About Ari Cetron

Ari is a Seattle-based writer and editor. Find out more about him at www.aricetron.com

Capitol Hill food+drink | Dad’s dedication and a new generation — 30+ years of El Gallito

Elizabeth Lopez didn’t have to think long about what’s kept El Gallito open for so long.

“My dad’s dedication,” she said.

That dedication has kept the restaurant open since the early 1980s. Refugio Lopez was born in Mexico, but spent most of his life in the United States, living in Texas and Chicago before coming to Seattle in 1978. Lopez thinks it was 1983 or 84, when he opened El Gallito (Spanish for the little rooster). Refugio retired 13 years ago.

He brought the recipes with him from Mexico, Lopez said, and most of them, including classics like the enchilada sauce, haven’t changed since the day the place opened.

Like many small business owners, he involved his children, and Elizabeth and her brother, Ole, have worked at El Gallito since they were in high school. She grew up in the neighborhood, and her mother still lives on Capitol Hill, though Elizabeth has moved to Leschi and her brother to Madison Valley. Lopez said that as she’s gotten older, she’s grown to appreciate the business more, particularly how it can be good to be the boss, and make her own hours.

“We grew up, pretty much, in the restaurant,” she said. “I enjoy it more as an adult than I did as a kid.” Continue reading

Central Co-op set for an E Madison facelift

Front Entry Elevation_132in sign Revised layoutCentral Co-op is getting a makeover, but nothing on the inside is going to change.

The building’s landlord, Madison Crossing, is working on some improvements to the exterior. Construction is expected to start within the next few weeks, and should last about five months, assuming there are no delays in permitting or construction, the co-op’s Suzanne Schultz told CHS. The building opened in 1998, and the Co-op, moved in shortly after.

Schultz said the store plans to remain open during its normal business hours throughout the construction. She said the interior layout and selection of products will not change, nor will the look of the inside of the store.

“Most of the work is not going to be happening in our store,” she said. Continue reading

As King County booms, how many people live on Capitol Hill? 32,989… and counting

Ways of clapping

“The Seattle area is the ninth fastest-growing metro in the nation, gaining about 1,100 residents per week,” the Puget Sound Business Journal reported Thursday. For those wondering, no, they aren’t all moving to Capitol Hill.

About 32,989 people live in the neighborhood, according to 2016 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. But if you feel like the rate of growth around you has been increasing, you are right. King County, it turns out, gained the fourth highest total of new residents from 2015 to 2016 with an increase of 35,714 neighbors in the county.

How fast is Capitol Hill growing? First, the 32,989 datapoint for 2016 comes with some caveats. CHS used census tracts which most closely match the boundaries of Capitol Hill, which we generally consider to be from I-5 to 23rd Ave, and Roanoke to Madison. Since the census tracts don’t quite match up with our definition (bigger in some places, smaller in others, (get with it census)), the numbers are going to be a bit off. For those keeping score at home, we used census tracts 64, 65, 74, 75, 76, 83 and 84. Continue reading

98 or so ideas for Capitol Hill and Central District streets and parks

Pac Man

The city asked for ideas, and the people have responded.

The first phase of the Your Voice, Your Choice program wrapped up in February, and brought in 894 ideas about how to spend $2 million across the city on smaller infrastructure projects – those with a budget of $90,000 or less. About 11% of the ideas came out of City Council District 3, centered on Capitol Hill and the Central District. Tuesday night, the penultimate effort to winnow that list down to a manageable eight projects gathered in the Central District at the Douglas Truth Library. Here are some of the District 3 safe streets and open space ideas they were wrangling.

The largest single category on Capitol Hill and the Central District seemed to do with either making it easier for people to cross streets, or forcing cars to slow down. Continue reading

Inside I-126, Seattle’s $275M homelessness levy: shelter, health, housing

Homeless people in Seattle may be getting more assistance in the form of programs funded by a $275 million property tax levy proposed by Mayor Ed Murray — if voters agree. The money is substantial, and the proposed spending in some ways aligns with what the homeless themselves say they could use the most.

Signature gathering is underway to put I-126 on the August ballot. “The Seattle skyline visible from this location is a symbol the city’s economic strength and growth, but from the exact same vantage point you can see the people and community that that same progress has left behind and made more vulnerable,” Downtown Emergency Service Center director Daniel Malone who co-chaired the advisory committee that developed the measure said about the start of the effort. “We all know that the problem of homelessness has been growing rapidly. We need to step and do more to help the people suffering on our streets, and this carefully considered measure will do that.”

