Daily news blog for Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood

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Where are all the homes for sale? (sponsored story)

February 22nd, 2013 by Kate Bergman

(This is a sponsored story written by John Madrid, Managing Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate).

“A house, a house, my kingdom for a house”. If you are in the market for a new home you can probably empathize with Shakespeare’s King Richard III. Single-family homes, townhomes, and even condos are all in short supply throughout most of the city.

For Northwest Seattle (including Ballard, Fremont, Green Lake, Phinney and Wallingford) there is now less than a 1 month supply of single-family home inventory which is definitely favoring home sellers with the result that homes are really hard to come by. We will continue to see more pre-inspections, multiple offers, and bidding wars on the fewer listings hitting the market.

Why the shortage of homes for sale? First, some home owners simply can’t sell since they have negative equity (they owe more than their home would sell for). Second, are home owners who can’t find a new home to upsize or downsize into that would allow them to put their existing home on the market. Third, is that some home owners are either unaware of the improved market for sellers or they are content to stay in their current home rather than over extend themselves. Fourth, are owners betting on continued prices gains over the coming months and years. A final factor has been the significant slowdown in new construction, up until last year, that typically helps alleviate the demand for more housing stock.

In addition to a reduced supply, demand has picked up with the influx of new hires (Amazon, Microsoft, etc). There is also a general belief that home prices and interest rates have only one direction to move and that is up. Many renters have concluded that, with big jumps in rent, buying a home may be the wiser long term investment especially if they are able to lock in these historically low interest rates.

Home prices will continue to rise until there is more of supply/demand equilibrium. If you are looking for a home there are a couple potential silver linings over the coming weeks and months. First, is that we are entering the historically seasonal high point for new inventory. Second, is that interest rates aren’t expected to move significantly upward until the end of the year at the earliest.

More stats on other Seattle neighborhoods can be found at by clicking here.

Tip: The fewer contingencies (i.e. finance, inspection) a home buyer has, the more attractive they are to a home seller, especially in multiple offer situations. Believe it or not, buyer “love letters” to sellers can swing things into a buyer’s favor, just don’t overdo it.

John Madrid is a Managing Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate – University Village and is a 2005-2012 Seattle Magazine “Five Star” Agent. His clients include both home buyers and sellers. He can be reached at 206-498-1880, john@live206.com or www.live206.com.

Statistics are deemed reliable but are not guaranteed. All information should be verified to the users own satisfaction.

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Sustainable Wallingford to promote solar installations

January 29th, 2013 by Kate Bergman

Sustainable Wallingford is helping sponsor a citywide solar campaign and will be helping host workshops to help residents learn how to solarize their homes. It’s called the “Solarize Seattle: Northwest Project” and is organized by the non-profit NW SEED, who is working with Seattle City Light to organize volunteer groups who advocate for residential solar installations.

The campaign is an effort to make solar PV (photo-voltaic) systems more accessible through group-buying programs. They’re currently operating in several northwest Seattle zip codes, including north of the Ship Canal and west of I-5. There are also tax and production incentives to help lower the cost; a sales tax exemption allows for a 10 percent savings right off the bat, but that will expire June 30. However, a 30 percent federal tax credit will be available until 2016. The group-buying opportunity can save more money; click here for a rundown of how that works.

For more on Solarize Seattle and the upcoming workshops, click here.

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Big turnaround in 2012 for Northwest Seattle housing market (sponsored story)

January 24th, 2013 by Kate Bergman

(This is a sponsored story written by John Madrid, Managing Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate).

What a difference a year makes … sale prices continue their climb and time on market continues to drop. It is definitely turning into a seller’s market.

For the 11th consecutive month the median sale price for single-family homes sold in Northwest Seattle, including Ballard, Fremont, Green Lake, Phinney and Wallingford, met or exceeded the sale price for the same period a year prior. Much of this trend can be attributed to a decrease in the supply of homes for sale in 2012 compared to 2011.

In addition to a shortage of inventory, record low interest rates, continued strong hiring by Amazon, Microsoft and a slew of smaller to midsize companies and a general belief that the market has hit bottom has resulted in strong appreciation for most Seattle home owners and sellers in 2012.

