With Piecora’s project far from start of construction, developer says homeless camp to be cleared out


(Image: CHS)

IMG_0016Sorry, Travis, aka Travistron aka Traviston aka Traveltron, but you’ll have to move along. CHS delivered the news earlier this week direct to Travis that his and others’ accumulation of camping gear, treasures, and trash will have to clear out from the doorways of the empty Piecora’s building at 14th and Madison after increasing complaints to the city and police about homeless campers at the site.

Our visit with Travis was part reporting, part giving him a head’s up about what we knew of the developer’s plan.

“We are in the permit process now and don’t yet have a demolition date,” a spokesperson for Equity Residential tells CHS. “This weekend we will be cleaning up the property and working to secure the area.”

Equity purchased the building home to the much-loved E Madison pizza joint and other businesses in spring of 2013 for $10.3 million with plans to develop a six-story, 140-unit mixed-use apartment building on the land. To date, there are no demolition permit applications on file for the property nor any early signs of construction paperwork likely putting the project a long time from construction work.

In recent weeks and through December’s bitterly cold nights, the doorways and old patio area of the Piecora’s building had become a refuge for homeless campers. Along with some piles of garbage, the campers have collected blankets and backpacks along with random treasures like a discarded Casio keyboard. The small BBQ grill brought out a fire response in recent weeks and police were called last week to a fight outside the building. We’ve asked the city for details on the complaints filed with DPD and are awaiting the documents.

For Travis, the clean-up will mean finding a new place to camp and keep his possessions. He told CHS aspects of shelter living like curfews aren’t for him and that he was trying to “make something cool” around Piecora’s and doing his best to keep it clean.

UPDATE 1/14/15: Good news for fans of large empty lots — a demolition permit for the property was applied for — and immediately issued — Tuesday. You’ll note the permit is good through July 13th, 2016 so the building won’t necessarily be torn down immediately. In the meantime, the permitting and design review process for the planned development has not yet started. Contractors were busy at the site last weekend cleaning up the area and installing plywood to block the old storefront entrances.

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37 thoughts on “With Piecora’s project far from start of construction, developer says homeless camp to be cleared out

  1. I’m not sure why this is ok: “aspects of shelter living like curfews aren’t for him and that he was trying to ‘make something cool’ around Piecora’s”

    • So, because he doesn’t like shelters, he thinks he has a perfect right to strew trash and crap all over our public spaces. But he says he was doing his best to keep it clean, so I guess it’s OK (sarcasm!). Sorry, Travis, but your concept of “clean” is a lot different than most people’s.

      • Bob, wow, brother. Let me put this in language you’ll hopefully understand: He’s probably fucking crazy. So yes, what he says isn’t going to necessarily align with what he’s doing, and likely isn’t going to jive with any of your standards.

      • Steve, wow, brother. Let me put this in language you’ll hopefully understand: He’s probably fucking crazy. So yes, he shouldn’t be out on the street. That’s not a solution.

      • I agree with you Jon; I don’t know what your beef is with my point. I think it’s a moral tragedy for us as a community to let Travis squander on the street, when he undoubtedly needs help, a stable place to live and store his possessions, and effective and empathetic case management.

        My earlier point was angled at anyone who would expect our homeless community members to abide by the same standards for normalcy as the well-off and privileged.

      • I agree too. It is shameful that people like Travis are not getting the help they need. Even though the City has a “Human Resources Department,” there doesn’t seem to be any effective program to assist the homeless into mental health treatment and permanent housing.

      • I meant to type “Human Services Department.”

        I wonder: Does anyone from that Department go out and do outreach to people like Travis, to at least try to help him? If not, why not?

      • Our “human services” department at the city is a joke. It exists to keep itself in existence, with very little regard for the people it is theoretically serving. But it’s very politically correct.

      • Yes, that’s right. But most citizens, me included, do not trash our public spaces. Do you actually think it’s OK that Travis does this?

    • The comments on this page are disgustingly entitled. Here’s some context: In one day alone on Capitol Hill, I saw a man get yelled at and chastised for asking for money before he’d even finished a sentence, and just before that, another man who looked poor get thrown out of Caffe Vita for praying out loud. (When one of the baristas preemptively apologized to me later for yelling, she said it wasn’t at me or anyone else upstairs, just a “street person.”) That was all in the space of ten minutes, in one day, on Capitol Hill. That’s a bit of Travis’s world for you. He probably knows most of the uncomfortable-looking people who pass him by think it would be “good” if the cops dragged him out of sight, out of mind, regardless of whether he had a lot of belongings (“trash,” say) about him or just a sleeping bag and some cardboard to call his own.

