Seattle's Magnolia Neighborhood News Blog

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Entries from January 2009

Struggling readers

January 31st, 2009 by Sara

Did you know that 20% of elementary students nationwide have significant problems learning how to read, regardless of their socio-economic status? 

We want to point out an event coming up this week to address that concern at Lawton Elementary School, sponsored by Read On & Successful Schools in Action (SSIA).  Parents and educators are invited to a panel discussion called Struggling Readers 101/Meeting the Challenge in Seattle Schools.

Set for Wednesday, February 4, from 6:30-8:00pm at Lawton, the event will feature reading specialists Laura Rogan, Elizabeth Sorby, Sue Palewicz & Julie Bedell.

Successful Schools in Action is an educational non-profit working with seven public schools in our area to provide collaborative and community based programs. The partner schools include Blaine, Lawton, Coe, John Hay, McClure Middle School, The Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center, and the Center School.  

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Big accident on 15th in Interbay

January 30th, 2009 by Sara

UPDATE:  Traffic was backed up for almost six hours following the accident on Friday night. 

According to SPD, the suspect was driving his Toyota Highlander north on 15th Ave W at a very high rate of speed, cutting in and out of traffic and passing other vehicles using the center turn lane. He hit one car near Armory Way and did not stop.  The female driver in that collision was not injured.

The suspect continued northbound at excessively high speeds, driving in the center lane and passing other motorists. He drove into the left lane of southbound traffic and collided head on into a Honda CRV occupied by two women, injuring them both. The suspect spun out of control and collided into a Mini Cooper. That driver was not hurt. Both women in the Honda CRV were transported to Harborview, the 65-year-old driver had life-threatening injuries and the front seat passenger had non-life-threatening injuries.

The adult male suspect was also transported to Harborview with non-life-threatening injuries, where officers evaluated him for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. 

UPDATE:  Additional coverage and photographs from KIRO TV.  Firefighters had to cut the injured people out of both vehicles.  We checked the Fire Department 911 Response Log and a total of 14 fire/rescue units were sent to the scene of the accident, including the heavy rescue unit at 3pm today.

UPDATE:  KOMO TV says that two people are critically injured following the crash.  A 40 year old woman and 45 year old man have been rushed to Harborview with life threatening injuries.  Another female passenger, age unknown, was also taken to the hospital to be checked out.

Drivers report that traffic is being rerouted into Magnolia to avoid the back up caused by the accident.

A collision along 15th Ave. near the Interbay Golf Center at 3 p.m. this afternoon created long traffic backups stretching all the way to the Ballard Bridge. Mike emailed us to say it’s a “terrible head-on accident” involving a SUV, and there are reports of three injuries, one critical. 

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Fund your ideas for neighborhood improvements

January 30th, 2009 by Sara

From now until Feb. 27th, you can submit an application with the city to request funding for small-scale (up to $90K per project) street or parks improvements.

The new sidewalks installed in The Village last summer were funded through this city program called Bridging the Gap

Other projects that could qualify for these funds include traffic circles and speed bumps. Bridging the Gap wants to reduce the maintenance backlog, pave and repair Seattle streets, improve pedestrian and bicycle safety and create safe routes to schools.


Souper Bowl of Caring

January 30th, 2009 by Sara

Some Magnolia teens will be working to raise money for Northwest Harvest on Super Bowl Sunday.  The Magnolia News reports that the Magnolia Mission Youth will lead the Souper Bowl of Caring by collecting donations at four area churches. 

You can donate at the follwing sponsor churches: Church of the Ascension, Magnolia Lutheran Church, Magnolia Presbyterian Church and Magnolia United Church of Christ.

The Magnolia teens are part of a nationwide collection campaign to help those who are hungry and homeless

“Both the Souper Bowl of Caring organization and the Magnolia Mission Youth believe that teens are not only leaders of tomorrow, but they also can be leaders for today,” said Buzz Matthews, director of the youth group. “It is our hope that by educating young people about hunger and poverty, we are guiding them toward a lifetime of service.”

 If you would like to participate in the Souper Bowl, you may drop off a check made out to Northwest Harvest to one of the four sponsoring church offices. For more information, contact Matthews at (206) 697-1781.

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City crews check Magnolia bridges after small earthquake

January 30th, 2009 by Sara

A shallow earthquake centered 14 miles north of Seattle shook some people awake at 5:25 a.m. It measured 4.5 on the scale, too small to cause any damage. We slept right through it at Magnolia Voice headquarters….anyone in the neighborhood feel it? 

The PI reports that City of Seattle crews did an initial round of checks for any quake damage, inspecting the Ballard, Fremont, University Bridges and the Spokane Street Viaduct and found no damage there.  

City spokesman Rick Sheridan says crews are still inspecting the Magnolia, Emerson Street and 12th Avenue South bridges and the 15th Avenue Northwest interchange near the Ballard Bridge.

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Open house for townhomes

January 30th, 2009 by Sara

The first chance to see inside the new townhomes in The Magnolia Village is set for Saturday, February 14 from 12pm to 5pm. 

The 15 townhomes, called Carleton Park, are 2,500 to 3,000 square feet and prices begin at $1,145,000.  Each of the townhomes has a private elevator and they are constructed as home and office residences. 

Built across the street from Bartells, these townhomes have been a topic of much discussion in the neighborhood.  The open house will give nosy neighbors and potential buyers the chance to finally take a look inside.   Each of the townhomes has security monitors, high-tech wiring, 2-car garages and decks surrounding a gated courtyard.  

There has been lots of interest in this project and the open house is likely to draw a big crowd.  The event also includes a bbq.    

So far none of the townhomes have been sold and the real estate agents listing them tell us this is the beginning of the marketing effort.

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Magnolia’s favorite you agree?

