About Bryan Cohen

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

14 developers in running to forge Capitol Hill Station retail and housing sites

Just build this -- a design submitted by a team of University of Washington students for the Capitol Hill Station "transit oriented development" in a 2011 class exercise

Just build this — a design submitted by a team of University of Washington students for the Capitol Hill Station “transit oriented development” in a 2011 class exercise

Surrounding the under-construction Capitol Hill Station, the development sites will line Broadway and neighbor Cal Anderson

Surrounding the under-construction Capitol Hill Station, the development sites will line Broadway and neighbor Cal Anderson

The candidates to develop some of Capitol Hill’s most prominent and prized projects have added their names to the list and they include a mix of neighborhood, local, and national developers. Fourteen companies and nonprofits officially responded to Sound Transit’s February request for qualifications to develop 100,000 square feet of “transit oriented development” that will surround the future Capitol Hill light rail station. The project will include housing, retail, and community space on five sites stretching along Broadway from John to Denny.

A couple of familiar Capitol Hill names have thrown their names into the hat, including Capitol Hill Housing and a partnership that includes local developer Maria Barrientos. Sound Transit spokesperson Bruce Gray said the agency recieved more responses than it expected.

“It’s obviously a hugly desireable site,” Gray said. “It’s a fantstic opportunity for great development, and people want to be in the middle of Capitol Hill.” Continue reading

1,000 feet of electrical wire replaced under north Capitol Hill

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More showing than telling in this press release gem (Photo: Seattle City Light)

It won’t do anything to stop the next Crow Blackout, but recently replaced electrical cable under north Capitol Hill should mitigate other types of blackouts for several decades to come. Seattle City Light announced crews recently completed construction to replace 1,000 feet of failing 30-year-old underground high-voltage cable under East Boston Terrace.

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For the few that live along the little kidney bean-shaped loop perched above Interlaken Park, work stoppage will be a big relief. And architecture buffs can get back to snooping around Capitol Hill’s modernist enclave.

Work to replace the conduit system began in October and was completed in March. According to Seattle City Light, the upgrade was an important part of maintaining service reliability. The final street and sidewalk restoration will be scheduled and completed by the Seattle Department of Transportation

Capitol Hill says goodbye to Piecora’s, hello to familiar national apartment developer

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

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UPDATE 4/17/14Developer reveals plans for the Piecora’s building

Original report: A thick chapter of Capitol Hill history will close Tuesday night when the final slice of Piecora’s pizza is polished off, and a new story will open when the nation’s largest, publicly traded, owner of apartments gets to work on its fourth Capitol Hill property.

Equity Residential purchased the 14th and Madison pizza property from the Piecora family in April for a whopping $10.3 million, adding to Equity’s 30+ residential properties in the region. The Piecora family paid $3,045,000 to purchase the property in 2002. Soon after the Equity sale, Piecora’s announced April 15th would be their last day.

So far Equity has not filed any paperwork to indicate their plans for the site — or if they’ll honor the Piecora name in the new building. Representatives from Equity has not yet responded to CHS requests for comment. Given Equity’s regional properties, it’s safe to assume another mixed-use project is on the way. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party readies for 18th annual neighborhood invasion — UPDATE: 2014 lineup announced

The explosion of fun that was CHBP 2013 (Image: CHS)

The explosion of fun that was CHBP 2013 (Images: CHS)

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The hopefully sun-drenched days of the Capitol Hill Block Party are just three short months away and the festival’s producers have been busily making new plans for the three-day Capitol Hill celebration of Pike/Pine’s nightlife culture.

The 18th annual installment of the festival will once again fall on the last full weekend of July, this year the 25th, 26th, 27th. Block Party producer Jason Lajeunesse told CHS that permits have been issued and most of the bands are booked. The main stage acts and ticket prices are expected to be announced Tuesday morning. The festival annually draws more than 30,000 attendees.

UPDATE: Spoon, The War on Drugs, and Sunday closer A$AP Rocky will be among the Capitol Hill Block Party 2014 headliners, organizers revealed Tuesday during their ritual announcement on KEXP. Three-day passes also went on sale for a limited time discount of $99.

Here’s the list of headliners being announced Tuesday morning:

A$AP Rocky, Spoon, Chromeo, Matt and Kim, The War on Drugs, Odesza, Sol,  A$AP Ferg, Beat Connection, Star Slinger, Budos Band, Tanlines, XXYYXX, Angel Olsen, Poolside, Cymbals, Shy Girls 

The full lineup and schedule is typically released by early June.

Tickets can be purchased here.

“The Block Party is a boisterous and spirited event that takes place right in the heart of Seattle’s artistic community,” Lajeunesse said in a statement released along with the 2014 lineup tease. “This year’s headliners like Chromeo and Matt and Kim will transform the intersection of Pike and Broadway into a giant dance floor. I can’t wait.”