The median sale price for single-family homes sold in 2012 in NW Seattle was $425,000 compared to $399,000 for 2011, a 6.5% increase. The average time on market decreased to 32 days in 2012 from 42 days in 2011.

A less than a 3 month supply of homes is generally considered a Seller’s market. The overall supply of NW Seattle homes averaged around 1.4 months of inventory for 2012 compared to a little less than a 3 month supply for 2011.

Expected trends for 2013 include continued low interest rates and inventory as well as multiple offers situations for competitively priced homes in popular neighborhoods including most of NW Seattle with its great walkability, popular schools and proximity to downtown.

More stats on other Seattle neighborhoods can be found here.

Tip: Even in a strong home Seller’s market amazing photos and professional marketing materials (including a custom website and full color two sided flyers) can result in a quicker sale and the best sale price.

John Madrid is a Managing Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate – University Village and is a 2005-2012 Seattle Magazine “Five Star” Agent. His clients include both home buyers and sellers. He can be reached at 206-498-1880, john@live206.com or www.live206.com.

(Statistics are deemed reliable but are not guaranteed. All information should be verified to the users own satisfaction.)

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Donate food and warm clothes to Family Works

December 11th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

The Wallingford Chamber and Seattle Bank are collecting donations for Wallingford’s food bank, Family Works. Victoria Dzenis with the Wallingford Chamber of Commerce says they need the following items for the drive:

  • High-protein non-perishable food
  • Hygiene items-small size
  • Hats, gloves, mittens for kids, scarves
Bring donations to Seattle Bank at the corner of Stone Way N. and N Allen Pl., right next to Tutta Bella.

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Watch zoo animals devour turkeys this weekend

November 16th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

Turkey time is upon us, and the Woodland Park Zoo is treating the animals to their very own Thanksgiving feast with Turkey Toss on Saturday, Nov. 17.  Animals such as komodo dragons, leopards, and grizzlies will get their paws on raw, store-prepared turkeys or other “autumn-themed treats.”

Photo by Dale Unruh/Woodland Park Zoo

The event, sponsored by Chevron, is part of the zoo’s effort to, “help enrich the lives of the zoo’s animals. The activities help encourage natural animal behavior, keep animals mentally and physically stimulated and engage zoo visitors,” according to the zoo.

Here’s a schedule of the turkey feedings, all which take place between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.:

  • Jaguar, 10:00
  • Snow leopards, 10:00
  • Arctic foxes, 11:00
  • Ocelots, 11:00
  • Colobus monkeys, 11:30
  • Golden eagle, noon
  • Grizzly bears, 1:00
  • Kunekune pigs, 1:30
  • Komodo dragons, 2:00
  • Golden lion tamarin monkeys, 2:00
  • Wolves 2:30

Learn more about upcoming zoo activities here.

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Trick-or-treating in Wallingford

October 26th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

Halloween is just days away, and Wallingford businesses are gearing up for a big night of handing out candy on Oct. 31. Wallingford is ranked as the third best neighborhood for trick-or-treating in the city, and Judy Ayers from the Wallingford Chamber of Commerce board tells us they aim to take back the #1 spot.

Ayers says, “Each year Wallingford Center has opened its doors to the neighborhood for trick-or-treating. This year, the Wallingford Chamber is organizing the 45th Street business corridor, from Stone Way to I-5. 65 businesses (and counting) are inviting trick or treaters to stop by.” Businesses will be handing out candy from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, and will have orange “Trick-or-Treats Here” signs.

The beginning of Wallingford Center’s 6th annual fall food drive starts on Oct. 31, and benefits the Family Work’s food bank. The drive lasts through Nov. 18, and donation bins will be located inside the east entrance of the Wallingford Center.

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Mayor to hold Town Hall on Saturday in Wallingford

October 8th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

This Saturday, Oct. 13, Mayor Mike McGinn will hold a Town Hall meeting at the Good Shepherd Center from 11 a.m. to noon. The meeting is part of the Engage Seattle initiative, “in order to ensure that as many people as possible who live, work or play in Seattle are able to voice their concerns and offer their feedback directly to the mayor,” according to the event information. The mayor will also visit some Wallingford businesses and community organizations before the meeting, from about 10 to 11 a.m.

