News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


Entries from April 2010

Essenza hit by thieves

April 30th, 2010 by Doug Alder

Around 4:30 Tuesday morning (4/27), someone used a brick to break out the front window of Essenza at 615 N. 35th Street.  The thief took several bottles of perfume along with petty cash in the register.  Officers looked for blood and fingerprints but couldn’t find any evidence.  Surveillance cameras at the location were not working at the time.

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Fremont spring clean-up

April 30th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Fremonters (or is Fremonsters?):

If you feel like doing some spring cleaning tomorrow (May 1) for the good of your neighborhood, show up ready to work anytime between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the Powerhouse (Fremont Ave. north of 36th St.) for an Adopt-a-Street clean-up of Fremont Ave. and other parts of Fremont.


Bags, gloves and trash grabbers will be provided.

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Meerkat Mania begins May 1

April 30th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

We weren’t kidding about all the activity this weekend to usher in the beginning of a real spring to Seattle. We’ve posted about the Fremont Village Festival, May Day (Fremont Arts Council) and now, the opening of the Meerkats exhibit on Saturday.

After a 10-year absence, meerkats are back at the Woodland Park Zoo – and yes, it’s made the heart grow fonder. Perhaps it was “Meerkat Manor,” or the impression left by Rudyard Kipling’s mongoose hero Rikki Tikki Tavi, but for whatever reason, it’s hard to resist these social creatures.

Visitors to the zoo will be able to see 8 meerkats at the revamped Adaptations Building, where they can observe them diving into tunnels, taking care of their young, or in the pose most associated with them, standing at attention “as sentinels of their new habitat.”

Their new Seattle digs are a world away from their natural habitat: the semi-arid savanna of the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. Temperatures reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and drop close to freezing in the winter.

The zoo has created an experience that allows visitors to look into a log den and see what life is like inside meerkat burrows, which serve as nursery and nesting rooms.

Parents: your kids can co-opt meerkat behavior in a newly-built play area located at the north entrance of the building.

If you haven’t gone to the zoo in awhile, you’ll notice something else: the new West Entrance (at Phinney Ave. N. between N. 55th Street and N. 56th Street), which replaces the current North and West Entrances.

The zoo is going to debut a new entry system that is designed to reduce wait times on busy days from 45 minutes to no more than 5 minutes. Also at this new 58,000 square-foot entry point: access to stroller or wheelchair rental, restrooms, coffee, souvenirs, and improved membership services.

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Henry transforms house on Nickerson into mural

April 30th, 2010 by Thea Chard

Local painter Ryan Henry Ward has left the mark of his trade all around Seattle, literally. Using a style that combines chalk, oil and acrylic paints, Ward is most well known for his bright and whimsical murals that can be seen on abandoned walls and on the sides of homes and businesses around town–you’ll know it’s him by “Henry” stamp painted into the picture.

The side of a house along Nickerson just before the Fremont Bridge has long been a site of Ward’s work, but recently the artist was commissioned to “muralize” the rest of the house, a project finished just earlier this week. The largest part of the new mural showcases a giant goldfish over the east side of the house–a picture that seems to be framed for commuters looking for an entertaining pastime while waiting for the bridge to go down!

Check out more photos of Ward’s work here. Many of Ward’s murals are in our sister neighborhoods, like BallardFremont and Phinney Ridge. Henry works have also been commissioned in less obvious places, like inside local schools and on the walls of neighborhood businesses. Keep your eyes peeled! I personally like to play a little game I call spot the “Henry” while driving around town.

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MOHAI Minute: Fremont Troll

April 29th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

In the Museum of History & Industry’s new YouTube series, “MOHAI Minute,” (which is really more like 2 minutes 21 seconds), producer/creators Helen Divjak and Peder Nelson crack the dull mold of History Channel-like docs and make entertaining, bite-sized pieces that roll out facts both trivial and intriguing about “Seattle’s most fascinating historic spots,” including Skylark Cafe, Volunteer Park and now, the Fremont Troll.

