Madison Valley News


By Daniel Beekman

Try to imagine building an asphalt trail through the exhibition halls of the Seattle Art Museum — wending your way around paintings and sculptures, or through the Burke Museum — dodging dinosaur bones, carvings and masks.

That’s what it was like to design and construct Washington Park Arboretum’s loop trail, which quietly opened to walkers, runners and cyclists in November. In laying 1.2 miles of pavement, the team building the trail took painstaking care to protect the arboretum’s 230-acre collection of 20,000 trees and other plants from around the world.

The meandering route, lined with 18 benches cast in a classic style from the 1939 New York World’s Fair, runs all the way from East Madison Street to the Graham Visitors Center between Lake Washington Boulevard East and the arboretum’s iconic Azalea Way.

“You can think about the arboretum as a living museum — that’s how we treat it,” said Fred Hoyt, interim director of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, which manages the tree sanctuary in cooperation with Seattle Parks and Recreation.

The trail descends below Pacific Rim foliage, crosses over Arboretum Creek, stretches through a restored wetland and skirts past sturdy walnuts and oaks.

Ushering visitors into the park from East Madison Street and connecting with the existing Arboretum Drive to create an approximately 2-mile recreational loop, the $7.8 million trail presented parks project manager Garrett Farrell with a number of unique challenges.

Farrell had to avoid tree cutting wherever possible, work with botanical experts, contend with rainy weather and boggy terrain and rebid the project in order to make the budget work during a construction boom, scrapping concrete walls in favor of rockery.

Before breaking ground in 2016, the project’s team designed the trail six times on paper, plotted the route with stakes and poles and blew away a layer of soil to determine where there were important tree roots in harm’s way. Local company Ohno Construction was the contractor.

The team altered the route to work around some trees, moved others and turned those they had to cut into landscape elements and snags where wildlife can thrive.

Including trees planted in the arboretum and around Washington Park Playfield, the complex has gained seven new trees for every tree cut down, Farrell said.

“If we had been building a road, we would have been done a long time ago,” he said. “What we did was bob and weave through the arboretum’s collection.”

That precision was costly, eating up more than $1,000 per foot of pavement in a city where better schools and homeless shelters are needed. But the money in this case came from a mitigation fund for the Highway 520 bridge-replacement project.

“The new bridge is taking another bite out of the arboretum,” Farrell said.

Seward Park and Taylor Creek water projects in South Seattle are among other recipients of Highway 520 mitigation money, according to the state transportation department.

Hoyt says advocates reacted cautiously when the trail was proposed years ago, concerned about damage to trees and other environmental impacts.

The project included construction of a larger parking lot downhill from Azaela Way, adding asphalt in a part of the arboretum where drainage already was a problem.

But it also included the clearing away of blackberry bushes, the installation of bioswales and the daylighting and restoration of a section of Arboretum Creek.

Mallard ducks paddled there on a recent afternoon, soaking up rays of sunlight that reach the new stretch of trail with more intensity than along shady Arboretum Drive.

Three bridges with iron railings cross the creek, which had been buried underground, and the restoration work has opened up new east-west vistas across the arboretum. Even in the winter, the trail is getting a lot of use, Farrell said.

“This used to be an impenetrable blackberry thicket,” Farrell said. “Unless you were super able-bodied, this area was off-limits to you.”

Access is something Jane Stonecipher, Arboretum Foundation interim director, appreciates about the loop. The trail is giving new life to a neglected area and allowing older visitors, who can no longer use the arboretum’s dirt paths, to ride a tram through.

There were concerns that a bikeable trail parallel to Lake Washington Boulevard East would become a thruway for speedsters, so the route is purposefully sinuous.

Signs remind cyclists the speed limit is 10 mph, and Stonecipher believes they can coexist alongside the stroller-pushers, botanists and tree-huggers. A grand opening is planned for April 8.

“I like how we’re bringing different users to the arboretum,” she said. “People can come for the recreation and come back when they realize this is such a unique place.”

Syndicated from the Seattle Times. Featured photo source Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times.

By Megan Hill

Originally conceived and crowdfunded — unsuccessfully — in fall 2016 as a Capitol Hill fine-dining restaurant called Galerie 23, chef Rob Sevcik’s restaurant project has been scaled back and is now set to open later this month in Madison Valley as Petite Galerie. He’ll preview the food with dinners held February 14 to 17.

Sevcik has spent time in Thierry Rautureau’s kitchens, including now-defunct Rover’s. Last summer, Sevcik left his role as chef de cuisine at Rautureau’s fancy French restaurant Loulay to start work on his own venture. Sevcik set lofty goals to raise $325,000 through an Indiegogo campaign, but the fundraiser fell significantly short, netting only one percent of the total. Sevcik’s Capitol Hill location also fell through.

With those plans scrapped, Sevcik instead renovated the former Oh Chocolates space at 3131 E Madison St. in Madison Valley. Sevcik says to expect an “elegant brasserie serving lunch and dinner” and a menu of “French-influenced New American” food with approachable pricing.

