State of Downtown? Businesses are interested in the ‘Capitol Hill connection’

IMG_4693For an event billed as the State of Downtown, there sure was a lot of talk about Capitol Hill.

Downtown Seattle Association’s annual gathering last week drew over 1,000 business owners, residents, and office tower workers to The Westin hotel Thursday morning. Amid the reports of downtown’s growing density (20 new buildings in 2015 added 3,600 units) and booming job growth (half of Seattle workers are now downtown), speakers also stressed the importance of connecting downtown to other neighborhoods, especially Capitol Hill.

The reasons are twofold. Putting Capitol Hill’s arts, culture, and dining within easy reach adds to downtown’s claims as a livable, family-friendly neighborhood. Enhancing that connection also presents a clear marketing opportunity for downtown developers and investors. Continue reading

How a proposal to extend a Restricted Parking Zone near E Madison was born

rpz18444334030_3d6c40fa08_oTuesday night will bring your opportunity to publicly comment on a community-generated proposal to add more blocks around E Madison to the city’s Restricted Parking Zone 2.

The meeting will also help show you how an RPZ is born if you’re into that kind of thing.

“The Capitol Hill Community Council has requested the City make more blocks eligible for RPZ 2,” the Seattle Department of Transportation notice for the meeting reads. That’s mostly true.

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This week in CHS history | Where East Precinct cops live, youth detention center vote, Rhein Haus born Von Trapp’s

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 4.08.14 PMHere are the top stories from this week in CHS history:

First Hill Streetcar will get its lion dance grand opening — but the free ride ends soon

The First Hill Streetcar vs. The 60 (Image: CHS)

The First Hill Streetcar vs. The 60 (Image: CHS)

75 years — and some major testing delays — later, streetcars returned to Capitol Hill in January. The launch was a rush job with little ceremony. But officials say the 2.5-mile, 10-stop route connecting Pioneer Square, the International District, First Hill, and Capitol Hill will get its celebration February 13th. The celebration will bring to an end the free ride for the route which has enjoyed more riders than expected thanks to its no-fare introductory period.

Starting, Monday, February 15th, riders will need to purchase $2.25 adult fare at station platforms using an ORCA card or ticket machines. 3,000 riders are expected to use the streetcar every day — though many have been critical of the delays the FHSC sometimes encounters as it travels in the traffic lane, sharing space with automobiles, buses, and the occasional, extremely poorly parked car or truck.

Capitol Hill Community Post | Why renters matter

Renters must be engaged about HALA. After all, renters comprise nearly half of Seattle’s citizenry and it is renters who face getting priced out of neighborhoods by rising rents.

Late last month, Mayor Murray hosted a cheerleading session for the City’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda or HALA. It was a packed room filled with enthusiasm for implementing the 65 recommendations that emerged last July in response to Seattle’s housing crisis. Comments by Sara Maxana, a homeowner in NW Seattle, were a highlight. Referring to the rapidly escalating value of homes like hers and the resulting impacts on renters, Maxana said:

“I don’t see why one class of people, homeowners, should be getting a windfall from the same phenomenon that is causing other people in Seattle to struggle,” she said. “I don’t think that’s okay.”

Before closing the meeting, Murray took a handful of questions from the crowd. “Guy in the Striped Shirt” asked an important question: “How will renters be engaged in discussions about HALA?”

The mayor responded very generally, saying that we need to engage everybody: owners and renters, young and old, etc. and etc. I would respond more directly. Renters must be engaged about HALA. After all, renters comprise nearly half of Seattle’s citizenry and it is renters who face getting priced out of neighborhoods by rising rents.

But engaging renters to address neighborhood issues isn’t easy. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Pets | Millie on 19th Ave E

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Millie, the Goldendoodle is a regularly seen on 19th between Roy and Mercer where her human, Mary, runs Moonjar. Millie was recently found at Fuel Coffee, patiently waiting for her treat as Mary waited for hers. Millie “leans in” for pets and ear scratches and has been spoiled by the baristas at Fuel.

We ask photographer Alex Garland to follow marchers in the rain and do crazy things like trying to make yet another picture of yet another huge apartment building look interesting. We thought we’d ask him to do something a little more fun. Capitol Hill Pets is a semi-regular look at our furry, fuzzy, feathered, and finned friends found out and about on Capitol Hill.

City responds to 23rd Ave businesses trying to survive street overhaul

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Help is on the way for small business owners on 23rd Ave who say they are on the ropes as a major overhaul of the busy corridor has choked traffic and pushed pedestrians off sidewalks. But it’s not the help they asked for.

Friday afternoon, City Hall representatives tell CHS “project improvements and community financial assistance” are coming to the street at the direction of Mayor Ed Murray.

