About Bryan Cohen

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

State of Downtown? Businesses are interested in the ‘Capitol Hill connection’

IMG_4693For an event billed as the State of Downtown, there sure was a lot of talk about Capitol Hill.

Downtown Seattle Association’s annual gathering last week drew over 1,000 business owners, residents, and office tower workers to The Westin hotel Thursday morning. Amid the reports of downtown’s growing density (20 new buildings in 2015 added 3,600 units) and booming job growth (half of Seattle workers are now downtown), speakers also stressed the importance of connecting downtown to other neighborhoods, especially Capitol Hill.

The reasons are twofold. Putting Capitol Hill’s arts, culture, and dining within easy reach adds to downtown’s claims as a livable, family-friendly neighborhood. Enhancing that connection also presents a clear marketing opportunity for downtown developers and investors. Continue reading

City responds to 23rd Ave businesses trying to survive street overhaul

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Help is on the way for small business owners on 23rd Ave who say they are on the ropes as a major overhaul of the busy corridor has choked traffic and pushed pedestrians off sidewalks. But it’s not the help they asked for.

Friday afternoon, City Hall representatives tell CHS “project improvements and community financial assistance” are coming to the street at the direction of Mayor Ed Murray.

“As we reconstruct 23rd Avenue, we will do more to respond to the needs and concerns of business owners, with marketing assistance, improved signage and individualized consultations. We want all of our Central Area businesses to succeed during the disruption,” Murray said. “When the project is complete, neighborhood businesses and residents will enjoy a more walkable, active atmosphere with improved access to shops and services.”

23rd Ave owners will not be getting the direct cash relief they have called for, but two city agencies are promising to address some key concerns with the 23rd Avenue Corridor Complete Streets Project.

Responding to community concerns about the project, the Seattle Department of Transportation will reorder its construction schedule to reopen 23rd between Jackson and Yesler in March, one to two months earlier than currently planned. The Office of Economic Development will also provide $102,000 of new funding for marketing the area and business support — but not direct mitigation payments to area businesses. The city said the additional funding follows recent grants of $220,000 for “economic and cultural development projects” in the Central District.

SDOT will also introduce a variant of the Construction Hub program that has been utilized to help improve conditions for businesses around Pike/Pine’s busy blocks of redevelopment. An inspector for the project has been named and designated as a point person for merchant concerns during 23rd Ave construction. You can reach Eric Sadler at (206) 391-7854 and help him in his role “to closely monitor contractor construction activities, and to hear and respond directly to business concerns.”

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Capitol Hill low income housing expert first* to jump into race for the 43rd

macriAn advocate for the homeless and low income housing expert is the first candidate to jump *splash* into the 43rd District race to replace Rep. Brady Walkinshaw in the State Legislature.

Nicole Macri, an 11-year Capitol Hill resident, announced her plans to run Thursday in the November election.

UPDATE: It’s a Capitol Hill showdown. Political consultant and LGBTQ advocate Thomas Pitchford quietly entered the 43rd District race in January. The Capitol Hill resident told CHS he decided to take a “slow approach” to the campaign and would likely have a public-facing campaign launch in March.

As the housing director for the Downtown Emergency Service Center, Macri oversees housing and service programs for some 6,000 chronically homeless adults. She is also the board chair of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and serves on Seattle’s Housing Levy Oversight Committee.

“This was neither an easy decision for me nor one that I took lightly,” Macri said in an email to supporters. “But, my decision to run for the legislature boils down to this: Olympia needs more advocates and champions for affordable housing and mental health.” Continue reading

By the bottle or by the glass, Revolution Wine now open on E Pike

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Revolution owners Mark and Carmen Brown. (Image: CHS)

With so much beer and coffee news over the past year, Capitol Hill wine lovers may have been feeling a little left out. Demand, it seems, remains strong as the owners of Revolution Wine discovered during their packed opening over the weekend at Belmont and Pike.

Opening Capitol Hill’s newest wine shop and wine bar was a decade in the making for owner Mark Brown, who first drew up the business plan in 2005. Several years working for Xbox’s marketing team put the dream on hold until last year when Brown and his wife, Carmen, secured the former home of The Feed Bag pet shop. Continue reading

Homeless outreach counselors start Capitol Hill patrols with East Precinct officers

Downtown isn't so far from Capitol Hill

Downtown, where MID patrols began, isn’t so far from Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

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As Mayor Ed Murray seeks more local, state, and federal funding to address the growing crisis, one successful homelessness outreach program has made its way to Capitol Hill.

Outreach counselors from the Metropolitan Improvement District have begun joining East Precinct officers on morning patrols. Cal Anderson is a regular part of the beat. It’s part of a long term strategy to do the hard work of confronting chronic homelessness: Counselors learn who sleeps on the street by name, what issues they face, and slowly, try to find ways to help.

“It’s really a relationship model,” said MID vice president Dave Willard.

Outreach workers often start with offering people socks or blankets to open up a conversation, Willard said. They can also provide city and regional bus tickets, motel vouchers, connections to homeless shelters, and other social services.

The effort follows promises made in the wake of a shooting at Broadway and Pike in November to bring more services to Pike/Pine to help free up East Precinct officers who have found themselves on the front lines of Seattle’s homelessness crisis.

