Times focuses on bold Madison Park home

Whether you like it or hate it, you'd have to admit that the newest residence to grace the neighborhood is one standout house. This modernistic "passive" home in Washington Park, which was completed last month at 4211 E. Lee Street, has received a lot of unsolicited commentary from passersby since construction began (the term "architecturally aggressive" is a relatively neutral example). But the press has been very favorably disposed, as in a laudatory New York Times story appearing earlier this week.

As The Times reports, a certified "passive" house costs more to construct because it must meet certain energy efficiency and airtightness standards. This new house in Madison Park is one of the first such "green" residential structures certified in Washington State; and its developer, Cascade Built, touts it as the first ever constructed in Seattle. Cascade's principal, Sloan Ritchie, his wife Jennifer, and their two children are the first occupants of this impossible-to-miss new dwelling.

Preschool has openings

The Madison Park Cooperative Preschool, housed in the Madison Park Beach bathhouse, still has openings for the fall classes starting in September.  As of earlier this week, there were still spaces available, as follows:

1-year olds (Tots): Monday & Wednesday 4pm to 5:30pm

2-year olds (Two's): Tuesday & Thursday 9:15am to 11:15

2s/Young 3s: Monday & Wednesday 11:30am to 1:30pm

Those interested in registering a child should contact the Coop's Registrar for more information:

New on the scene

Artist and physician Valerie Collymore, has brought her business, Valerie Collymore Fine Art, to Madison Park. She now has some of her impressionist oil paintings on display at 4031 E. Madison Street, where she can be found on Fridays (4:30 until 7 pm) and Saturdays (9:30 am until 2:30 pm). She is participating in this year's Madison Park Art Walk and was recently included in the American Impressionist Society's 14th Annual National Juried Show.  (That's her piece, "French Riviera Memories," shown above).

[Photo of "passive house" by Aaron Leitz, lifted from the Cascade Built website.]

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

July Police Blotter

It didn't happen here

Earlier this summer, we were taken a little bit to task by a reader who with gentle good humor commented that this blog's neighborhood crime reports are becoming rather dull. She wondered, "Can't you do something to spice them up a bit?"  Well, maybe it's us; but it's just possible that Madison Park has not been subjected to the kinds of criminal activity that  make for interesting reading.

Crime does seem to be on the wane, with only four house break-ins reported in the neighborhood so far this summer and the same number of car prowls. There were almost twice as many house break-ins and car prowls for the same June/July period last year (seven incidents in each case).  And by this point last summer we had already reported an attempted car jacking plus that weird man-with-a-gun incident near Bush School.  This year, no crimes worthy of headline treatment.  But what makes for dull reading also makes for a relatively crime-free neighborhood in which to live.

In July there were only two reported home burglaries in Madison Park. The first occurred on July 1 on the1800 block of Broadmoor Drive. E. The investigating officer found no signs of a forced entry when called to the house by the victim, who had arrived home to discover that items had been removed from the residence, including a Tag Hauer watch and an iPad.  The burglar, it seems, did not need to force entry due to the fact that a window had been left open in the house "because of the heat."  There was a home-security system, but it had not been turned on at the time of the incident, according to the police report.

The second incident occurred on July 24 on the 3700 block of E. Prospect St.  The victim, who was at home at the time, reported that he had seen the crime in progress on his home-security video system. The suspects had exited a silver Subaru, had walked onto the property, and had taken two gas cans and a leaf blower from an unlocked exterior storage room of the residence.  The suspects then placed the items into their vehicle. The homeowner "exited his home and confronted the suspects," but they sped off "in an unknown direction of travel."  Unfortunately, the homeowner was unable to retrieve the surveillance footage showing the crime as it happened, though he did give the investigating officer the suspect's vehicle license number.

The July car break-ins occurred on July 8 on the 1100 block of 33rd Avenue E. and on July 31 on the 4200 block of E. Lynn Street.  There were also two vehicle thefts reported during the month: a truck was stolen on July 27 from the 2400 block of 42nd Avenue E. and a car was stolen three days later from the 2400 block of 43rd Avenue E.

