Seattle's Magnolia Neighborhood News Blog

Magnolia Voice header image 4

Entries from September 2008

Community Center set to reopen

September 30th, 2008 by Sara

It looks like they were working down to the last minute but the reopening of the Magnolia Community Center is set for Wednesday afternoon.

The center has been closed since mid-June for repairs, mainly to the roof.  The project cost was close to $1 million dollars.  No programs have been available at the normally busy community center during the closure.

The community center will host an opening celebration from 3pm to 6pm and the center will resume normal operations.

→ 35 CommentsTags:

Whole Foods sued for breaking Interbay lease

September 30th, 2008 by Sara

Update:  Whole Foods represantives have finally commented on the lawsuit, telling The Stranger that negotiations with their landlord are a work in progress and they are still hoping to reach a resolution.  We have contacted their representatives several times and have been told the company would have no comment so not sure why they are only talking to The Stranger?

Update:  Here is the statement we just received from TRF Pacific, the company that filed suit against Whole Foods.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve been forced into taking this action.  This is the first time in our company’s history that we’ve had to file a lawsuit against an anchor tenant for breach of lease.  TRF has had a great working relationship with Whole Foods.  In fact, this is the third development with the company.  The Interbay Whole Foods was configured and custom built based on Whole Foods’ specifications.  Whole Foods notified us of its intentions to terminate its lease one week before we were scheduled to turn over the building shell to the company.  We’re hopeful that Whole Foods will reconsider its decision and honor the commitments it has made.”  

We also heard back from Whole Foods, letting us know they had no comment on the lawsuit.

Exclusive:  Whole Foods is now being sued by the company that’s building the shopping center on 15th Ave. for breaching the lease.  And there are now serious questions as to whether the store will ever open at that location. 

As we reported in our exclusive post earlier this month, Whole Foods delayed the project for up to a year while also decreasing the size of the store.  Construction has stopped at the site and the store is just a shell inside.

Now Interbay Urban Center says that Whole Foods unlawfully terminated the lease on September 22 and has just filed suit asking for almost $68 million in damages.  The lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court says that Whole Foods owes them for recovery of development and construction costs, the recovery of future rents and the difference in the value of the shopping center without Whole Foods.

We have calls out to Whole Foods but they are not responding.  We will let you know as soon as we hear from them.  This could also be bad news for the other stores who are expected to open at the site including Pete’s Coffee and Subway since traffic at the shopping center will not be as high without Whole Foods.

The Interbay Whole Foods is still listed on the company website along with a store under construction in West Seattle.

→ 28 CommentsTags:

Fort Lawton fight continues

September 29th, 2008 by Sara

UPDATE:  The group reports that they reached the initial fundraising goal.  This means that they will move forward with filing a lawsuit against the city for violating SEPA regulations.  They say this is just the first step and they are asking for further contributions for legal proceedings.  More information here

The Magnolia Neighborhood Planning Council (MNPC) is not giving up the fight for the Army Reserve Center at Discovery Park.  Last week the Seattle City Council voted in favor of the redevelopment plan for 216 homes, including 86 units for the homeless, on the site being vacated by the Army.

The MNPC is now asking for donations to fund a lawsuit against the city.  They want the land returned to Discovery Park, as they believe the park master plan intended.  Here is the message we just received from Robin Bud at the MNPC:

While the total cost of the lawsuit might be substantial, it will probably only cost $5000-$10,000 for the first stage.  We need to know by Wednesday (October 1) whether there’s enough support to get this suit started.  If we can’t raise over $5000 by Wednesday evening, we’ll be forced to tell our attorney to drop the case. 

Please let us know whether, and how much, you can contribute.  Any contribution you make will be used only for attorney’s fees.   You can make checks payable to MNPC, and you can mail them to MNPC, Box 271, 3213 W Wheeler, Seattle, 98199.  Please shoot me an email if you mail a check so I’ll know where we stand at

If we fail to raise $5,000 by Wednesday evening, we will return your checks to you.  We’ve raised $1600 so far (not counting money already spent).  I believe we have a very good chance of prevailing in this legal case.

Richard Aramburu is the attorney working with the group.  He says that while there are many factors involved in estimating the cost of litigation he believes that the total cost would be in the vicinity of $30,000-$40,000.  The lawsuit against the city needs to be filed in King County Superior Court by October 13.

→ 33 CommentsTags:

Magnolia man to hit the high seas

September 26th, 2008 by Sara

For the next 8 months Jonathan McKee will be on a 37,000 mile journey around the world. As one of the world’s best sailors, he’s part of the American team racing in the Volvo Ocean Race. As a member of the 10-person team, McKee is a sail trimmer in charge of making the boat go fast. “VOR is something I wanted to do for several years — I guess it could put a cap to my career,” McKee tells the Seattle PI. The race kicks off on October 11th and will circumnavigate the globe starting in Alicante, Spain and traveling around Africa, up to India, Singapore and China before heading across the Pacific Ocean. Once around Cape Horn, the race will head up to Boston before heading back to Europe. Sailors are expected to reach the finish line is St. Petersburg, Russia by June 2009.


Magnolia teens talk about ice cave accident

September 25th, 2008 by Sara

UPDATE:  We just got new pictures from the press conference with Alec and Alessandro.  The photos were taken by Clare McLean from the University of Washington.

This picture shows the boys playing rock, paper, scissors to see who would have to speak to the media first. Alec’s mom Joni Corbett is on the left.

Chrissy Gelmini speaks to the media about her son’s accident and recovery.

