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Current Biosphere Construction. Photo by Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

The three, new glass biospheres, which are part of Amazon’s new campus covering three blocks in the South Lake Union area, continue taking shape. Their 36-story adjoining square tower opened for business on November 7th, 2016, with the announcement “Hello World” in the window. This is the 2nd new building site move-in for Amazon in recent months.

Biospheres under construction, April 2016. Photo by Kevin Lisota/GeekWire.

The round, 5-story spheres are located at Lenora Street and 6th Avenue on the north end of downtown Seattle, and are designed to promote out-of-the-box thinking for 800 employees while serving as a nature conservatory. The idea is to promote creative thought in a relaxed, inviting work environment and provide a memorable iconic structure for the downtown core. They will include waterfalls, extension bridges, a river, and thousands of plants (U.S. and international), so employees and guests can connect with nature while at work. Retail spaces will also be opened within the spheres as well. Employees will have a cafeteria available on-site or always have the option of eating their lunch amid the climate-controlled gardens (set at a pleasant, not humid, temperature for humans during the day).

Photo by Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

According to The Seattle Times, the Amazon company has hired a seasoned, full-time horticulturist, Ron Gagliardo, formerly of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, to manage these spaces. Principal architect at NBBJ, Dale Alberda, initially proposed a round, rather than square structure, which the committee responded well to. So now this out-of-the box structure is becoming a reality, and will fully open in late 2017 or early 2018.

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1231 5th Ave N (unit 202), Seattle

Just a few minutes from Lake Union this spacious one bedroom plus den condo is for rent in the coveted Le Parc condominiums. Over 1,100sf with lavish master bath, walk-in closet, fireplace, and terrace with stunning Downtown Skyline and Space Needle views. Prime Queen Anne location on a quiet street overlooking Bhy Kracke Park. Secure Parking included. No smoking, no pets.

970DennyIt seems as though all systems are ‘Go’ on a project that will bring a 40 story apartment tower to 970 Denny Way.

The project, put forth by Holland Partners Group, will include 15,580 square feet of retail space, 468 units and 359 parking spaces. Located in the “bullseye of the whole South Lake Union area”, this structure promises to boast many of high-end amenities, including a roof-top deck, gym, media room and business center, and of course, a location to boot.

Development director for Holland, Marty Goodman, said the project has been approved for a master use permit , and demolition is ready to go. Once the permits are in hand, construction will likely start within a few weeks.

Holland Group is working closely with retail experts to ensure a ground floor design that is appealing and fresh, complete with outdoor dining areas, plenty of windows and other desirable featured for retailers.

The building’s first occupants are expected to be able to move in as soon as summer 2018.

Photo courtesy mamnoonrestaurant.com
Photo courtesy mamnoonrestaurant.com

By now you’ve probably heard that beloved and acclaimed Middle Eastern eatery Mamnoon will be opening a new venture called ‘mBar’ in SLU, but it seems as though that’s not enough to keep Mamnoon’s owners busy this year.

In addition to the Mediterranean inspired rooftop spot (sure to be glorious with it’s 100-seat, glass railed patio, so as to protect and enhance your mealtime view), and the recently announced ‘Mamnoon Street’, it looks like the Mamnoon team will be opening yet another spot next door at Amazon’s new 6th Ave Doppler campus.

The newest addition to the Mamnoon line up will be called ‘Anar’ meaning pomegranate in Farsi, and will focus mainly on the “ancient traditions of juice and vegetarian dishes.”

From the proprietors:

    Anar will  be an ideal destination to get energized for the day, starting with a breakfast yogurt blend, Persian mint tea, or a specially blended kombucha.  Juices will range from sweet to savory to hearty, and will include such ingredients as orange blossom, rose water and pomegranate with available additions like yogurt, cashews and chickpeas.  Food options include small plates; a mezze dish with dolma, pickled and raw vegetables, arugula and gluten free crackers with a choice of Carrot bi tahini, muhammara, or ‘Persian’ green hummus, and big plates; Fatteh with cauliflower, garbanzo, gluten-free crackers and mint cucumber salad.  For a late afternoon pick-me-up, Anar will feature desserts, snacks and ‘mocktails’, such as muddled cucumber, cilantro, mint and soda. Items from Anar will be available for take-away or to enjoy in its warm, open, colorful space.  With seating for 18, Anar will be ideal for an intimate meeting or to settle into a cozy space to work with a delicious beverage and great music.

Anar will be opening later this month at 2040 6th Avenue with business hours of Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Just as the lane configurations on Mercer Street seem to change daily, the Seattle Department of Transportation is constantly reevaluating what can be done to reduce gridlock for drivers and headaches for pedestrians in South Lake Union and Lower Queen Anne, an area experiencing unprecedented growth. After implementing several changes this fall, SDOT continues to facilitate communication among construction companies and community members as part of its Construction Hub Coordination Program.