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Zoo breaks ground on new tiger and sloth bear exhibit

September 20th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

From our sister site, PhinneyWood.

Woodland Park Zoo yesterday broke ground on its new, $19.6 million dollar tiger and sloth bear exhibit.

Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.

The 2-acre multispecies complex will open in two phases: phase one will feature Asian small-clawed otters and a kids’ nature play area opening in May 2013, and phase two will showcase endangered Malayan tigers and sloth bears.

The complex will use sustainable design to provide tigers, sloth bears, Asian small-clawed otters and other species representing the biodiversity of tropical Asia with a naturalistic, enriching environment that evokes lush forests and encourages natural behaviors. Tigers will stalk “prey” as they chase a lure line, jostle trees to retrieve snacks, nap under the roots of a tropical tree, splash in a shallow pool and care for cubs in a spacious exhibit built to accommodate multiple generations.

To bring the behind-the-scenes care of these animals into the forefront for zoo visitors, the exhibit design includes specialized training stations where keepers will interact one-on-one with tigers and sloth bears. These training presentations will get visitors closer to live predators than at any other exhibit at the zoo, and provide insight into how the zoo safely cares for such large and dangerous animals.

An immersive play area for children will allow young explorers to learn about the forest through joyful, full-bodied nature play—balancing on logs, crossing a wobble bridge, flying along a mini-zipline—all safely designed to stimulate mental and motor skill development while setting the scene of a tropical field conservation site where boundaries between humans and wildlife collide.

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Seattle Tilth’s 25th annual Harvest Fair is this Saturday

September 6th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

This Saturday, September 8, Seattle Tilth will hold its 25th annual Harvest Fair at Meridian Park (4649 Sunnyside Ave N). The fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will feature everything from cider pressing to cheese making.

From Seattle Tilth:

The Harvest Fair is a lively event with workshops, demonstrations, family activities and tasty food. See urban goats and chickens, talk to beekeepers and cheese makers, swap seeds and barter home made goods! Local organic farm stands will be abundant and overflowing with fresh produce at the height of harvest season. Stock-up on native and edible plants, local books, garden supplies, farm crafts and sustainable goods.

Workshops and demos include yoga for gardeners, fermenting foods, natural dyes, seed saving, making mozzarella cheese, edible mushrooms and cooking demonstrations. Food donations are being collected for the food bank at the BEET Hunger booth.

Activities include:

  • Raffle to win a chicken coop, beekeeping starter kit or year’s supply of Organic Valley milk
  • Seed swap
  • Cider pressing
  • Urban livestock area
  • DIY herb crowns
  • Barter hosted by Backyard Barter (11 a.m.-1 p.m.)
  • Kids crafts in the children’s garden
  • Organic farmer’s market
  • Sustainable vendors
  • Kids’ parade
  • Live music from Slap and TickleMostly Water, Creepin’ Critters, Holy Crows, Bucharest Drinking Team and Nyamuziwa Marimba

To learn more about the event, click here.

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‘Shell-Out for Hunger’ at Ivar’s starting next week

August 29th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

Next week, Ivar’s (401 Northeast Northlake Way) is starting a food drive to benefit local non-profit Northwest Harvest. The drive, called “Shell-Out for Hunger,” will start September 5 and go through October 5.

Ivar’s is asking people to drop off non-perishable food at any Ivar’s location, and as a thank-you, will give a free cup of clam chowder per person for donations of five or more items. And, Ivar’s will donate a cup of chowder to Northwest Harvest to match every food item collected.

Deborah Squires from Northwest Harvest says summer and early fall are high-need times, and says they have a void to fill. “One in five people in our state struggles with hunger,” Squires said in a press release.

Ivar’s is also taking monetary donations, and have set up a text-to-donate option. To donate this way, test “SHELLOUT” to 80888 for a one-time donation of $10.

To learn more about the food drive, click here.

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Zoo Doo at the Woodland Park Zoo

August 20th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

From our sister site, PhinneyWood.

It’s that time of year again, when Woodland Park Zoo sells off some of its prized animal poop that has been cooking into a nice, rich compost.

Photo  by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.

The annual Fall Fecal Fest begins on Wednesday. Enter online for a chance to purchase Zoo Doo and Bedspread. Only one entry per person is eligible for each drawing.

