About Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is a CHS reporter. Reach him at chasecohen@gmail.com and @bchasesc

Celebrating two years on Capitol Hill, Mamnoon’s Middle Eastern cuisine thrives on a transforming Melrose block

Racha and Wassef (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Racha and Wassef (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Mamnoon was in no way destined to succeed. Two years ago, CHS asked tech entrepreneur Wassef Haroun if he was sure about his ambitious plans for his first restaurant — a  Middle Eastern venture on Melrose Ave.

Two years later, customers waiting for open tables during a busy Tuesday lunch answered that question (and that was despite a street closure just outside Mamnoon’s door to prepare a gas line for newcomer Stateside).

Even with Mamnoon’s success, Haroun said he and his wife Racha still feel like outsiders among the lifetime restauranteurs that populate the neighborhood. “We’re the black sheep of the restaurant industry,” Haroun said. Continue reading

Capitol Hill notes on Seattle’s new $4.8 billion budget: City workers get $15, nonprofit min wage help, design review reform plus more cops, better policing, help for the homeless, CD bike share, and library upgrades

Cash from the Real Estate Excise Tax will go to library upgrades and “Re-Imagined Spaces” across the city — including the Capitol Hill branch (Image: J Brew via Flickr)

The City Council is slated to adopt the city’s 2015-2016 budget on Monday. Earlier this month the council’s budget committee added some spending items to Mayor Ed Murray’s budget before unanimously passing it on to a full council vote, so don’t expect too many tweaks ahead of Monday’s final vote. To continue the theme of the original Murray package, Seattle’s new boom times mean growth not cuts. The council followed suit with most effort in the past few weeks spent on adding line items, not cutting. The council meeting starts at 2 PM.

In all, the council added $8.6 million worth of 2015 spending items onto Murray’s budget. To put that in perspective, the total package tallies more than $4.8 billion. The most notable additions are two items that affect city workers: Accelerate the $15 minimum wage hike to 2015 for all city workers ($810,000 in 2015) and offer paid parental leave for all city workers ($250,000 for 2015).

The council also added $200,000 to hire investigators for the newly created Office of Labor Standards, which will enforce the city’s minimum wage and paid sick time laws. It also ponied up with $1.7 million to help nonprofits comply with the minimum wage law.

The council’s additions also include a $1 million commitment to a proposed regional Transit Orientated Development fund and $50,000 to support reforms to the city’s design review process. Continue reading

Only four firms left in bid to build Capitol Hill Station housing+retail sites

And then there were four. Following one bidder’s public drop from the running to develop the Capitol Hill Station housing and commercial sites, CHS has learned five other firms have also pulled out of the project. The Wolff Company decided not to submit a final proposal earlier this month, citing uncertainty around ownership and retail constraints leaving just four developers in the running to build all or part of the 100,000 square feet “transit oriented development” that will include housing, commercial, and a community spaces:

Capitol Hill Housing – Site B North

Gerding Edlen – Master developer for all sites

Jonathan Rose Companies/Capitol Hill Housing – Master developer for all sites

Lowe Enterprises – Sites A, B-South, and C

Dropped out of the race are The Wolff Company which had been pondering joining the competition for Site A, MacFarlane Partners which was making plans around a master developer role, Lennar Multifamily which dropped from Site B-South and Site C competition, Belwether Housing which cleared out of the Site B-North run, and Security Properties which dropped its bid for Site A.

The list of remaining bidders was the second part of CHS’s request to Sound Transit to obtain copies of the firm’s actual proposals. Sound Transit eventually denied the request. In an email to CHS, Sound Transit’s senior legal counsel Loren Armstrong explained why the proposals are exempt from public disclosure.

“This procurement is slightly different from a typical request for proposals,” she said. “Specifically, the submission and evaluation of proposals in this procurement is the first step in a process that for each parcel will culminate with the negotiation and execution of a unique purchase and sale agreement, with terms that are not yet defined.”

Sound Transit is expected to pick its developer(s) by January, at which time we should have some fresh project renderings in addition to details on how the project will take shape. Appraisals have placed the value of the Sound Transit properties at a combined $25 million. Continue reading

I-502 permit holder hopes to open Capitol Hill’s first pot shop in February

If all goes according to plan, Capitol Hill will have its first retail marijuana shop this February. But that’s a big “if” for shop owner hopeful Samuel Burke.

After failing to get the city’s approval in three Belltown locations, Burke is cautiously awaiting the city’s response to his proposed location at 15th Ave E and E Republican, currently home the the Capitol Hill Animal Clinic. According to state law, a retail marijuana shop must keep a 1,000-foot buffer from schools, parks, or community centers.

“Each time the city objected and we couldn’t over come it,” Burke told CHS of his previous three proposals. “It’s just such a privilege to think I could locate on Capitol Hill.”

Right now, things are looking good for Burke. Continue reading

City Hall’s affordable housing committee puts Capitol Hill demographics in its sights

Starting this week, the mayor-appointed group tasked with producing an affordable housing plan for Seattle by May 2015 is digging in with a series of public meetings.

