CHS Year in Review 2014 | More than supply and demand — the year in development on Capitol Hill

The Excelsior -- named for a motorcycle shop that once called the corner home -- under construction at Melrose and Pine (Image: CHS)

The Excelsior — named for a motorcycle shop that once called the corner home — under construction at Melrose and Pine (Image: CHS)

(Image: Jeffrey Coleman via Flickr)

Capitol Hill is dead. Again. (Image: Jeffrey Coleman via Flickr)

In 2014, the continued massive investment in Capitol Hill’s built environment — from groundbreakings to building overhauls to acquisitions to splashy openings — seemed to indicate that there is more to this market than supply and demand.

As new buildings go up and new units replace underused spaces like parking lots and laundry rooms, rents continued to soar on Capitol Hill and across the region.

It may not make for easy livin’ but it’s making investors excited. In 2014, investors bought just over $3 billion worth of apartment properties around the Puget Sound, a record level of investment according to a report from analysts Dupre+Scott. According to the analysts, a long-held rule of thumb was that an apartment property sells for roughly 100 times its monthly income. In 2014, apartment properties were selling for roughly 139 times their monthly income as strong buyer demand coupled with low interest rates throughout the year. Overall, rents rose 9.1% in the county, but analysts said some of that is distorted by the large number of new units that are leasing-up.  “This year is just the tip of the iceberg,” said the report. “New construction is going to have an even larger impact in on rents in 2015 and 2016.” You can thank Amazon. But don’t forget Generation Y. There are 573,000 20-34 year olds in the region.

Below is our look at 2014 in development on Capitol Hill. You can also check out these previous Year in Review reports to see how we got here.

CHS YIR 2013 – Capitol Hill development and the quest for affordability
CHS YIR 2012 — The re-development of Capitol Hill

In spring, CHS did its usual eyeballing of the major construction projects underway on Capitol Hill. We found 26 with more than 20 set to begin. It’s a similar pace to recent years but even as new buildings open one by one, rents continued to rise faster in Seattle than anywhere in the country — and even faster on Capitol Hill. The rush to build more continued. There were six buildings under construction or in planning along three blocks of 11th Ave. Owners of existing buildings did everything they could to cash in, creatively squeezing in new units by converting parking and laundry rooms into new apartments. Other investors put as many pennies as they could gather into acquiring the land even if it meant skimping on the final product. Continue reading

Displaced First Hill seniors offered discounts at retirement communities


The Panorama House building at 1100 University (Image: King County)

In September, around 200 residents of a First Hill apartment tower — many of them elderly, long-term residents of the building — went on the search for new housing after learning they would be forced to move out for an overhaul of the building starting next year.

The Panorama, a 52-year-old concrete highrise on University just east of Boren, was sold in September for $73.9 million. Shortly after the sale, new owners Security Properties notified resident they would need to be out by summer 2015 for the massive renovation.

A Federal Way-based housing company is offering seniors at Panorama special deals at two of their retirement communities: El Dorado West in Burien and Mill Ridge Village in Milton. Village Concepts is also offering to pay for residents’ moving costs and one month’s rent. Continue reading

CHS Pics | 8th Day of Caring at the corner of Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney Ave and Madison

DSC_5815DSC_5674Hundreds of area families received gifts of clothes, financial assistance, and — probably best of all for many attendees — toys Saturday at the corner of Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney Ave (19th Ave) and E Madison.

“Close to 1,000 people — families and children — come, they get free toys, they get a free Christmas stocking, stuffed animals, lunch, and a lot of fun and fellowship,” said Leslyn Jones-Petitt, coordinator of the Christmas Day of Caring event at Mount Zion Baptist Church.

In the eighth year of the event, some 150 volunteers worked to collect enough toys and clothes to fill four rooms, each set up for different age ranges of children. The little ones listened to carols as they waited as patiently as possible for their family’s turn in the numbered queue to come up.

Toy donations and financial donations came from the congregation, the American Baptist Churches, and individual donors. Organizers said this year’s crowd was slightly smaller than the 1,200 or so the church welcomed in 2013.

More pictures below. Continue reading

Capitol Hill dognapping has happy ending

Valley back home safe and sound after a long weekend

Valley back home safe and sound after a long weekend

Some dogged determination and a lot of love helped bring home 7-month-old Valley after the little golden retriever was dognapped from in front of a Capitol Hill market Friday night.

In a bit of drama that played out in the CHS Classifieds this weekend, Valley was reported missing after being taken while waiting for his owner outside Hillcrest Market around 9:30 PM:

Valley’s owner and a friend stopped in to Hillcrest Market at Olive & John last night at about 9:30. She tethered her 7-month-old Golden Retriever (named Valley) outside and was in the market for less than a minute. There was a homeless couple (white, 30’s) when she went in to the store and she strongly suspects they took the puppy and bolted.

Though the incident was reported to police, Valley’s family tells CHS the break came Saturday when a friend spotted the puppy with a woman at the Plymouth Pillars off-leash area. As she searched the area, the dognappers must have had a change of heart. Valley’s owner got a phone call that the puppy had just been dropped off at the Broadway Mud Bay. She rushed to the store and reports that Valley is back home and exhausted after his adventure.

Pikes/Pines | Capitol Hill’s Christmas Bird Count


Thanks for the holiday gift, Alex Garland Photography

You might be surprised to learn a significant bit of biological research has been happening in your backyards and parks on Capitol Hill since 1908. A few years have been skipped here and there, major wars in account, but since 1952, there have been continuous Christmas Bird Counts in Seattle. This year, you could be one of the proud citizen scientists who contribute just one day and further major monitoring and analysis of North American bird populations.

What exactly is the Christmas Bird Count (or the CBC)? The National Audubon Society in tandem with local organizations run this project: a day of counting birds all over the United States and beyond. On a day between December 14 and January 5, local organizations organize people to go out and to count every individual bird they can. In what started as a way to divert pointless slaughter in a holiday bird-hunting tradition, has become a behemoth 115 year old science project with over 2300 sites in the Americas and far reaching data now being used to track and project trends in bird populations, particularly in the face of climate change.

One of the most common birds in Seattle, the Dark-eyed Junco. Credit: Brendan McGarry

One of the most common birds in Seattle, the Dark-eyed Junco. (Image: Brendan McGarry)

Continue reading

This week in CHS history: Cone & Steiner, Tallulah’s, Colman Auto restored, Montana

Montana_Capitol Hill SeattleHere are the top stories from this week in CHS history:

CHS Crow | Keoni, Sarah and Nick — ‘When you have all the eyes and ears on you, you have to deliver’

Music and community were in abundance at Scratch Deli when the CHS Crow stopped by during a Thursday night open mic at the 12th Ave eatery. Among the performers and attentive audience members — and there was significant overlap — the CHS Crow met three dedicated young Seattle musicians with day (and night) jobs, and loads of talent. Read on, and if you’re inspired to stop by sometime, do know that several regulars asked that people respect the special and supportive scene that’s been created at ‘Scratch.’

  Keoni, 21

Keoni and Lewis playing a rendition of “Rocks in my Bed,” written by Duke Ellington and famously sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

Who are you?
I was born in Hawaii, moved up here about a year-and-a-half ago. And I came up here to open myself to new opportunities, meet new people, have a little fun.

When I moved up here, the main event why I came up here was that, you know, I’m gay. Hawaii didn’t pass their same-sex marriage law until last winter. I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ So, I had my first Pride here with my boyfriend and a couple of his other friends. And it was so crazy, you know!? I didn’t know this whole thing happens — in downtown Seattle. Continue reading

CHS Pics | This week in Capitol Hill pictures

No Parking on Pike: Best Store in the World (Image:   Tatiana Gill via Flickr)

No Parking on Pike: Best Store in the World (Image: Tatiana Gill via Flickr)

The CHS Flickr Pool contains more than 18,000 19,000 20,000 21,000  22,000 23,000 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

Capitol Hill’s World of Beers now chain-free 500 East

The signs are coming down at World of Beers. But the exit of the national beer chain won’t mean the end of the party for the E Pine venue with 50 rotating drafts, 8 display coolers for more than 500 bottles, “tavern fare,” and a “full spirits program created by Outback Steakhouse spawn.

Employees at the location tell CHS the World of Beer Capitol Hill general manager Jamie Goldstein has been working on a plan to take the 2,600 square-foot beer bar legit and shuffle off its chain coil that tied the business to the 45-location, 14-state company. The new venture will be locally owned and will reportedly have no connection to World of Beer which continues to operate its Renton location. One employee reached by phone Friday said to expect an improved focus on local beers, a new food menu, and a new name.

Welcome, 500 East.

World of Beers opened on Capitol Hill just a little more than year ago in E Pine’s Terravita building, the long-delayed Murray Franklyn development that replaced a now legendary strip of old Pike/Pine nightlife, funk and culture. It joins a long, proud roster of national and global chains that have made abrupt exits after trying to make a go of it on Capitol Hill.

You can learn more at

Meanwhile, another chain shuffle is going on up on Broadway where Capitol Hill’s Yogurtland has served up its last sticky sweet soft-serve after opening in spring 2011. Like the World of Beers situation, the business is transitioning to a local owner, CHS is told by the building’s landlord. But in the froyo case, the owner will be working with a Texas-based franchise to transition Broadway’s Yogurtland into Spoon It! Froyo & More. The new business will switch up the offerings and add items like bubble tea. As for froyo downtime, you shouldn’t suffer much. The transition will be “seamless,” CHS is told.

Capitol Hill bar owner to share Santa’s Secret Sauces in holiday mixology classes

(Image: Liberty via Seattle Central)

(Image: Liberty via Seattle Central)

The craft cocktail is as much a part of Capitol Hill’s food and drink culture as an excellent pull of espresso. The next two weekends, you have the opportunity to learn from one of the neighborhood’s leading purveyors of the craft just in time to spread the Hill’s culture far and wide during your holiday travels. Or, you can just mix up some excellent drinks right here at home, also. Seattle Central’s Experimental College is teaming up with Liberty Bar’s Andrew Friedman for two one-day classes at the 15th Ave E bar. They’ll cost you $60 and $55 a pop but you’ll get two hours of hands-on training in the fine arts of Santa’s Sauces and Naughty and Nice New Years Mixes. You can register online here. Last we checked, there was still room for more of Andrew’s little helpers to sign up as of Friday afternoon.

The Experimental College will offer two single-sessions holiday drink mixology courses with Andrew Friedman, bartender and owner of Liberty Bar on Capitol Hill later this month. He will teach students to mix both classic and original holiday cocktails.

The courses will be offered at Liberty Bar at 517 15th Ave E. The first course, Santa’s Secret Sauces, will take place on Sunday, Dec. 21 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The second course, Naughty and Nice New Years Mixes, will occur on Sunday, Dec. 28 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. A fee of $60 is required for the class and participants must be 21 or older. Click the course titles to register and for more information.

Meanwhile, Liberty reports its Tiki Kitty is missing! Hopefully it and the Harvard Ave Baby Jesus turn up before Christmas.