Block Party organizers meet with Pike/Pine business owners as bigger-than-ever fest looms

A group of Pike/Pine business owners is surprised that a meeting called by Capitol Hill Block Party organizers for later this week hasn’t received more attention. CHS has been told that the Thursday meeting scheduled for 6 PM at E. Pike’s Caffe Vita has been organized by the people behind the CHBP as part of an effort to reach out to the community in advance of the upcoming festival that will draw its biggest crowd yet to the streets of Pike/Pine.

One business owner who would go on the record about the meeting is Wazhma Samizay, owner of Retail Therapy. “What I really want to know is what their game plan is for the neighborhood,” Samizay said. “I want to believe that they want to do the right thing but I want to see it.”

Another business owner — who found out about the meeting through Facebook — was less generous. “This isn’t a block party,” said the owner who did not want to be identified. “I’m not sure the disruption to the neighborhood is worth it.”

Concerns from business owners in Pike/Pine voiced to CHS include impacts to business because of street closures and crowds, trash and a growing schism between businesses that benefit from the event and those that feel they do not.

UPDATE: “The retail businesses have been frustrated in the past,” Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce interim director Michael Wells tells CHS. He said Block Party organizers have told him of mitigation to help make that less of an issue in 2010 including eliminating advertising from the chain link fences that surround the festival so businesses aren’t hidden from view. Wells said he started to hear about the frustrations of some businesses when he first started in the interim director role earlier this year. “I wish we could have started this six months ago,” Wells said about the discussion to mend fences between the Block Party and Pike/Pine businesses. Wells said he has been able to meet with a manager from Elliott Bay Book Co. and CHBP’s Dave Meinert to help the new Hill retailer prepare for the fest. Fences for the fest will be arranged so that customers should still be able to access Elliott Bay during the Block Party, Wells said. ** End UPDATE**

To be sure, drawing thousands to the area is probably beneficial to business for most food and drink providers, music clubs, of course, and retail on the edges such as QFC which can make a killing on bottled water and potato chips, if nothing else. There’s also the long-term “brand” value of having Capitol Hill represent a destination for amazing music and good times.

UPDATE x2: Businesses that think they might have been intentionally left out of the Thursday meeting, take note.  Paul Blake, co-owner of the Unicorn, is one of the many Pike/Pine business owners looking forward to the Block Party — but even he hadn’t heard about Thursday’s meeting.

We haven’t had any contact from them, and we’re right outside the main entrance. We will have to have more security and staff the whole time. We’re not complaining – lots of business!

** End UPDATE**

Thursday night, CHBP organizers will have an opportunity to help close the schism — if business owners get word of the meeting in time to make plans to attend. CHS did not receive any information about the event from CHBP organizers, nothing has — yet — been posted to the Block Party’s media partner the Stranger’s Web site or Slog and there is no public notice that we’ve seen anywhere on the Web. A Pike/Pine business owner told CHS that CHBP organizer Dave Meinert was in the neighborhood passing out flyers to some businesses that were open late last week. UPDATE: Wells told CHS that he, too, didn’t hear about Thursday’s meeting from the CHBP camp but, instead, got a call from a Pike/Pine business owner. Wells said he believes the lack of communication isn’t a sign of bad will from the festival’s backers. “They get it,” Wells said. “They know that it hurts people. They know that it’s difficult. But they also know that for some it’s a great day on Capitol Hill.” Wells said he plans to attend and hopes to learn more about follow-through on elements of the Party he has discussed with Meinert.

Questions sent to Meinert by CHS have not yet been responded to. We’ll update this post if and when we hear back. We also plan to attend the Thursday night session at Vita. We have questions out to the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce about the meeting, too. UPDATE: Comments from Michael Wells, interim chamber director, added above and through the post.

As part of the process to expand the 2010 Capitol Hill Block Party, City of Seattle officials said that Meinert and organizers needed to show “significant” community support for adding a third day to the music fest. At the time, Meinert told CHS he documented the support of 27 area businesses for the city department that oversees event permits.

The weekend of July 23, the Block Party will stretch for a third day and is expected to draw an additional 5,000 to 6,000 people with the expanded schedule likely pushing total attendance above the 20,000 mark. As part of concessions to secure the permit allowing the third day, organizers agreed to a “quieter” Sunday schedule including an early shutdown for the main stage at 9 PM following the Dead Weather’s set. The full schedule for the CHBP has been released and is posted here.