There are currently two outreach workers assigned to Capitol Hill and a third drug abuse and mental health counselor on the way. Willard said the program is on the search for an empty storefront or small office space in the neighborhood. “Just a place to meet with people out of the rain … a table, a couple chairs, maybe a coffee pot,” he said. You can email Willard with any ideas.

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Seattle’s first City Council district office set to open as Sawant considers options

The ink is almost dry on a plan to open the first district-based City Council office in Seattle. A staff member for District 5 rep Debora Juarez says the newly minted Council member intends to open an office inside North Seattle College by March.

“District days” are scheduled to happen every Friday for about six hours where Juarez and some of her staff will be available to meet with constituents. Opening a district office was a key issue for Juarez during her campaign.

While other Council members appear to be in a wait-and-see mode for holding similar office hours, Juarez may have drawn up a workable blueprint, particularly for District 3. Continue reading

Labor groups oppose New Seasons Market as candidate for Capitol Hill Station tenant

Screen-Shot-2015-04-21-at-1.49.04-PM1-600x366Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 6.31.18 PMA Portland-based grocery chain believed to be the frontrunner to a large retail space on Broadway is already facing opposition from labor organizations that say the company is anti-union.

New Seasons Market has not been publicly identified as the anchor tenant for the four-site retail and housing development to surround the U-Link light rail Capitol Hill Station, but labor and advocacy groups believe it tops the list.

Last year developer (and fellow Portlander) Gerding Edlen said they were in talks with a northwest-based grocer interested in expanding to Seattle to become the anchor tenant to the “transit orientated development” project. New Seasons does fit the bill, though neither Gerding nor New Seasons have publicly confirmed a deal.

In a letter to the Sound Transit Board, eight Seattle unions and advocacy organizations said they are concerned with “an anti-union climate” at the stores and cite Seattle’s Metropolitan Markets or PCC Markets as better choices.

UPDATE: Gerding partner Jill Sherman confirmed New Seasons was the grocer the company had been in discussions with through the bid process, but said no final decision has been made on a tenant. Sherman has also met with the group Puget Sound Sage, one of the letter’s signatories.

“We have been made aware of the concerns,” Sherman said.  “New Seasons is very well respected in our market for their businesses practices.”

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Seattle U tackles State of the Black Union with Moral Mondays panel

tumblr_o1io3pFlbQ1u8txhwo1_500The February 1st kickoff to Black History Month falls on the anniversary of a watershed moment in U.S. history: The day in 1865 President Abraham Lincoln signed the resolution proposing the 13th Amendment to outlaw slavery.

An ongoing student initiative at Seattle University called Moral Mondays will honor National Freedom Day with a slate of speakers Monday night, including former City Council District 3 candidate Pamela Banks. According to organizers, The State of the Black Union will be a wide-ranging conversation on the issues facing Seattle’s African/African American community. Here is the speaker lineup:

Brian Surrat, Director, City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development
Gerald Hankerson, President, NAACP Seattle/King County
Hon. J. Wesley Saint Clair, King County Superior Court Judge
Pamela Banks, President & CEO, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
Rahwa Habte, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
Harvey Drake Jr., Pastor, Emerald City Bible Fellowship; Founder & President, Urban Impact
Steve Sneed, Managing Artistic Director at Seattle Center

Those interested in attending the free event are asked to RSVP at moralmondays@seattleu.edu. On February 8th the group will be holding a memorial and peace walk for Trayvon Martin at the Capitol Hill campus and a “pilgrimage” to the Central District on February 15th. Continue reading

Convention Center developers start new planning stage with public benefits on the table

Screen-Shot-2015-11-17-at-4-1.56.37-PM1Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.05.54 PMDevelopers for the $1.4 billion Washington State Convention Center expansion are continuing their march through a myriad of reviews with a trip to the Seattle Design Commission this week.

The series of meetings, which are open to public comment and could span most of the year, were triggered when the Pine Street Group developers requested permission to remove portions of three alleys and two streets in the project area — Metro’s soon to be defunct Convention Place Station. In exchange for taking over the streets and alleys, City policy requires the project include improvements to the surrounding area.

Sorting out what those public benefits could be will be a key part of the conversation that happens in the coming months, starting with Thursday morning’s Design Commission meeting at City Hall.

The Design Commission process plays out in two stages. First, the WSCC will go through three “urban design merit” meetings to present their proposed street vacations and show how the design of the project could improve the surrounding right-of-ways. For instance, commissioners may look for the inclusion of street level commercial space to ward off pedestrian un-friendly walls.

In the second phase, the commission considers added public benefits. Design Commission director Michael Jenkins said commissioners typically look for long-term community benefits beyond the scope of the project itself, like enhanced sidewalks, street furniture, and public open spaces. Continue reading

Portland-based Bishops bringing free beer barbershop to 12th and Pike

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A Portland-born barbershop is coming to Capitol Hill along with everything you might expect from its Hawthorne District roots: punk style, trendy playlists, and lots of art on the walls.

If Bishops Barbershop sounds reminiscent of another famous neighborhood barbershop, there is a good reason why. Owner Leo Rivera was inspired to enter the hair business after watching Rudy’s Barbershop take off in Seattle. When he couldn’t convince the owners to let him expand to Portland, Rivera said he decided to do it himself.

“I didn’t know anything about hair,” he said. “I just wanted to be my own boss by 30.”

Nonetheless, Rivera was smart enough to know that offering a complimentary beer with a cut would probably go over well.

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