Batten down your Honey Buckets — August windstorm whips through Capitol Hill

Thanks to J Lee in First Hill for the picture!

Thanks to J Lee in First Hill for the picture!

A freakish summer windstorm has left Seattle utility crews scrambling to clean up after falling trees and cracking branches.

Around Capitol Hill, power outages were limited to around 1,000 customers out of service around 1:15 PM — nearly 50,000 were out across the city. You can check the latest status from City Light here. The Hill’s first wave of outages has been mostly concentrated around the leafy Harvard-Belmont historic district.

Large trees were reported blown down near 15th and Prospect as well as in the 700 block of Boylston and near 24th and Boyer. Police are asking residents to stop calling 911 to report downed trees and wires:

Speaking of clean-up, the winds were strong enough to blow not one but two chemical toilets into the street on E Union. Gust of up to 29 MPH have been reported on Capitol Hill.

A high wind warning for the area from the National Weather Service is currently in effect through 6 PM.

Here’s a look at the devastation in Volunteer Park:

We all fall

A photo posted by Tatiana Gill (@rupeegroupie) on

Talk of gun violence and race at East Precinct community meeting

Residents concerned by the recent uptick in violence crowded EastPAC’s August meeting Thursday night. “I have heard more shots this summer than I have in eight years,” one man said at the meeting, which was attended by officials from the Seattle Police Department and a representative from the City Attorney’s office.

East Precinct neighborhoods have seen a 13% increase in violent crime and a 23% increase in reports of shots fired this year. This bullet-fueled crime wave has brought murder to the Central District and Capitol Hill including the slaying of 23-year-old Ramon Mitchell outside the Baltic Room.

At Thursday’s meeting, residents demanded to know what SPD was doing to combat the crime that had made them feel unsafe in their homes and neighborhoods. “There is no higher priority in the city for the chief than dealing with the gun violence that’s going on,” said Capt. Paul McDonagh, commander of the East Precinct since April.

McDonagh said SPD has noticed an increased willingness among some area youth to “use firearms at will” and the department was struggling to solve crimes because of what he said is a “no snitching” culture on the streets. He said the department was trying to steer youth away from crime by supporting initiatives such as the Seattle Youth Summer Employment Program while also building relationships with federal anti-crime agencies such as the ATF to enhance its crime fighting abilities.

“We have to talk about race,” said Pamela Banks, Urban League CEO and current District 3 candidate. “That’s the conversation we have to have around this. We also have to talk about gentrification, and the impact it has on this community.” Continue reading

Capitol Pill | Summer Blockbusters and Superheroes

Movie Night

We’ve asked Karyn Schwartz, owner of the Sugarpill apothecary on E Pine, to contribute to CHS about health and Hill living on a semi-regular basis. If you’re an expert and want to share with the community in a recurring CHS column, we’d like to hear from you.

I missed another entire season of summer movies, except for one breathtaking film entitled “Tangerine” which ended with one of the most poignant and heroic gestures of friendship I have ever seen depicted on a big screen. It made me think about some of the real heroes of my summer, including:

The woman who dressed in a formal dinner jacket, with cufflinks on her shirt and impeccably shined shoes to deliver a picnic, served on fine china, pressed linens and crystal water glasses, to a friend undergoing chemotherapy. Continue reading

CHS Pics | This week in Capitol Hill pictures

Caution

The CHS Flickr Pool contains more than 28,000 photographs -— most of Capitol Hill images, many glorious, some technically amazing. The pool is a mix of contributions from Capitol Hill — and nearby — shutterbugs. Interested in being part of it? If we like your photo and it helps us tell the story, we may feature it on CHS so please include your name and/or a link to your website so we can properly credit you. Interested in working as a paid CHS contributor for scheduled assignments? Drop us a line –- our roster is full for general assignments but pitch us on an idea. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Yes, another Thai restaurant on Capitol Hill

Soi-11

Wiborg is ready to offer you a cold one

Wiborg is ready to offer you a cold one

(Images: Suzi Pratt for CHS)

It’s true. We once found a Capitol Hill planning permit with these simple project notes: “Replace the old Thai restaurant with a new Thai restaurant.”

Here’s a look at the Hill’s latest new restaurant to create dishes catering to Seattle’s favorite cuisine.