Composed of species feces contributed by the zoo’s non-primate herbivores such as elephants, hippos, giraffes and more. Zoo Doo is perfect to grow your veggies and annuals.

Bedspread, the zoo’s premium composted mulch, is a combination of Zoo Doo, sawdust, and large amounts of wood chips. Bedspread is used to cushion perennial beds and woody landscapes including rose beds, shrubs and pathways.

If you don’t enter online, you can send in a postcard. Separate postcards are required for Zoo Doo and Bedspread drawings (and only one postcard entry for each). Send postcards with your name, phone number, whether you want Zoo Doo or Bedspread, how much you want, and whether you want to pick-up on a weekday or weekend, to: Dr. Doo, Woodland Park Zoo, 601 N. 59th St., Seattle, WA 98103.

Entries will be accepted from Aug. 22 through Sept. 7. Pick-up dates are from Sept. 22 through Oct. 8.

Prices for both kinds are: Pick-up truck 8×4 bed - $60; 6×4 bed - $45; 6×3 bed – $35. (Limit one full truck per person.) Garbage cans are $8-$10 depending on size; bags are $4-$6 depending on size. Two-gallon and pint-sized buckets are available anytime at the ZooStore for $12.95 and $4.95, respectively.

For more information, call the Poop Line at 206-625-POOP or check out the website.

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‘Grow-a-row’ of veggies for your local food bank

August 9th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

Want to grow veggies and help out the Food Bank? Local non-profit Solid Ground has a program called Lettuce Link, in which Seattle P-patches, backyard gardeners, and community farmers are sharing their vegetables with food bank clients and families. They’re asking, “any and all gardeners to grow an extra row of veggies for their local food bank – any little bit of produce makes a big difference.”

From Lettuce Link:

Food banks across Seattle have a continual need for fresh, nutritious produce, so what better way to cull your garden of those delicious but over-producing squash, greens, beans, and tomatoes than to share them with families who need it most?

And if your garden is not yet overflowing with excess veggies, consider growing an extra row for your local food bank as you plant your fall crops! It can be as small as a row of greens, or as big as a backyard committed entirely to giving (à la the Seattle Seedling). Big or small, every donation is appreciated!

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New food truck to serve New Zealand-style pies

August 7th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

By Almeera Anwar

Many people in Wallingford are familiar with the local food trucks that serve cuisine from across the world, and soon 314Pie will be added to that list. They’ll be cooking up New Zealand and Australian style pies, many in traditional savory flavors such as steak and onion, lamb and mushroom and even some green curried vegetables.

The idea to serve up these authentic pies to local Seattle residents came out of years of traveling to Antarctica, according to Deke Kotrla, one of 314Pie’s founders. He was working in IT and traveled there for business, always having layovers in New Zealand where he would look forward to consuming these savory pies any chance he could.

“They’d be equivalent to the hot dogs you get in gas stations here in America, they’re just everywhere!” Said Kotrla, “But they are always so much more delicious than the hot dogs you get at gas stations here. They’re also popular in bakeries and we are modeling ours off the more traditional New Zealand bakery ones.”

Casey Cooper, Kotrla’s old friend and future business partner, had studied culinary arts and was working in bakeries around Seattle, such as Julia’s Bakery and the Tom Douglas Bakery, while Kotrla was in Antarctica. But Cooper had wanted to start a bakery of his own and was in the middle of looking for a location when Kotrla reached out. Cooper quickly convinced Kotrla that they could merge their passions into one concept. After they realized that finding a location would be difficult given the real estate market, they decided to be even more entrepreneurial and start a food truck.

So far the two have seen a lot of success and have enjoyed compiling new recipes along the way. As Kotrla says, “I love that you can take any recipe for a classic stew, thicken it up and put it in a pie. You can put basically anything that tastes good with a bowl and a spoon and know it will taste even better in a pie shell.”

To help the launch they started a Kickstarter and have raised $9,187 of their $10,000 goal through donations from 236 backers, as of Tuesday afternoon. The money from this Kickstarter campaign will help them to finish the food truck itself, such as giving it a new coat of paint and special ordering propane tanks from England.

