About Ari Cetron

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

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 $275 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

A December push to make I-5 lid plan a ‘public benefit’ from $1.6B convention center expansion

The next big step in the Washington State Convention Center’s downtown expansion plan is a discussion of public benefits of the massive project. The meeting is set for December 7th, and Lid I-5, the community group looking to secure funding for a plan to better connect Capitol Hill to downtown, will be there.

“It’s important not only to our group, but also to the surrounding community,” said John Feit of Lid I-5.

As part of the now $1.6 billion expansion plan, the convention center is asking for the city to hand over three alleys, and the land under two existing streets, Olive Way and Terry Avenue. In exchange for these publicly-owned areas, the center essentially has to pay for them.

In most cases like this, the payment is not in cash, but in some form of public benefit, such as a new public space that meets the value of the public area the developer takes over and adds new resources or features for the city. The exact value of the areas has yet to be announced, but Lid I-5, among a number of other groups, is jockeying for a chance at some of the expected funding. Continue reading

Why they’re building a hotel and apartment building on Harvard Ave

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-4-13-49-pmAdding some hotel space and apartments to Capitol Hill was an easy decision for Jon Coulter and his business partners Rod McClaskey and Terry Boyle.

In spite of the common perception of soaring rents and developers making money hand over fist, Coulter says they are running up against some softness in the market, at least in the higher-end range where they build.

“The pressure of the rents is downward,” Coulter said. “We’re testing the top of the food chain.”

Design review: 1818 Harvard Ave

And he’s expecting that downward pressure to keep up, with hundreds, if not thousands of new units coming online over the next few years.

“We’re not sure what 380 square feet will get us in Capitol Hill in three years when it’s done,” Coulter said. Continue reading