Besides a too-synthy musical intro and not-quite synced audio editing that reminds me of a bad martial arts flick, it’s a fun little number. The hyperkinetic short fills in some interesting tidbits about the 20-year-old sculpture that presides over Troll Avenue atop 36th Street, looking as if the weight of the Aurora Bridge overhead is on its hunched shoulders.

Divjak and Nelson make a good team who tell audiences about the troll’s origins as the inspiration of the Jersey Devils sculptors, who won the right to create the beloved creature by popular vote, even after it lost the official competition organized by the Fremont Arts Council.

MOHAI stores the only known model of the troll, which was created in 24 hours by the artists.

The MOHAI Minute series began in March, with 5 weekly episodes excluding this one. Check out the rest here.

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May Day: Fremont Arts Council

April 29th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Oh May, how we love you. For Seattleites who have had to endure the schizophrenic weather of April, May presents the hope for the beginning of the spring and summer that keeps people so attached to the Pacific Northwest.

In Fremont, on the first of May (Saturday), there are several options to enjoy: the Fremont Village Festival and the Fremont Arts Council‘s 20th anniversary May Day springtacular, which includes dancing and weaving via a Maypole (such as the one seen below), singing, three-legged races, sack races, egg/spoon challenges, a potluck picnic and the appearance of the May Queen.

Maypole dancing in Au, circa 1934

Festivities begin at 2 p.m. (earlier than the 5 p.m. start time originally scheduled) in Woodland Park (east of Aurora Ave) at Woodland Park (just off Aurora and 60th, next to the horseshoe courts). Wear white and bring flowers, for head wreaths. Bring a dish to share, plenty to drink and of course, your good spirits. Pack out everything you bring.

All are welcome – Fremont Arts Council membership is encouraged but not required.

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People Get Ready: GospelFest10 at SPU

April 29th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Beginning today, the soul uplifting sounds and spirit of gospel music will grace Seattle Pacific University as part of GospelFest10: A Celebration of the Gospel Music Legacy. Three days of an educational symposium, rehearsals and a dinner culminate Saturday night in a mass gospel choir concert – proving that there is so much more to Seattle than alt-indie-pop.


For $10 a person, the symposium at the First Free Methodist Church adjacent to the SPU campus features workshops and sessions in the history, literature, and ministry of the Gospel music tradition, as presented by some of the genre’s pre-eminent practitioners and scholars, including Robert Darden, an associate professor of journalism at Baylor University and author of “People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music,” (which is the subject of one of the symposium’s clinics).

Saturday’s concert will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in SPU’s Royal Brougham Pavilion, 3414 Third Ave West. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $5 per person. Free parking is available in the Nickerson, Ross, and West Dravus street parking lots. The event is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 206-281-2966 or visit the GospelFest10 website.

The audience will be in for a real treat as they bear witness to some of the region’s finest gospel choirs, including JudahSong, SureHouse, The Sound of the Northwest, SPU’s gospel choir, and gospel choirs from Antioch Bible Church and University Presbyterian Church. If the memory of these stirring voices isn’t enough, a souvenir booklet will also be available for purchase.

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The Homeless Neighbor

April 29th, 2010 by Doug Alder

Seattle’s homeless population stretches far beyond downtown. North Seattle residents and businesses are also struggling to deal with the issue. To see how the community is trying to find a balance, we take you to the streets of Ballard for a raw and compelling look at the problem.

The Homeless Neighbor is the third in a series of stories partnering Next Door Media sites with the nonprofit Common Language Project and students of University of Washington’s Entrepreneurial Journalism class. One of the authors of this story is Christian Caple, the editor of our newest neighborhood site U District Daily. We invite you to take a look.

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Aurora Motels: Guilty of Criminal Tax Evasion

April 28th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Four Aurora Avenue motels – which the Seattle City Attorney’s Office say consistently accounts for a majority of police calls out of the “roughly 26 low-cost motels” along that corridor – have, as corporations, entered guilty pleas on Tuesday to criminal tax violations in Seattle Municipal Court. Under the terms of the plea agreements, two motels, the Isabella and Italia, will be sold within four months or leased to non-profit groups for use as low-income housing or emergency shelter.

Neighbors have long complained about the criminal activity they say goes on at all four of the motels, which also include Seattle Motor Inn, Fremont Inn (formerly The Thunderbird, pictured below) and Wallingford Inn, along with the Italia and Isabella.

Fremont Inn (formerly Thunderbird)

The original 180 criminal counts – which were filed last summer – include failure to file tax returns and failure to pay city-owed business tax. (At the time, charges included a fifth motel, The Seattle Motor Inn, which closed in December.)

From the City Attorney’s Office:

The unusual and creative disposition of the original 180 criminal counts of failure to file tax returns and failure to pay city-owed business tax was the result of a negotiated settlement between the City Attorney’s Office and the defendants, Dean and Jill Inman, and the four motel corporations that the Inmans control as corporate officers.

“This result is a win for residents along the Aurora Avenue corridor, demonstrating what’s possible when neighbors collaborate with SPD and this office to take back the streets,” City Attorney Peter S. Holmes said.

According to the agreement that Municipal Court Judge George W. Holifield approved, each of the four motel corporations pleaded guilty to five counts of failure to file tax returns (for 20 counts total). Although the prosecution requested suspended sentences with financial penalties, the Court imposed two-year deferred sentences instead, including $1,000 in court costs. The court deferred imposition of the maximum penalty of $25,000 for each case on condition the corporations not commit future criminal violations and pay court costs.

In addition, the Italia & Isabella Corporation agreed to sell or close these two motels within 120 days. If not sold, all residential use must cease unless the motels are leased to a non-profit organization and used for low-income housing or emergency shelter. The Inmans agreed with the court’s authority to impose the sale or closure condition.

Dean Inman pleaded guilty to one count of failure to file tax returns. His sentence: a two-year deferred sentence – on condition he commit no criminal law violations. He and his wife, Jill, also agreed to the sale or closure of the two motels. Charges against her will be dismissed if she complies with the agreement, that she refrains from committing criminal law violations.

City Attorney Holmes is keeping an eye on the Inmans, warning them that if they violate the conditions of their sentences, the more than $100,000 in fines that the court deferred could be revoked and jail imposed on the motels’ owners.

“We’re hopeful these cases have a lasting impact and won’t result in further legal action,” he said.

By filing and paying their taxes to the city (more than $4,000), all of the defendants have complied with the law and with city license requirements.

In the statement released by the City Attorney’s Office, the assistant city attorney who handled the case, Edward McKenna, said:

“Dismissing criminal charges against the Inmans and their corporations wasn’t going to happen. We were fully prepared to litigate all 180 counts until the Inmans closed the Seattle Motor Inn and then agreed to close the Italia and Isabella motels.”

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Bank robber caught at Aurora motel

April 28th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Seattle police reported the capture last night of a bank robber who allegedly committed a U-District robbery at the Washington Federal Savings, after he left his room at the normally drama-free Marco Polo motel on the 4100 block of Aurora.
The suspect robbed the bank on April 22 at 2:15 p.m., demanding cash and traveler’s checks from the teller. Police described him as a white male, 40’s, unshaven with gray hair. Yesterday, a Robbery Detective received a tip: the suspect was at a north Seattle location and driving a white  Mercedes. The Puget Sound Violent Crimes Task Force and SPD Robbery Detectives responded to the location and was informed the suspect had already left.

But officers set up containment and located the alleged bandit’s vehicle parked and unoccupied at a motel in the 4100 block of Aurora Av N. – the Marco Polo. Luckily, around 9 p.m., the suspect suddenly exited the room and attempted to leave in his car. Police took him into custody without further incident and transported him to the Robbery Office for processing.

UPDATE: The suspect was booked into King County Jail on investigation of robbery as Steven T. Masters, born in 1952. He is also listed as a fugitive from Oregon, along with a charge of theft from Kennewick. Police said the name given upon his arrest at the Marco Polo was Steven Matt, but could not explain why he was booked into the county jail under a different name.

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Dine Out, Save a Life

April 28th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Three Fremont establishments – Blue Moon Burgers, Caffe Vita and Costas Opa Restaurant – will give customers a chance Thursday (April 29) to donate back 30% of each diner’s bill back to Lifelong AIDS Alliance, which provides services to those living with HIV/AIDS, including cooking and delivering fresh meals and groceries, providing health insurance and ensuring they have a safe place to live.

Dining Out for Life

Here is a complete list of participating restaurants – 142 in Seattle – for the 17th annual charity fundraiser, which has supporters in eateries hroughout King, Kitsap, and Snohomish Counties.

Last year, Lifelong was able to raise about $225,000 during the one day campaign.

Here’s an even sweeter deal, if just doing good isn’t incentive enough: make a donation of $25 or more on the night of Dining Out For Life and become a member of the 20% Off Tuesdays club, exclusive to Dining Out supporters. As a member of 20% Off Tuesdays, you will receive 20% off of your table’s food bill on Tuesday evenings throughout the year.

Participating 20% Off Tuesday restaurants are 94 Stewart, Abbondanza, Alexa’s Garden Cafe, Broadway Grill, Coffe Club Diner, Gandhi Indian Cuisine, Louisa’s Cafe, Mark Restaurant, Peaks Frozen Custard, Rachel’s, Romio’s in Greenwood, Sazerac, Skylark Cafe, Tango, Twisted, and Ventana.

Lifelong AIDS Alliance is committed to preventing the spread of HIV, and to providing practical support services and advocating for those whose lives are affected by HIV. Lifelong is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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Celebrate Spring: Fremont Village Festival

April 27th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

If spring ever decides to make a consistent appearance in Seattle, this weekend should be a perfect way to enjoy it, starting with the second annual Fremont Village Festival on Saturday, May 1, which begins with workshops at 10 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. after an evening benefit concert featuring performers such as Carrie Akre, Curtains For You and Grant Geertsma.

It’s one of several events happening in Fremont this weekend (more posts will follow, including one on the Fremont Arts Council May Pole celebration at Woodland Park).

2009 Fremont Village Festival

In Fremont, known affectionately to residents as the “Center of the Universe” (which would also account for this blog’s moniker), there is a part of the neighborhood that’s come to be known as “Fremont Village” – “the peak of the universe” on Fremont Avenue from BF Day school to the Zoo, with a hub at Fremont Abbey Arts Center on 43rd, stretching over to Peak Park on the ridge.

“We see this area as a fun place to live and visit. Come and see it all: the arts center, restaurants, the community center,” said Nathan Marion, the director of Fremont Abbey Arts Center since it began 5 years ago.

The event is a celebration of early springtime and coincides with opening events and exhibits at the Zoo (Meerkats!) and also serves as a warm up for the Fremont Fair, June 19-20.

Fee-based workshops at Fremont Abbey kickstart the day at 10 a.m.: turning recycled sweaters into wristwarmers, yoga for two and Tuning the Air guitar.

Then free giveaways such as family passes to the Zoo and local music CD’s begin around 2. Family fun looks certain, with all-ages activities such as:

  • Face painting by Robin –
  • Singer/songwriter Andrew Vait
  • Advise on final artwork for the NEW 46th Street Mural
  • Modern dance demonstrations by Karin Stevens Dancers
  • Swing dance lessons by Kevin Buster & Amy Best
  • Culinary arts demos, samples & teaching with Dannika Underhill
  • Artwork on display from BF Day elementary students
  • Neighborhood safety information from FAWN
  • Self-defense demos by local martial arts instructor
  • Urban farms & local farm CSA information
  • Community painting outside
  • Sidewalk chalk art contest (with prizes!)

The concert begins at 7, with a suggested $7-10+ donation. Proceeds support Fremont Abbey’s ALL-ages arts programs. Along with these programs, “community driven and volunteer powered” Fremont Abbey also hosts performances, classes and a music school.

Festival goers can also enjoy free hot chocolate for kids at Caffe Vita, $5 pizzas at Tribunal from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and help out at the Neighborhood Council Adopt-A-Street Clean-up from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. (starting at FAC’s Powerhouse).

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From SPD: Personal Safety Training

April 27th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Living in cities requires a certain amount of awareness. Take it from me, having lived in small-town Mississippi and suburban Florida, living in urban environs takes a little adjustment. I think I can say I’ve picked up some things having spent years as a resident of DC, Baltimore, New York (Manhattan) and now Seattle.