Soi is the creation of husband and wife restaurateurs Gabe Wiborg and Yuie Helseth Soi who are bringing their years of food and drink industry experience and Kent-tested and approved recipes to E Union. The new restaurant quietly opened last week in the giant Broadstone Infinity development. “We wanted to do a restaurant like Soi in the beginning but Kent wasn’t the right place,” Wiborg told CHS earlier this year. “We had ambitious visions, ideas, and goals.”

Soi joins quite the flock of Thai restaurants in Central Seattle — we count 19 in the neighborhoods west of I-5, north of Cherry, south of 520. In coming months, Big Uncle will make it 19 1/2 — though we’d be willing to bet another two or three will be added to the list in the meantime.

Soi is located at 1400 10th Ave. You can learn more at soicapitolhill.com.

Soi-12

Pike/Pine kink shop The Crypt gets the boot

If you’ve experienced spotty service and inconsistent business hours at Capitol Hill’s “harder, more extreme” sex shop, be gentle. These are rough times at The Crypt.

A sign has gone up announcing a “50% off,” going out of business sale at the 11th Ave purveyor of kink. “We’ll miss you Seattle.” We’re checking to find out the final day of business. Let us know if you’ve heard.

Behind the scenes, the store is getting kicked out. Earlier this week, the court sided with the sex shop’s landlord with a $11,706.22 judgement on unpaid rent against the company that operated the Pike/Pine store as part of a chain of six stores in Washington, California, and Colorado. Attempts to reach parent company Crypto Technology or its other stores have not been successful — every phone number we have found has been disconnected and the ecommerce website is gone.

CHS visited 11th Ave’s The Crypt last summer for a peek inside the Hill’s kink shop:

“We’re definitely harder, more extreme than other stores,” said manager Shawn Allen Hall, not far from the gagged mannequin hanging from a sex swing that greets customers at the front door. On the other hand, the seen-it-all staff are anything but hard and extreme. “We just want to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible,” Hall said.

The history we were told at the time went something like this: The first Crypt opened in San Diego in 1977 to meet the needs of the city’s BDSM community, but the Seattle shop became the flagship store after opening in the 1980s. Originally on Union and then Broadway, The Crypt made its move to 11th and Pine in 2007, replacing The Vogue nightclub.

The shop’s legend spread wider than its front doors and is part of a kinkier time in Pike/Pine before Basic Plumbing became a 24-hour diner. One story related to CHS — and wholly unconfirmed — claims crews preparing the Sunset Electric site for development found a sex room with kinky torture gear in the empty auto row-era building. Whether the gear was Crypt-branded or not, we’ll leave to your imagination.

It’s also not the first time CHS has covered a dispute between landlord Matt Basta and one of his Pike/Pine tenants. In 2010, Grey Gallery got the boot but its owner said he was happy to go.

So, how much, exactly does a sex shop pay for rent in Pike/Pine? According to court documents, The Crypt was on the hook for more than $7,000 a month:

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 9.23.19 AM

It must have been a good enough deal — according to the affidavit, the company signed a five-year extension in 2012.

The impending Crypt closure won’t leave Pike/Pine without a dedicated sex shop. Earlier this year, Castle Megastore made the move from its expansive Broadway location to a tighter fit beneath the Wildrose. Meanwhile, Doghouse Leathers got bigger on E Pike. UPDATE: While it operates in a different spectrum of sex, Babeland’s 20 years of business should also be noted here, of course.

Many will point at The Crypt’s departure as another sign in the realm of retail that Capitol Hill is fucked. With the exit of longtimers like Edge of the Circle and the incoming of big new players, there is plenty of opportunities for the little guy or gal to get screwed. But in the case of The Crypt, at least, a look behind the counter and the reality of a chain company like Crypto Technology reveals that size isn’t all that matters.

Custom gift company the latest tech-y start-up to move into Pike/Pine

(Image: Knack)

(Image: Knack)

11822391_673529589449538_8971537360606685925_nAs one big tech giant continues to build up in South Lake Union, boutique firms with much smaller footprints are finding a home on Capitol Hill.

The latest is Knack, a custom gift service that promises to restore the “delight back into modern gift giving by allowing even the most overscheduled and craft-averse to easily create meaningful, made-by-you-just-for-them gifts.”

