First Hill Streetcar contract now targets summer opening

A new month, a new target date for the First Hill Streetcar launch. Under a revised contract between the city and Czech manufacturer Inekon, the Capitol Hill-to-Pioneer Square streetcar line is slated to finish test runs by June with service to start soon after.

The delay was expected after Inekon failed to meet an earlier October deadline to deliver six cars that will run on the 2.5 mile line, and one additional car for the South Lake Union line. In January, CHS reported that the Seattle Department of Transportation was already preparing for a late summer service start. The revised contract forgives thousands of dollars in late delivery penalties, but imposes even steeper fines if Inekon misses the revised June deadline.

Three cars are currently in Seattle undergoing final assembly, three remain in the Czech Republic, and one was delivered to the Port of Tacoma on Sunday.

The new contract comes after SDOT director Scott Kubly made a trip to the the Czech Republic to put pressure on Inkeon to finish work on the streetcars. The Seattle Times reported Sunday night on the revised contract:

Friday’s new change order would charge Inekon $500, $750 or $1,000 per day of delay per train, based on whether final testing and acceptance are done in early June, late June or in July — for a total $7,000 a day if the schedule badly blows out.

The Seattle Times also reports that SDOT has agreed to an option to buy Inekon trains for a proposed downtown link.

Does Capitol Hill need a new group to press developers to meet community priorities?

"No, it's too expensive" (Image: evil robot 6 via Flickr)

“No, it’s too expensive” (Image: evil robot 6 via Flickr)

Last month, developers behind the project that will rise at the old Piecora’s site made an appearance at a Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council meeting. They weren’t there to defend design sketches, rather the Equity Residential team said they wanted feedback while architects were still at the drawing board.

P/PUNC’s mix of development professionals and community members offered specific examples of popular and unpopular corner-property developments in the area and used wonky terms to push for safer building designs.

The following night at the annual State of the Hill event, Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Michael Wells said another group’s work on the upcoming light rail station development marked a major neighborhood accomplishment. Capitol Hill Champion members worked for years forging a document of community priorities that the project’s developers will be required to follow when work starts this year.

Capitol Hill’s development boom has given rise to a small but increasingly persuasive group of community members pressing developers to build what they see as more neighborhood-appropriate projects. Early plans are now in the works to sustain the momentum by creating a Capitol Hill group modeled off the Central Area Land Use Committee. Continue reading

Broadway Whole Foods and apartment development begins design review this week

(Image: Tiscareno Associates)

(Image: Tiscareno Associates)

We showed you what the Broadway Whole Foods building will look like the minute we got our hands on the plans back in February. This week brings the first public test of the design proposal to create a 16-story, 288-unit, mixed-use development with parking for around 350 cars at the corner of Madison and Broadway where Capitol Hill and First Hill with its high-er-rise zoning meet.

The early design guidance for the Columbia Pacific Advisors development designed by Tiscareno Associates is Wednesday night:

1001 Broadway/Design Proposal (84 MB)
Review Meeting: March 4, 6:30 pm
Seattle University
1016 E. Marion St
PIGT Room #304
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number: 3019050 permit status | notice
Planner: Lindsay King

The project will include a two-level 40,000 square-foot street-level “urban grocery” from the Texas-based chain of markets “specializing” in organic food. The project is targeted for a late 2017 to early 2018 opening and will replace the 1928-built, three-story masonry medical building currently at the site.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Whole Foods has cited the coming First Hill Streetcar line and proximity to First Hill’s hospitals and nearby Seattle University as important factors in choosing the Broadway and Madison location.

We’ve embedded the full design proposal, below. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Water rockets above Cal Anderson, bridges across Seattle Central

Here’s some experimental inspiration. The kids of the Northwest Regional Science Olympiad Tournament took over Seattle Central and Cal Anderson on Saturday with science fair battles classic — the wooden bridge battle! — and newfangled — robot vs. robot! CHS was mostly an also-ran back in its high school science physics competition days though we did place well one year in the tennis ball catapult competition while gaining knowledge we can’t say we ever really put into use again…  yet. Happy science!

IMG_0581 Continue reading

Bus Stop | The 545

16452122607_deca224184_cSound Transit has been busy on Capitol Hill for years but, for a long time, the only public transit that Sound Transit has actually provided directly to Capitol Hill has been a dogleg on the 545.

