News Blog for Seattle's University District Neighborhood


Entries from July 2010

520 work starts today, distracted drivers could cause slowdown

July 23rd, 2010 by master

State DOT crews begin fieldwork in Lake Washington today (7/23) to study the lakebed where support columns and anchors will be placed for a new 520 Bridge.  Barge-mounted drill rigs will be placed alongside the entire length of the floating bridge. Nearly 40 borings will be completed, with a depth of 60 to 100 feet into the lakebed. 

WSDOT says daytime traffic slowdowns are possible on 520 if distracted drivers watch the work. The work is scheduled from 7 am to 7 pm in 10-day shifts, with four days off in between shifts. Nearby residents may see and hear the work.  This phase of work should be wrapped up by the end of September.  You can learn more about the project here.

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More information on string of burglaries

July 22nd, 2010 by master

The full police reports are now available on a rash of burglaries in the U-District we first told you about earlier this week.  It appears none of the crimes are related.

July 20: 4200 block of Brooklyn Ave NE.  A man left his apartment to see a movie and returned to find a window open.  Some items had been moved around and things were thrown all over the apartment.  It didn’t appear that anything had actually been stolen, and police weren’t able to find any fingerprints.

July 17: 5600 block of 15th Ave NE. Two residents said one of their roommates saw an unknown man in a bedroom earlier in the day.  Apparently several people live there and no one knew the man wasn’t supposed to be in the house.  Some items were taken, but some high value property wasn’t touched.

July 17: 4700 block of 16th Ave NE.  A burglar broke in while a couple slept and stole laptops and other items.  There was no sign of forced entry, and the residents told police they weren’t sure if they left a door unlocked.

Just a reminder that you can now check police reports online.  Although each report is generally posted the day of the crime, it can take up to 5 days for the full report with specific details to show up in the system.

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Landmark movie house struggling to survive

July 21st, 2010 by master

At first glance, you wouldn’t even think it’s a theater.  Tucked next to a cafe/coffee house off The Ave, there’s a place where Bogie and Bacall still have a home.  In the day of stadium seating and 3-D blockbusters, the U-District’s Grand Illusion Cinema has been offering up classic movies and independent releases since 1968.  In fact, it’s Seattle’s longest running independent cinema.  But that long run may soon come to a close.

“It was to the point where we didn’t know if we could last another month,” said manager Brian Alter of a slow time this year when ticket sales and memberships fell off.  “If we had a major cost come up it was going to be hard to figure out.”  

The Grand Illusion at the corner of NE 50th Street and University Way

Things have turned around for the better lately, but these are still desperate times.  The GI, which is an all volunteer non-profit organization, gives film lovers an intimate experience.  Inside the theater that’s decked out in red velvet and gold, you can sit back in one of 70 plush seats.  The staff tries to show movies in 35mm whenever possible mixing everything from the classics, to cult flicks, to the downright bizarre.

“It’s got an old time vibe,” said Alter.  “I’ve heard it described as everything from a funeral parlor to a private screening room.”

Inside the Grand Illusion

Simply buying a ticket to a movie at Grand Illusion can help, but the theater needs film lovers to dig much deeper to keep it alive.  Memberships start at $30 and offer discounts on tickets along with private screenings and parties.  The GI also plans to have a full blown fundraiser in September.  Alter says losing the theater would be not only a personal loss, but a loss to the entire city.

“It’s a landmark of art house cinema in Seattle.  It’s an everything goes, free thinking kind of vibe.”

To learn more about how you can help the Grand Illusion, click here.

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How much is UW worth to the state? $9 billion a year

July 21st, 2010 by master

The University of Washington turns out to be a powerhouse when it comes to pumping dollars into our state’s economy.  A new study shows the UW’s overall economic impact to the state is a whopping $9.1 billion dollars every year. The study, conducted from 2008 to 2009 by consulting firm Tripp Umbach, found the UW created $4 billion in direct economic activity (economic transactions from the university and its employees, students and visitors) and another $5.1 billion from indirect expenditures by businesses using money from direct expenditures.  Reporter William Dow takes a closer look at the numbers in The Daily.

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Rash of home burglaries

July 20th, 2010 by master

Burglars have hit three U-District homes in the past few days, including earlier today.  Here’s a look at when and where the crimes were reported:

July 20: 4200 block of Brooklyn Ave NE

July 17: 5600 block of 15th Ave NE

July 17: 4700 block of 16th Ave NE

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Plea to U-District businesses for auction items

July 20th, 2010 by master

The Ruby Room, a non-profit that provides formal gowns to local high school girls who can’t afford to buy a prom dress, is asking U-District businesses for help.  Their biggest event of the year, the 2010 Fall Auction and Fashion Show, is coming up on September 11 at the Paramount Theater.

“We are hoping some of the U-District businesses will join us in support of auction with a procurement item donation, event sponsorship and/or product samples for our VIP bags,” Erin Quick with the Ruby Room’s board of directors tells us.

If you can help by donating auction items, contact Erin at (206) 437-6782.  Dresses, shoes and 
accessories are also donated throughout the year and made available to girls in need at no cost. You can learn more about Ruby Room here.

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Boutique hotel for the homeless? Groundbreaking for University Apartments

July 19th, 2010 by master

From the front porch of her U-District home, Amy has seen and heard all the construction going on next door.  Up until now, she assumed the crews waking her up every morning were working on a new condo project.  Little did she know what started as a boutique hotel is now becoming an apartment complex for the homeless.

“Really? I had no idea,” said Amy.  “I actually used to be homeless myself.  Better that project than new townhomes.”

This afternoon, an official groundbreaking ceremony was held for the University Apartments in the 4700 block of 12th Ave NE, although construction has been well underway for weeks.  The site, which was purchased by the Low Income Housing Institute when plans for a hotel fell through, will feature 62 units of permanent affordable housing for homeless individuals, couples, and veterans.  Project supporters say it’s designed for people who want to turn their lives around and put homelessness behind them.

“These are challenging times and this is somewhat of a challenged neighborhood” said State Senator Ed Murray who represents the U-District.  “It’s hope about revitalizing the city, it’s hope about helping those in need.”

The new complex is funded in part through the City of Seattle, which kicked in $3.7 million through a housing levy.  The building will be built green and is expected to open next summer.  While Amy and several other nearby residents say they welcome their new neighbors, they do worry about security.

“We screen very carefully,” said Sharon Lee, executive director of the Low Income Housing Institute.  Lee says people with criminal backgrounds won’t be allowed.  There will also be an on-site resident manager, and Sound Mental Health will provide residents with everything from job training to counseling. 

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Husky Rugby team warns of door to door fraud

July 19th, 2010 by master

Some people are going door to door in several Seattle neighborhoods pretending to be members of the UW Rugby team.  They try to sell homeowners a magazine subscription, saying the funds will go to help the team pay for a trip to Australia.  The team decided to put a message on their website to warn of the fraud and offer a real way to donate to the team (even though they aren’t going to Australia). Thanks to our friends at the West Seattle Blog for first reporting the problem.

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University Bridge lane closure Tue. and Wed.

July 19th, 2010 by master

SDOT will close the northbound right lane on the University Bridge from 9 am to 3 pm on both July 20 and 21.  Crews will be repairing a broken water line.

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Stolen detour signs cause confusion

July 17th, 2010 by master

Drivers were already having a tough time getting around the NE 45th Street Viaduct closure.  Now, they’re running into a new problem.  Detour signs for the project are being stolen on a regular basis.  Many signs and traffic cones have been recovered along Greek Row and alleyways north of 45th Street.

“The contractor is doing their best to replace missing signs in a timely manner, but the missing signs have impacted the traveling public’s ability to navigate the signed detour route,” said Maribel Cruz, outreach coordinator for the viaduct project. She also said UW Police have stepped up patrols around the area. Reporter Nick Visser has more in The Daily.

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