Construction on the corner of Market St and 24th, left, is just one sign that things are about to get a lot busier on what has otherwise been a “local’s street.”
New life on 24th Ave NW
With one fell swoop, in the timespan of a few years, 24th Ave NW has gotten a complete facelift. Ballard mainstays have fallen off one by one (or, maybe more accurately, two by two) and have been replaced by newer, fresher, more upscale places.
The Viking, open since 1950, closed for good on May 1. The Copper Gate, “Scandalnavian” since 1946, closed June 30. The old Ballard Library was demolished in August. The Stepping Stone, Aster Coffee Lounge and O’Shan Sushi all had a shift in ownership and took on new identities over the summer.
Aster turned into Toast Ballard, O’Shan turned into Kimchi House, The Steppping Stone turned into a newer Stepping Stone, the Copper Gate turned into Olaf’s. A new branch of the Sunset Hill Market will be moving into the development at the old Viking location along with a restaurant.
Then, if you go back a few years, there’s the much-lamented departure of Archie McPhee’s and Old Jacobsen’s Marine on Market St.
A few places are remaining unchanged. There’s the ever-delicious Café Besalu and Tall Grass Bakery combo. Java Bean Espresso and Scooter’s are staying put for now. And how can Ballard be a complete town without its own sports ‘n’ wings bar? In this case, there is WingMasters Sports Bar.
The site of The Viking Tavern, 2 and 1/2 Barbers and an old auto body shop at 64th and 24th is slated to become an apartment complex/Photo by Zachariah Bryan
If for some reason anyone was worried, there will be no shortage of people to flood the new (and old) businesses. At 24th and 64th, there will be a five-story, 25-unit apartment building. At the old Ballard library site will be a six-story, 107-unit apartment building. At 24th and Market, there will be a seven-story, 309-unit monstrosity, now under construction and looming over Market St Spirit Service.
On top of that, there’s the already completed “Ballard on the Park” apartments -- an eight-story, 268-unit building that was completed in 2010 -- and several other complexes already in place.
Add it all up and that’s -- uh -- a lot.
As one 24th Ave resident, who moved in before all the changes, told Ballard News-Tribune Columnist Peggy Sturdivant, “You buy a house and you have a dream. Then it’s not what you invested in. It’s shocking.”
Indeed, the street is transitioning, and walking down 24th Ave today provides a looking glass into the future.
The owners of Olaf's stand out in front of the sign that used to be where the old Copper Gate sign proclaimed "Scandalnavian since 1946."/Photo by Allyce Andrew
Here’s our prediction:
The new, hip Ballard will outgrow the confines the Ballard Ave and Market St core. It’ll be expanding upward and outward.
When the big apartment building projects are finished, a new tsunami of new age Ballardites will swarm the roads, more places will likely open, and 24th Ave may become just as walkable, just as popular (if not quite as historic) as Ballard Ave.
It could also likely act as a kind respite from the crowded, claustrophobic Ballard Ave. While the old mainstay bars and cafes have wilted away, the new places are trying to be just as neighborhood-focused in their own way. Olaf's and the new Stepping Stone owners are bringing a little dose of the Viking Tavern, emphasizing friendliness and openness. The new Toast Ballard, while attempting a more upscale atmosphere, maintains the same lounge-y feel of Aster.
The burgeoning strip of 24th hardly matches the hustle and bustle of Ballard Ave. It’s still a surprisingly long walk from Ballard Ave for outsiders who have eagle vision (as in narrowly focused). But as the neighborhood’s population and density grows -- and, believe us, it’s skyrocketing, far surpassing the original neighborhood plan’s prospects -- it won’t be long until this little slice of Ballard starts getting praised and fawned over by national magazines and newspapers, too.
So have a stroll, visit one of the new watering holes, grab a beer, eat some fancy toast. And watch a neighborhood transform within the snap of a finger.
Fancy toast has invaded 24th/Photo from Toast Ballard Facebook Page
Follow Ballard News-Tribune on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ballardnewstrib
And Twitter at http://twitter.com/ballardnewstrib