Happening now: Boren mural painting, non-artists welcome

Pablo Lambinicio is one of the volunteers painting murals right now at shuttered Boren School (5950 Delridge Way SW). But you don’t have to be an artist to join in – volunteers are painting the backs of the murals, so the wood will last longer once they’re up. The murals’ fronts were painted by Starbucks volunteers on their April 30th day of service; leftover paint is being used today to weatherize the other sides:

That’s Pete Spalding, who organized the work party, to get more of the boarded-up surfaces around Boren – which Seattle Public Schools is keeping in reserve for emergency use – covered with something less tempting to tagging/graffiti vandals.

20 Replies to "Happening now: Boren mural painting, non-artists welcome"

  • Delridge Denizen June 4, 2011 (11:56 am)

    For how long is SPS going to keep their junk lying around our neighborhood? Painted boards on vacant blight is still boarded-up vacant blight. Sell it already and maybe middle Delridge will have somewhere nicer to shop than a crappy old tire yard and a closed-down stolen-proprty fence.

  • Rod Clark June 4, 2011 (1:52 pm)

    Denizen, the stores aren’t there because the population in the immediate vicinity just doesn’t have enough money to shell out enough dollars every day for more stores to survive there.
    If people did, then you’d already see bigger and more attractive stores. It’s happening slowly, but it will take a long time. The new businesses you see in White Center went there instead of mid-Delridge because for most of them being on that stretch of Delridge would be a much lower-survival proposition.
    Face in any direction and there’s an overcrowded school not far from you. Don’t blame the school district for wanting to keep some needed capacity on hand in case enrollment increases in the future. And it’s almost certain that it will.

  • Miranda June 4, 2011 (3:27 pm)

    I love reading sensible comments. Thanks Rod Clark. And thanks Pete for organizing the event. We’d be there but for a work party at MacArthur Garden and I’m on webinar (online class).

  • Tony June 4, 2011 (3:46 pm)

    FYI Boren is an emergency overflow building for SPS. if another building is closed they can open it in short order. Security is the issue. We just spent $10s of thousands replacing service wire stolen off the roof. And probably will do again if the building isnt better monitored. Murals help, but if they are tagged every other week?? Then what?? Keep painting??

  • Delridge Denizen June 4, 2011 (4:37 pm)

    Sorry if wanting the economically viable neighborhoods on the Delridge artery to have nearby things to do instead of fallow deterioration is somehow distasteful.

  • Mike June 4, 2011 (5:22 pm)

    pastel Piet Mondrian art, interesting

  • Rod Clark June 4, 2011 (10:48 pm)

    Denizen, have a look at the City’s small business incubator building on Delridge, near there. It was announced with a lot of fanfare and good intentions not many years ago.
    Step in and have a friendly word with the ghosts of any of the entrepreneurs who might still be haunting the place, after you get past the fleet of Southwest Plumbing trucks.
    It’s not only the local income levels, which are below average (and acknowledging that doesn’t show any disrespect to the people who live there). It’s also that mid-Delridge is geographically isolated. There are no east-west arterials connecting the affluent, populous areas of West Seattle proper to that area, between Genesee Street north of the golf course and Orchard Street on the south at Home Depot.
    To the east is a narrow strip of residential housing bordering an unopulated green belt, beyond which is a nearly impassable river, beyond which is a non-residential industrial area. Delridge Way is a thin ribbon close to an almost completely non-populated wooded ravine to the west.
    Even a small produce stand like Tony’s can’t make it. If it could, there would be one. A nonprofit has to depend on City grant money to offer a lemonade-stand sized fresh grocery table inside a local convenience store, even a few times a year.
    Face it, you’re an urban pioneer in a neigborhood that hasn’t caught up with your desires.

  • Been There June 5, 2011 (8:36 am)

    @ Rod Clark – Having an interim school in a neighborhood that doesn’t want it is the point here. It adds to a neighborhoods instability and lack of commitment on the part of the ownership. In this case the ownership is Seattle Public Schools. Having a constant change of occupants of the Boren building has done nothing to create stability in a neighborhood that has, and is, working very hard to redefine itself. If SPS wants to hang onto the property, then please designate it as a permanent site and let some other neighborhood be saddled with an interim building. You know, share the pain. Dumping problems in North Delridge needs to end.

