And in other Puget Sound news…

o Finalists results for the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards won’t be announced until March 11, after today’s blog posting date.  So, stay tuned for which Washington state restaurants and chefs made the cut (see the list of semi-finalists in last week’s SEATTLE OUTSIDER MUSINGS.

o Tunnel-boring Bertha has been sidelined (she’s being sent back to Japan for some much-needed tweeks and isn’t expected to be back in operation until September).  We’ll miss ya, Bertha…

o If future underground transportation issues weren’t enough for Seattleites to fret over, the city is seriously contemplating an aerial gondola system to run from the Convention Center to the waterfront, along with other developer-driven, theme park-inspired makeover proposals.  In Seattle Times staff columnist Danny Westneat’s own words: “Forget Emerald City.  We’re now channeling Pleasantville.”  Yikes!

o In the Good News/Bad News department: Seattle metro area single-family homes are selling at a record pace (10 per day, on average, reports market researcher Realty Trac); the bad news is they’re being gobbled up by a Wall Street-backed investment group and professionalized into “buy it [for cash], fix it, rent it” properties.  This nationwide trend isn’t sitting well with homeowners in some locally affected neighborhoods who worry about the new tenants next door.  It’s also squeezing out many potential first-time homebuyers who still struggle with tight mortgage financing.

o On a sad note, March 11 marks the 3rd anniversary of what still recovering Japan calls 3.11, the day the catastrophic earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck the island nation.  Whether the Pacific Northwest will be hit next is a question not far from the minds of us living here in the region…

1  Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times business reporter

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