The measure would last five years and nearly double what the city currently spends on aid to homeless people. The levy will cost about 27 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value for homeowners. For the city’s median homeowner — Zillow puts that at a $513,200 home — that would mean $138.51 per year. Continue reading

Seattle Academy’s ‘vertically-oriented middle school’ set to rise above 13th and Union

17202880_1428918773826074_1539814008439652710_nSchools remains a growth industry on Capitol Hill. With a live stream of the building-crunching action of the start of demolition on the school’s Facebook page, Seattle Academy began construction activity Tuesday on its new $48 million Cardinal Union building on E Union just up from 12th Ave.

The Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, a private school for grades 6-12, will be expanding its presence with what is being touted as the “first vertically-oriented middle school in Seattle.”

The school opened in 1983 and started out in space leased from Temple De Hirsch Sinai. Over the years, they’ve been raising funds to purchase and construct their own buildings. The new five-story building starting this week marks the last big project for the time being, said Doug Ambach, the school’s director of operations.

The school owns most of the block bounded by 12th and 13th avenues and Union and Spring streets, save for a warehouse space along 12th. The construction will largely be taking place along 13th Ave and around the corner onto Union, Ambach said. It will mean pedestrian blockages along those streets. The construction should not impact the school’s 12th Ave face. Plans call for the project to wrap up in time for the start of the 2018 school year. Continue reading

Making case for new justice center, King County says juvenile incarceration down 16%

King County officials sought to shift the narrative surrounding the new juvenile justice center during a March 10 meeting by pointing to a 16% drop in overall juvenile incarcerations and a steeper drop among youth of color.

For the past few months, talk around the center has been about whether or not there should even be a youth jail. A group called Ending the Prison Industrial Complex has filed appeals and staged protests, even going so far as to demonstrate in front of Mayor Ed Murray’s house in opposition to the new facility. The group’s latest gambit, an appeal to the hearing examiner, was recently rejected.

Now, the county is hoping to spread a message of its own. At the recent meeting, leaders in the county’s juvenile justice system laid out progress they say they have made toward the goals for which EPIC is agitating.

Friday’s presentation also made the case that the planned facility has the lowest number of cells possible. Continue reading

After a 21-month road diet, first phase of 23rd Ave work complete

DSC00851The new, post road-diet 23rd Ave is now open.

The Seattle Department of Transportation began construction on the first phase of the three-phase project in June 2015, closing the road to northbound traffic between Jackson and John streets.

The newly designed road has gone from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction, with a center turn lane. It’s also been widened near bus stops, to allow cars to get past buses as they load and unload passengers. Continue reading

Recovery and restoration at Capitol Hill’s communal PRAG House

“I went to work at 7 in the morning. Everything was normal. Then at 1 PM, I didn’t have a house,” said Leah Iraheta. Iraheta lives in the PRAG House on 16th Ave E and E Aloha which burned in June of 2014. “I don’t think you really can quite absorb it at the time,” Iraheta told CHS.

The fire was just part of the problem. While the flames did their damage, the water used to douse the fire caused problems of its own -– a typical situation in house fires. But there isn’t much typical about the PRAG house, one of a dozen or so remaining communal living houses from the movement’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s. The 2014 fired didn’t bring PRAG house’s community to an end. But it did plenty of damage.

“When you see the flames coming out of the roof, you think that’s going to be the worst damage,” said Robert Mech of Board and Vellum Architecture, the Capitol Hill firm that designed the home’s rehabilitation after the fire.

As fire burned at the top of the house, the water ran down, essentially melting the lathe and plaster walls, pooling in the basement, and creating conditions that could lead to mold and rot, so a large portion of the house needed to be rebuilt. Continue reading

A look inside the 12th Ave juvenile justice center appeal

Earlier this month, activists began a new stand to stop the construction of a new juvenile justice facility and detention center at 12th and Alder. Here is a look inside Ending the Prison Industrial Complex’s appeal with the city’s Hearing Examiner asking for exceptions made in permits issued by the city to be overturned.

“They shouldn’t have gotten the variances,” Knoll Lowney, attorney for EPIC tells CHS.

The new facility is slated to go on the same campus along 12th Ave about a block south of the Seattle University campus. King County has been looking to replace the courthouse and administrative buildings for years. That buildings on the site was constructed in 1951, with an addition in 1972 that also renovated the 1951 building. The recession of 2008 held up plans for the expensive project, but in 2012, the county put a measure up before voters. In addition to the courtrooms and offices, the county included the youth detention facility, which was built in 1992, though EPIC disputes the ballot language was clear about the detention facility being part of the plan. Continue reading