    There was a proposal on the table not long ago to pair Ron Sher of Metrovation with the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association to purchase and redevelop the Boren School site. Yes, it was a grand vision, and who knows if it would have worked out, but it couldn’t even get any traction because SPS wasn’t interested in selling the property.



    According to 2009 SDOT traffic volume counts there are over 20,000+ vehicle trips through the portion of Delridge Way in question. Metro Route #120 operates with regular frequency through this same area and performs very well in terms of ridership. These are the people who would patronize a decent grocery store or other commercial services. One can already see this occurring with the opening of Pho Aroma, Pearls and Olympia Pizza. There has been a significant increase in housing density over the last five years, many of which are owner occupied units who state they want more commercial services.

    There has been a tremendous investment of public dollars in the Delridge District. Parks/Skate Park, Community Center, Library, Longfellow Creek, etc. There is more publicly owned greenspace in the Delridge District than any other in the City. It is an oasis of green, wildlife and flowing creeks. It is also incredibly close to downtown, 99 & I-5 with very good transit service. There is also large amounts of commercially zoned property that is not being used to its best and highest use. It would be helpful if there were commercial interests that could work with Delridges natural environment, its current and future residents and City planners to realize the tremendous opportunity here. It would be especially helpful if SPS would not continue to let Boren sit empty.

  • Pete June 5, 2011 (9:13 am)

    And to think all we were trying to do yesterday was to come up with a way to deal with a temporary issue. There are folks in our Delridge community that are out actively taking a role to try and change things. Change on the order that is being discussed does not come quickly. Ask the core group of concerned citizens that were the impetus for change in bringing about the transformation of the old Youngstown school into the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.

    another issue is that there are very limited development funds available in the market place today to redevelop this site due to the state of our local economy.

    It should also be pointed out that the Boren school site will very likely be used as early as next year as an elementary school to deal with the increased enrollemnt numbers of that age group of students. The school district only has one other choice in this area and that is the closed Fairmont school site. But it has been closed for so long that to reopen it would required many millions of dollars to bring it up to code due to the length of its closure.

    The best way to impact change in our Delridge community is to become involved in what is going on. It sounds like there are lots of folks with great ideas now you just need to take action to make these ideas come to fruition and not wait for the guy across the street to take action on your idea. Get involved and make a difference in your community.

  • Rod Clark June 5, 2011 (10:02 am)

    Been There,
    Delridge Way through there is mostly a connector between the Bridge and the more populous areas to the south. It’s not quite in the same league as the 520 bridge in that respect, but is closer to filling that role than you think.
    “There has been a tremendous investment of public dollars in the Delridge District.” Yes, there has. It’s because that area remains unable to attract much private investment because people of all kinds have tried hard to succeed there and generally have been disappointed with the results. But it’s slowly changing for the better. The continued gradual progress of little places like Pho Aroma is healthier than trying to bring in big splashy heavily subsidized projects that have no hope of succeeding.
    You’re right that improving and using the Boren site for a permanent neighborhood school would be much better than what they’re doing now.

  • Urban Pioneer Ready to Buy Groceries in Delridge June 5, 2011 (11:27 am)

    Rod: Sure, growth takes time, but your posts assert that Delridge is not a “viable” place to open a business.

    You said “the stores aren’t there because the population in the immediate vicinity just doesn’t have enough money to shell out enough dollars every day for more stores to survive there.”

    Have you done a viability study? Have you surveyed neighbors? The problem with stating opinions as facts is that you can damage how people view an issue, and even damage the chance for change.

    I hope anyone considering opening a business in Delridge doesn’t get misinformed by your comment and look elsewhere.

    I am a long-time business consultant and what I see in Delridge are lots of retail and service opportunities missed. There is ample driveby customer opportunity, plenty of immediate neighbors (as well as neighbors on Puget Ridge, Pigeon Point, High Point, North Delridge, SSCC, and others) who repeatedly state that they would rather have more localized services and would frequent them.

