9 Seattle Neighborhoods that are Hot Right Now

Despite reports of the demise of Seattle-area neighborhoods, we found several that are thriving

By Sheila Cain, with Sheila Mickool, Jessica Yadegaran, and Madeline Lootens with additional reporting by Jennifer Meyers

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March 14, 2016

This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Despite reports of the demise of Seattle neighborhoods, we found several in and around the city that are thriving. While some are in the thick of a major growth spurt, others are suddenly sleeper hits, in that sweet spot where expansion is imminent but a prime parking space can still be nabbed on the first pass.

Seattle’s hottest boroughs of the year achieve that special balance, where everyone knows your name at the familiar corner pub, but new shops, coffee spots—and yes, residential structures of all kinds—are popping up to keep things interesting. And because the first indicator of a ’hood’s heat is often a fun new bakery or restaurant, we’ve included a round-up of our favorite new nosh spots in each area, just in case you get hungry while exploring.

See you around the block.

1. Downtown Bothell
If it’s been a while since you’ve checked out Bothell, you may not recognize it. Bothell has delivered more than $150 million in infrastructure and facility improvements to its downtown, including shifting a portion of State Route 522 through town, changing the landscape of much of the downtown core, and literally paving the way for new and future development that will include hundreds of residential units, restaurants, stores and hotels.


Clockwise from top left: Wildwood Spirits Tasting Room, Bothell Landing Park, the Sammamish River, Six Oaks apartments, Beardslee Public House

The first phase of Bothell’s multiyear, multiphase redevelopment plan is up and running, and its initial success has surpassed the city’s expectations.    

“In just a few years, we’ve [already] been able to track $300 million in private capital from new vertical development in downtown Bothell,” says Bothell city manager Bob Stowe. “Our economic projections were for $650 million in private capital over a 25-year period.”

One project in the first surge of growth includes the redevelopment of the old Anderson School property into a McMenamins hotel/restaurant/entertainment center—a project several years in the making that opened last October. Not far from downtown is the Village at Beardslee Crossing, a development that is 75 percent complete and offers approximately 450 apartments and nearly 50,000 square feet of commercial space.

In October 2014, the five-story Six Oaks building next door was finished, bringing 203 apartment units atop a restaurant, a coffee shop and a credit union. And across the street: a brand-new city hall complex, with tentative plans for a pair of hotels to break ground on adjoining property this year.

Bothell’s resurgence is part of a deliberate revitalization plan by the city that started in 2006. City leaders hope the efforts will only add to what Bothell already offers: a sizable high-tech and biotech community; the picturesque Sammamish River, which flows through its downtown; and the growing University of Washington Bothell campus, recently ranked the 36th best college in the nation by Money magazine.

What would be considered a fair amount of development for any city of Bothell’s size (population about 42,000) is, in fact, only the start of what’s to come. The city had initially planned to sell all the property it had acquired for the redevelopment project to one developer, “but the recession threw us a curveball,” says Stowe. The city took it in stride, instead selling property to multiple developers at a more measured pace.


McMenamin’s Anderson School opened in Bothell last October, transforming the former school campus into an entertainment center with bars, restaurants, swimming pool, day spa, movie theater and other amenities

Up next: Bothell’s historic Main Street, which comprises several blocks of established shops and restaurants just east of the bulk of the new activity, will be receiving a face-lift of its own in the coming months. The Main Street Enhancement project will preserve the charm of the 100-year-old district while integrating it with the overall development of public spaces in the downtown area. Upgrades include street lighting, landscaping and wayfinding signage.

Expected to break ground in mid-2016: a yet to be named specialty grocer and drugstore that will anchor two separate 40,000-square-foot retail developments. Other anticipated developments are 100 townhomes and other mixed-use properties, bringing additional housing, retail and office space.

In addition to this growth, Bothell recently received a $6.75 million grant from the state’s Transportation Improvement Board, which will allow the city to continue improvements along Bothell Way NE, the highway that connects new developments in west downtown to the historic east downtown. The Multiway Boulevard Project is a key component of the city’s redevelopment plan, and includes wide sidewalks and tree-lined medians to provide buffers between fast-moving vehicles and slower-paced pedestrians and bicyclists.

Downtown Bothell Snapshot

Median home value: $427,900
Appreciation forecast: 5.2%
Median household income: $74,793
Walk Score: 28/100, car-dependent city
Commute time: From Seattle (Westlake Center): By bus—Ride the No. 522 toward Woodinville; takes about 46 minutes. By car—Takes 30 minutes using State Route 520 E
and Interstate 405 N. From Bellevue (Bellevue Transit Center): By bus—Ride the No. 535 toward Lynnwood/Everett; takes about 35 minutes. By car—takes 18 minutes using I-405 N.
School district and ratings: Northshore School District; Westhill Elementary School 8/10, Canyon Park Junior High 9/10,  Bothell High School 8/10

2. Ravenna

Sod House Bakery is one of several new businesses infusing new life into the increasingly upscale Ravenna neighborhood. The baked goods, such as the bakery’s house-made “Pop Tarts,” are a hit with the locals
When real estate agent Ted Meenk recently listed a single-family home in Ravenna, he immediately received 12 written offers.