January 29th, 2009 by Sara

We want to remind you to check the Magnolia Voice Restaurant Section.  We have information on all restaurants in the neighborhood and you rate them based on your experience.  Each computer is only allowed one vote to keep the system fair.  While the rating system is certainly not scientific, we think it is a pretty good indicator of how people feel about our local eateries. 

We started the restaurant ratings in September and after five months there are some clear favorites.  Here are the current top five restaurants (in order) as chosen by Magnolia Voice readers:

Number one Red Mill has been a consistent favorite from the start with comments like this one from C.J.: 

“There isn’t a better burger joint between here and Chicago (unless you count their Phinney location). The shakes are thick, the onion rings are crisp and tangy, and the burgers are worth risking arterial sclerosis.”

Ichiro also feels the love from readers, with this recent comment from Valentijn:

“I’ve always liked this place, but it’s gotten even better lately. Very fresh sushi, lighter tempura batter, more flavorful gyoza sauce…… And the staff are friendly, attentive, and fast!”

There is a lot of loyalty to Nikos too, this from DB:

“The best little dinner in the Village! Food always hot and fresh. Not a lot of fanfare but consistently good. Thank you Nikos”

 High praise for Mulleady’s from Lesley:

“We love this neighborhood restaurant and bar! The food is consistently good and it has that wonderful neighborhood feel.”

And a restaurant that is new to Magnolia cracked the top five already.  The Fightin’ Cock Roaster just opened in November and is getting rave reviews like this one from Cathy:

“Fantastic food. My husband and I had the Mauler, and can hardly wait to go back to try all the rest of the menu. Friendly staff were fun too.”

 What do you think?  Agree or disagree?  Let us know in comments below.

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Magnolia Moms and Dads group online

January 28th, 2009 by Sara

The online group for Magnolia parents is celebrating its one year anniversary and the moderator is inviting more families to join.  The Moms and Dads Yahoo group was started last year in an effort to build community and share information with families in Magnolia. 

Kate Dandel started the group and says that over the past year parents have shared information about schools, local sports and events, dance classes, new book groups and walking groups.  

“We have referred each other to local businesses and contractors, warned each other against car prowls and crime, and of course sold or exchanged baby gear and home furnishings,” says Dandel.

While many Seattle neighborhoods have their own online parents groups these days, Dandel says she is pleased that the Magnolia group has its own unique personality, and maintains an intimate feeling of community.

“I strive to keep the membership limited to our neighborhood and noncommercial in nature (although we do of course allow people to periodically “shamelessly self promote” their professional services).  Looking ahead to 2009, I hope we will reach even more families in the neighborhood!” said Dandel.

If you want to join Magnolia Moms and Dads, click here and follow the instructions.  If you already have a  Yahoo account, just search for “Magnolia Moms and Dads” and submit your name. 

You can also drop an email to

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Magnolia resident Larry Phillips enters King County Executive Race

January 27th, 2009 by Sara

Not much of a surprise, but today King County Councilmember Larry Phillips announced that he is running for King County Executive this year.  Pledging a “fresh start” for King County, Phillips has not aggressively pointed out differences between himself and fellow Democrat and incumbent King County Executive Ron Sims.  Its unusual for someone in the same party challenge an incumbent, so it will be interesting to see how the race develops.  The Seattle PI says a big difference between the two is transportation, a hot button for Magnolia, Queen Anne and Ballard residents.

Phillips has been a proponent of Sound Transit and its light rail program, while Sims publicly reversed his long-held advocacy of light rail before the 2007 vote on a rail-and-highway tax package. That package was defeated, but a transit-only measure was approved by voters in Novermber 2008.

A Magnolia resident, Phillips attended Queen Anne High School and the University of Washington.

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Whole Foods to open in late 2009

January 27th, 2009 by Sara

Officials of Whole Foods Market and developer TRF Pacific today announced that Whole Foods Market will be open by Christmas 2009 at the Interbay Urban Center

At a news conference held at the site of the store this morning, John Clougher, the company’s president for the Pacific Northwest region, told a crowd of reporters and other interested parties that Whole Foods has worked out its differences with the developer. The lawsuit filed last fall by TRF Pacific against Whole Foods has been dropped.  Clougher called the problems ‘a little bit of a dust up.’

Whole Foods will now use 38,000 square feet for their store and will look for another retailer to sublease the remaining 22,000 square feet.  The drawing below shows Whole Foods on the right and the available retail space is on the left in beige. 

The Interbay Whole Foods will offer a salad bar, hot bar, chef’s case, all-natural sandwiches, coffee shop and other amenities, such as cooking classes and demonstrations. The high end grocery store will employ about 150 people. The store will focus on the company’s commitment to promoting healthy eating and simple foods. 

“Each store is designed and operated for the needs of the specific community it serves.  The Interbay Whole Foods Market will have an interactive healthy eating center with chefs, a new Whole Values section, an expanded bulk foods section and a new sandwich bar that is unlike anything we have in our other stores,” said Clougher.  He said the store will feature lots of foods to go, citing the location on busy 15th Ave West.


As we reported back in September, construction stopped at the store site when Whole Foods wanted to lower the square footage of the store.  TRF then filed a $68 million lawsuit against Whole Foods for violating the lease.   Today, both sides are pleased with the new agreement and construction is set to resume right away.

“Our strong ongoing partnership helped us bring this agreement to fruition despite the challenging economy,” said Doug Exworthy, TRF Pacific managing member.  “This is a win-win-win, not only for our two companies but for Interbay and the surrounding neighborhoods as well.”

In addition to Whole Foods Market, four other retail spaces have been leased at Interbay Center to Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Subway, Interbay Cleaners and Verizon Wireless.  There are no dates set for opening those stores but Peet’s is expected to open before Whole Foods. 

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