    As Been There pointed out, the service businesses that do exist in Delridge are well supported–both by Delridge locals and underscored support by those coming from other areas to eat at our newest pho restaurant. Part of the reason that business has done so well is that it speaks to this community. It’s a match. If other businesses reflect the needs and culture of our community, I believe they can succeed here too. (Pho Aroma even had to extend their hours to meet the demand! They seem constantly busy.)

    Citing the wilting produce in the not-so-fresh convenience store is a poor way to judge whether a grocer would succeed in Delridge. I would never buy produce from a convenience store and my neighbors in Delridge have told me the same.

    There are two businesses I know of currently in the works right now: a produce / bakery shop and another coffee shop–both on “that section of Delridge Way” you refer to in your posts as unviable. We’ll see. Sure would L.O.V.E. to prove you wrong. I believe we will.

    Rod, you mention repeatedly that if it could work it already would have happened. I am glad inventors and visionaries don’t adopt that point of view or nothing would ever improve.

    Your posts reiterate a negative (and dying) stigma of Delridge. Not sure if that’s what you intended, but you sure didn’t sound supportive of growth here.

    If you’d like to be part of the positive things going on in Delridge, there are many upcoming:

    June 11, 11am Walking Tour of Delridge Improvements – Starts at Uptown Espresso (led by neighbors who have helped usher in those changes and how they did it).

    North Delridge Neighborhood Council Mtg
    630pm June 13th in Greg Davis Park
    Learn how to raise chickens! Chicks attending.

    THANK YOU to Pete Spalding who organized the painting party. The painted boards look a lot better than the blank canvasses for tagging. Thanks to all who helped in the effort!

    Here’s a shout out to the legions of “Urban Pioneers” in Delridge who continually keep their words and actions on what IS possible. You are awesome and I am proud to call you neighbors.

    That’s what we need in Delridge–no more naysayers. That era is OVER.

  • Rod Clark June 5, 2011 (12:40 pm)

    Urban Pioneer Ready,

    For the third time, I’ll say again that your area clearly is gradually gentrifying, but that it will take many years to get where, for example, Columbia City is now. Yes, you’re hot to get busy displacing the poor people, upping the housing prices, and in general raising the tone of the place in the same way that people did in the Central District. You’re a booster, and will brook no naysayers to your drive to gentrify. Hurrah.
    At some point, the low income residents who can’t afford your new Delridge will have to move somewhere else, just as a lot of people in the Central Area moved out to Renton and other areas when housing prices climbed as Urban Pioneers bought up the housing stock. As far as I can see from your comments so far, you have no plans for that except to wave goodbye. Affordable housing continues to decrease in Seattle, and you sound like you’re busy pushing it out as much as anyone and patting yourself on the back while doing it.
    I lived in the old 1960-era Central District one summer as a kid, and it’s nothing like that now. It’s inevitable that gentrification in Delridge will continue. But please don’t get on board with too much wishful thinking too fast, like that fellow who wants to sell off the school.

  • Urban Pioneer Ready to Buy Groceries in Delridge June 5, 2011 (1:30 pm)

    Rod, you sure do make a lot of assumptions.

    And you are full of mixed messages–you say “It’s slowly changing for the better” but then you blast me for wanting to see improvements like a grocery store for my neighbors and my family.

    It’s pretty clear that you don’t live in Delridge so I am perplexed how you’ve become such an expert on our neighborhood and how you know with such certainty that anyone who wants a grocery store here is trying to kick out the poor people (who, by the way have to leave the neighborhood to get groceries just like anyone else AND who have been asking for a grocery store for decades).

    I didn’t realize how much a child could glean from living in the CD for “one summer as a kid”. Wow.

