Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce seeks new leader as Wells steps down

Wells at a Capitol Hill candidate debate pitting McGinn vs. Murray (Image: CHS)

Wells at a Capitol Hill candidate debate pitting McGinn vs. Murray (Image: CHS)

With a significant change in its purpose and culture on the rapidly approaching horizon, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is looking for a new person to represent its more than 300 members.

In a Thursday morning announcement, the business community and advocacy organization said that Michael Wells is leaving the organization after serving as executive director at the nonprofit for five years.

Like our thriving neighborhood, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce continues to evolve. And, today, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce announces Michael Wells, the Chamber’s Executive Director, has decided to leave the organization. Michael’s departure comes after nearly ten years of distinguished service as president of the board and more recently as Executive Director. Michael advanced many of the neighborhood and the organization’s goals and helped strengthen Capitol Hill community by connecting leaders from organizations across the Hill. We are incredibly proud of the work that Michael has done for the neighborhood, and his legacy with this organization will live on.

“Michael will be sorely missed, but with the strength of our partners, our incredible members, and our diverse and representative board, we believe the future is strong, and we look forward to continuing to serve you and Capitol Hill,” the announcement reads. Wells will leave his role at the end of the month, according to the statement from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

The chamber board is currently co-chaired by Jill Cronauer, director of property management at Capitol Hill developer Hunters Capital, and resident representative Meghann Glavin who works at Starbucks.

In a letter accompanying the statement, Wells recalled his days as a Broadway business owner at Bailey Coy Books and the “astonishing decade of change” in the neighborhood.

It’s time to move on.  After over a decade of working for the Capitol Chamber of Commerce – first as a volunteer and the first President of the Board of Directors, then as staff – I’ve decided to pursue other opportunities.  It’s been an astonishing decade of change for me and for Capitol Hill.  As a small business manager and owner (Bailey/Coy Books, R.I.P.), I struggled and celebrated with all of you in the good times and bad as an indie, locally owned business.  And after the closing of the store I made the economic health and prosperity of this neighborhood that I love so very much my work.

Wells tells CHS he is taking time to assess his options before announcing what comes next. Continue reading

With Central District I-502 retail a $1M+ a month business, 15th Ave E pot shop maneuverings play out

The free-play Capitol Hill Family Arcade has to be one of the more peculiar manifestations of Seattle's pot economy (Images:  Capitol Hill Family Arcade)

The free-play Capitol Hill Family Arcade has to be one of the more peculiar manifestations of Seattle’s pot economy (Images: Capitol Hill Family Arcade)

There will not be a pot shop ready for business in time for the 15th Ave E Merchants Association’s 2015 Sidewalk Fest. The ongoing saga of who will open Capitol Hill’s first recreational pot shop has hit a bureaucratic lull. Two competing potreprenuers on 15th Ave E are waiting to obtain licenses from the state as two other businesses in the mix — a third generation cobbler and a punk rock arcade/ice cream shop — await permits from the City.

Ian Eisenberg tells CHS he plans to apply for a new I-502 license next year to open a second Uncle Ike’s pot shop in his building at 15th Ave E and E Republican.

“The more time I spend on 15th, the more I love it,” Eisenberg said. “I really want to open second shop there.”

The 15th Ave E Merchant Association has an interesting year ahead

The 15th Ave E Merchant Association has an interesting year ahead

For now, Eisenberg is operating the Capitol Hill Family Arcade — a business that he says was a quick and fun way to activate the space while he waits to open a pot shop.

But for Sam Burke, an I-502 permit holder who’s attempting to open tok pot shop across the street, the arcade was simply a maneuver to keep his doors shut. Under state zoning regulations, I-502 shops cannot be located within a 1,000-foot buffer of places where children gather, like schools, parks, and arcades (those rules could soon change with new zoning authority available to local municipalities). Continue reading

SPD investigating after shooting victim dropped off at Harborview

Seattle Police are investigating another shooting after a victim was dropped off at First Hill’s Harborview Wednesday night with a gunshot wound to his neck.

The incident followed reports of gunfire in the Central District but police believe the shooting may have been unrelated. A witness told police about a disturbance in North Seattle where the shooting may have taken place, according to SPD radio dispatches.

SPD says the victim suffered a gunshot wound to his neck. A Range Rover delivered the man to the First Hill hospital. Police were interviewing the vehicle’s occupants following the 10:45 PM incident.

