About Bryan Cohen

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

Sawant says economic disparities underpin Capitol Hill hate crimes ahead of LGBTQ forum

10498060_10101874770097606_3032210991963063043_o-21-356x550How to make Capitol Hill feel safer for the neighborhood’s LGBTQ community, especially during peak nightlife hours, is a question that seems to elude any simple answers. Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is hoping to hear some solutions at an open community forum the councilor and candidate to lead District 3 organized for Tuesday night at All Pilgrims Church.

The forum will be moderated by Danni Askini, executive director of the Gender Justice League, and is slated to include the following panel:

Zach Pullin – Acting President, Capitol Hill Community Council

Lils Fujikawa –Queer Network Program Coordinator, API Chaya

Raven E. Heavy Runner – Acting Co-Chair, Northwest Two-Spirit Society, MSW

Christie Santos-Livengood – UW Graduate Student, Master Public Health

Shaun Knittel – President & Founder, Social Outreach Seattle; Seattle Gay News Associate Editor

Marta Idowu – Seattle LGBT Commission Liaison, Seattle Office for Civil Rights

Sawant is not generally seen as a leader on council when it comes to public safety, but it’s likely to be a key issue in this year’s Council District 3 race. Statistics and anecdotal accounts point to an increase in bias crime incidents within the newly formed district, which includes Capitol Hill and the Central District. The political concern is definitely on the rise.

For Sawant, her bread-and-butter issues of economic inequality and affordable housing are crucial to preserving LGBTQ culture and safety on Capitol Hill.

“I want to make an appeal to everyone to connect these (crime) issues to larger economic issues,” she told CHS. “Underlying all of this is that people of color, LGBTQ people, working people are finding this city increasingly unlivable.” Continue reading

First Hill Streetcar contract now targets summer opening

A new month, a new target date for the First Hill Streetcar launch. Under a revised contract between the city and Czech manufacturer Inekon, the Capitol Hill-to-Pioneer Square streetcar line is slated to finish test runs by June with service to start soon after.

The delay was expected after Inekon failed to meet an earlier October deadline to deliver six cars that will run on the 2.5 mile line, and one additional car for the South Lake Union line. In January, CHS reported that the Seattle Department of Transportation was already preparing for a late summer service start. The revised contract forgives thousands of dollars in late delivery penalties, but imposes even steeper fines if Inekon misses the revised June deadline.

Three cars are currently in Seattle undergoing final assembly, three remain in the Czech Republic, and one was delivered to the Port of Tacoma on Sunday.

The new contract comes after SDOT director Scott Kubly made a trip to the the Czech Republic to put pressure on Inkeon to finish work on the streetcars. The Seattle Times reported Sunday night on the revised contract:

Friday’s new change order would charge Inekon $500, $750 or $1,000 per day of delay per train, based on whether final testing and acceptance are done in early June, late June or in July — for a total $7,000 a day if the schedule badly blows out.

The Seattle Times also reports that SDOT has agreed to an option to buy Inekon trains for a proposed downtown link.

Does Capitol Hill need a new group to press developers to meet community priorities?

"No, it's too expensive" (Image: evil robot 6 via Flickr)

“No, it’s too expensive” (Image: evil robot 6 via Flickr)

Last month, developers behind the project that will rise at the old Piecora’s site made an appearance at a Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council meeting. They weren’t there to defend design sketches, rather the Equity Residential team said they wanted feedback while architects were still at the drawing board.

P/PUNC’s mix of development professionals and community members offered specific examples of popular and unpopular corner-property developments in the area and used wonky terms to push for safer building designs.

The following night at the annual State of the Hill event, Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Michael Wells said another group’s work on the upcoming light rail station development marked a major neighborhood accomplishment. Capitol Hill Champion members worked for years forging a document of community priorities that the project’s developers will be required to follow when work starts this year.

Capitol Hill’s development boom has given rise to a small but increasingly persuasive group of community members pressing developers to build what they see as more neighborhood-appropriate projects. Early plans are now in the works to sustain the momentum by creating a Capitol Hill group modeled off the Central Area Land Use Committee. Continue reading

Really good Garfield High boys basketball team faces really big challenge

(Images and video: Proof is N the Play)

As the pain of this year’s Super Bowl fades, here’s a chance to revive your Central Seattle sports spirit with some post-season basketball excitement from the Central District’s high school team.

The Garfield High School boys basketball team is really good — like top three teams in the state good. However, the team’s reclassification this year into the 3A division puts Garfield on track to face top ranked Rainier Beach in next month’s state tournament.

Last year, the Bulldogs won the state championship in their 4A division. Remarkably, the team managed to go undefeated in this year’s regular season with an almost entirely new lineup. The team’s final regular season win earlier this month briefly put Garfield in USA Today’s Super 25 national high school basketball rankings. Continue reading

Also coming to Capitol Hill’s underground light rail station and tunnels in 2016: wireless service

IMG_3562-2The Sound Transit board is set to approve a contract on Thursday to add cell phone service inside its light rail tunnels and stations. The bad news: no more phone silence when your train goes underground.

Last year, the company Mobilitie was selected to build out the neutral host 4G LTE cell network (i.e., a multi-carrier network with data) to service all underground light rail stations and tunnels. Installation is expect to start in the coming months, but service won’t be available until mid-2016.

Under the proposed contract (PDF), Mobilitie would be responsible for funding, installing, and maintaining the cellular system. The company will also pay Sound Transit $7,500 a month and a one-time $250,000 payment when the University Link tunnel comes online. The company will profit by selling network access to cellular providers.

University Link light rail trains remain on track to start rolling through Capitol Hill Station by early next year. The University Link line will extend underground from downtown to connect with Capitol Hill and University District stations. Sound Transit began boring for the Northgate Link tunnel in November, which will add three more stations north of the University Station: U District, Roosevelt, and Northgate. As of last month, construction on the Capitol Hill Station was around 78% complete.

In addition to enhancing rider experience, Sound Transit anticipates cell service could be used for direct communication with passengers:

Installing wireless communications coverage will improve safety, security, and information opportunities for transit passengers travelling in the underground facilities. It will also create opportunities for additional communications methods and media for transit operations.

Meanwhile, the Sound Transit board is still evaluating proposals to develop the housing and retail properties surrounding the Broadway light rail station. The board is expected to announce the winning contractor(s) in early March.

Hundreds rally at Seattle U in union fight


(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Students, faculty, and staff walked out of Seattle University buildings Wednesday afternoon to support an ongoing effort by adjunct and part-time faculty to unionize.

The demonstration was part of the National Adjunct Walkout Day, and comes as some Seattle U non-tenured faculty members continue their fight with the university administration to form a union. The hour-long demonstration stretched along the university’s section of 12th Ave and ended with a rally on campus.

Speaking at the rally, council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata called on the Seattle U administration to increase wages for “contingent” faculty members, which make up about half of the faculty. “Many of the PhD’s who are adjuncts qualify for food stamps,” Sawant said. Continue reading

Pike/Pine business owners bemoan ‘culture clash,’ construction impacts as Mayor Murray tours neighborhood

(Images: Bryan Cohen/CHS)

These days, most Capitol Hill business owners can point to at least two or three giant cranes above — and two or three construction projects directly impacting their business in some way. Neighborhood growth hasn’t come without growing pains. Mayor Ed Murray got an earful about those effects and the impact of the area’s growing nightlife economy from a handful of business owners during a little publicized Monday evening stroll through Pike/Pine.