    • WSB June 5, 2011 (1:38 pm)

      Before everyone starts throwing bricks at each other … I’m no economist so cannot speak to the point of what the area can currently sustain or not. But to the point of “pushing out affordable housing,” it would be a while before the “urban pioneers” volunteering in the area could even dream of doing that if they wanted to (and the ones I’ve met are mostly living in the I’m-betting-they’re-affordable old cottages of Cottage Grove, not even the new townhouse developments that dot Delridge in spots). They’ve been too busy just trying to get to a baseline of relative decency. An alley cleanup to discourage rampant tagging and pull the weeds a landlord can’t be bothered with; the years-long campaign against nuisance properties that were not even acceptable for the lowest of low-income – note the first place shown in https://westseattleblog.com/2009/04/delridge-dilapidation-tour-report-1-unintended-consequence
      The city has changed some rules but it still doesn’t address everything. One of the vacant properties seen in one of the photos in that story has been known for squatters who are suspected in spillover crime at the restaurant/bar across the street. Leaving the long-empty, rundown structure on the site is apparently the owner’s prerogative. But that’s the only kind of thing I’ve seen anyone try to “push out” in the short 3 years we’ve been observing. Oh, except for the “business” that the city prosecuted for alleged illegal activity, but that’s a whole ‘nother story – TR

  • Rod Clark June 5, 2011 (3:56 pm)

    Urban Pioneer,

    Everyone wants to see a grocery store there. You want to see that. I’d also like to see that. But because it’s a long, narrow and relatively isolated stripe of residential area with no through streets providing access anywhere along a two mile stretch to the west, and a big empty void to the east, it really is a much less viable place for a big grocery store than is White Center. Anyone locating a store there would have to pause and think about it. At some point I think a smaller store might eventually succeed there, given the upscaling slowly going on in Delridge.
    But White Center and its immediate environs sports an Albertson’s, a Safeway, a QFC, a boatload of smaller Asian groceries, a good handful of Mexican groceries, several African groceries, and for all I know an Antarctic grocery.
    Why did every last one of them, without exception, decide to locate there and not at your favorite little spot on Delridge? It’s not rocket science, and you can’t overcome it by wishing or shouting harder.
    Huge wide swaths of residential areas surround White Center for miles on all sides, all the way down to where it merges into Burien. It’s a central nexus of many big, busy arterial routes like Myers Way, Highland Park Way, Ambaum Way, Roxbury Street, and Delridge Way.
    Any grocery store making a choice between locating closer to that nexus versus locating much further out on any one of those arterials would make the choice that in fact they have all made. Locating closer to that crossroads is better. Delridge is still close enough that people can get to White Center about as easily as people from other equally close-in areas can get there.
    It’s not that I’m “blasting” you personally for this, as you seem to believe. It’s simply a reality. And I certainly don’t want to see the school district sell the school to a developer. The school district desperately needs more school capacity in West Seattle, and any plan to sell the school for peanuts as the school district has too often short-sightedly done (with Queen Anne High, for one), is the wrong plan no matter how much gloss you want to put on it. There are plenty of other commercial properties.
    When your prospective little grocery store goes in, I hope it succeeds and I’ll travel over there to buy some groceries. But don’t be too quick to pooh-pooh the fact that the produce sits there so long that it always wilts at that convenience store that you look down your nose at.
    The produce there started out as fresh as anywhere else, and the only reason that it got so wilted is that no one bought it. Either it’s overpriced compared to the stores in White Center so that people would still rather go there to shop (that’s my best guess), or those 20,000 commuters on their way to and from downtown aren’t overeager to get out of their cars at your favorite little spot on their way to and from work, compared to a better selection they’ll find if they drive a little further to White Center and probably better prices as well.
    So good luck. And yes, your neighborhood will be very, very different in 40 years than it is now. Some of that process does have mixed results, especially for all the current residents who won’t be able to begin to afford living there by then. Don’t pretend that that won’t happen, because it will, in spades. Even though a lot of what that will bring will be an improvement.