The 545 is Sound Transit’s express bus to Redmond, home to Microsoft’s campus and many other tech companies. At most times of day, the 545 comes through downtown Seattle and gets directly onto I-5 via Olive Way. But in the morning, it takes a zig-zag up Pine to Bellevue Ave and picks up Capitol Hill “v-dashes” before getting back to its normal route and onto the interstate.

On a recent Thursday morning, Bus Stop went out to wait for the 545 after grabbing a pastry at City Market. Several Microsoft Connector buses drove by the crowd passing the time at the bus stop looking at their phones. Full time Microsoft employees get to ride in the private Connector buses, but contract workers (“v-dashes” and “a-dashes” in Microsoft parlance) have to wait for the bus with the rest of us.

The dogleg is nearing its 10th anniversary this year and owes itself to the work of one man, Anirudh Sahni. CHS wrote about Sahni’s fight to bring the 545 to Capitol Hill a few years ago.

It’s hard to find another example of a bus route in Seattle that is so saturated with people heading to one particular destination, day in and day out. The 8 between Capitol Hill and South Lake Union is nearing the 545 on this score, but is not there yet.

Eventually Sound Transit will have light rail in place between Seattle and Redmond, in what it hopes will be another 8 years. Then Capitol Hill to Overlake will only be about 30 minutes away by train, not counting transfer time downtown. Sound Transit is also studying the possibility of a transit-only Lake Washington floating tunnel at Sand Point, but this would likely also necessitate a transfer at the University District.

In the meantime, Seattle transit planners dream of installing a freeway station that could make a Capitol Hill stop easier and perhaps lead to all-day service. The Olive Way freeway station would go in right at the on-ramp to I-5 on Olive Way and cut the detour time to serve Capitol Hill to almost nothing. This could also serve riders of such routes like the 255 to Google in Kirkland.

In the meantime, Capitol Hill’s eastside commuters are thankful for the dogleg.

 

 

CHS Pics | A First Hill streetcar pulls in from Czech Republic

Thanks to reader Ed Nelson for the picture

Thanks to reader Ed Nelson for the picture

The SDOT director’s plans for Czech travels to untangle manufacturing problems has apparently paid off. The ship has come in.

CHS reader Ed Nelson sent this picture from the Saturday morning delivery at 14th and Main of what appears to be one of the six trams slated to serve the First Hill Streetcar line between Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill. Three of the six trains have been undergoing final assembly in Seattle, while three others remained in the Czech Republic. According to SDOT, production in Europe was on hold until assembly and testing finished in Seattle.

In recent weeks, the Maltese vehicle carrier MV Tiger had been en route to Seattle from Europe with the valuable cargo. Fortunately, the West Coast port slowdown won’t apparently add to the already delayed streetcar route which still doesn’t have an official start date and isn’t planned to be ready before late this summer at earliest.

This week in CHS history: Federal/Republican murder, ‘230 Broadway project’ digs in, Hill streetlight test

8445076091_59b98612d3_oHere are the top stories from this week in CHS history:

Following red tape, minimum wage battles, Good Citizen opens on E Olive Way

B-00qBRUMAAlKw7

(Image: Good Citizen via Twitter)

After two years of battling red tape — and the city’s move to a $15 minimum wage — Andrew Friedman quietly opened his Good Citizen bar Friday night.

“It’s designed to look like someone’s house… really comfortable and nice,” Friedman told CHS about the transformation of the former E Olive Way coffee shop a year ago as he made plans for a March 2014 debut for the bar. Friedman took over the space in 2013. Word back then was the bar was lined up for a summer 2013 debut. Continue reading

CHS Crow | Roberta, Marcy and Keith — ‘When you get something that tastes good and you can always find someone to just sit and talk with — this is a blessing’


After four years of serving up warm meals in a supportive social environment on Thursday nights, last month Community Supper added a weekly Wednesday night dinner to its offerings at All Pilgrims – the church that makes for a quintessential north Broadway landmark with its circa-1900 brick edifice bedecked with a giant “You Are Welcome Here” sign, and that plays many community-centered roles in Capitol Hill. The second night of supper seems to be gaining traction as word spreads, with about 80 meals being served this last Wednesday night to guests and volunteers, in addition to the average of about 140 meals that are served on Thursday nights, Don Jensen, director of Community Lunch on Capitol Hill, said. The Supper is an extension of Community Lunch’s long-running offerings at Central Lutheran on Cal Anderson Park.