The 1920s-era, three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath home—which was listed conservatively at $489,000—eventually sold for nearly $600,000 to a buyer who sweetened the deal by promising to pony up an extra $50,000 in case the appraisal came in low.
Stories like this aren’t unusual, says Meenk. Homes in Ravenna don’t stay on the market for long, and they frequently sell for much more than their list price. The Ravenna neighborhood has been a steady draw for affluent professionals for years, he says, and its appeal is only growing stronger.

“It’s one of Seattle’s classic, iconic neighborhoods,” says Meenk, who has worked as a full-time agent for 22 years. The homes have character and are well-built, he says, and the neighborhood is walkable and close to a number of big employers, such as the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Medical professionals love Ravenna, and it’s a no-brainer for professors and administrators at the UW. They walk to work. They love it.”

In more recent years, the neighborhood has experienced considerable growth and has begun to attract young tech professionals from California, says Meenk. Ravenna’s neighborhood feel and Craftsman-style homes seem to resonate with Bay Area tastes.
The infusion of younger, affluent homeowners into Ravenna is reflected in the upscale businesses popping up along NE 65th Street between 15th Avenue NE and 25th Avenue NE, Ravenna’s generally accepted “main drag.” In recent months, the area has seen the arrival of Sod House Bakery, Wataru and Salare—all seeming to cater to a hip, prosperous clientele.

Fifteen-year Ravenna resident Kim Waag welcomes the new additions. Waag, her husband and two sons live a few blocks off NE 65th Street and have made Sod House’s Kentucky butter cake a semi-regular indulgence. She’s seen businesses along 65th come and go, but feels that the neighborhood and its commercial core are finally in sync.

“I feel like we’re getting some things that are going to stick,” Waag says.

Transportation to and from Ravenna will be improving in the coming years as Sound Transit’s light rail lines are completed. Sound Transit’s Roosevelt Station, one stop along the agency’s unfinished Northgate Link Extension and located just to the west of Ravenna, will open in 2021. The University Link Extension, to the east of Ravenna, is expected to be completed this month, with a station at the University of Washington next to Husky Stadium.

“Living here is going to be massively convenient,” says Waag.

Ravenna Snapshot
Median home value: $666,900
Appreciation forecast: 7.1%
Median household income: $96,287
Walk Score: 74/100, 31st most walkable neighborhood in Seattle
Commute time: From Seattle (Westlake Center): By bus—Take the No. 71, 76 or 74 from Westlake Center; takes about 27–33 minutes. By car—Takes about 15 minutes using I-5 N. From Bellevue (Bellevue TC): By bus—Take the No. 271 toward University District, then transfer to the No. 71 to Ravenna. By car—Takes about 20 minutes using SR 520 W.
School district and ratings: Seattle Public Schools; Bryant Elementary School 10/10, Eckstein Middle School 9/10,
Roosevelt High School 9/10

New Neighborhood Flavors
Salare
Sitka & Spruce alum Edouardo Jordan’s first restaurant defies genre; the cuisine is inventive and microseasonal with nods to Jordan’s Southern roots and charcuterie apprenticeship in Italy. 2404 NE 65th St.; 206.556.2192; salarerestaurant.com

Wataru
Next door to Salare, chef Kotaro Kumita, who studied under sushi legend Shiro Kashiba, is crafting traditional edomae-style sushi using real wasabi and no fusion rolls. 2400 NE 65th St.; 206.525.2073; wataruseattle.com

Great State Burger
Josh Henderson’s first quick-service spot, which opened in February, focuses on the trifecta of cheeseburgers (made with antibiotic-free beef), crinkle-cut fries and milkshakes. It will share space with his new American take on a French brasserie, Saint Helens, at press time slated for a February opening. 3600 NE 45th St.; greatstateburger.com, sainthelenscafe.com

3. Columbia City

The new Angeline Apartments complex, which opened last summer, brings 193 living units—and a new PCC grocery store—just north of the heart of Columbia City

When developer and builder Anthony Maschmedt moved his family and business to Columbia City from Beacon Hill in 2006 in search of new development opportunities, many in his professional circle questioned his business sense.

“A lot of my developer buddies were developing in so-called ‘safer’ neighborhoods,” says Maschmedt, principal of Dwell Development. “People didn’t think good things would happen here.”

They were wrong. The neighborhood is currently experiencing its second coming, so to speak. (Its first renaissance a decade ago brought Columbia City mainstays such as Tutta Bella, La Medusa and Columbia City Bakery.) The area is proving to be a hotbed for both residential and commercial development: In the past five years, Maschmedt’s company alone has designed and built upward of 75 single-family homes within a mile and a half of the neighborhood’s core. And, according to Maschmedt, about 1,000 new market-rate apartments are expected to be completed in the Columbia City area—by various developers—in the next 12–24 months.