  • Diane June 5, 2011 (9:20 pm)

    The people in mid-Delridge can’t afford to patronize new stores? I’m betting they can afford to buy food at a real grocery store, where prices are lower than at the convenience stores and the food vastly healthier. As we all know, without the east-west transportation connectors spoken to above, Delridge residents without cars have a very difficult time getting to grocery stores in other parts of West Seattle. And their health suffers because of it. That’s why we want the City to partner with us and the School District to relinquish their hold on at least part of this property. The District has been willing to do it before in West Seattle, at Jefferson Square. Temporary schools do not anchor a community. Abandoned schools certainly do not do so. The DNDA found a willing grocery store chain several years ago but could not get Schools to budge. A mid-Delridge grocery store would be the heart of our community, including bringing the urban pioneers and the low-income residents together. We need this. If not at the Boren property, then where?

  • Rod Clark June 6, 2011 (6:12 pm)

    Have you looked at the Public Storage site that’s a bit further south on Delridge? It’s slightly improved, in that there are storage sheds on it, but they’re assessed at about $850,000 by King County and the land is assessed at $2.36 million.
    Two smaller adjacent properties, that together with it would complete a larger square, are the Tug Tavern and the lot next to it that (I guess, without going over there to check right now) is used for parking for the tavern. That’s a pretty good chunk of land. It’s somewhat smaller than the footprint of the QFC and its immediately adjacent parking lot within Westwood Village. The Tug lot and its adjoining lot are assessed at $237,100 and $191,200 respectively.
    All of the current buildings there are low value stuff. If you could make the owners a good offer, you’d have a not great but possibly acceptable spot for a grocery store, if you’re determined to put one on Delridge somewhere. It would have the advantage that it’s also on a main route (Orchard St) to and from Highland Park and High Point.
    It’s at the junction of two bus routes, the 120 on Delridge and the 128 running east-west to and from the High Point area and other destinations to the east of Delridge like the South Seattle Community College area and parts of Highland Park along 16th Ave SW. If you want to atrract as many local residents as possible without cars, who could get there on one bus without having to transfer to another route, that’s a wider catchment area for that than the Boren spot.
    It would have the same Delridge commuter traffic as the Boren spot,with the added Orchard St. traffic.
    It might even be possible to do it without having to “partner with” (translation: draw public monies from) the City. And it might actually be closer to addressing more of your concerns for people in a somewhat wider area. Likely there are obstacles that I can’t see at first glance.

  • Rod Clark June 6, 2011 (6:57 pm)

    There’s also a Home Depot across the street, that draws a lot of presumably homeowning customers from all over West Seattle, not just those who commute further up Delridge. If they saw a grocery store right there, you might have a bit of added oomph from that, even if the grocery store itself wouldn’t be as much of a destination for most of the customers in the wider area that the Home Depot draws from. You’d still have to carefully pencil it out. Who knows.

  • Rod Clark June 7, 2011 (12:42 am)

    You know, there actually was a grocery store at that intersection, that went through three or so different hands over a period of time. Don’t know why I didn’t remember it before. The incarnation that I remember most fondly was a Food Giant. That was a pretty good store. It was in the same place the Home Depot is now.
    It competed with a Lucky store that was where the QFC is now. Then the Food Giant chain broke up, and this particular store fell into the hands of some guy who was cheap enough to rename it Food Whatsit (I forget what Whatsit was) just because he could reuse almost all of the big neon letters of FOOD GIANT to spell, yes that was it, FOOD LAND. Unlike Food Giant, he also skimped on expenditures to the extent that the frozen food in the upper reaches of the freezer bins was perenially thawed. It didn’t take long for a whole lot of people to stop patronizing his establishment, and as soon as enough people got fed up with stuff like that, he went under pretty fast. Thus endeth the sad tale of Food Land.
    But at least it demonstrates that that location was marginal or better for a good operator like Food Giant for quite a while.

  • Rod Clark June 7, 2011 (1:35 am)

    Urban Pioneer Ready,
    Have you considered approaching Home Depot with a mutually beneficial proposition? The grocery store used to be tacked onto the south end of their (K-Mart’s) building, near where the covered truck loading canopy is now next to the lumber section. Maybe they wouldn’t mind leasing you a slice of space on that end, in exchange for some valuable consideration.
    If not, what about putting a grocery store in the north end of the parking lot? You might, or then again you might not, be able to build something nearly the size of the precint building there. But people have done things like that before.

Sorry, comment time is over.