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Originally published Saturday, October 7, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Neighborhood of the week

Maple Leaf known for community involvement

Cloud City Coffee in the Maple Leaf neighborhood hands out bumper stickers that say "Maple Leaf 4 Life" to help make the neighborhood better...

Special to The Seattle Times

Cloud City Coffee in the Maple Leaf neighborhood hands out bumper stickers that say "Maple Leaf 4 Life" to help make the neighborhood better known — and to show affection for the neighborhood, co-owner Jill Killen said.

Other residents in the North Seattle neighborhood seem to share the sentiment of Killen and her co-owner, Elthea Farr.

"It's a very involved neighborhood," said Richard Pierides, a regular at Cloud City Coffee.

Maple Leaf is mostly made up of single-family homes and some apartments, and it has restaurants, a hardware store, and other businesses along Roosevelt Way Northeast and Fifth Avenue Northeast.

Its boundaries are Northeast 103rd Street to the north, Northeast 75th Street to the south, Lake City Way to the east and Interstate 5 to the west, according to the Maple Leaf Community Council.

It's a stable neighborhood with many longtime residents.

Longtime shop owner

Barber Michael Sharp has had his shop on Roosevelt Way for 48 years.

Population: About 20,000

Schools: Maple Leaf is served by the Seattle School District.

Distance to downtown Seattle: 7 miles

Entertainment: Northwest Puppet Center, 9123 15th Ave. N.E. The converted church serves as home to the Carter Family Marionettes. The Carters are known for their mastery and preservation of the traditional Sicilian marionette theater known as Opera dei Pupi. The Puppet Center produces more than 250 performances a year.

Fun fact: The highest point in Maple Leaf, at Northeast 91st Street between Roosevelt Way and Fifth Avenue Northeast, is more than 500 feet in elevation, one of the highest points in the city. (High Point in West Seattle is 20 feet higher.)

— Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf

Sharp, who was listening to opera on television while he brushed hair off a man's head, said he has some customers who have been coming in for nearly 50 years.

"I've been here so long, I don't even know what's going on in the neighborhood," Sharp joked.

One change in the neighborhood is the housing prices.

Pierides bought his house for $49,000 in 1980, and it is now worth about 10 times as much, he said.

The median price of a home in the area was $415,475 in August, up 1.3 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to figures compiled by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

The neighborhood once had a rural feeling before the empty lots gradually filled in.

Community Council board member Barbara Maxwell, her husband and mother-in-law made a list of empty lots during a Sunday drive in the late 1980s and submitted the list of a dozen or so lots to the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department in hopes of being granted more park space for the neighborhood.

Gradually, lot after lot was bought up and built up, and now the last spot on their list is being turned into a community garden on Northeast 103rd Street near Fifth Avenue Northeast.

A new library, community center and park also is near the north end of Maple Leaf.

One unique part of the community is that not all of the houses there were built in Maple Leaf.

Houses moved

In fact, Pierides' house was among the houses moved to Maple Leaf when nearby Interstate 5 was built in the 1960s.

As the neighborhood changes, Pierides would like to see more trees, sidewalk cafes and places such as Cloud City Cafe, he said as he sipped his coffee.

Maxwell said one advantage to Maple Leaf is that it is easy to reach other destinations — such as the nearby Northgate Mall.

"The bad news is that we have challenges of protecting the livability in the neighborhood with traffic problems," she said.

Maxwell and Pierides agree that Maple Leaf is a great neighborhood.

"People walk their dogs at night and wave to each other," Pierides said.

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