The “Welcome to Magnolia” sign at the top of the Magnolia Bridge could get a much-needed makeover in October if the chamber is able to secure a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant from the Department of Neighborhoods. Photo by Sarah Radmer
The “Welcome to Magnolia” sign at the top of the Magnolia Bridge could get a much-needed makeover in October if the chamber is able to secure a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant from the Department of Neighborhoods. Photo by Sarah Radmer

Magnolia resident Keith Drechsel passes the welcome sign at the top of the Magnolia Bridge every day on his way to and from work. The ground around the sign is bare, with no plants and only a few rocks to emphasize it.

“It didn’t look very welcoming,” he said. “First impressions are important.”

The signs lackluster appearance gave Drechsel the idea to clean up the landscaping around two of Magnolia’s three welcome signs. The project has been dubbed the “Front Doors” project, because the signs are the entrance to the neighborhood.

Drechsel took his idea to the community and started working with the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce on the project. Because he has experience in landscaping, Drechsel was named project manager.

Originally, the plan was just to make over the sign at the top of the Magnolia Bridge, but the project will also focus on the other, at 20th Avenue West and West Dravus Street. The neighborhood has a third welcome sign by Fishermen’s Terminal, but the Rotary Club of Magnolia maintains that one.

The plan is to clean up the area, removing any old plants, rocks and bark. The group will save what it can and then re-landscape the area, Drechsel said. His idea is to add more greenery to make it more welcoming and have something in bloom every month of the year.

The community is raising money to fund the project and hopes to get a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant from the Department of Neighborhoods. Those grants have a $1,000 maximum for small projects like this one. So far, the fundraising effort has mainly been done through email, but Drechsel is looking at different strategies to pump up neighborhood contributions.

The money must be collected by the end of August to apply for the grant on time, he said; if they miss the deadline, they would need to wait another year.

Greg Carnese, manager at Leroux Fine Apparel (3220 W. McGraw St.) in Magnolia has become involved with the project. Leroux is a donation site for financial contributions.

Carnese wasn’t sure how much had been raised so far, and a representative from the chamber wasn’t available to comment on funds raised. But Carnese said he hopes to raise $2,000 for the design, purchase of materials and maintenance. Each location also requires permitting fees, he said.

The renovation would start Oct. 4. Drechsel expects it to take no more than three weeks to clean up the area and plant. The project is looking for volunteers to help through the planning process and working on year-round maintenance of the sites.

The reaction from the community has been positive, Drechsel said. A lot of people think the renovation is much overdue.

“I take pride in my community,” Dreschel said. “I think [the project] will spark people to take pride in their own homes, and when they see other people [making] an effort to improve, it triggers others.”

Carnese thinks the idea is terrific: “It’s how we present ourselves to Seattle and all the neighborhoods in town. I can’t tell you the last time anything was done to make them look presentable.

“I’m optimistic we can get this to work and clean these up and get them to look terrific and put our best face forward to the community and the city,” he said.

To donate funds to the project, mail them to the chamber (3213 W. Wheeler St. #518, Seattle, WA 98199) or drop them by Leroux (3220 W. McGraw St.).

To sign up to volunteer, contact the chamber at (206) 284-5836.

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