Photo Courtesy Pat Craft: Tables and chairs wait to be set out next to the businesses on McGraw Street in Magnolia Village last week, wrapping up Phase 1 of the Reimagine Magnolia beautification campaign. Beautification Committee members stated the adornments, designed to make the village corridor more inviting, along with renewed activity at businesses, made the area feel cheerful.
Photo Courtesy Pat Craft: Tables and chairs wait to be set out next to the businesses on McGraw Street in Magnolia Village last week, wrapping up Phase 1 of the Reimagine Magnolia beautification campaign. Beautification Committee members stated the adornments, designed to make the village corridor more inviting, along with renewed activity at businesses, made the area feel cheerful.

Two years of hard work paid off when phase 1 of the Reimagine Magnolia Village beautification project concluded to the delight of the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce Beautification Committee, business owners and residents slowly emerging from quarantine.

The business corridor along West McGraw Street, between 32nd and 33rd avenues west, is now adorned with tables with umbrellas, chairs and newly painted benches, poles from which flowering baskets now hang and bistro lighting.

The result is exactly what organizers intended with the Reimagine Magnolia Village campaign: an inviting and attractive business core. Beautification Committee Chairwoman Cheryl McQuiston said it was fun to see people’s reactions as they tried out the new benches and chairs.

“It’s just a happy place to come back to,” she said.

Beautification Committee member Ann Goos said the new downtown adornments, plus the renewed activity from merchants, has given the main segment of the business core an atmosphere that has been absent for some time.

“You just have this sense of life coming back and lots of smiles on the faces of people,” Goos said. “The timing of this couldn’t be better.”

Not everything is back to normal, however. Plans to celebrate the completion of Phase 1, in conjunction with opening day of the new farmers market season, June 6 have been canceled. Social distancing guidelines are still in effect, and the Magnolia Farmers Market is opening to heavy modifications.

Organizers have also tempered their rollout plans of phases 2 and 3 of the beautification campaign and will not heavily pursue fundraising at the moment.

McQuiston said committee members will still be talking about the beautification project and will likely receive some donations, but the committee is not going to push the matter at this point while so many are worried about their finances and the economy.

“We are being very mindful of what our community wants and needs,” she said.

Goos said the committee, in partnership with the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce, will be working hard behind the scenes instead by formally applying for nonprofit status, which provides additional fundraising opportunities.

Future funding is not only needed to finish phases 2 through 5, the committee will need to set aside money to maintain downtown improvements and possibly purchase banners for the village.

McQuiston said the committee will not have to raise as much money to complete phases 2 and 3, either. The sections of West McGraw to receive improvements in the next two phases — from 33rd to 34th avenues west and from 34th to 35th avenues west, respectively — have fewer businesses, which are interspersed between driveways, and will require fewer adornments. And whereas Phase 1 cost $155,000, supplemented by a $25,000 Seattle Department of Neighborhoods grant, phases 2 and 3 are anticipated to cost $190,000. The committee has set a budget goal of $500,000 for all five phases of the project.

Goos said the Magnolia Beautification Committee will pursue previous grant opportunities, including the one from the Department of Neighborhoods, as well as new ones that present themselves. She and McQuiston are both optimistic the campaign will receive them as well because the beautification committee has proven it can complete a project in the provided time frame and demonstrated good faith.

Once phases 2 and 3 are complete, the committee will move on to phases 4 and 5, which will include improvements to 32nd and 33rd avenues west, from West Smith to West Lynn.

While the current beautification efforts center around Magnolia Village, the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce supports all the business districts and services in the greater Magnolia neighborhood, including along Thorndyke, the Elliott Bay Marina, in and near Fishermen’s Terminal, Interbay along the 15th Avenue/Elliott Avenue West corridor, and Government Way.

“The chamber is dedicated to working with the businesses and the community in all of Magnolia and stands ready to advance ongoing improvements to meet the chamber’s mission and serve our members,” Goos said in March.

Go to Reimagine Magnolia campaign to learn more.