Goodbye First Hill McDonald’s, hello 17-story mixed-use building  

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

The First Hill McDonald’s franchise is an intriguing community hub. The Madison and Minor location seems to accomplish what an urban McDonald’s can be at its best: a place for surgeons, construction workers, homeless people and everyone in between to gather together for a cheap, gigantic cup of coffee and a bite to eat. Other times, it’s just weird.

Documents recently filed with the city show the First Hill McDonald’s is now a goner and slated to be torn down. Developer Holland Partners has filed permits to demolish the McDonald’s building and erect a 240,000 square foot, 17-story mixed-use development.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 2.47.11 PMDetails on the new project are sparse, but early plans call for 200 apartment units and 151 parking spaces. The Vancouver, WA based developer was also behind the similarly sized Coppins Well project next door. At the time, developers touted the Coppins Well project as the first high-rise apartment building to break ground on First Hill in 35 years.

Just a few blocks away, Whole Foods will be part of a 16-story mixed-use apartment building planned at Madison and Broadway slated to open in 2018.

CHS couldn’t reach anyone at Holland for comment about the McDonald’s project.

A representative for franchisees in the region said the Madison McDonalds has been open for about 17 years. Earlier this year, CHS reported on McDonald’s employees urging their coworkers to walk off the job for higher wages. We don’t know yet if the franchise will relocate in the neighborhood or nearby, but the possibility may get the Capitol Hill rumor mill churning again.

Hill Wonk | Listening at the Capitol Hill Community Council Winter Open House

Like so many in our neighborhood and across the country, I sat at home watching the live feed of St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch deliver the reasoning behind the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the murder of  unarmed teenager, Michael Brown.

The news compelled people to do something, to speak out, and to implore us all to listen. In these moments, we are challenged to truly understand that a more complex reality exists. We are challenged to listen rather than default to putting our own lens and experience before others.

The Capitol Hill Community Council Winter Open House is Thursday starting at 6:30 PM in the Cal Anderson Shelterhouse -- CHS wrote here about the party and chance to talk with city officials about Capitol Hill issues

The Capitol Hill Community Council Winter Open House is Thursday starting at 6:30 PM in the Cal Anderson Shelterhouse — CHS wrote here about the party and chance to talk with city officials about Capitol Hill issues

When we allow our hurt to deafen our ears to the hurt of others, we are invited to maintain perspective and recognize our hurt relative to that of others. Fundamentally, we desire validation, and when we hurt we want someone to notice, and to listen. Listening is a critical point of orientation in a world of possibility because listening that results in hearing is possible when we aren’t most in love with our voice over any other.

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Capitol Hill’s REI history, auto row legacy convince board to consider second 11th/Pine building for landmarks protection

Thanks to a confluence of history that includes Pike/Pine’s auto row and the nascent era of one of the best known companies in the Pacific Northwest, advocates for better preservation of Capitol Hill’s remaining auto row buildings got more than they could have hoped Wednesday night. The Seattle Landmarks Board voted unanimously to nominate *both* the exterior and — thanks to the three-story structure’s impressive upper-story truss — the interior of the White Motor Co. building at the corner of 11th and Pine for consideration for the city’s official historical protections.

A hearing that began with the representative for the property owners noting she was speaking to the body “in the hope that this not be nominated,” ended with a vote to examine the building’s worthiness for protection despite those hopes. The official nomination hearing is now slated for January.


Images: reihistory.com

Last week, CHS featured a letter written by neighborhood resident Andrew Haas advocating for full preservation of the White Motor Co. building and the neighboring Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company structures home to Value Village, the Rhino Room club and The Stranger alternative weekly newspaper. Haas spoke up again Wednesday night during the public comment portion of the hearing, calling the White Motor Co. building “remarkably intact” and making the case for the significance of REI’s decades in the building as the workplace of the company’s first full-time employee, outdoor enthusiast Jim Whitaker.

The head of government and community affairs for REI also spoke in favor of the nomination. Marc Berejka said his company was unaware that the buildings that made up its onetime headquarters were being considered as landmarks until learning of Haas’s advocacy. The Kelly-Springfield building had previously advanced to the next round in the landmarks process following its late November hearing.

“Our members have expressed a deep sense of connectedness to the smell of creosote,” Berejka quipped about the legendary odor inside the building now home to Value Village. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Chanukah’s first night brings jelly donuts, awesome holiday sweaters to E Pike

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(Image: Alex Garland)

No, that wasn’t the soft opening of a new LGBTQ-friendly jelly donut bar on E Pike Tuesday night. That was the first night of Chanukah inside Gay City’s Calamus Auditorium as Kolenu, Seattle’s Jewish LGBTQ group, held its annual Light the Night celebration. You can be part of another community Chanukah celebration Friday night as E Pike’s Temple De Hirsch Sinai hosts its latke dinner.

Spiritual in another way altogether, Wednesday afternoon brings a holiday celebration of a different sort to E Pike — Sun Liquor is holding a secret eggnog pop-up shop.

A dozen Seattle Police officers will begin wearing cameras this weekend in East Precinct

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.04.52 PMBarring any last minute technological issues, a dozen East Precinct cops will begin wearing the department’s batch of test body cameras this weekend in a two to three-month trial of the technology that could eventually lead to full-time deployment across Seattle.

A Seattle Police Department spokesperson confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Seattle’s trial of two competing products is scheduled to begin over the weekend in the precinct covering Capitol Hill and the Central District. Continue reading

Philadelphia Fevre closes bringing 30 years of cheesesteaks to an end in the Central District

(Images: @jlunz via Twitter)

“Closed for business” (Images: @jlunz via Twitter)

2014 will go down as a sad year for legendary Central District restaurants as 23rd and Madison’s Philadelphia Fevre has served its last “authentic Philly-style” cheesesteak after 31 years of business.

Here’s the legend Philly Fevre ownership tells of the sandwich shop’s birth:

Philadelphia Fevre was started by Renee LeFevre in 1983.  Ms. LeFevre moved to the northwest from Philadelphia with an idea of starting the first authentic Philly steak shop in the Seattle area.  Renee was a stickler for Philly authenticity and tradition.  Through Renee’s leadership the restaurant quickly established itself as a favorite stop for east coast transplants homesick for an authentic Philly-style meal.  The restaurant received numerous awards and recognition for its great food and unique offering.  Ms. LeFevre created a strong base and long standing tradition that is still felt by many of the shop’s customers today…

B5Eyqc6CAAAnPKrCHS is working to have more on what lead to the closure and the history of the shop soon but it looks like the restaurant’s end was anticipated by its owners. The Fevre’s liquor license was discontinued earlier this fall, often a sign of a business winding itself down. But we hope to be able to report more on the circumstances later this week.

There is no word, yet, on anything lined up to take over the space. If you need to get your Fevre fix, you can visit sibling Philly Fever Restaurant and Bar on 3rd St. in Renton. We don’t know why the sister location opted to change her name from Fevre. Philly owners say they are looking for a new Seattle location in which to reopen.

The 23rd/Madison shop’s closure follows this summer’s end of Catfish Corner which shuttered at MLK and Cherry after 30 years of business. That restaurant space remains empty.

#blacklivesmatter: A look at the covenants on Capitol Hill

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“The Communist Party Newspaper, New World, published articles attacking racial restrictive covenants in 1948″ — Racial Restrictive Covenants: Enforcing Neighborhood Segregation in Seattle

In 1927, a small group of white homeowners on Capitol Hill had a problem: How to keep the Central District’s black population corralled to the “ghetto” south of Madison.

Gone were the days when whites could simply pass a law prohibiting blacks from moving into their neighborhoods. The Supreme Court had ruled such restrictive ordinances unconstitutional 10 years earlier.

So some of Capitol Hill’s forefathers (and foremothers) discovered a work-around: They went door to door getting their white neighbors to sign a covenant promising not to sell or rent their houses to people of “negro Blood” for at least 21 years. The effort appears to have been lead by a group called the Capitol Hill Community Club. In 1947, the covenants covered 183 blocks around the neighborhood. Continue reading

City Hall committee has 20 questions on affordability for you to answer

In November, CHS introduced you to some of the Capitol Hill connections in the citizen body tasked by Mayor Ed Murray with producing an affordable housing plan for Seattle by spring 2015.

In addition to community meetings and City Hall updates, there is an effort underway to gather feedback from citizens about what affordable living really means. You can participate in this 20-question survey to add your experience to the dataset. Questions #8 and #9 are doozies!Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 4.06.46 PM

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You can learn more about the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee here.

On Monday, CHS examined the numbers around gentrification on Capitol Hill.

You can also talk with City Council members Sally Clark and Kshama Sawant at Thursday night’s Capitol Hill Community Council open house.

Future of a 6-story, mixed-use development at 23rd/Union rests in City Council decision

Architect Brian Runberg's speculative  layout plan for a new development at MidTown Center (Photo: CHS)

For the sake of community discussion, architect Brian Runberg speculated how a new development at MidTown Center might look. (Photo: CHS)

With one major development underway and signs that Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop is here to stay, the area around 23rd Ave and E Union is poised for big changes in 2015. But the future of the intersection’s largest property remains somewhat uncertain.

Since the 1940s, Tom Bangasser’s family has owned the sprawling MidTown Center property, which includes a downsized Post Office and a handful of small businesses at 23rd and Union. In order to get the most out of selling the massive 106,000 square-foot property, Bangasser asked the City Council in 2013 to allow a future developer to build up to six stories on the site. The property is currently zoned for four stories.

On Tuesday the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee will discuss Bangasser’s proposal to up-zone his MidTown property. The committee is not expected to vote on the issue Tuesday. The current deadline for a vote is in January.

Council member Mike O’Brien has allowed Bangasser to push back the meeting for months to “allow a reasonable period of additional time to engage in continued dialogue regarding the MidTown property.”

A group of Central District residents, which had opposed the up-zone, is asking the council to tie a set of community priorities to the site not unlike the agreement forged by the Capitol Hill Champion for the the Capitol Hill light rail station site. Continue reading