Anyone who has spent time sitting in their car on Mercer Street, watching traffic lights cycle through green and back to red without moving an inch, knows that improving traffic flow on the main thoroughfare is a high priority for the neighborhood. With input from the South Lake Union Community Council, SDOT has made the following changes:

  • Traffic signal at 5th Avenue North and Mercer Street has been reconfigured to allow flow of both eastbound and westbound traffic simultaneously.
  • Revised signal at Queen Anne Ave. North and Roy Street to prevent vehicles from blocking the crosswalk.
  • Left-turn-signal time extended at Fairview Avenue North and Mercer Street.
  • Rapid Ride D Line bus given priority signal.
  • New signal timing for special events at Seattle Center.
  • Facilitated coordination between construction companies to ensure that sidewalks aren’t closed on both sides of any street, improving access for pedestrians.

While the Mercer corridor reconfiguration project is expected to be completed in mid 2015, construction in booming South Lake Union shows no signs of letting up, meaning your input will be as important as ever. Any questions or feedback can be submitted to the Construction Hub Coordination Program at SDOTConstructionHub@seattle.gov.

If you prefer a nautical spin on your holiday events, the Greet the Season celebration at Lake Union Park on Saturday, November 29, is for you. This all-day event offers maritime-inspired activities for the whole family, capped off with a performance by the always-popular Argosy Christmas Ship.

Tour the historic ships docked at the park, including the Virginia V, Arthur Foss, and M/V Lotus; and wander through the exhibits at the Center for Wooden Boats (also free to enter) to learn about the influence of small boats on the culture of the Pacific Northwest. MOHAI will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for the regular admission price of $17 (free for kids 14 and under), and will be offering free admission to the atrium between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.

Kids will have the opportunity to build toy boats, sail boats on the pond, make maritime signal flag necklaces, learn knot-tying techniques, decorate cookies, make holiday cards and ornaments, and much more. Crafts, music, and dance performances should be enough to keep them occupied all day! Though most of these activities are free, donations are greatly appreciated.

The Christmas Ship will begin its performance on Lake Union, featuring the Dickens Carolers, at 7:15 p.m., and hot beverages will be available to keep you warm through the evening. Don’t miss out on this quintessentially Seattle way to greet the holiday season!

Join the South Lake Union Community Council at MOHAI this Tuesday, November 4, for it’s monthly meeting covering neighborhood issues and events. This month’s meeting will feature presentations by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and by the Department of Planning and Development regarding incentive zoning, plus updates on the Construction Hub Coordination Program, and discussion of upcoming meeting speakers Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. Click here to see a full meeting agenda. The meeting runs from 4:00-6:00 p.m.

The last South Lake Union Art Walk of the season is set for Friday, December 5, and since it is sure to be a chilly night, organizers will be setting up hot-beverage stations throughout the neighborhood where walkers can warm up between art viewings. Stations will be located at the pedestrian plaza at 515 Westlake, Common Table, the Y @ Cascade People’s Center, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Pilates Seattle International, and Seattle Unity Church.

More than 30 businesses, including Glazer’s Camera and Winston Wachter Fine Arts Gallery, are participating in the December walk, which will also feature window displays at 518 YALE and Graphica Inc.; and a guided walking tour of the eight Storefronts Seattle installations. The tour starts at 6:00 p.m. and will leave from the corner of John and Boren.

The walk, which runs from 5:00-8:00 p.m., will also serve as a shoe drive for Redeeming Soles, an organization that provides footwear to homeless and underprivileged people in the Puget Sound area. If you have new or gently used shoes that could use a new home, drop them off at Common Table anytime during the art walk.

Click here for a map of participating venues!

South Lake UnionDrive anywhere in South Lake Union these days and you are likely to run into at least one roadblock. Road work on Mercer Street and on 9th Avenue combined with countless construction projects in progress in the area has led to street and sidewalk closures, reduced parking availability, and near-constant traffic gridlock.

Throughout 2014, the Seattle Department of Transportation has been making efforts to alleviate some of these problems through its Construction Hub Coordination Program and Access Seattle Initiative. As a result of feedback from neighbors and business owners at a recent South Lake Union Community Council meeting, drivers and pedestrians should see some changes happening in the near future. Here’s a summary of the issues that are being addressed:

  • Amazon is using off-duty Seattle Police officers to restrict access to Harrison Street to aid in emptying their parking garages, which has increased traffic on neighboring Republican Street. SDOT says they will no longer allow this.
  • Heavy traffic on Mercer Street is deterring people from visiting surrounding businesses. SDOT says that an additional eastbound lane on Mercer will be opening in less than a week, and new signal timing should further reduce backups.
  • Construction workers who commute to the area are taking up a large chunk of street parking in the area. SDOT and the Department of Planning and Development will increase requirements for construction companies to provide off-street parking for workers.
  • Heavy traffic, including from construction vehicles and equipment, does not make the area pedestrian friendly. SDOT will install all-way walk signals at the intersections of 9th & Republican, 9th & Harrison, 9th & Thomas, John & Minor, Yale & Minor, and Yale & Thomas.

Also, click here to see a map of SLU construction projects.