The issues raised during the scheduled meet-and-greet probably won’t come as a surprise anyone living on Capitol Hill, but it gave business owners an opportunity to speak directly with the mayor on home turf. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Tom Douglas staying downtown after Capitol Hill debut

Tom Douglas sees his future across from the Paramount (Image: Runberg Architecture)

Tom Douglas sees his future across from the Paramount (Image: Runberg Architecture)

T-Doug in 1989 at the age of 31  (Image: Tom Douglas Restaurants)

T-Doug in 1989 at the age of 31 (Image: Tom Douglas Restaurants)

In a time when food+drink innovation is flourishing on Capitol Hill, one of Seattle’s boldest restauranteurs made a relatively modest debut to the neighborhood scene. In December, Tom Douglas opened Serious Pie Pike inside the enormous Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Unlike many other Douglas ventures, the third location of the pizza and pie eatery has an unassuming presence — both inside and outside its Melrose Ave home.

“I don’t think big restaurants are the future, I think it’s small restaurants. Small restaurants are where it’s at,” said Douglas, who runs an empire of Seattle food and drink establishments that includes some rather large presences like Palace Kitchen and Brave Horse Tavern.

Douglas’s future — at least immediately — also won’t include Capitol Hill. But it won’t be far away. The prolific restauranteur has begun planning to open a project in the new apartment development across from the Paramount Theater. Currently moving forward under the working title the Carlile Room, Douglas and his camp are playing coy on the specifics. “We’re building out a really cool new restaurant,” a spokesperson for the company told CHS, refusing to spill anything about the concept or the menu. Continue reading

Uncle Ike’s owner snatches up 15th Ave E property sought by tōk pot shop owner

Samuel Burke was well on his way to opening Capitol Hill’s first retail marijuana shop this spring, but a curveball from a surprising source is putting his plans on hold.

Late last month, Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg bought the 15th Ave E and E Republican building where Burke has been planning to open tōk. Eisenberg bought the Capitol Hill Veterinary Clinic for $1.5 million under his company Capitol Hill Holdings, LLC.

The acquisition gives Eisenberg a potential contingency plan if Uncle Ike’s is forced to move, though he didn’t rule out the possibility of leasing the property to Burke. “I have a lawsuit trying to force me to move as well as a state senate bill forcing me to move,” Eisenberg told CHS. Continue reading

On the List | #caphillpsa art show, community council, Outer Planet, Balkan Night Northwest

Artist D.k. Pan's contribution to the #caphillpsa project. Want a print for your own walls? Artists are giving away a limited number of original #caphillpsa art and prints at Vermillion's Thursday night opening.

Artist D.k. Pan’s contribution to the #caphillpsa project. Want a print for your own walls? Artists are giving away a limited number of original #caphillpsa art and prints at Vermillion’s Thursday night opening.

Continue reading

Public Bikes comes to Capitol Hill, taking over former Black Coffee space on E Pine

Here’s a vignette of retail today on Capitol Hill: An anarchist cafe closes and a stylish, San Francisco-based bicycle shop takes its place. CHS has learned that Public is opening its first Seattle location at the E Pine and Summit space formerly occupied by Black Coffee Co-op.

With the ink barely dry on the lease, Public’s head of sales and marketing Dan Nguyen-Tan told CHS he expects the shop to open this spring.

“We looked at several neighborhoods and Capitol Hill was always at the top of the list,” he said. “It’s central, bike friendly, and we love that our location is along the Pine Street corridor.”

The shop will primarily focus on selling and servicing Public bikes, but Nguyen-Tan said some general repair services will be offered depending on the amount of parts the store can stock. Continue reading

After 90 years at the Harvard Exit, Woman’s Century Club finds a new First Hill home

8446263966_1144f4da8f“Woman’s Century Club” may remain engraved on the Harvard Exit for years to come, but the women of 124-year-old organization have left the building.

On Friday, the Woman’s Century Club will hold its annual organizing meeting — the first in decades to be held without the group’s Harvard and E Roy home. The meeting will take place at The Dearborn House, the club’s new base on First Hill. The 1907-built Spring and Minor house serves as the full-time headquarters for Historic Seattle.

The Harvard Exit was originally built as the Women’s Century clubhouse in 1925 and was transformed into a movie theater in 1968. Through an agreement with theater owners, the club continued to meet monthly in the building’s lobby until last month, after developer Scott Shapiro bought the Exit to transform it into an office and restaurant project. The Exit’s last film showed on January 8th.