Photo by Deke Kotrla

They have now been planning for about six months and are just waiting for the last of the fix-ups to the truck and for the final paperwork for the licensing process before they can officially begin selling. They hope to start in Wallingford and eventually branch into other locations around Seattle neighborhoods.

Kotrla says it’s been interesting to introduce Americans to the classic New Zealand meat pies, noting that many people in the U.S. grew up with chicken pot pies that were taken out of the freezer and popped into a microwave or oven, but that was pretty much it.

“We’re not unfamiliar with the idea of pies, but usually when people hear the word ‘pie’ they expect an apple pie or a fruit pie and we’re hoping people don’t come up to the truck and expect that.”

Kotrla expects the food truck and pies to be a successful here in Seattle based on the warmth and comfort they offer. He notes that food trucks are popular in the summer but tend to go into hibernation for the winter since people don’t venture outside as much. However, since these pies are hearty and warm, he hopes they’ll be worth the trek outside.

“It may take a while for people to get used to it since it’s new, but I know that once people try them they are going to love them,” says Kotrla, “It’s just a matter of getting them to take that first bite.”

Photos above: first of Casey Cooper, taken by Joshua Meisels. Second of Deke Kotrla, taken by Casey Cooper

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Upcoming summer camps at Seattle Tilth still open

July 26th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

Even though we’re in the middle of the summer, Wallingford-based Seattle Tilth still has some open spots for kids’ summer camps. The camps are offered at the Good Shepherd Center (4649 Sunnyside Avenue North) in Wallingford. Here are a few classes that are still open:

Slimy Creatures: ages 3-5

  • Mon. & Tues., August 6 & 7; 10 a.m.-noon
  • Explore the world of slugs, snails, worms and other slippery critters. Learn their role in the garden. Go on a slug hunt, charm snails from their shells and hold live, wiggly worms! Slimy!

Bug School: ages 3-5

  • Thurs. & Fri., August 9 & 10; 10 a.m.-noon
  • Insects are our friends. Dive into a fantastic exploration of garden insects. Learn anatomy, build bug houses, and discover how to invite beneficial insects to your own garden.

Fantastic Flowers: ages 3-5

  • Mon. & Tues., August 27 & 28; 10 a.m.-noon
  • Flowers are fantastic! They provide beauty and attract many beneficial insects to our gardens. Taste edible flowers, find a garden rainbow and make an outrageous bouquet. Plant flower seeds to grow in your own garden.

Plant Planet: ages 6-10

  • Mon.-Fri., July 30-Aug. 3; 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Now is the perfect time to plant your fall and winter garden. Set up a plant nursery, plant seed flats and take seeds home to grow. Create your own seed catalog and garden journal.

Junior Counselor Program: ages 10-14

If your teen or preteen loves gardening and working with younger students, this is for them! Junior Counselors help set-up and clean-up garden activities, assist Children’s Garden staff, lead small group activities and learn more about organic gardening. Week-long placements offer all the fun of summer camp with the opportunity to develop leadership skills.

Jr. Counselors come 30 minutes before campers arrive and stay 30 minutes after campers depart to help set-up and clean-up (these setup/cleanup times are built into the listings below). Leadership training and orientation provided. Jr. Counselors will be entering grades 5-9 in fall 2012 (or equivalent). Mon.-Fri., August 20–24; 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

For a full list of classes still available, visit Seattle Tilth’s summer camp page.

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Parkour Summit at Gas Works this weekend

July 18th, 2012 by Kate Bergman

On Saturday, July 21, Seattle’s Parkour Visions will host an invitational obstacle course at Gas Works Park. The course will feature some top parkour athletes from the U.S. and Canada, including some who were featured on TV shows American Ninja Warrior and Jump City: Seattle, according to Parkour Visions. The event is part of the three-day Seattle Parkour Summit.

Footage from last year’s summit in Seattle

The competition is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a hands-on parkour class for beginners, intermediates, and advanced parkour athletes from 3 to 5:30 p.m. There will be an open training session following the class, and a barbecue at 8 p.m.

According to Parkour Visions, “parkour is the art of overcoming obstacles effectively and swiftly using only our bodies. Fundamentals include running, jumping, crawling, and climbing, in order to pass over, under, around and through obstacles in the everyday world.”

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