Wanting to give space for the stories and perspectives of a few guests and regulars, which might in turn help tell the story of Community Supper in this moment of the program’s expansion, the CHS Crow dropped by and met with an aspiring support specialist with lots of love for the Hill, a Seattle-born soprano who’s created community through the meals and a father and grandfather, elder and pastor, who’s not done with his work yet.

  Roberta

Roberta

Who are you?
I’m in recovery, I’m 49 years old. I’m getting ready to try and endeavor in being a peer support specialist, because I’d like to work with homeless people and stuff. Because I’ve been homeless for about a year-and-a-half.

At first I was really taken aback by the community, and thinking I would never want to have [anything to do with it]. And then once you start to really know people in the homeless community, and you get their trust, they’re wonderful people. And they’re people from all walks of life. Continue reading

CHS Pics | This week in Capitol Hill pictures

The CHS Flickr Pool contains more than 24,000 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

Grandfather of Capitol Hill Thai, Ayutthaya celebrates 30 year on E Pike

Owner Pai Boon and AJ at Ayutthaya (Image: Grace Qian)

Owner Pai Boon and AJ at Ayutthaya (Image: Grace Qian)

02By Grace Qian — UW News Lab/Special for CHS

Ayutthaya, one of the first Thai restaurants ever on Capitol Hill, is preparing to celebrate a milestone 30th birthday this year.

Pai Boon, the current owner of Ayutthaya and Bangkok native, attributes the restaurant’s popularity to its location and its early start on Thai cuisine in Seattle in the 1980s.

“When we opened, there were not that many Thai restaurants and the people at that time didn’t know about Thai food,” said Boon. “From then on to now, a lot of people know about Thai food.”

Named after an ancient Siamese kingdom, the E Pike at Harvard restaurant has been around long enough to see a robust dining district grow up around it. Continue reading

Sweet and sour success: Hill cocktail entrepreneur brings The Shrubbery drinking vinegars to market

We know. You were mixing shrub cocktails before they were cool. But the rest of us might have something to learn from one of the newest vendors joining Broadway’s farmers market.

“This is my neighborhood market. This is my business,” Capitol Hill drinking vinegar entrepreneur Rebecca SerVoss proudly tells CHS.

Her months-old business The Shrubbery produces small bottles of the flavorful mixers designed to add a sweet and sour punch to, well, your boozy punch. And more.

“The shrub provides multiple elements of a cocktail,” SerVoss said. “It lets you add additional flavors and play with wacky vinegars.”

SerVoss launched her business after getting spun out of the corporate world. “I’ve been making shrubs for my own uses for two and a half years now. Then I lost my corporate job,” she said.

Her response was to refine her recipes and start experimenting. “I get to be a nerd about my vinegar,” she said.

In addition to the farmers market, the Capitol Hill resident has found space on the shelf at E Pine’s Sugarpill apothecary and will also have one of her shrubs again featured in a cocktail at Broadway’s Witness when the spring menu rolls back around.

Her target market includes expert craft cocktailers who know their shrubs — “boozehounds totally know what I’m doing,” she says — and cooks looking for unusual new flavors for their sauces. Shrubs are, you’re probably not surprised, a popular trend as craft cocktail pros look for new ways to create old flavors. The name, by the way, doesn’t refer to botanicals or herbs but to the Arabic word sharāb — “to drink.”

SerVoss is also enjoying introducing those new to shrubs to the flavors she has concocted and is selling by the bottle every first and third Sunday at the Broadway Farmers Market.

The Shrubbery will be in place this Sunday, March 1st. Along with some of her standard flavorings, SerVoss says to make sure to try the early rhubarb and pear and honey shrubs. The latter goes perfectly with gin, SerVoss said she’ll tell the newbies who stop by this weekend.

“People who need education — they’re a whole other level of fun for me.”

You can learn more about The Shrubbery here.