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10 thoughts on “Block Party organizers meet with Pike/Pine business owners as bigger-than-ever fest looms

  1. …. aside other thorny pieces of this three day drinking/music binge, the cops are concerned about layout of the fences and stages and the crowd.

    …. I have a buddy on the force and he can’t go public. But, this event is a real headache.

    …. I went for one evening last year and found it OK. Some of the music was trash, some good. But it does feel like an invasion of regional younger drinkers looking for adventure.

    …. Justin, please stay on the story.

  2. I don’t really understand all these rumors of businesses that are unhappy with Block Party. What businesses are they? What business does not benefit from having thousands of people brought to within a block of their door? A yoga studio perhaps? Or a Buddhist temple? Maybe a meditation studio? I don’t think there are any of those near 10th & Pike, and even if there were, a good business owner could find a way to take advantage of it. Ex, the yoga studio owner could pass out coupons and maybe get a few new membership signups the week after.

  3. …that this event found a better location on the Hill? 20,000 people squeezed into a few blocks with incredibly loud music and even drunker/more stoned people is way too much.

    Other neighborhoods have huge events, too, but theirs are integrated into the culture of those communities (e.g., Solstice in Fremont). Isn’t time for Capitol Hill to quit being the kids’ party ‘hood that the rest of us have to put up with?

    If I were a store owner, I would not be interested in having these people as customers – they aren’t there to shop beyond bottled water and snacks. They’re there to listen to music, drink, and be with their friends.

    Find a space on the Hill that’s more conducive to this. Cal Anderson Park anyone?

  4. No. The lid, north end of the park, will not support crowds.

    The athletic field, south end, is dedicated to sport only.

    The center area will hold 2-3 thousand max.

    Nice try.

  5. I guess residents don’t get their own meeting? We, too, have to deal with the disruptions of the CHBP, which were one thing but with the 3rd day and bigger and bigger bands have become something else. But no one ever asked me if I support the 3rd day…

    I support the CHBP but my support wanes as it goes from being a neighborhood party to a stop on the regional music festival circuit…the corner of 10th and Pike is not an appopriate location for a mini-bumbershoot. I say go back to up and coming bands, or find a more suitable location.

  6. This is a great festival that brings a lot of commerce to the community. with any festival there will be noise and traffic re-direction, but having gone for the last few years, I’ve always felt safe, comfortable and proud to support a community and home-spun organization. I think it’s GREAT that national band consider this a major festival touring stop – it brings a lot of great attention to the 3rd biggest music market in the country. The festival is more personal that Bumbershoot and Sasquatch, too. It’s intimate in just the right way.

    I can’t speak for the business owners on the Hill, but as a consumer, it seems like a great time for the businesses to open up shop, open up the windows and get some business.

  7. The appropriate response to anything like this is say get over it, you live in the city. If you don’t like it, move to Bellevue.

    You can insert this comment for any topic such as noise, VPC, etc.

  8. Businesses nearby are of course going to be split, but generally a retail/commercial/storefront business needs street access to operate well, and the block party not only closes a few sections of street, it significantly changes traffic patterns (car, bike, ped: all of them), effectively sending the brick&mortar equivilant of a telephone busy-signal at their regular customers. Pretending that the yoga studio on 12th/Pike or the EBBC or Century ballroom for that matter won’t be affected is ignorant at best, and pretending they can get any real advantageous ROI from ‘handing out flyers to the CHBP crowd’ is likewise foolish/immature.
    As Blake from the Unicorn mentions, there’s also the issue of greater security or staffing needs.

    As a small business owner on the hill, I’m thrilled the block party brings so much vitality here, but a) I’m not thrilled during the actual weekend itself: but rather I can see that the exposure created could potential bring new customers BACK some other weekend (“hey, remember that bookstore I saw when we went and saw that band at CHBP? let’s look for that book we’re trying to track down, THERE”) and b) I’m glad as hell the block party is many many blocks away from me.

  9. “Isn’t time for Capitol Hill to quit being the kids’ party ‘hood that the rest of us have to put up with?”

    Capitol Hill is one of the few neighborhoods in the city that feels actually urban, rather than like a town with a little town center. It would be a shame to lose that energy and vibrance. It comes with density and music and noise, for sure, but there are so many places in Seattle to open up shop/live if you want to avoid those things.

  10. Maybe the should think about moving the event one block south to 10th and Union, a lot less store front businesses there