Given that the modern-day club only used the space a few hours a month, club president Mimi Sheridan is confident the roughly 40-member organization will continue to press on.

“We were tied to it emotionally and it was important part of our history, but we can live on without it,” she said.

In addition to holding monthly events that feature a variety of speakers, the club also sponsors a scholarship program and charity events. During Friday’s annual meeting, Sheridan said the group will discuss plans for the upcoming year, including new programming and the future of the club without the Exit. That future won’t include the Steinway piano that stood for years in the Exit lobby, which the group is now selling.

Shapiro previously told  CHS a restaurant or cafe will likely take over the building’s 1,500 square-foot lobby, while he envisioned a bar moving into the 2,200 square-foot basement. The rest of the building will become “creative offices,” including the two 5,000 square-foot theater spaces and two upper floors of existing offices.

Once a restaurant opens, Sheridan said club members hope to make it their unofficial hangout.

Olympia Roundup: New medical pot system, renter posthumous rights, light rail to Ballard

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 8.49.26 PMThe bills are in, now its time for state legislators to take action. Last month, we wrote about how revenue and education would be the overriding issues facing Olympia this year. That remains the case, but Capitol Hill’s 43rd District delegation — which includes Sen. Jaime Pedersen, House Speaker Frank Chopp, and Rep. Brady Walkinshaw – are involved in a number of other issues also affecting Capitol Hill.

  • Medical marijuana bill passes Senate — A bill seeking to rein in the state’s largely unregulated medical marijuana system and bring it more in line with the highly regulated retail market is heading to the House after it passed the Senate earlier this month. SB 5052 would create a database of medical patients, and allow those patients to possess up to three times more marijuana than non-patient adults. Patients could grow up to six plants at home and the bill would replace the current collective garden structure with 4-person coops. The bill would also give the state Liquor Control Board, which regulated marijuana, a much needed new name: the Liquor and Cannabis Board. Continue reading

With gunfire joining sounds of construction, 23rd and Union property owner tries simple measures as bigger changes loom

(Image: Wayne Walsh via Flickr)

(Image: Wayne Walsh via Flickr)

Since the new year, reports of gunfire and increased criminal activity around 23rd and Union have amplified calls for police and property owners to ramp up safety efforts in the heart of the Central District even as millions of dollars in development spending flows into the intersection. The sprawling Midtown Center property on the southeast corner has lately been a source of concern for neighbors in the area.

Midtown owner Tom Bangasser tells CHS he is taking steps to try to curb nighttime crime. Last week, Midtown shop owners put up larger “no loitering” signs and Bangasser said he has met with police to discuss stepping up loitering enforcement, especially at night. Still, Bangasser said he can’t control deeper issues in the community.

“We’re about to spend $215 million on this new jail center, maybe that should go into jobs,” he said. “Some of these guys are just hanging out because they don’t have jobs.” Continue reading

Paintings from Capitol Hill nightlife owner colored with creativity, sobriety

(Image: CHS)

Portrait of the artist as a Pike/Pine club owner (Image: CHS)


After spending the better part of 20 years putting on music shows, including the biggest annual show on Capitol Hill, Jason Lajeunesse will be stepping into some new territory on Thursday. This month marks three years since the prolific Capitol Hill food and nightlife owner chose to live sober, and he’s commemorating the occasion with a show of original paintings.

ECHOES: Paintings by Jason Lajeunesse will premier Thursday at Ghost Gallery in conjunction with February’s Capitol Hill Art Walk. An artist reception will run from 5 PM to 9 PM at the E Olive and Summit space and the pieces will remain on display and on sale through March 9th.

Lajeunesse’s abstract, mixed-media art span two years of work, including one piece he finished just this week. Inspiration for the paintings began in 2012 when a newly sober Lajeunesse took a trip to Europe to rekindle his connection to visual art. “I wanted life to be bigger,” he said. Continue reading