While past city efforts to create more affordable housing have targeted Seattle’s poorest, City Hall officials say the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee will be considering a much wider band Seattle residents — a band that should include many on Capitol Hill.

Yes, even you.

In the lead-up to forming the committee, Mayor Ed Murray invoked the need to support longtime residents and those who choose, and may one day choose, to make Seattle home. In other words, working stiffs trying to eek it out in increasingly expensive neighborhoods.

Here’s a look at the income levels for one and two person households that the committee will be targeting:

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On Thursday some of the 28 committee members will be at the Garfield Community Center for a public meeting to hear what you want and need from a plan. The mayor won’t be making an appearance. Continue reading

Pro-density group loses challenge to zoning adjustments to shrink building size


This 5-story microhousing development in a Lowrise 3 zone at 11th and Republican is the type of development new zoning rules would attempt to restrict. (Photo: CHS)

A city arbitrator has rejected a pro-density group’s appeal of zoning code changes that seek to scale back the size of new housing projects, including future microhousing and townhouse developments around Capitol Hill. The decision paves the way for the “down-zone” in Lowrise 3 areas to go to the City Council for a vote.

In October, the Seattle Hearing Examiner rejected an appeal from the developer-backed group Smart Growth Seattle, which argued the new adjustments ignore increasing demands for development in the city. Continue reading

L.A.-based footwear and apparel boutique BAIT to open in Pike/Pine

The BAIT x Brooks Chariot "Centennial" (Image: Bait)

The BAIT x Brooks Chariot “Centennial” (Image: Bait)


BAIT in Los Angles via Facebook

At at time when independent Capitol Hill retailers are fighting to maintain their presence among a food+drink frenzy, one outgoing retailer won’t mean a net loss for neighborhood shops.

CHS has learned that BAIT, a Los Angeles-based footwear and apparel boutique, is planning to open its fourth location in the former Platinum Records space on E Pike. According to BAIT’s blog, they plan to open in Seattle on November 22nd.

BAIT specializes in street shoes, sneakers, toys, and apparel. We’re trying to connect with the owners to learn more about their Seattle plans. City records indicate the shop is well on its way to opening in the space sandwiched by Neumos and Via Tribunali.

UPDATE (11/20): BAIT’s Paul Baclawski said part of the company’s reason for expanding to Seattle was the 2012 closure of GOODS and the “sneaker-head” void it left on Capitol Hill.

“Expanding in L.A. is tough,” Baclawski said. “There are a lot of people who are fans of the sneaker industry here.”

Continue reading

Trial starts in 2012 stoplight shooting death of Capitol Hill QFC wine steward — UPDATE

UPDATE 11/19/2014 2:30 PM: Bowman, center, sits with his lawyers as the trial opened Wednesday with a dramatic statement from the prosecution. The defense, meanwhile, opted not to make an opening statement in the case.

UPDATE 11/19/2014 2:30 PM: Bowman, center, sits with his lawyers as the trial opened Wednesday with a dramatic statement from the prosecution. The defense, meanwhile, opted not to make an opening statement in the case.

UPDATE 11/19/2014 4:15 PM: A “student of murder” is how prosecutors described Thomasdinh Bowman in the dramatic opening statements in the trial against the man accused of killing Capitol Hill QFC wine steward Yancy Noll. The first degree murder trial got underway Wednesday afternoon in a court room packed with Noll’s family and friends.

While prosecutors initially called Bowman’s alleged actions a “thrill kill,” on Wednesday they painted Bowman, 31, as a calculated killer who studied how to get away with murder. Prosecutors described in graphic detail how Bowman allegedly fired four bullets into Noll’s head and face while both men sat in their cars at a north Seattle stoplight in August 2012.

“He left Yancy Noll dying in his car. Two hours later he was having dinner with his wife,” said senior deputy prosecuting attorney Adrienne McCoy.

Bowman faces a 20-30 year prison sentence, plus an additional five years for using a firearm. He was calm and emotionless through the proceedings, wearing a light blue sweater and neatly combed hair.

Defense attorney John Henry Browne opted not to make an opening statement on Wednesday. After the proceedings, Browne told CHS he may use a self-defense argument in the case.

The trial will resume on Thursday. Browne said the trial would likely end sometime in December.

Original Report: The Death Dealer’s Manual is a 100-page book first published in 1982 that describes in detail how to kill a person and (supposedly) how to get away with it. According to court documents, Thomasdinh Bowman studied the book and others like it before he allegedly shot and killed Capitol Hill QFC wine steward Yancy Noll in 2012.

Bowman allegedly pulled up beside the 43-year-old Noll at a stoplight at 15th Ave NE and 75th and shot him in the head with a 9mm pistol — a scenario prosecutors say was lifted play-by-play from the manual. Continue reading

Seattle U students and faculty plan Tuesday rally against budget cuts

Students and faculty at Seattle University are planning to march through campus Tuesday afternoon to oppose a school-wide 4% budget cut planned for 2015. Rally organizers say the private school’s administration has ignored calls by student and faculty groups for more budget transparency.