Last year Knack was set up as a pop-up shop in the Pacific Place Mall. Now the boutique gift service is entering the world of online commerce by allowing customers put together custom gift packages online. Continue reading

Reports of the smell of smoke on Capitol Hill as wildfires burn miles away

"Out at the #ChelanComplex fire line thanking firefighters for their hard work. #ThankAFireFighter #WAwildfire " (Image: @GovInslee)

“Out at the #ChelanComplex fire line thanking firefighters for their hard work. #ThankAFireFighter #WAwildfire ” (Image: @GovInslee)

With a summer rain storm blowing into the region from the Pacific, people were reporting an odd but familiar smell in the air on Capitol Hill Thursday night — smoke, apparently from Eastern Washington beyond the Cascades.

Reports are also coming in from other neighborhoods.

In at least one instance, Seattle Fire has been called out to investigate but found nothing. Others report that their building fire alarms have been set off by the smoke — though that could also have been coincidence.

There were no major fires being responded to in Seattle as of 11:30 PM.

Earlier in the day, Senator Maria Cantwell was at Seattle University for a hearing on wildfires burning across Washington State and the west. One of the largest blazes near Chelan is more than 150 miles away from Seattle.

UPDATE: California?

UPDATE x2: A fire near Shelton — less than 100 miles away — could also be a culprit.

CHS Crowd Wisdom Poll — When will First Hill Streetcar service begin?

Last we heard in July, SDOT said “the start date is still not fixed.” There’s not much to go on but small clues here and there — an uptick in social media activity, for one — indicate we just might finally maybe be getting close. CHS kind of forgets why we were excited about the new connection to the International District and Pioneer Square in the first place. Now it’s mostly just about finally getting the trams out of the barn. So let’s turn it over to the collective wisdom of CHS readers — when, indeed, will First Hill Streetcar service begin?

Create your own user feedback survey
View the latest results

We’ve also asked SDOT, of course. We’ll let you know what we hear back. UPDATE 8/28/2015 8:45 AM: We haven’t heard back.

With hopes of becoming part of a changing E Madison — and a $200k construction challenge — plans revealed for Cayton Corner Park

“We are just so happy that people came out for this little site.”

A community “open house” at the planned Cayton Corner Park at 19th and Madison put plans on display Tuesday evening as the park enters its final phase of design. Planners say it should be open for the public sometime in 2017.

The park, which was named in 2013 to honor an important African American Seattle newspaper publisher, is located on a triangular, 4,500 square foot plot of land directly across the street from the Mount Zion Baptist Church. The land was purchased by Seattle Parks and Recreation in 2011 at the behest of the local community which had said there was a need for open space in the neighborhood.

“We are just so happy that people came out for this little site,” said Pamela Kliment of Seattle Parks. She said that parks was working closely with the neighborhood organization Friends of Cayton Corner Park to oversee the planning, design, and construction of the park.

So far the Friends have raised around $75,000 to fund the park, primarily through grants from the Department of Neighborhoods Matching Fund. Most of the money up to this point has been spent on going through several rounds of design with the firm J.A. Brennan Associates, and now the park is entering “the phase where we can have a design ready for construction,” according to Allison Vasallo, a volunteer with the organization. Vasallo said the surrounding community gave input throughout the design process.

According to Drew Coombs, a landscape architect with J.A. Brennan, construction of the park will take place in three phases, beginning in 2016, and the park should be open sometime in 2017. He said one of the priorities in designing the park was making it accessible to people with disabilities. The park is locating right next to the Hearing Speech and Deafness Center, which gave input in its planning.

The park’s current design includes a sensory garden, ADA accessible pathways, and an embankment slide, among other features, according to Karen Portzer who is also a volunteer with the Friends of Cayton Corner Park. Portzer told CHS that the biggest challenge currently facing the park was securing funding for construction, which could cost upwards of $225,000.

“A lot of [organizations] do not fund capital improvement projects. That sorta knocks us out,” she said.

Challenges over construction funding were part of the reason it took five years to begin work to create Broadway Hill Park near Federal and Republican off north Broadway.

For Cayton Corner, Portzer said the Friends are hoping to receive the Large Projects Fund grant from the Department of Neighborhoods, which can provide up to $100,000 in funding. They’re also continuing to seek support from local foundations and the community.

The park should eventually be part of the changing face of E Madison as development projects have finally dug in, more are planned, and plans are readied to transform the street with a bus rapid transit project.

To find out more information or to donate to the park, visit seattleparksfoundation.org.