      Those of you who think it’s “good” this guy is getting thrown out of the home he’s made for himself just because you don’t want to trouble yourselves to look at it are no better than those two baristas or those patrons of Big Marios. It’s “ok” that this guy makes the home for himself that he wants with the means he has because you, in comparison, don’t have to live each night either publicly poor or submitting to a shelter’s rules (regardless, say, of what substances you use for coping or for pleasure, regardless of how much you value your freedom and solitude). It’s ok because people need “public spaces” for different things; outside the cinderblock walls and uniform cots or mats of an impersonal institution, his whole life is public. You sure as hell aren’t using that doorway. Meanwhile, someone who can’t afford a “private space” either to trash or keep “clean” (hard anyway when everything they own is something you’d call trash), and who doesn’t want to (or can’t) submit to the authority of a shelter with its impersonal staff, its degrading rules (based on grant funding, not clients’ needs or desires), and all its bedfellows, has good reason to use a “public” space in a way people with money are going to judge as “crazy,” and thereby justify getting him thrown out and forced to get the “help” he doesn’t want. How noble of you. Cleaning up the streets is nothing short of genocide on the people for whom the streets are home. That’s the price of your clean aesthetics.

  2. I love what Equity Residential has done for the neighborhood ! You can tell that they really care about more than the bottom line .They really care about Capitol Hill ..a lot. .Like when they plunk another building of unaffordable apartments on top of what is a really deeply entrenched population of homeless people .All of these publicly held housing develpoers should be make to have %1 of the construction costs to go to homeless services in the city of Seattle


  3. Give Jim a Jingle and tell him what a great neighbor he is !


    Seattle, Tacoma, San Francisco and Denver
    Jim Alexander

  4. Shelter living is tough. Many have zero tolerance policies around substance abuse, and it’s alsl extremely difficult to manage and hold on to possessions. Many homeless opt to live on the streets because of the restrictions and risks of shelters. I sympathize with Travis’ concerns. Also, having observed this horde grow on a daily basis, I surmise he may be suffering from mental illness.

  5. Shouldn’t the city have to go through the eviction process since the street people clearly have set up residence?

  6. I blame the property owners for the state it has become. They didn’t give a crap that people were posting concert bills on the boarded up windows. It’s an eyesore. Unless they are going to do something with the building tear it down. All it does is make the neighborhood look like schidt. If they are going to build there they need to raze the building.

    • Building owners are hesitant to demolish anything until they have a clear green light for construction. This means funding, permitting, design review completed.

      If things go south and for some reason they can’t build, the property is worth more with existing structures.

  7. Are these the same people playing bucket drums at all hours? I would love CHS to do a story about them. Anyone else bothered by that noise pollution?

      • The bucket drum situation has been going on for almost a year now. I call the police and nothing is ever done. I’m not even talking about during the day which is annoying but probably 100% legal. I’m talking about at 4am. Any was CHS can help get this addressed?

      • I expect once all the new apartments across on 10th and Union fill, coupled with warm weather (open windows), and 911 calls to evict bucket drum guy come in something will be done.

        At present, police walking the street tip their hats at the guy as they walk past.

  8. I see a lot of comments here espousing alleged support for the homeless. At the same time, I’ve noticed every time any story is posted about ongoing projects or efforts that people are actually doing (like the story about Community Lunch just a few down; or recent blanket and coat drives), there’s never a single, solitary reply to them. I see lots of people eager to badmouth developers and blame them for everything including homelessness, and no shortage of comments about every new yuppie restaurant that opens. Yet when any story posts about real things people are really doing to help the homeless around Capitol Hill, you practically hear crickets from those same people blaming developers for everything, bitching about rents, etc. Why is that, I wonder?

  9. It is like a train wreck you can’t stop staring at. The Christmas trees were a nice touch as well as the clip on fan that had no where to plug into. The one guy wearing a paper hat and dancing barefoot asking for a lighter was really quite intimidating.

  10. Met Travis this morning when I stepped outside for a smoke at 5am. Interesting lad but not nearly as interesting as he thinks he is.


  11. So far, no action by the developer because being a good neighbor woul cut into profits. And none by the city because their mouth is too full of developer to be distracted. Party on, Traveltron. Party on.

  12. Pingback: Piecora’s demolition underway as design comes together for future mixed-use building | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle