Next problem:!3{2}Urban flooding?!3{2}Bah Humbug!

The rains are apparently beginning to push in for the weekend, meaning our lovely masses of thick snow and compact ice SHOULD start melting away. All that water is going to have to go somewhere. The city is issuing a plea to help clear drainage areas (if you can find them right now) so there aren’t major backups in the system, and possibly into homes.

We got tagged.!3{2}Any tips on how to get rid of it?

For the life of me, I don’t understand graffiti. Especially when some punks spray paint the sidewalk for cryin’ out loud. That terrific “art” now adorns part of the pavement out in front of our house. Anyone had any success or got any suggestions on how to get it off concrete? (Bonus if it’s not something heavy on chemicals.) Apprecish.

Skydiving into the CD – CANCELLED

Update:  from scott – we just heard this was cancelled due to the weather

You might do a double take late tomorrow morning, if things go according to plan at Seattle University and the weather briefly cooperates. As part of a “celebration of athletics,” a parachutist is set to fire up a crowd by touching down on Championship Field at 11:50 am. That’s just before the men’s soccer team will play a match at the complex off Cherry between 13th and 14th Avenues.

But the jump could easily get scrubbed. The forecast for tomorrow is downright dreary with clouds, rain and wind. Not the best conditions if you’re the skydiver leaping out of a plane.

No Construction at 23rd and Union Site.!3{2}Yet.

As of today, there’s been some new work at the site of the proposed new apartment and retail development at 23rd Avenue and East Union. I talked with Jay Janette this afternoon, the lead architect of the project, and he says that the work is related to the on-going mission to remove toxic chemicals from the ground — using environmentally-sensitive methods such as “organic breakdowns” — in the wake of a dry cleaning shop that used to be there. So if you see more backhoes and plows out there, construction on the project is not underway just yet. But for now, it’s looking good.

That’s because new land use signs went up today around the perimeter of the site. Those notices indicate that the city, through a hearing examiner, has given a crucial green light for the rezoning of the structure from four stories to six (or 40 to 65 feet), stating there’s been “conditional approval” for the change. Janette says this is a tremendous hurdle that’s been jumped. Up next: The full city council vote, expected by early September. Janette says the company is hopeful for final approval, but stranger things have happened. Developer Jim Mueller has told us that the rezone is needed for the plan to be economically feasible, allowing more residences on the same real estate footprint. There’s been growing neighborhood support for the new apartments and stores at what’s long been a troubled part of the CD, with deadly shootings and a host of other crimes at that intersection.

(h/t to Elvis)

Summertime Eats:!3{2}Free Meals for Kids

Summer can be a tough time for a lot of families, especially this year during this ailing economy. With kids out of school, many of the free breakfasts and lunches they would normally get are suddenly not available. But starting today, free meals during the morning and lunchtime remain in reach until August 22. There are many sites around the CD — from schools to community centers — serving up the “nutritionally balanced” meals, as established by the Federal Government.

For lots more information, check here:

It’s Official:!3{2}Welcome to Summer (Yippie!)

On this lovely Friday, summer is descending on the Northwest, officially just before 5 p.m. The solstice is today, and I think I speak for many when I say: Bring It. On the heels of a dreadfully long, rainy, bone-chilling, gray winter it’s time to leave that all behind, for a least 3 (maybe 4?!) months. (Remember The Summer of 2006? It went on and on, well into October. Remember The Summer of 2007? It lasted about 9 days.)

So in tribute to NPR’s “Weekend Edition” which frequently asks this same query: What are YOU doing this first full weekend of summer, with temperatures in the 70’s and a fairly low chance of any rain. Sound off, and enjoy whatever you do……

Why Isn’t Cherry Street Blooming?

Over the last couple of months, there’s been plenty of vibrant discussion on this site about development, re-development, revitalization of certain areas in the CD: 23rd and Union23rd and Cherry, along Jackson and parts of Yesler. We focus again on Cherry, a main thoroughfare in the neighborhood. The nagging question: What’s going on (or maybe What’s NOT going on?) between the Community Center and just east of MLK.

For a busy street that cuts through the heart of such a wide residential area, you’d think there’d be more stores and businesses of all types to cater to everyone ready to buy and eat and drink. But a quick count shows at least half a dozen places are shuttered. The old dry cleaners: Closed. The southern food restaurant: Shut down. A small unknown red building across the street: Long ago locked up. What gives? And more importantly, what will it take to possibly turn things around what COULD BE a terrific street in the CD. We’ve already talked about the potential for lots of new stores to move into the loft/work spaces and the old chocolate building at 23rd and Cherry.. but what does it take to reclaim and rejuvenate such a prized road?

Homeowners Speak Out on 23rd & Union Project

I managed to make my way downtown.. on a workday.. at 1:30p.. for the two-hour meeting that allowed the public to testify before the city hearing examiner on the new building being eyed for 23rd Avenue and East Union. The main issue: The developer, Jim Mueller, wants to add another 25 feet to the height of the proposed apartment complex and retail space, topping it out at 65 feet. (Current zoning only allows 40 feet in that part of the city.)

Seven homeowners also managed to make time to get to the meeting. Six of them strongly support the request; the other is against it. A quick recap of some comments:

* Woman who lives on 21st, she’s the one who doesn’t like the idea: She says there’s “no great public benefit” to the rezone, and that the plans don’t take enough into account of the “architectural history of what was once there” (remember the old building damaged in the earthquake?) She also still wonders: “Four floors is good, but why six?”

* Man who lives on 21st: “This development is a longtime in coming.” “It takes into consideration everyone in the area.” “65 feet would not be outrageously large.”

* Woman who lives near 20th and Union: “Waiting a long time for positive development with shops and services there.” “That intersection is the Bermuda Triangle of the city.” “It’s a cursed corner” that needs this project.

* Woman who lives on 24th, one and a half blocks away: “Watched the area deteriorate over the years.” “Building would put ‘eyes on the intersection’ and help ward off drug activity and prostitution.” She’s talked with lots of neighbors and they all give the project “A big collective YES.”

* Man who lives on 24th: “Positive development means change for the good.” “Developer really can’t move ahead without the change.” “City has the opportunity to do the right thing.”

* Man who lives near 23rd and Marion: “The city’s strategy is to become more sustainable.. and that’s what this new building will do.” “Area is very unpleasant the way it is now.”

* Woman who lives near 17th and Spring: She greatly likes the idea the developer is pushing of “locally owned and operated merchants moving into the shops.” Says this is terrific “revitalization.”

An architect and project manager of the planned 23rd and Union development was there to walk the hearing examiner through what’s being considered, what changes have been made and why the complex would be such an asset to the neighborhood.

A few other points: The developer is also asking for a waiver that will make three mandatory parking spots for the businesses no longer necessary, saying there’s plenty of street parking. (Right now, the 92-unit building will only have 74 parking places for tenants in its underground garage.) The hearing examiner will now make a recommendation to the city council, which will have the final say on the rezoning request. (We’ll keep watch on when that’s supposed to happen.) Jim Mueller has said if it goes through, construction should start next spring.

Renovated Spring & 15th Park Nearly Ready

It appears the construction work at the Spring Street Mini Park is nearly finished. After years of wear and tear, new playground equipment has been installed along with some physical improvements — which should have families in the neighborhood rejoicing, especially as summer kicks in.

I tried to get a firm opening date from the Parks Department (a sign on the fence simply says opening in “early June”), but couldn’t get one. So keep a lookout. By the way: That little spot of park land was purchased by the city wayyyyyyy back in 1969.