“As we reconstruct 23rd Avenue, we will do more to respond to the needs and concerns of business owners, with marketing assistance, improved signage and individualized consultations. We want all of our Central Area businesses to succeed during the disruption,” Murray said. “When the project is complete, neighborhood businesses and residents will enjoy a more walkable, active atmosphere with improved access to shops and services.”

23rd Ave owners will not be getting the direct cash relief they have called for, but two city agencies are promising to address some key concerns with the 23rd Avenue Corridor Complete Streets Project.

Responding to community concerns about the project, the Seattle Department of Transportation will reorder its construction schedule to reopen 23rd between Jackson and Yesler in March, one to two months earlier than currently planned. The Office of Economic Development will also provide $102,000 of new funding for marketing the area and business support — but not direct mitigation payments to area businesses. The city said the additional funding follows recent grants of $220,000 for “economic and cultural development projects” in the Central District.

SDOT will also introduce a variant of the Construction Hub program that has been utilized to help improve conditions for businesses around Pike/Pine’s busy blocks of redevelopment. An inspector for the project has been named and designated as a point person for merchant concerns during 23rd Ave construction. You can reach Eric Sadler at (206) 391-7854 and help him in his role “to closely monitor contractor construction activities, and to hear and respond directly to business concerns.”

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Volunteer Park Cafe and Chop Shop sibling Canal Market shutters in Portage Bay

Part of a ripple of Seattle boutique grocery markets — and a member of a small but ambitious family of food+drink venture — has shuttered in Portage Bay after less than a year of business.

Canal Market, on Fuhrman Ave E squeezed between the north tip of Capitol Hill and the water, closed without fanfare this week due to “business reasons,” a former employee tells CHS. Neighbors wondering about the suddenly darkened stretch of retail asked CHS to check in on the market. A representative for the business has not responded to our inquiry about the closure.

The project from Capitol Hill food and drink entrepreneur and chef Ericka Burke took over the space of a former neighborhood bodega with a vision for a marketplace and cafe as other ventures like 19th Ave E-born Cone and Steiner also were forming to give the small-scale grocer business a try.

(Image: Canal Market)

(Image: Canal Market)

“I want this to be the quintessential neighborhood market, a vibrant hub,” Burke’s press release read at the time. “Canal Market will be a meeting place for neighbors to catch up over a cup of coffee, quickly grab a bottle of wine, and shop for dinner. We’re even going totally old school, offering house accounts to make getting in-and-out easy and convenient.”

Designed by Graham Baba and beset with construction delays, Burke finally opened Canal Market last May as her Volunteer Park Cafe settled in after a dispute with neighbors at 19th and Galer and as she geared up for her largest, most ambitious and expensive project — the centerpiece of Pike/Pine’s preservation-friendly Chophouse Row development, Chop Shop.

State corporation documents indicate the company behind the Canal Market has ceased operations. The companies behind Chop Shop and Volunteer Park Cafe, meanwhile, remain active.

Capitol Hill low income housing expert first* to jump into race for the 43rd

macriAn advocate for the homeless and low income housing expert is the first candidate to jump *splash* into the 43rd District race to replace Rep. Brady Walkinshaw in the State Legislature.

Nicole Macri, an 11-year Capitol Hill resident, announced her plans to run Thursday in the November election.

UPDATE: It’s a Capitol Hill showdown. Political consultant and LGBTQ advocate Thomas Pitchford quietly entered the 43rd District race in January. The Capitol Hill resident told CHS he decided to take a “slow approach” to the campaign and would likely have a public-facing campaign launch in March.

As the housing director for the Downtown Emergency Service Center, Macri oversees housing and service programs for some 6,000 chronically homeless adults. She is also the board chair of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and serves on Seattle’s Housing Levy Oversight Committee.

“This was neither an easy decision for me nor one that I took lightly,” Macri said in an email to supporters. “But, my decision to run for the legislature boils down to this: Olympia needs more advocates and champions for affordable housing and mental health.” Continue reading

Seattle gains a woonerf: 12th Ave Square Park now open

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(Images: CHS)

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Newly completed 12th Ave Square Park is the kind of open space you need to create in a tightly packed, Central Seattle neighborhood. Where once was an empty, 7,322-square-foot, gravel-covered lot, now is a paved plaza with native plantings, raised pedestals, and a rubber coated mound that answers the cross-neighborhood call of Cal Anderson’s Teletubby Hill. Above it all floats a sculpture by artist Ellen Sollod.

All that and you can drive through it thanks to the James Ct woonerf that runs softly (and one way, only) through the edge of the new public space. Continue reading