East Precinct meeting talks pot, reform, but mostly violent crime in the CD with City Attorney and SPD brass

Thursday night, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and East Precinct commander Captain Pierre Davis met with community members in a packed Seattle University room to talk about updates on precinct crime and how SPD and the attorney’s office can better serve residents.

Many of those in attendance who spoke vented their frustration and concerns with both the nuisance of day to day criminal activity and more serious violence around Capitol Hill and the Central District.

“Cops can’t do everything,” Holmes told the crowd. “if there are building code violations, if there is something that SDOT can do… that [collaboration between departments] is something that my office is really good at helping pull in.” He added that law enforcement is not always the solution. “It could be civil, it could be regulatory.”

Violent crime, particularly in the Central District, was on most attendees’ minds, particularly the intersection of 23rd and Union, which has recently seen numerous instances of gunfire.

“It’s not about gentrification, it’s not about any of that shit. It’s about getting gangs off the streets … you can actually time it [when gun shots occur],” said one attendee.

Some speakers blamed the Midtown Center property at 23rd and Union for the criminal activity. One speaker called out property owner Tom Bangasser — who was present at the meeting — for not selling the property to developers fast enough because he was waiting as the value rises. Continue reading

Really good Garfield High boys basketball team faces really big challenge

(Images and video: Proof is N the Play)

As the pain of this year’s Super Bowl fades, here’s a chance to revive your Central Seattle sports spirit with some post-season basketball excitement from the Central District’s high school team.

The Garfield High School boys basketball team is really good — like top three teams in the state good. However, the team’s reclassification this year into the 3A division puts Garfield on track to face top ranked Rainier Beach in next month’s state tournament.

Last year, the Bulldogs won the state championship in their 4A division. Remarkably, the team managed to go undefeated in this year’s regular season with an almost entirely new lineup. The team’s final regular season win earlier this month briefly put Garfield in USA Today’s Super 25 national high school basketball rankings. Continue reading

‘A short path to more affordable housing,’ Seattle finalizing plan for homeless encampments

This map shows where in the city the encampments could be allowed. Amendments to be discussed next week could change some of the restrictions (Image: Seattle.gov)

This map shows where in the city the encampments could be allowed. Amendments to be discussed next week could change some of the restrictions (Image: Seattle.gov)

A plan that would regulate tent encampments in Seattle in a program creating space for 300 homeless residents received lots of support and lots of suggestions for fine tuning during a public hearing on the legislation Thursday at City Hall. Many of the speakers had first-hand experience with living in Seattle without a home.

“We know that homeless people are turned away each night because the shelters are full,” Real Change vendor Willie Jones said during the public comment period on the legislation. “We know because it has happened to each of us.”

The plan championed by Mayor Ed Murray’s office would change Seattle law to allow three homeless encampments on city or private land in non-residential areas. Many speakers Thursday night spoke out about the “red-lining” in the bill that would restrict the camps from the city’s residential areas. An amendment from Council member Kshama Sawant to be discussed at the next committee meeting on the legislation seeks to address the issue.

onc15-chartIn the meantime, churches would be allowed to continue to offer space to encampments like Tent City’s stays at St. Mark’s or St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill.

The most significant tent encampments in Seattle have been the Nickelsville projects that have moved around the city as land was available for the facilities. At one point in 2013, there were three different Nickelsville camps in the Central District. Some of those locations could again be under consideration under the new plan but city planners haven’t yet publicly discussed proposals for the dozen or so sites that are expected to be under consideration before choosing the final three.

Planning and land use committee chair Mike O’Brien tells CHS the bill is lined up for a full council vote on March 9th which would mean the first camps under the regulations could be open by late summer or early fall.

In the most recent “One Night Count” of homeless people sleeping on the streets of King County, volunteers tallied 3,772 people sleeping outside.

The city is emphasizing the “transitional” nature of the camps.

“It’s not a permanent solution,” O’Brien told CHS before Thursday night’s hearing. “It’s a step along the path and we have to make sure it’s a short path to more affordable housing.”

UPDATE: The Daily Journal of Commerce reports on one new development that should also help planned for 7th and Cherry:

Plymouth Housing Group will start construction in January on 83 apartments for formerly homeless people on First Hill, near an area under Interstate 5 where people now sleep at night.