Gone are Ballard's days as a destination for those seeking the twangy comforts of Hattie's and the Tractor. Blooming with businesses, it's this close to being the ultimate Seattle neighborhood—a mini-downtown Portland minus the boobies, if you will. But Ballardia still lacks a few easily fixable elements. Such as:
Better transit service. A lack of frequent late-night bus service and daytime express routes make accessing Ballard, other than by car, a huge pain in the ass. Which makes parking a nightmare and puts far too many boozers behind the wheel. Since liquor makes this neighborhood boom, the city should re-evaluate and address its needs.
A "Gay"zlewood. Not one neighborhood in Seattle has gone from frumpy to fab without the help of our now free-to-marry friends in the queer community. Yet there isn't a single spot for them to gather in this happening part of town. Why relegate these big-spending folks to Capitol Hill? I propose a joint modeled after the elegant Market Street haunt Hazlewood—relaxed, posh, and full of well-curated, dance-beat-free music for grown-ups of all sexual persuasions to enjoy.
A rock-'n'-roll boutique hotel. Do not say the words "Hotel Ballard" to me. It's nice there's somewhere to sleep in Ballard if you have the foresight to make a reservation. A handful of rooms in a converted residence doesn't have the space, price, or scope to be a place where legendary nights are born. I'm talking an Ace-style hotel with a sexy lounge—a place to house traveling musicians playing in the 'hood and to serve as a base for the lovely ladies who seek the boys in the band. Something with a throwback, Continental Hyatt House vibe. Not only is this much needed in the music community, but it will be a place for tipsy "new friends" to hook up after the bars close, and keep to a minimum the line of cars "a-rockin' " on Shilshole Avenue Northwest at 2:30 a.m.
24-hour dining. This seems like a no-brainer, but for some reason no one but a few hot-dog vendors wants to feed the drunken masses at 2 a.m. Not only would late-night dining space out the times people leave Ballard, it would also sober them up, straighten them out, and keep business booming another hour or two. I'd love to see the Sunset and Hattie's keep their kitchens open 'til 4.