With plans for six stories next to Optimism Brewing, developer scores one of last available chunks on backside of Pike/Pine

E Union’s next mixed-use development above an old auto row property won’t bother with preservation.

American Classic Homes has purchased the old Complete Automotive garage in the 900 block of E Union for $1.8 million with plans to develop a six-story, mixed-use apartment building on the site.

“This is our first Capitol Hill project and we’re excited about the location and being part of the neighborhood,” John Shaw of American Classic Homes said in a statement sent to CHS. “We’re starting to think about the design and how we’d approach the retail — our goal would be to add a restaurant at the ground-level, which will complement the existing mix of great local retail.”

The parcel is one of the last chunks of land available in this area on the backside of Pike/Pine that has seen a rapid wave of development creating giant preservation-incentive boosted projects and some smaller, but equally incredible investments in auto row-loyal overhauls that have created homes for the area’s burgeoning food and drink scene. Continue reading

SPD’s East Precinct approval ratings improve, still lowest in Seattle

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-9-43-08-amThe East Precinct may still has the lowest approval rating of the five divisions that make up the Seattle Police Department, but public perceptions of the Capitol Hill-based officers are improving significantly.

A Department of Justice study released this week found 62% of residents in the East Precinct approve of police, up from 52% in 2015, and 49% in 2013. Citywide, SPD’s approval rating jumped to 72% from 64% last year. Approval ratings have also increased substantially among all surveyed racial groups, including a 14 point bump among African Americans. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Poster harvest time in Pike/Pine

img_9503Earlier this month, we reported on the seasonal paring of the shoes from the utility wires above 11th and Pike. Tuesday afternoon, CHS witnessed what appears to be a new Pike/Pine harvest. Workers were spread out through the neighborhood using various implements of destruction — including hammers, chisels, and, in one case, a fireaxe and a boombox soundtrack — to remove layer upon layer of old rock show, club night, help wanted, and lost dog posters from corner utility poles. A few of them identified themselves as workers for Poster Giant. A few of them told CHS to get lost. Continue reading

On the List | Hilloween, Zombie Crawl, LitCrawl, Pike People Street, Weavers’ Guild sale

As usual, it will be difficult to sort out just exactly when Halloween begins and ends around Capitol Hill. With October 31st falling on a Monday, the party starts early and will likely run for days. Below, you’ll find highlights below from the CHS Hilloween Calendar including the return of the annual Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce carnival, a new Zombie Crawl. There are also plenty of none-Hilloween things to do on the plain ol’ CHS Calendar including Thursday’s return of LitCrawl Seattle and the annual Seattle Weavers’ Guild sale at St. Mark’s. Continue reading

Ada’s Technical Books adding event space and cocktail bar The Lab to 15th Ave E

Three years ago Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe moved to 15th Ave E. One year after that it added The Office, a space for coworking. In a few weeks, owners Danielle and David Hulton will open their newest addition to the busy commercial village — The Lab at Ada’s, an events, party, meeting and learning space.

“If we get the idea to do something, it’s hard not to do it,” Danielle said.

Danielle said they plan to put on workshops and learning events and make the space available for rent to private groups. The space also gives Ada’s the option to have two events at the same time — one in The Lab and one in the cafe. The Hultons have been working with their manager’s team on possible events and have a launch series planned for January.

Continue reading

Opposing sides of Capitol Hill path closure rant, collaborate to find solutions

The closure of a short public path near Lowell Elementary resulted in a split between parents and teachers supporting the closure and community members against it. People on both sides of the issue shared their thoughts, sometimes passionately, at a Tuesday meeting held by the Seattle Department of Transportation before brainstorming possible solutions.

Victoria Beach, playground monitor at Lowell, said she was offended by people who wanted to keep the path open and said they hadn’t seen any needles on the winding trail off E Roy between Federal and 11th. “One needle is enough. When kids show me dirty condoms, needles, clothing, a man they thought was dead, when I see the fright in them, I will walk around the world if that’s what it’s going to take,” Beach said. “Your sense of entitlement is sickening to me.”

Fifth grade teacher Laura Schulz also caused a bit of a stir presenting work from nine students who she said chose to draw pictures and write a few sentences supporting the closure. Schulz photocopied their comments and shared them at the meeting. Drawing kids into the debate didn’t sit well with many meeting attendees who showed up to voice their support for reopening the path. Continue reading

Madison Valley, saved: Developers back with revised plan for mixed-use PCC building

You can call Save Madison Valley a bunch of NIMBYs if you like but the result of the community group’s pushback on the planned development to create a 75-unit, mixed-use PCC grocery and apartment building on the site where City People’s stands today will be a four-story, vine-covered, terraced building that includes community space and integrates and preserves much of the surrounding tree canopy. Or, at least, that’s the plan that will be presented Wednesday night by developer Velmeir and the architects at Meng Strazzara as the project takes the stage for its second try at passing through the city’s “early design guidance” phase of review.

UPDATE 10/26/2016 9:01 PM: Madison Valley isn’t saved just yet. The design review board Wednesday night threw down a challenge to the project developers that could call for some radical revisions to the plans for the large parking lot walls facing the residential neighbors along Dewey Place on the backside of the building. After a more than two hour session, the board agreed Wednesday to ask Velmeir to return for a third early design review to solve the problems around the building’s massing and relation to the single-family homes below. The decision is a blow to the project’s timeline with City People’s already planned for an end of the year closure. One possible solution to the major design challenge? Cut down on the 150+ car lot levels below the planned mixed-use building and integrate apartments along the building’s backside. We’ll have more on the meeting soon.

Original report: The developers say one key change will be increasing the amount at which levels of the building are pushed back from the parcel’s edges:

The increased setback allows for a response similar to a rear yard residential setback. Within the increased setback layered landscaping helps create natural beauty along the street. To provide visual interest throughout the year, a continuous green screen wall is located from the base to the top of the retail space.