Now for comparative purposes (and perhaps we'll make this a regular feature), here is a report of a recent crime occurring in a nearby neighborhood, Capitol Hill, as provided by the SPD Blotter:

Man arrested for biting off another man’s ear

by Detective Renee Witt 

Officers searched for a man’s missing ear with negative results. Last night just shortly before 10:00 p.m., officers responded to an assault call in the 100 block of 10 Av E.  According to the victim the suspect walked into his fenced yard and urinated. 

The victim asked the suspect to leave when the suspect’s girlfriend came over and also told the suspect that they should leave. The suspect then began assaulting his girlfriend.  The victim pushed the suspect and tried to stop him when the suspect attacked him. During the attack the suspect bit a large portion of the victim’s left ear off.

The suspect then left the area.  Officers arrived and conducted a search for the suspect. Officers found him near Cal Anderson Park. The man’s mouth was covered in blood. He was contacted and placed under arrest without incident.   The 21-year-old suspect was booked into King County Jail for Investigation of Assault. The 23 year-old male victim was transported to Harborview Medical Center for treatment. 

Officers asked the suspect if he swallowed the victim’s ear. He would not answer but looked up and smiled.  An area check for the victim’s ear was negative.

[Thanks to the Capitol Hill Seattle blog for pointing out this incident.]

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bank reveals plans for ex-Tully's space

HomeStreet will arrive in 2014

It's official. The building that for many years housed the Madison Park Tully's  will ultimately be the site of Madison Park's fifth bank branch. But it's not going to happen anytime soon. Our story last week about the increasingly dilapidated state of that building (4036 E. Madison St.) has prompted HomeStreet Bank to confirm its intention to open a branch in Madison Park, as well as provide the timetable for its arrival.

In an email to the Madison Park Blogger yesterday, Terri Silver, HomeStreet's Corporate Communications Vice President, acknowledged that the Bank had leased the space and had recently met with the City and the building landlord to review plans for remodeling the 113-year-old building. "The remodel is quite extensive and will encompass both internal and external work," Silver noted. "We are very excited at the prospect of becoming a member of the community and are working on a design for the building that we believe will be ascetically pleasing and will fit well with its surroundings."  The graphic above shows what the branch will look like when completed, assuming that the City and building owner approve the design.

If everything goes according to plan, a permit may be issued for remodeling as early as October, with construction to be completed in early 2014, according to Silver.  Because of the multiple cases of vandalism since the building was vacated in late 2012, the Bank has requested and received permission to "wrap" the building, a process scheduled to begin later this week.

When HomeStreet opens its doors in Madison Park next year it will be the first locally-based bank to have a branch in the neighborhood since the demise of WaMu in early 2009.

[Graphic courtesy of HomeStreet Bank.]

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Second Quarter Real Estate Report

Sales up, Inventory down

The real estate market in Madison Park continued its acceleration in the second quarter, the quarterly statistics confirming stronger sales volume, quicker closings, and increasing home values.

There were 49 residential sales in the second quarter, which is a 53% increase over the 32 sales recorded in the same quarter last year.  And with only 44 homes currently on the market, the absorption rate now stands at less than three months.

Here’s the breakdown of the second-quarter numbers for Madison Park (Washington Park and Broadmoor included):


Sales:  40
Median Sale Price:  $1,277,500
Average Sq. Ft.:  4,022
Average Price per Sq. Ft.:  $424
Average Days on Market:  104
Average Discount from List Price:  4.45%


Sales:  9
Median Sale Price:  $475,000
Average Sq. Ft.:  1,164
Average Price per Sq. Ft.:  $475
Average Days on Market:  230
Average Discount from List Price: 5.1%

A top-floor unit in this condo building at 2325 43rd Ave. E. sold in one day for $1,099,000

Although the median sale price of single-family homes last quarter was down significantly from the $1,750,000 figure of a year ago, that is simply a reflection of the different mix of homes sold in two periods.  In fact, the average $424 per sf. ft. sales price this year represents a 10% increase over the $385 per sq. ft. realized by home sellers in Q2 2012.

Although the numbers are slightly misleading, the average days on market for sold homes was down in the second quarter compared to the earlier sales this year.  Single-family residences (known as SFRs in the trade) showed a big decline from 178 days in the first quarter this year to just 104 days last quarter.  And while the average time condos spent on the market rose from 133 to 230 days since the first quarter, this was the result of one incredible outlier.  A waterfront condo at 2040 43rd Avenue E. spent 1885 days (that’s over five years) on the market, according to the NW Multiple Listing Service.  If this sale were not counted, the average days from listing to close for condos in the second quarter would have been only 23 days. That’s an amazing come down from the average of 110 days during the same period last year.