“I’m concerned that these cuts seem to be directly harming the most vulnerable members of our community and are directly affecting instruction,” said communications instructor Louisa Edgerly.

In a letter sent to faculty members in October, Father Stephen Sundborg, the Jesuit Catholic university’s president, outlined the administration’s reasons for the cuts affecting every department except for the law school, which initiated cuts last year. In the letter obtained by CHS, Sundborg identified several enrollment targets that fell short of projections, leading to an estimated $3.5 million budget shortfall in 2015.

The single largest challenge we face is a decline in the number of continuing students, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We expect this decline will result in a loss of about $1.8 million. While analysis of this shortfall is just beginning, we believe that it is more or less evenly distributed across undergraduate and graduate levels and that the issue at the undergraduate level is primarily with upper division students, particularly those who entered the university as transfers.

Other issues the president addressed include:

  • New undergraduate student enrollment fell short of the projected 1,000 students at 936 students, creating a $1 million shortfall.
  • Lower than expected new graduate student enrollment resulted in a $300,000 shortfall.
  • Lower than expected summer enrollment for graduate students resulted in a $330,000 shortfall.

Earlier this summer students held a flash mob on the Capitol Hill campus to call attention to a variety of issues, including fossil fuel divestment and faculty unionizing rights.

Man attacked by group on Capitol Hill was taunted with gay slurs

A group of three or four men beat up another man on the corner of E Pike and Belmont Ave early Monday morning after the suspects taunted the victim about his sexual orientation, according to police reports.

The victim told officers he was smoking a cigarette around 1:30 AM when the group approached him, called him a “faggot”, and then attacked him causing injuries to his head and face. The victim said he did not know the suspects.

A nearby resident initially told a 911 operator that the victim had been shot, according to police reports.

Officers did not make any arrests following the incident. The victim was taken to Harborview Medical Center with injuries not considered life threatening. According to SPD, the department’s Bias Crimes unit will review the case.

I-502 lottery winner makes new plans to open pot shop on Capitol Hill


The possible location of Capitol Hill’s first pot shop. (Photo: CHS)

An I-502 lottery winner is setting his sights on a 15th Ave E and E Republican location to open Capitol Hill’s first retail marijuana shop.

According to the state liquor board, Samuel Burke has submitted an application for a retail marijuana permit for the space currently occupied by the Capitol Hill Animal Clinic.

The application lists the same trade name Burke used to enter the I-502 lottery at the 15th Ave E location. In July, Burke told the Seattle Times that he settled on an unspecified location for his shop after hitting snags in two other places.

CHS tried to contact Burke, but the phone number listed on his I-502 application has been disconnected. Continue reading

Socialist Alternative ground game underway for 2015 District 3 seat

unnamed-1Before vote results were announced at Jess Spear’s election night party last week, Socialist Alternative staff were already preparing for 2015. Next to the event stage, organizers were placing red stickers on a large map of the newly formed City Council District 3, marking where volunteers would distribute a new Kshama Sawant-focused newsletter around Capitol Hill and the Central Seattle district.

It was an early look at the ground game already underway for Sawant’s City Council race next year. It was also an early look at the newsletter you can start expecting to show up on your doorstep every month.

Spear lost handily on election night in her race for the 43rd legislative district seat, but things are looking better for Sawant in District 3. In a recent poll by EMC Research, Sawant had a 61% favorable rating in District 3, the highest rating among current council members within each of their respective home districts.

(Image: EMC Research)

(Image: EMC Research)

Continue reading

Cornish celebrates 100 years of arts education on — and beyond — Capitol Hill

Cornish at Broadway and Pine, 1920 (Image: Webster & Stevens; PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle)

Cornish at Broadway and Pine, 1920 (Image: Webster & Stevens; PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle)

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Nellie Centennial Cornish (Image: Cornish College of the Arts, with permission to CHS)

On November 14th, 1914, so the story goes, Nellie Cornish stepped off a boat in Elliott Bay, walked up Capitol Hill, and opened a small music school in an office building at Broadway and Pine.

One hundred years later, Cornish’s school maintains its Capitol Hill presence, although significantly expanded and re-centered off the Hill across I-5. This week, Cornish College of the Arts will celebrate 100 years of providing arts education in Seattle. (Oddly enough, Cornish’s middle name was Centennial because she was born in 1876, the centennial anniversary of U.S. independence).

After opening in Broadway’s Booth Building (which continues to be used by Seattle Central College), Cornish quickly set her sites on expanding. Her school was so popular she had to hold classes in Odd Fellows Hall. Eventually, Cornish was able to raise enough money to build Kerry Hall in 1921 on the corner of Roy and Boylston. Today, the Mission-revival building is still used for music and dance instruction, as well as live performances in the small Poncho Theater. Continue reading