“A mixture of ivy and native vines,” the presentation document for Wednesday night’s meeting continues, “will enhance the landscaping and serve to elegantly screen the building and eliminates the blank wall condition.” Sounds nice. And, according to the numbers, the developer didn’t have to cut a single apartment unit, grocery store square foot, and even can keep most of its plans for more than 150 parking stalls. Continue reading

CHS Pics | The night a Capitol Hill parking lot turned into an arcade

OK. It wasn’t exactly three stories high but it was, indeed, projected on a three-story building. An event and fundraiser featuring a Capitol Hill-record tall version of Street Fighter II drew gamers serious and less so to Broadway between Pike and Pine Saturday night. Sponsored by Seattle “eSports startup” RumbleMonkey, “Rumble in the Streets” put one of the last remaining surface parking lots on Broadway to a more interesting than usual use. Proceeds raised from the players benefitted Child’s Play, “a foundation dedicated to improving the lives of children in hospitals and domestic violence shelters through the generosity and kindness of the video game industry.”

Capitol Hill “street activation” will also be in full swing with the Hilloween weekend at hand. First, there is the organic. Expect costumed masses to be out in force and to take ownership of the streets — especially when trick-or-treating Halloween night along E Aloha’s side streets. There will also be some organized Hilloween activation. The rescheduled Pike People Street pilot test will play out on E Pike Saturday afternoon. Find out more about PPS plus the annual Hilloween fair and a new zombie crawl on the CHS Hilloween Calendar.

Pike People Street Hilloween Edition

Man arrested in Capitol Hill gunfire incident was wanted on rape charge

(Image: Police Video Requests via YouTube)

(Image: Police Video Requests via YouTube)

The 23-year-old man whose arrest in a gunfire incident was captured on video early Saturday on Capitol Hill also had a warrant out for his arrest for allegedly raping his ex-girlfriend in SeaTac.

According to King County Court documents, Charles Southammavong was charged in July with second degree rape stemming from a May domestic violence incident in his SeaTac home. The victim, Southammavong’s ex-girlfriend, had a protection order against him at the time. Prior to the alleged rape, Southammavong had twice been convicted of domestic violence against the woman, according to court records.

Following his arrest on Saturday, a King County Judge found probable cause to hold Southammavong for unlawful possession of a firearm. He is being held in the King County Jail on $200,000 bail. Continue reading

Uncle Ike’s Capitol Hill, the neighborhood’s second retail pot shop, opens Friday

(Image: Uncle Ike's via Twitter)

(Image: Uncle Ike’s via Twitter)

The largest pot retailer in Seattle — and the second largest I-502 shop in the state — is set to open its Capitol Hill expansion.

Uncle Ike’s announced Monday that its 15th Ave E location will be open for business starting Friday. Continue reading

7th District race to represent Seattle in Congress goes ‘contrast’

Jayapal didn't hide her skepticism during Walkinshaw's explanation of going "contrast" Monday night (Images: CHS)

Jayapal didn’t hide her skepticism during Walkinshaw’s explanation of going “contrast” Monday night (Images: CHS)

We don’t know about any nasty women but a nasty ad has put the race to represent Washington’s 7th District in Congress into a new light.

“They’re not negative. They’re contrast ads,” Brady Walkinshaw equivocated Monday night in a candidate discussion at Seattle University that began with the unavoidable: questions about the negative “We Have A Choice” ad campaign and PramilaFacts.com site that attacks Pramila Jayapal’s record in Olympia as ineffective.

Monday’s Seattle U discussion, moderated by the school’s public administration program director Larry Hubbell and journalist Joni Balter, was held in Pigott Auditorium and was lightly attended. Its timing was coincidental to the new ad campaign but the argument made for a livelier than expected start to the hour-long discussion that eventually touched on the issues the 7th District candidates plan to tackle and ended with the kinds of topics only the best kind of student questions can raise: automation tax, TPP, transgender bathroom rights, and injection sites. Continue reading

Six important things about the proposed affordability zoning changes on Capitol Hill

mha_draft_zoning_changes_first_hill_capitol_hill15% of Seattle is slated to be rezoned to allow for taller buildings as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. The largest concentration of rezones includes a swath of land covering downtown, Capitol Hill, and the Central District.

Most of the area’s multifamily housing zones would get the standard “HALA bump” — a one story increase in allowable building height along with new “mandatory housing affordability” requirements for all new residential construction. As part of Seattle’s “Grand Bargain,” MHA will link the creation of affordable housing with market-rate development by requiring all new multifamily buildings to make 5-11% of their units affordable or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund. That part of the program has already been approved by City Council. Over the next year the city will hammer out how to handle the zoning.

Much of the First Hill-Capitol Hill urban center residential zones would receive the one-story bump along with a requirement that all new development include 5-7% of affordable units. Some would be required to meet higher affordability mandates. But the devil is in the details, and there are plenty of details to sift through when it comes to the zoning maps on Capitol Hill.

1. Auto-row incentives (probably) maintained

The Pike/Pine Conservation District is a unique incentive zoning program in Seattle responsible for most of the auto-row preservation projects on Capitol Hill. Changes proposed under the HALA map appear to undercut the program, but a upcoming tweak to the building code would likely keep those incentives in play.

Under the preservation program, developers get to build seven stories instead of six for preserving an old building facade in Pike/Pine. In the proposed HALA map, an up-zone in Pike/Pine would automatically allow for seven-story buildings. While preserving a facade would still get developers a one extra story, it seems unlikely they would take it. Building codes mandate that any building higher than seven stories must be entirely concrete or steel framed instead of wood, making an eight-story project vastly more expensive. Continue reading