The neighborhood is going to be a busy place in June, with some pretty fun and exciting Lake Union events to look forward to…

  1. June 2 – Chateau Musar Wine Dinner at Cicchetti: This is the second annual vertical wine dinner featuring Chateau Musar at Cicchetti. The vertical wine tasting will feature a five-course menu to complement the wines, for $110 per person. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Click here to view the menu.
  2. June 3 – MOHAI June Trivia at The Wurst Place: On the first Tuesday of every month, MOHAI holds a fun pub trivia at the Wurst Place at 7 p.m. This month, the MOHAI Pub Trivia will take place on June 3rd, and is a free community event.
  3. June 3 – South Lake Union Dishcrawl: Dine at three South Lake Union eateries to discover new tastes in the neighborhood in the SLU Dishcrawl at 7 p.m. on June 3rd. The three restaurants are currently a secret for now. Purchase your tickets here – $45 per person for nine food samples.
  4. June 4 – Tamron Tailgate Tour: Join in Glazer’s Tamron Tailgate Tour on June 4th from noon until 4 p.m. to test drive the new Tamron lens technology, enjoy free photography mini-sessions, visit over 100 photographic spots, enjoy a free tailgate lunch, and enter to win giveaway prizes.
  5. June 5 – First Free Thursday at MOHAI: Every month, the Museum of History and Industry in South Lake Union offers free admission on the first Thursday. The museum is open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. The June First Free Thursday is on June 5th.
  6. June 7 – Spring Sea Scout Rendezvous with Chief Seattle Council: The Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America are doing their Spring Rendezvous with the three largest Sea Scout ships in their fleet on June 7th from South Lake Union Park. The ships will arrive at the park at 11 a.m. for the event. All young men and women ages 14-21 are welcome.
  7. June 7 – Lung Force Walk: Stand up to the rise of lung cancer in women, asthma, pollution, and COPD on June 7th with the Seattle Lung Force Walk. The event begins at Denny Park with a 0.3-mile Lung Heroes Lap, and then follows with a walk to Lake Union Park and back to the Denny Playfield.
  8. June 7 & 8 – Glazer’s Mini-Photofest: It’s the 5th Annual (mini) PhotoFest at Glazer’s on June 7th and 8th! In addition to celebrating images, offering workshops, demos, and specials, it’s also Glazer’s biggest sale of the year. The festival is from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 7th and from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 8th.
  9. June 12 – June Corks and Canvas at Pan Pacific Seattle: Paint a masterpiece while sipping and socializing in the monthly Corks and Canvas event at Pan Pacific Hotel – this month on June 12th from 6 – 9 p.m. Hosted in the Lobby Bar, participants receive instruction and all necessary supplies, plus their first glass of wine for $45 per person. Small plates and additional drinks are available for purchase. Advance registration required – click here.
  10. June 13 & 14 – Art on the Fly Dance Festival: From June 13th through 14th, Art on the Fly is having a dance and arts street fair. With roving performances, flash mobs, free dance classes, an artisan craft fair, beer and margarita gardens, activities, foods and more, the Art on the Fly Festival is not to be missed! The fair takes place between Thomas and Republican Streets on Terry Avenue North in South Lake Union.
  11. June 14 – Verdue Primavera Cooking Class at Cicchetti: Learn how to use the bounty from your garden or the Farmer’s Market in delicious dishes, in the Verdue Primavera Cooking Class at Cicchetti on Saturday, June 14th at 1 p.m. The class is $70 per person. Please call 206-323-0807 to reserve your space.
  12. June 19 – June History Café at MOHAI: In this month’s history café at MOHAI, the topic is “Pike Place Market”. Join the group in the MOHAI Café from 7 – 8 p.m., grab a coffee or a glass of wine, and learn about the past and discuss it!
  13. June 22 – SS Virginia V Birthday Cruise: Celebrate the 92nd birthday of the SS Virginia V with a special cruise presented by Vulcan Real Estate. On Sunday, June 22nd at 4 p.m., the Virginia V will depart from Lake Union Park for a cruise around Lake Union and cake and birthday toast. At 5:30 p.m., the vessel will return for more dockside celebrations until 7 p.m. Tickets are $92 per person. Click here for details.
  14. June 28 – Family Pride Day at MOHAI: Celebrate your family pride at MOHAI! All-day activities from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 28th will include special performances by Pride Idol winners, bingo with Lunch Lady Mama, family portraits, make-your-own flair for the 40th Annual Pride Parade, and more! Included with museum admission.
  15. June 29 – 4th Annual Garden Party Extravaganza at Serafina & Cicchetti: The Eastlake restaurant Serafina is celebrating their 23rd anniversary and the 4th Annual Garden Party Extravaganza on Sunday, June 29th from 1 – 10 p.m. Featured highlights include a whole-roasted pig, patio grilling, new Rosé vintages, live music, photo booth, oyster bar, and the ‘Iron Bartender’ event. Click here for more details.

Featured photo from Art-On-The-Fly.org.