Monday, November 22, 2010

Laurelhurst Encroachments

The city has for a long time been battling with local residents over the issue of land that is considered public property, yet is falling victim to a number of resident created encroachments. The latest story comes from the Seattle neighborhood of Laurelhurst which is facing the problem at a small, waterfront lot called “Waterway 1”. The lot is near Union Bay and is one of the few places providing public access to Lake Washington. Only about a ¼-acre large, the public lot is at 43rd Avenue N.E. and N.E. 35th Street. The lot has an encroaching dock, fence, and landscaping features from nearby homeowners who are now facing fines and consequences from late fee payments, all coming from the Department on Natural Resources, who owns the land. The nature enthusiasts in Seattle who feel passionate about having adequate park areas (like members of Friends of Waterway 1) are set on keeping the areas public, while property owners feel they can use the area as they please, explains a spokeswoman for the parks department. Today, signs outside the park notes “public shore access”, and the DNR is taking the necessary steps to keep it that way. A Seattle Times article notes that the DNR will collect nearly $200,000 from encroachments and leases from the people using the park for private means. Hopefully, these first steps towards removing the encroachments will improve the situation.

Seattle Public Schools Releases District-Wide School Rankings

Public schools are often a consideration for buyers when they are looking to purchase a home in Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue or anywhere across the country. Seattle Public Schools recently released a district wide report on state test scores and yearly improvement rates. Eighty-two schools were involved and rated from 1-5, one being low passage rates and little improvement and a 5, the contrary. Twelve schools in the district got a perfect score, but almost just as many received a 1. District leaders have said that if these rankings don’t improve in the next couple of years, replacing the staff or closing schools may both be possible consequences. Schools will be provided funds to carry out improvement plans, and those with the lowest scores will get the largest dollar amounts. Hopefully, this increases the emphasis put on the importance of education in our communities. To get more details of schools where you own your Seattle home, or are looking to buy a home, please click one of the following Seattle neighborhoods: Madison Park, Madrona, Mt. Baker, Capitol Hill, Lake Union, Belltown, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Laurelhurst, Ballard, or West Seattle.

Open Water Squatting

Bainbridge Island has a unique floating community that most don’t know about; at least they didn’t until a number of articles featuring controversy surrounding the community were published. The community, floating in Eagle Harbor, is made up of a collection of boaters, living on their anchored homes. Members of the community, called “liveaboards” live in the Harbor essentially for free and commute by row boat to and from the main island. This particular liveaboard community is the last surviving in the state, but could be just a memory, come December 15th. The Department of Natural Resources gave the houseboat tenants eviction notices last week. The liveaboards are considered “squatters”, as they are living in the harbor for free, unlike similar counterparts living around Puget Sound who pay monthly lease fees. The argument remains that if people want to use public land for private use, they should be subject to the same rules and regulations as other communities. One of the main concerns is the environmental effects the community has.
Arguments against the disbanding of the 17 liveaboards are that they are a unique part of the island’s maritime history and that their carbon footprint is considerably small. Many use solar power and are very careful when disposing of waste, commuting to the city dock to use the pumping station. The city has been in talks of establishing an open-water marina in Eagle Harbor but high costs of maintaining and mooring buoys has remained a very large concern.
Unless things change, liveaboards will be required to move their boats by the December 15th deadline.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Now Showing at the Cinerama: A new look!

The historic Seattle theatre, Cinerama, has been revamped. Opened in 1963, Cinerama has providing movie buffs with classics and blockbusters for over 40 years. Last night it opened it’s doors to a newly remodeled venue, after having been closed since late August. Owner Paul Allen has added technical upgrades, from the projection, to the sound system, to the screen itself. The theatre reopened it’s doors just in time to debut a midnight screening of the newest Harry Potter film. The Cinerama’s interior has new carpeting as well as display cases, featuring movie memorabilia. Concessions have received a change too, featuring lower prices and treats from local food vendors. Theatre operator Greg Wood has already begun to book the venue for film festivals in 2011, and hopes to make the theatre available for community events as well. Make sure to check out the newly updated Cinerama in the near future.