 “People are realizing the draw of Columbia City,” says Maschmedt.

The neighborhood has much to offer, including the nearby Sound Transit Central Link light rail station, a weekly farmers’ market and a growing list of popular restaurants. One of the neighborhood’s largest developments to date opened last July: the Angeline Apartments, which brings 193 units (with rents ranging from $1,449 for a studio to upward of $3,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit) along with 145 below-grade parking spaces on Rainier Avenue S between S Angeline and S Edmunds streets. A new PCC grocery store anchors the development.

While the quality of the area’s elementary school has been an ongoing issue—Hawthorne is one of the poorest and lowest-performing schools in Seattle—a $1.5 million federal grant in 2012 infused funds into the elementary. In 2015, Hawthorne won the Johns Hopkins University National Network of Partnership Schools award for developing partnerships among teachers, students and communities.     

The Columbia City neighborhood was declared a landmark district in 1978 (one of eight in Seattle) in order to preserve the area’s character and encourage rehabilitation of areas for community use, housing and pedestrian-oriented businesses. To avoid restrictions or delays imposed by historical covenants, some developers are finding opportunities just outside the designated historical boundaries, which follow Rainier Avenue S from S Alaska Street to the north to just past S Hudson Street to the south. Maschmedt is currently building five live/work units along Rainier Avenue, just north of the neighborhood, and a 54-unit studio apartment building on adjacent property is slated for completion next year.

Columbia City Snapshot
Median home value: $438,400
Appreciation forecast: 7%
Median household income: $61,424
Walk Score: 80/100, 21st most walkable neighborhood in Seattle
Commute time: From Seattle (Westlake Center): By train—Riding the link rail from Westlake Center to Columbia City takes 25 minutes. By car—Takes about 18 minutes using Rainier Avenue S.
From Bellevue (Bellevue TC): By bus—Take the No. 550 bus into Seattle, then transfer to the No. 7 to Columbia City; takes about 45 minutes. By car—Takes about 24 minutes using I-90 W.
School district and ratings: Seattle Public Schools; Hawthorne Elementary School 2/10, Mercer Middle School 9/10, Franklin
High School 7/10

New Neighborhood Flavors
Salted Sea
This modern seafood restaurant and raw bar where Angie’s Tavern used to be entices with Vietnamese twists on mussels and pan-seared scallops. Brunch—shareable sticky banana cake, smoked trout omelet—is off the hook. 4915 Rainier Ave. S; 206.858.6328; saltedseaseattle.com

Super Six
The latest project from the Marination team, around the corner and off the main neighborhood drag, is all about refined Hawaiian-Korean fusion, including killer ahi poke and some of the best coconut-cream-stuffed doughnuts, aka malasadas, in the city.
3714 S Hudson St.; 206.420.1201; supersixseattle.com

4. Greenwood

Early in the morning on March 9, 2016, a natural gas leak caused an explosion that demolished two celebrated neighborhood community focal points in Greenwood: Mr Gryos and Neptune Coffee. Thankfully, no one was hurt. This piece was written months before this tragic turn of events, but this neighborhood that’s experiencing a renaissance has rallied in true Seattle style in support.


Members of the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery help guide how the business is run, and even help select winning brews to be produced by the brewery

Although greenwood Community Council president Rob Fellows has lived in this North Seattle neighborhood for the past 20 years, it’s only recently that he’s seen significant growth.

“It’s spiked in the past two years,” says Fellows, 60, who works as a transportation planner for the state. “We had a long decline during the recession, then it really started picking up.”

It started with the expansion of the Fred Meyer shopping center at N 85th Street and continued with nearby construction of the Piper Village apartment/retail complex, which now houses Mud Bay pet supply store, School of Rock and various other businesses. A new pedestrian/auto lane (or “woonerf,” a traffic-calming street that originated in the Netherlands) called Morrow Lane connects the development to Greenwood Avenue, just two blocks away, where new businesses are popping up from the generally accepted boundaries of N 80th Street to the south and N 105th Street to the north. More new development is under way at First Avenue W and NW 85th Street, directly across the street from Fred Meyer: The Janus development is a 140,000-square-foot mixed-use property that will bring 105 studio, one- and two-bedroom rental units and 8,800 square feet of ground-level commercial space to the neighborhood.

The project is expected to be finished in May.

Two sizable restaurants—local chain The Lodge Sports Grille and soon-to-open FlintCreek Cattle Co.—anchor Greenwood’s main intersection at N 85th Street, where Antika antique store and Greenwood Academy of Hair had formerly staked their claims. Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery (8570 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.428.7709; flyingbike.coop) opened in August a block north, and two new bike shops recently opened their doors: G&O Family Cyclery (8417 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.363.4663; familycyclery.com), specializing in cargo bikes; and Hedrick Cycles (8302 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.453.4433; hedrickcycles.com), with high-end bicycles that will set you back as much as $20,000.

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