The incident is part of a wave of gun violence hitting Seattle this summer. Sunday afternoon, a man suffered serious injuries when he was shot in a reported gunfight outside the Douglass-Truth library near 24th and Yesler.

Capitol Hill food+drink | The intriguing Harry’s Fine Foods project

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

Neighbors around Bellevue and Mercer received an intriguing land use notice recently:

Land Use Application to change the use of an existing multipurpose retail, sales and service (store) to restaurant.

That existing multipurpose retail, sales and service (store)? That’s Harry’s Fine Foods — or, at least, the two-story building the grocery store called home before clearing out earlier this year.

The restaurant? That’s the most intriguing part.

CHS has learned that one of the biggest behind-the-scene names in Seattle food+drink is behind the Capitol Hill restaurant project involving a secret chef and an ambitious buildout set to transform the old neighborhood bodega into a new culinary destination.

Harry’s Fine Foods, LLC, a company run by real estate broker to Seattle’s food and drink stars, Laura Miller, purchased the property in the summer of 2014 for $560,000 according to county records. Miller “wields great power within Seattle’s close-knit restaurant community because she helps chefs navigate the abstrusely touchy process of securing a restaurant space,” as Seattle Met put it in a profile of the real estate pro last year. We’re not aware of any previous instances (on Capitol Hill, at least), where Miller stepped up and bought a property destined for food and drink transformation. But we also haven’t had a chance to speak with her. The busiest woman in Seattle’s food business can be difficult to connect with. We’ll keep trying. UPDATE: Miller tells CHS the building is the fourth such that she’s developed in Seattle — but first on Capitol Hill.

“It’s just too competitive up there,” the real estate ace said.

Miller said she likes to find candidates to rehab, not tear down. She pointed to a property in Greenwood now home to a Caffe Vita, Blue Bird Ice Cream, and Cornuto as an example.

We did connect with the chef all of this fuss and hullabaloo is about, however. Continue reading

A very Capitol Hill wedding for Rep. Brady Walkinshaw

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(Image courtesy Brady Walkinshaw)

“We share the same core values for a more just society and community, we just work toward it in different ways.”

As marriage equality swept the nation this year, we were treated to a flood of touching images showing older gay couples getting married after spending decades in committed relationships.

But normalcy is the true sign of progress. 43rd District Rep. Brady Walkinshaw met his now husband Micah Horwith six years ago on a blind date at Summit’s Sun Liquor. On August 8th, they got married on Capitol Hill in a ceremony officiated by Ed Murray, Seattle’s first openly gay and Capitol Hill-residing mayor.

“It was incredibly meaningful for someone who has lead so much on the marriage equality fight to officiate the wedding,” said Walkinshaw, who helped work on the campaign along with Horwith.

Walkinshaw, a Whatcom County native who lives on Capitol Hill, took office in 2014 to replace Sen. Jaime Pedersen as he replaced Murray upon his move to City Hall.

Horwith is a marine biologist with the state’s Department of Natural Resources. His dissertation title (because dissertation titles are windows into the soul) was “Plant Behavior and Patch-Level Resilience in the Habitat-Forming Seagrass Zostera marina.”

Politics can be tough for the families of elected officials, but Walkinshaw said his husband is up for the challenge. “We share the same core values for a more just society and community, we just work toward it in different ways,” Walkinshaw said.

While on break from Olympia, Walkinshaw is gearing up for more criminal justice reform in the next session. He told CHS he is working with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office on reducing prisoner reentry.

He’s also hoping to push through a bill held up in the Senate that would make it easier for people coming out of prison to find jobs. The program would allow judges to issue a certificate that proves ex-prisoners have fulfilled the conditions of a sentence.

Earlier this year, the legislature passed two of Walkinshaw’s bills with Capitol Hill ties. Joel’s Law would strengthen involuntarily commitment guidelines for people suffering from mental illness. The bill was inspired by Joel Reuter who died on Capitol Hill in 2013. Walkinshaw’s other bill expanded access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse the deadly effects of a heroin overdose.

Connecting Capitol Hill to downtown, what ‘public benefits’ should Convention Center expansion provide?

What will the $1.4 billion expansion of the Washington State Convention Center look like? Kinda like this, probably

What will the $1.4 billion expansion of the Washington State Convention Center look like? Kinda like this, probably

In the midst of the many reviews and public oversight shaping the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center is one special process designed to determine the public benefits developers must provide as part of the $1.4 billion expansion project that will reshape the connection between downtown and Capitol Hill.

MapForNotice20299The Convention Center project’s first Planned Community Development meeting is Wednesday night.

PUBLIC MEETING
A public meeting has been scheduled to identify concerns about the site and to receive public input into establishing public benefit priorities, which may include low income housing, townhouse development, historic preservation, public open space, implementation of adopted neighborhood plans, improvements to pedestrian circulation, urban form, transit facilities and, or other elements that further an adopted City policy and provide a demonstrable public benefit.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at (Seattle City Hall 600 4th Ave/601 5th Ave, Bertha Landes Room).  Written and/or oral comments may be submitted prior to the meeting or at the meeting.

All meeting facilities are ADA compliant. Translators or interpreters provided upon request. Please contact the Public Resource Center at prc@seattle.gov or (206) 684-8467 at least five business days prior to the meeting to request this service.

WRITTEN COMMENTS
Written comments may be submitted through September 2, 2015 and should be submitted to PRC@seattle.gov or mailed to:
DPD – Attn: PRC
PO Box 34019
Seattle, WA  98124-4019

 

Here is how the meeting will work according to DPD:

The public meeting is meant to provide an overview of the proposal so the public can offer feedback on the range of public benefits that should be considered by the Department of Planning and Development.  After the meeting, staff will development a PCD report identifying at least three public benefit priorities that should be addressed as a part of the approval process.  These benefits are separate from what will be required for the alley/street vacation process.

According to the city, public benefits may include low-income housing, historic preservation, and public space.

Representatives for the Convention Center tell CHS they aren’t sure what they’ll hear from the public come Wednesday night but that affordable housing is already planned for the future developments due to requirements from King County attached to some of the property involved. Continue reading

‘Undetermined’ — Madison Valley suspicious death investigation takes unusual turn

BFT023660-1_20150511Four months after the 29-year-old stopped breathing in the Madison Valley house where she was a tenant, authorities still don’t know how Devan Schmidt died.

Late last month, the King County Medical Examiner finally announced the results of its investigation but the findings have provided little closure for law enforcement and loved ones. According to the findings, the investigation’s results were inconclusive. Schmidt’s cause of death is now officially listed as “undetermined.” Her manner of death? “Undetermined,” too.

CHS last reported on the suspicious death investigation surrounding the woman in August as Seattle Police said homicide detectives were awaiting the results of key toxicology reports. Schmidt was found inside the home the morning of May 2nd by a roommate who called 911 and was guided through CPR in an attempt to revive the woman as Seattle Fire medics rushed to the scene near E Denny Way and 29th Ave E. Arriving medics ceased CPR and pronounced Schmidt dead. Seattle Police said they were investigating the death as suspicious and that Crime Scene Investigators and homicide detectives collected evidence at the home. There were no reported signs of fatal trauma or a struggle.

A friend told CHS Schmidt arrived in Seattle late last year after moving from Alaska. She worked as a server in a downtown Seattle comedy bar. “A bright light in the darkest of rooms she will be remembered with a smile on her face,” the obituary for the Madison, Wisconsin native read.

According to a Seattle Police Department spokesperson, the Schmidt case remains “an active and ongoing investigation.”

Your Capitol Hill summer is not over yet: bonus movie in Cal Anderson Park

(Image: Three Dollar Bill Cinema)

One of the largest crowds ever kicked off Three Dollar’s 2015 summer movie series (Image: Three Dollar Bill Cinema)

A drizzly end to August stole a small piece of your Capitol Hill summer. Three Dollar Bill Cinema plans to restore it with a bonus rescheduling of one last outdoor movie in Cal Anderson Park: 11874991_10153309447849425_5640551179295126267_o

The summer outdoor movie season is not over yet! On Friday, Sept. 4 beginning at8:00pm, movie fans will gather once more for a Seattle tradition: Three Dollar Bill Outdoor Cinema at Cal Anderson Park. The ongoing series, sponsored by Sound Transit, called “Bedtime Stories,” kicked off with THE PRINCESS BRIDE, and has included EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and THE NEVERENDING STORY.

The series will conclude on Friday with the last in this year’s lineup, ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING, originally scheduled for August 14, but rescheduled in response to bad weather.

Topping off the evening’s lineup will be a special surprise pre-movie screening. You’ll have to show up to find out what’s in store!

The night is hosted by the glamorous Mama Tits, with music by DJGeneralMeow (Kendall’s DJ & Event).

WHAT:  Three Dollar Bill Outdoor Cinema’s presentation of ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING.

WHEN: Friday, September 4 beginning at 8:00pm (movie at 8:30pm)

WHERE: Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill – 1635 11th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

No word on what the “special surprise pre-movie screening” will be — like they say, you’ll need to show up to find out.

Mayor Murray set to unveil affordable housing legislation as Capitol Hill rent climb hasn’t quit — UPDATE

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Murray unveils new affordable housing legislation on First Hill (Photo: CHS)

Murray unveils new affordable housing legislation on First Hill (Photo: CHS)

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Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.35.31 PMIt’s time for the rubber to meet the road at City Hall where officials are aiming to create 20,000 new units of affordable housing in Seattle over the next decade. Mayor Ed Murray and City Council member Mike O’Brien were set to announce new housing legislation Tuesday that will create 6,000 of those units over ten years.

UPDATE 12:50 PM: One way or another, all new development in Seattle over the next decade will contribute to affordable housing. That was the message from Murray and O’Brien as they unveiled two pieces of proposed legislation (PDF) Tuesday afternoon at First Hill’s Cascade Court Apartments.

The first measure, known as mandatory inclusionary housing, would require all new multifamily buildings to make 5-8% of their units affordable to those making 60% of the area median income or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund. In 2013, Seattle households at 60% AMI took in $40,487. The plan calls for affordability to be calculated at 30% of income, meaning affordable units would be rent restricted to around $1,000 a month.

Developers would have the option to build an additional story, but they must pay-or-play regardless if that story is built. The rate at which developers would pay into the fund has not yet been determined. The fund will prioritize building housing within the same neighborhood from which the fees are generated, O’Brien said.

The second measure, known as the commercial linkage fee, would require all new commercial development to pay $5-$17 per square foot into an affordable housing fund. The option to build additional floor area will be included to help builders offset the fee. Developers would also have the option of providing an equivalent amount of housing offsite.

“This is a bold, progressive proposal where growth itself will support affordable and environmentally sustainable neighborhoods,” Murray said.

O’Brien said the bills will be introduced at City Council next week. A public hearing on the proposals will be held September 9th at 5:30 PM at City Hall. Continue reading

More fashion retail in Pike/Pine as ‘sophisticated’ Killion moves in next to Bill’s

(Images: Killion)

Bill’s Off Broadway is back with the same cheap beer after a two-year timeout but the neighbors have changed. Menswear fashion boutique Killion — with stores also in NYC’s Orchard Estate and in Melrose in LA — has opened on Harvard Ave in the new Cue building where Bill’s overhauled new home holds down the corner at Pine.

(Image: Killion)

(Image: Killion)

The upscale-ish retailer is described as “offering a sophisticated selection of essential garments at highly desirable price-points” in this Tiger Beat-style heavy-breather on the Jonas bros going shopping in LA. We didn’t find out much more on the store’s “About Us” page:

Killion is a modern menswear line offering a sophisticated selection of essential garments at highly desirable price-points. The customer is our strongest consideration in establishing a collection with a deep appreciation for quality, refined fits, and timeless yet progressive design.
At Killion, we neglect the traditional wholesale-to-retail model essentially by cutting out the middle-men to provide premium quality products at a fair cost directly to the end-consumer. This simply means that there won’t be any added mark-ups in our prices allowing you to purchase high-end value without overpaying.

“Our products will never be mass-produced or distributed to retailers and items will never be restocked once they are sold out, nor will it go on sale,” the retailer promises.

We’re hoping to make contact with the seemingly elusive people behind the company to try to find out more about Killion’s founders and plans.

The sparsely decorated store is open for business on Harvard but there’s not any signage out front. Prices run from the high $20s to $30s for shirts with pants in the $50 and up. Judging by the number of items listed as “sold out” online, it appears that the uncertainty of inventory is part of the fun.

Another space neighboring Bill’s is also lined up for a new tenant as the longtime auto repair business that also called the corner home before redevelopment will not be returning to Harvard and Pine.

Killion’s debut follows the opening of “technical luxury” clothier Kit and Ace on E Pike earlier this summer. Buoyed by the arrival of Totokaelo on 10th Ave in 2012, luxury and upper-scale clothing retail has joined vintage and thrifting as a growing component of Pike/Pine retail. “Hippie-chic” boutique Haute Hibou made the move from Ballard into the neighborhood this summer while men’s footwear and sneaker boutique Likelihood opened in the spring.

Meanwhile, CHS reported last week on the impending closure of longtime purveyor of Pike/Pine kink, The Crypt.

You can learn more at killionest.com.

(Image: Killion)

(Image: Killion)