The dinner menu will include small plates — hinted at by the “Petite” in the restaurant’s name — with plenty of options for various dietary preferences. Dishes are divided into four categories, including “land” and “heaven” sections that most diners will recognize as meat and dessert. Diners can choose to eat family-style, select dishes to be coursed out, or simply ask to be placed in the chef’s hands based on preferences and proclivities.

Lunch will be slightly less abstruse, with open-faced sandwiches, soups, salads, quiches, and chilled seafood options like crab, tuna, prawns, and lobster. Sevcik is also planning to offer an Italian soda that diners mix at the table.

Sevcik is offering invite-only preview dinners to select diners from February 14 through 17. Diners can order from an a la carte menu or choose a four-course meal priced at $95 per person; both options include free beverage pairings. Items range from whole lobster with saffron butter to seared wagyu rib caps to roasted whole quail. To request an invitation, interested parties are encouraged to call the restaurant at (206) 588-1682.

Syndicated from

Check out some of the things to do in Madison Park and Madison Valley throughout February…

Throughout February: Workshops at City People’s Garden Store
Various Dates | City People’s Garden Store
Each month, the City People’s Garden Store offers a variety of workshops. In February, the workshops offered are as follows:

Throughout February: Wine Tastings
Varying Times | Madrona Wine Merchants
Madrona Wine Merchants offers wine tastings throughout February for interested or curious wine-o’s!

  • World Wine Values, February 3rd from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday Sippers, February 4th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Fruilli & Veneto Tasting, February 10th from 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday Sippers, February 11th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Spanish Wine Tasting, February 17th from 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday Sippers, February 18th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Animale Tasting, February 24th from 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday Sippers, February 25th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

February 1: First Thursday Tram Tour
11am — 12pm | Washington Park Arboretum
The Washington Park Arboretum’s 13-passenger tram offers monthly tours of the expansive nature park. Riders and participants on the first Thursday tour each month will learn about highlights of the season, new plantings, history of the Arboretum and more as they travel from the Graham Visitors Center to the Pacific Connections Garden. This is an open-air tour that operates year-round, rain or shine. Register here.

February 14: Valentine’s Day Dinner in Madison Valley
5pm — Close | Madison Valley
Several of the top restaurants in the neighborhood are offering a special prix-fixe menu for Valentine’s Day. The Harvest Vine’s is five courses for $90/person, Cafe Flora is offering a four-course vegetarian menu (vegan available) for $75/person, and Luc is offering one, but details are TBD.

By Ryan Murray

The Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit corridor is still at least three years away, but plans are becoming more concrete.

At a First Hill Improvement Association meeting at Virginia Mason Medical Center, Eric Tweit from the Seattle Department of Transportation focused in on some details of the corridor but also gave an overview of the project.

“There have been lots of delays for buses traveling on Madison,” he said. “The corridor is a historically underserved area.”

The Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit project, also known as the RapidRide G Line is intended to speed up transit from east Seattle to Downtown and back. The line will start near the ferries and 1st Avenue, split going Eastbound on Spring Street and Westbound on Madison Street before joining again near Terry Avenue. It will continue over First Hill and into the Madison Valley.

The next big hurdle for the project is to secure federal grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration, by no means a sure thing. However, the administration has approved Seattle’s environmental assessment document.

“Obviously we are hoping for that grant,” Tweit said. “But we have other strategies without that grant. But would it be fully funded or built in stages? That’s something we would have to determine.”

Other funding is coming from the Levy to Move Seattle and Sound Transit 3. The total estimated cost of the project is $120 million.

The major agenda item for the project locally is to work with business owners and other stakeholders to create a construction phasing schedule.

Between 1st Avenue and 8th Avenue, and again between 15th and 17th Avenues, the buses on the line would use shared business access/transit lanes. Between 6th Avenue and 15th Avenue, the route would split off into transit-only lanes. From 17th Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Way, the buses would merge into general purpose lanes.

At the height of the line’s usage (Monday through Saturday between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.) buses are scheduled every six minutes. On off hours, Sundays or holidays, that drops to every 15 minutes. RapidRide G will run from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Residents of First Hill were specific on questions, asking about wheelchair-accessible ramps at certain intersections.

The corridor will prohibit the left-hand turn onto Terry Avenue from Madison Street going Eastbound, prompting some concerns from business-owners on Terry. A crosswalk near the IHOP on East Madison Street and 10th Avenue was proposed.

“We almost never put a crosswalk across a four lane street,” Tweit said. “It’s definitely been discussed, but it’s far from a done deal.”

Much of the project is far from done. Throughout 2018, the city will reach out to the public. The project final design is expected this summer, and construction documents and permits are scheduled for the fall.

Construction is scheduled to begin early 2019 on the corridor, and last until late winter 2020. The line is tentatively planned to begin service in early 2021. Planning on the project began in 2014.

Syndicated from The Madison Park Times