Happy viewing!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Capitol Hill Beauty

Capitol Hill, Seattle is known for its eclectic style, and this characteristic is easily reminiscent of the architecture of its real estate. This home, newly listed by Jane Powers and Betsy Terry in Capitol Hill has commanding wrap around views of Lake Washington, the University of Washington, and Cascade Mountains. This picturesque William Bain residence is a sizable home with gracious rooms. The interior features fine millwork including walnut floors and lovely moldings with a romantic outlook. Other interior features include a large living room, a pretty library, fantastic dining room and an expansive kitchen with commercial appliances. The home’s exterior includes private terraces and fine plantings with a Tsutakawa fountain in the entry courtyard. This home is truly unique and has an unusual, loft style second floor family room with soaring ceilings. If you are looking for a Capitol Hill home with a distinct personality, this is a special home that should not be missed. Please contact Ewing and Clark for more information.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Burien Town Square Condominium Foreclosure

On Friday we tweeted about the Burien development, Burien Town Square Condominium, suffering foreclosure. The most recent article in the Seattle Times about the foreclosure has provided some details of the issue and what future plans are in store. Although there were high hopes for the project to revitalize the downtown Burien area, when condominium sales weren’t happening (6 of 124 units sold) and space wasn’t leasing, the developers (Urban Partners) were ultimately forced to hand it over to the lenders. The construction lender was Corus Bank of Chicago, but in 2009, their assets were seized and 40% interest in Corus’ real-estate loan portfolio was sold to ST Residential.

Urban Partners owed over than $34 million in principle on the $38.5 million construction loan. However, Urban Partners says the loan agreement specified high asking prices for the condos and retail space, which is partly the cause for its ill fortune. ST Residential did not provide any answers as to how they are planning to keep the project afloat. Burien residents can only hope that the issue is resolved and the community can continue to grow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Washington Park

In the spirit of Election Day, 2010 we’ve decided to share a blog with you on the Seattle neighborhood, Washington Park. Washington Park was named for Washington State, which of course was named after the 1st U.S. President, George Washington himself. Seattle’s Washington Park is surrounded by better known neighborhoods such as Madison Park, Broadmoor, and lesser known Denny Blaine. Washington Park, like many Seattle neighborhoods, has a variety of accepted boundaries. Although some sources don’t even recognize it as an independent neighborhood, like, we at Ewing and Clark (partly because we have an office in the adjacent neighborhood: Madison Park) have a pretty definite answer:

Washington Park is bordered on the west by E. Madison Street which extends up until its north border, at the intersection of E. Madison Street and E. Blaine Street. E. Blaine meets the east border of the neighborhood: Lake Washington. Its eastern boundary extends down along the shores of Lake Washington until the intersection of Lake Washington Blvd E. and 39th Ave. E. In essence it is practically triangular shaped.

Wikipedia sets its boundaries for Washington Park a little tighter too. However, what makes Washington Park a great Seattle neighborhood are the historic homes that grace the area. One of these homes is the current home of the President of the University of Washington. This house, built in 1907, sits on a 5 acre lot overlooking Lake Washington. The grounds are stunning as the view. The house was donated to the University with the clause that it must be occupied by the President of the University of Washington. The other neighborhood homes vary greatly in structure and uniqueness, although the homes tend to be larger than an average Seattle home and many share the amazing views of Lake Washington and surrounding mountains. Ewing and Clark currently has five active listings in this wonderful neighborhood, so don’t miss the opportunity to live in such a historic and beautiful place.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Denny Blaine Home Sold

A beautiful Denny Blaine home listed by Ewing and Clark brokers Betsy Terry and Jane Powers recently sold for $6,250,000. This is the highest priced non-waterfront sale of the year in the city of Seattle. The 8,270 square foot home was built in 2000 and designed by architect Greg Bader, of Bader Architecture and was featured in Architectural Digest. The home has sweeping views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. Congratulations to Betsy and Jane.