For instance, I vary my routine quite a bit, use timers for my living room and porch lights, alert my neighbors when I’ll be out of town, and rarely walk in my neighborhood by myself after dark. I also try not to linger getting in and out of my car and make sure it’s pretty clear before I get out.

But I think everyone can learn more – and should be open to good advice from reputable sources.

Police, from

Thursday, April 29 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm, FAWN (Fremont Aurora Wallingford Neighbors) invites you to hear Diane HorswillCrime Prevention Coordinator at the North Precinct, a civilian position, who will speak about personal safety training. Meet in the library of BF Day Elementary, 3921 Linden Avenue North, at the south end of the main floor. The talk replaces the April 29 FAWN walk.

To request being on the FAWN listserv, e-mail

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Vote on 46th Street Mural Project

April 26th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

The 46th Street Mural Project invites residents of Wallingford and Fremont and users of the N. 46th Street underpass to help select the final design for the 300-foot mural beneath Aurora Avenue North. Click on the link to guide you through slide  shows with full details for each of final 3 designs and to vote.

Todd Lown and Kristin Ramirez are 2 of the finalists. Here is the selection from the third finalist, Susan Brown:

Susan Brown mural

On May 5, the project’s Steering Committee will make the final selection, subject to the City of Seattle’s design review approval. Construction is scheduled for summer 2010, with a public dedication in August.

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Beware of thieves stalking outgoing mail

April 26th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

For the past few months, neighbors in Fremont have been reporting thefts of outgoing mail left for their postal carriers on their porches/home boxes. It might be prudent to drop mail – especially bill payments & Netflix DVDs – in USPS mailboxes from now on, or directly at the local post office.

Credit: Clarita,

This was reported to FAWN in March:

“Our mail was stolen today, Sat. 3/13. We live on the 3800 block of Linden Ave, near the firestation. We have had mail stolen before from our house, but had thought the thieves had moved from the neighborhood. (Drug addicts living a few houses away were kicked out of their rental.)

“It was almost time for the mail carrier to arrive and my husband took a chance and put the mail out on the postbox on our porch. It was taken within minutes, around 11:15-11:45am. My husband heard someone on the porch and assumed it was the carrier. The carrier arrived a few minutes later and confirmed that he had not picked up our mail.

“Any information about strange people, not dressed as mail carriers, taking things from home post boxes would be appreciated. Take care when putting mail out for pick up and don’t put anything with a check or ID info out on your home postbox. We have reported the theft to the police and Postal Inspector.”

And then more recently:

Outgoing mail thefts have been occurring right on Fremont Ave between 41st and 42nd. Several tenants in one apartment bldg had their mail stolen from the outgoing mailbox and their checks washed and presented to local branches of banks for cashing. Two dates this occurred were March 30th and April 15th. There were probably more that haven’t been tracked down yet.”

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Update on Aurora Bridge suicide fence

April 26th, 2010 by Doug Alder

We’ve gotten word that construction of the suicide prevention fence across the Aurora Bridge won’t happen tonight or tomorrow night. An equipment problem has caused a delay in the project. WSDOT tells us there’s a chance work could start later this week.

WSDOT conducted a test last week to gauge the noise level of the drilling equipment (pictured above). Greg Phipps from WSDOT tells us those tests provided some good news – things may not be quite as noisy as first thought.

My first impression was that the drills (there is one for concrete and one for steel) were much smaller than I expected. My second impression is that the drilling was much quieter than I expected. The drilling will be noisy, but not extremely noisy as the stories on this blog have suggested. At about 60-75 feet away the drilling was not audible. The true test, of course, will be at night when there is less traffic noise, and when the work is over water where the sound carries more. The grain of salt is that this was my impression and not a scientific judgment, and I expect there will be some skepticism as this is coming from a WSDOT communications guy, so I encourage you to see and hear for yourself when construction starts.

Of course, nearby residents in Fremont, Wallingford, and Queen Anne will be the ultimate judges. The 24-hour noise hotline is 206-390-5697. Track the project here.

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