Alec (on left) talks to the media

Alessandro faces media questions.

The two Magnolia boys who were buried in an ice cave in the Cascade Mountains last month are now talking about the ordeal. Seventeen-year-old Alec Corbett and 14-year-old Alessandro Gelmini are recovering from injuries they suffered when the ice cave collapsed on them.  Both boys told KING TV they didn’t think they would live through the ordeal.

“When it first happened didn’t think I would make it out,” said Alessandro. (photo below)

The teens were hiking with their families in the Denny Creek area east of Seattle on Aug. 21, when they entered the mouth of the ice cave. A 50-foot section of the cave’s roof crashed down on them.

Alec and Alessandro are Magnolia neighbors.  Both boys are back at Bishop Blanchet High School but it will be six to twelve months before they are fully recovered.  They each suffered broken backs in the collapse and have undergone several surgeries.  Alessandro is in a wheelchair  with two fractured ankles and a dislocated shoulder.  Alec( photo below) currently needs crutches for a fractured ankle.



→ 39 CommentsTags:

Kathi Goertzen recovering from surgery

September 24th, 2008 by Sara

UPDATE:  The doctors have moved Kathi out of the intensive care unit today, just one day after surgery. Last time she spent three days in ICU.  Kathi is resting comfortably which is a good sign.

UPDATE:  KOMO TV anchor and Magnolia resident Kathi Goertzen is recovering after an eight hour surgery for a brain tumor today.  KOMO News Director Holly Gauntt and anchor Dan Lewis issued a statement on the station’s website.  They reported that doctors felt the surgery went well and they removed as much of the tumor as they could but were unable to get it all. To take it all would risk damaging some important nerves.

Kathi will likely be in the hospital for several days before returning to her Magnolia home to recover. She will begin radiation treatment as soon as she is strong enough.  This is the fourth time Kathi has had surgery for the tumor over the past ten years.

→ 36 CommentsTags:

Is Fort Lawton homeless plan building justice?

September 24th, 2008 by Sara

The decision by the City Council to redevelop Fort Lawton into housing for the homeless gets a big thumbs up from the Seattle PI today.

The opinion piece calls the decision ‘building justice’ and states that the city did the right thing by approving the plan that will put 85 units of housing for the homeless in the Army Reserve Center at the corner of West Government Way and 36th Ave West.  The paper says that providing housing for the homeless in a good neighborhood works well.

I guess we are going to find out if that is true.  Thoughts?


→ 5 CommentsTags:

Restaurant reviews…do you agree?

September 24th, 2008 by Sara

It’s been a couple of weeks since we put up our restaurant review section.  Take a look and see if you agree with your neighbor’s assessment of our local eateries.  Nikos Gyros continues to be the fan favorite with an impressive four and a half star (out of five) rating. 

You can share your opinion by clicking on the stars and leaving a commment.  The best reviews come from the people in our neighborhood who actually eat there.  Plus, this is one of the few chances you get to act like a food critic and that’s always fun. 

→ 45 CommentsTags:

More news on crowded Magnolia schools

September 23rd, 2008 by Sara

As we reported in earlier postings, the Seattle School District is struggling to figure out what to do with crowded schools in the Magnolia and Queen Anne area.  Early enrollment figures show the problem is bad this year and expected to get worse next year.  It’s a problem specific to the north end schools, enrollment district wide is actually declining.

The Seattle PI takes another look at the problem here.

Following community meetings last week, the district has a work session scheduled at their October 1 meeting to discuss options.  For more information visit

→ 32 CommentsTags:

City says yes to Fort Lawton plan

September 22nd, 2008 by Sara

UPDATE:  Mayor Nickels applauds the work of the council in this news release saying the Fort Lawton plan will provide much needed homeless housing for families and seniors in a mixed use community. 

UPDATE:   The council just voted to approve the proposed Fort Lawton redevelopment.  Councilperson Tom Rasmussen told the council that the city held 18 community meetings on this plan and it addresses the major concerns.  Here are the comments from a couple of the city council members before the unanimous vote to approve.  

Sally Clark:  “This is good legislation.  It balances what we are looking for.  We know that a number of folks are not happy with this plan; they would like to see the property added in its entirety to Discovery Park.  I don’t read the Discovery Park Master Plan in the same way.  In 2008 I think there is a different reality as far as 8000 homeless people on the street at night in King County.   There is a balance here with this becoming a well developed, well designed and well integrated part of the Magnolia community.”

Richard Conlin:  “This is a challenging situation.  Our goal was to try to pull in different perspectives and create a new community.  We are carefully crafting this plan and we will be creating a couple hundred units of housing.  It should be very compatible with the community around it.  We hope this is accepted.  If not acceptable to the federal government, they can send to a private developer.  We’ve got a good policy here.”

Tom Burgess:  “This is a great plan and good legislation.  I have received many statements of support from  the Magnolia neighborhood, even immediate neighbors living by the park.”

Prior to the vote, opponent Elizabeth Campbell told the council that the process was distressing and the countil was just going through the motions of listening to the community.  She said the Discovery Park Master Plan should not have been disregarded.

KING TV filed this report on the council decision.  Read the Seattle Times and Seattle PI coverage here.

 As we reported in our previous posting, the Magnolia Neighborhood Planning Council tried to stop the process to no avail.  They submitted a request seeking an extension, along with a request for a stay in the legislative process the City Council is engaged in to approve a plan for the Army base.  They claim there are problems with the plan being considered  and the City ignored the Discovery Park Master Plan


→ 5 CommentsTags: