CHS 2009: Top Capitol Hill news stories of the year

This has been an incredible year for CHS. We’ve grown so much as a business and as a community news and information provider. Thanks for growing along with us. Here is a look back at our selections for the top Capitol Hill news stories of the year. The selection criteria was typical CHS — mostly informal with an emphasis on importance, historical value and, yes, buzz. To give you some sense of history, here is what we chose in 2008. Please put together your own recipe to choose one (or more! up to three) and vote for the top CHS stories of 2009.

Bailey Coy Books closes (November)
The end of Bailey Coy was so rich with meaning it would have made a mess of a novel. Some saw it as the end of the old Broadway. Some saw it as the end of the old *gay* Broadway. It reminded us of the fragility of truly local, independent businesses. It reminded us of places we’ve lost and people who have gone away. For some, it was about books and how we’ve changed as readers. For others, it was simply about change.

Starbucks goes indie style on 15th (July)
Capitol Hill was a laboratory for experiments in corporate coffee as the global caffeine provider opened two indie-styled shops. Amid cries of local washing, the chain succeeded in building two rather lovely coffeeshops. We probably won’t know until they build a third — or a 300th — what it all adds up to.

Hottest day on Capitol Hill… ever (July)
When all is said and done, who wouldn’t mind remembering 2009 for its gloriously spectacular days of late July! Sure it was sometimes too hot to think. And, yeah, climate change is a bummer. But, the sunshine! Oh, the sunshine. Sigh.

Pike/Pine speakeasy and casino gets busted (June)
Definitely the winner of the 2009 Capitol Hill story most in need of follow-ups, the late night raid that netted a would-be Hill cardroom kingpin and his counterpart on drug charges makes this list for the noir value alone. From the crime and punishment perspective, we should probably sober up and acknowledge the story for the dangers that gambling and drugs can bring to a community.

Broadway development (November)
While the work on Broadway related to the light rail station is way more massive in scale, much of the impact of the work won’t be felt until the line opens in 2016. In the meantime, the plans released for this block in the heart of Broadway will likely be realized long before along with the exit of businesses like Cafe Septieme that had made their home there.

Capitol Hill light rail station construction begins (April)
Construction of the massive project — Capitol Hill’s own Big Dig — began not with creation but destruction. Blocks of Broadway were razed to make way for empty lots which are just now making way for the implements of construction. No tunneling will happen until 2011. No trains will run 400 feet below the Hill’s surface until 2016. But 2009 is when it all began.

Capitol Hill carries McGinn to victory (November)
No other expanse of the city supported the sloppily-dressed, bike-commuting candidate like Capitol Hill below Aloha. We don’t know yet know what our part in creating Seattle’s new political elite will garner but the movement started here.

Streetcar 2013 (September)
It may end up only has a footnote to light rail. Or maybe it really is the secret weapon of transit geek urban planners to catapult Seattle out of its second city slumber. While the exact route for the line is yet to be fixed, the fruition of the plan to create a streetcar running from the International District to Capitol Hill is a big move toward getting the Hill’s public transit solutions back on track.

Officer Brenton shooting (October)
It was the first time a Seattle Police Officer had been shot to death on duty since 1994. The murder of East Precinct officer Timothy Brenton was the start of what has been an extraordinarily violent end to 2009 for Washington law enforcement.

Elliott Bay Book Co. moves to Pike/Pine (December)
The rumors began in October. In December, owner Peter Aaron confirmed it. By spring 2010, Capitol Hill would be home to the city’s largest independent book retailer and Pike/Pine could put yet another notch in its belt of cultural assets.

BMW exits the Hill (March)
Important both for marking further change in this area of the Hill’s commercial landscape and adding yet another empty area in Pike/Pine below Broadway, BMW’s permanent road trip off the Hill didn’t get that much attention from the rest of the city. They’ll notice soon enough if People’s Parking Lot, the old War Room and the almost complete city block of former BMW buildings remain empty.

Capitol Hill art walk re-launches (June)
We’ve had art walks before — Arts Orbit, anyone? — but now we have Blitz (always with the funky names!). The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce-backed re-brand and re-launch of the monthly walk didn’t exactly bowl people over but it did breathe new life into a most-accessible component of Capitol Hill’s arts scene.

Equality March begins at Volunteer Park (October)
Was McGinn’s victory really the biggest election story of 2009? Prop 71’s approval was nothing short of amazing. And while a march starting on Capitol Hill is basically preaching to the choir, the power that moved the proposition to passage started with an active, vocal and galvanized base. October’s march seems like a pretty solid embodiment of that.

Capitol Hill crime jump (all)
Pick your month. Capitol Hill crime trends weren’t pretty. The worst of it came in the violence around street robberies though the numbers for lesser transgressions were uglier. The rest of the city has unhealthy crime fever lines for 2009, too. But the Hill managed to exceed even those. Return to the mean? Or a sign of things to come in a growing urban environment facing economic struggles?

Pike/Pine conservation district formed (June)
It sounds like some kind of wilderness zone with wild animals and protected species. And, really, it kind of is. With the creation of the conservation district, the Seattle City Council built a new set of protective laws that aim to preserve the historical ‘character’ of the Pike/Pine area and promote development. Whether anything but those wild animals have any teeth is another question. There will be plenty of opportunities in 2010 to find out.

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