Also on the good-news front, sellers in the second quarter took a smaller discount from their original list prices than was true last year. For SFRs, the decline was from 5.2% last year to 4.85% this year, although if one house that sold for 29% less than the original listing price is excluded, the figure falls to just 3.8%.  That 6,500 sq. ft. Washington Park home, which was originally listed at $5,950,000, sold for $4,250,000 after 518 days.

Many others did not mirror that particular seller’s experience, however.  In fact, there were 13 house sales and three condo sales during the quarter that occurred within ten days of listing. And seven of the 40 house sales, almost one in five, sold at a premium to the original list price.  For example, a house listed for $1,250,000 at 2104 38th Avenue E. sold for $1,305,000 (a 4.5% premium) just 14 days later. The fact that the lot was sub-dividable may have had more than a little to do with the multiple offers.  One seller received $683,876, 12% over asking price, for his $609,000 listing after only four days.  These are stories to gladden the hearts of those very few who are now putting their houses on the market.

Here’s an overview of what was available in Madison Park at the end of July, as provided by the NW Multiple Listing Service:


Listings:  33
Median List Price:  $2,595,000
Median Sq. Ft.:  4,101
Median Price per Sq. Ft.:  $633
Average Days on Market:  165
Percentage with Price Reductions:  33%
New Listings:  5
Pending Sales:  16


Listings:  12
Median List Price:  $907,000
Median Sq. Ft.:  1,400
Median Price per Sq. Ft.:  $648
Average Days on Market:  132
Percentage with Price Reductions:  45%
New Listings:  1
Pending Sales:  6

1900 Shenandoah Dr., Broadmoor, listed at $4,295,000

There have been only six new listings in the past 30 days, which is well less than the average nine sales that occurred per month during the second quarter.  This disequilibrium, which is consistent with the overall market, may help further the trends of upward sales prices and shorter times on market for sold homes.  Pending sales are currently 50% higher than at the same point last year.

It’s interesting to compare the current inventory with what actually sold in the previous quarter.  For example, the average price per sq. ft. for SFRs is $585 for properties on the market versus $424 for those that recently sold.  The median sale price in the second quarter, $1,277,500, is just 49% of the $2,595,000 median list price for those SFRs still available.

There are very few of what might pass as “affordable” houses available in Madison Park.  Of the 33 listings, only three are under $1 million.  Seventeen are listed at $2 million or more.  Right now there are actually two “ultra-luxury” $6 million waterfront houses on the market in Washington Park (both on the 400 block of 39th Avenue E.) that are priced at over $1,400 per sq. ft.

452 39th Ave. E.: 4,200 sq. ft. listed at $5,895,000 

The least expensive listing in the neighborhood is a “quaint art deco duplex on a quiet street” (to quote the listing agent) at 2030 McGilvra Boulevard E., priced at $710,000. That’s just an average $276 per sq. ft. for the 2,570 sq. ft. “multi-family” dwelling.

2030 McGilvra Blvd.: 2,750 sq. ft. listed at $710,000 and now pending

Just as an aside, the most expensive home that sold in Madison Park last quarter was actually a spec house.  Located at 344 McGilvra Boulevard E., the 7,760 sq. ft. Washington Park mansion has five levels and a sweeping Lake view. The house has a convoluted multi-year history of start-and-stop building, but when it finally came on the market in June 2012 it was listed at $7,900,000.  In June this year it sold for $4,695,000.  That’s still $605 per sq. ft., though not the highest amount per sq. ft. paid for a house in Madison Park during the quarter.

[Thanks to Laura Halliday of Windermere Real Estate for her help in compiling the sales data. Listing data courtesy of Redfin, using information from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service and other sources. Photos courtesy of Redfin. Editorial Note: 344 McGilvra, although originally listed at $7,900,000, was later removed from the market and then re-listed, which is why it is not the house mentioned in this posting as having the biggest discount at sale from its original listing price. Original listing price refers to the most-recent listing.]