In December Lajeunesse went before the city’s Special Events Committee to assure the city’s party police that there would be no major logistical changes from last year’s festivities. Over recent years, Block Party planners have attempted to do more with less, packing more music and art into the same confines and doing more to mitigate the festival’s impact on the neighborhood by keeping a lid on attendance and last call. Ticket prices have also climbed with single-day access reaching $40 last year. 2014 three-day passes will start at $99 for a limited time, organizers say. Continue reading

Why Capitol Hill’s big mixed-use developments look, um, the way they do

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The many faces of Joule. (Photo: CHS)

Boxy. Monolith. Bland. Generic. The adjectives that get hurled at many of the new mixed-used developments on Capitol Hill can be quite unforgiving.

One of those projects, Viva Capitol Hill at 12th and E Union, was recently stalled after complaints rolled in about the building’s monochromatic facade.

Materials, zoning, and Capitol Hill’s competitive development market all narrow the window for creativity and risk taking in building new mixed-use projects.

Those factors have led to some easily identifiable trends among Capitol Hill’s 47+ in-progress projects: cheap and flat facades, jolting color splashes, and hulking buildings desperately trying to look smaller and more welcoming at street level. The resulting public distaste is not surprising, and architects say more could be done to build better. Continue reading

Shibumi promises a real ramen experience on Capitol Hill

IMG_2253The cauldrons of broth are finally bubbling behind the ramen bar at Shibumi as Eric Stapelman opened his Japanese eatery this week at 12th and Pine. The restaurant is the latest addition to the newly constructed Collins on Pine building, a big change for Stapelman who ran his previous Santa Fe ramen joint from a 19th century-built structure.

Shibumi features two bars, one for ramen and one for booze, and plenty of table seating. The vaulted ceilings and blue steel finishes give a slick overtone to some old-world elements, like the hand-burned wood panels to surround the ramen bar.

“A touch of modern with old world,” Stapelman said.

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Continue reading

Capitol Hill businesses join forces big and small in minimum wage debate — UPDATE

Linda Di Lello Morton, co-owner of Terra Plata and Elliot Bay Cafe, speaking with other small business owners on $15 an hour (Photo: CHS)

Linda Di Lello Morton, co-owner of Terra Plata and Elliot Bay Cafe, speaking with other small business owners on $15 an hour (Photo: CHS)

UPDATE: A handful of members of a new business coalition seeking to inject their concerns in Seattle’s $15 an hour minimum wage debate gathered publicly for the first time on Capitol Hill Thursday.

The organization, called OneSeattle Coalition, held a press conference at the 10th and Pine Century Ballroom before members of the press (and more than one member of the $15 Now campaign) to launch its campaign and, apparently, put a few faces of local business people in front of the cameras.

Linda Di Lello Morton, co-owner of Terra Plata and Elliot Bay Cafe, said she joined OneSeattle because of their commitment to a “sustainable approach” to raising the minimum wage. The group has not released a specific proposal, but Morton said tips and other benefits must be included in a $15 an hour minimum wage hike. She said if the minimum wage were raised and excluded a so-called total compensation calculation, Terra Plata’s costs would go up about $300,000 a year, forcing the restaurant to close for lunch and all day on Mondays and Tuesdays.

“It’s a deal breaker, it puts us at the breaking point, not the tipping point,” she said. Continue reading

Starbucks, Douglas will be roasting the good stuff at new Capitol Hill facility

Packard Seattle once called the corner home

Packard Seattle once called the corner home

A Starbucks premium reserve offering

A Starbucks premium reserve offering

By fall, the entire line of Starbucks premium reserve coffees will be roasted right here on Capitol Hill when the $57.4 billion global coffee giant opens up a new roastery and restaurant complex.

Last month, CHS broke the news that Starbucks was bringing in a Seattle restaurant heavy hitter to help create its planned news Capitol Hill complex at Melrose and Pike.

The rotating line of 15 reserve coffees are currently available in 500 retail locations across 10 international markets. By the end of 2014 Starbucks officials say then want to double the number of locations with the dedicated Capitol Hill facility. The reserve line, currently roasted in Kent, will be familiar to customers at Roy St. Coffee and Tea where coffees like Sumatra Blue Batak and Sun-Dried Ethiopia Yirgacheffe are displayed behind the counter.

Friday, CHS sat down with Starbucks chief creative officer Arthur Rubinfeld at Roy St., the company’s first “inspired”venture on Capitol Hill, to talk about the new roastery. Joining him was restauranteur Tom Douglas, who will open his third Serious Pie pizzeria inside the complex, marking his company’s Capitol Hill debut. Both were ready to fill in the details on the big story CHS has been piecing together since last year.

“It just feels right,” Rubinfeld said of joining forces with Douglas. Continue reading

City plans to remove Broadway’s big ol’ leaning tree

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

A natural landmark on north Broadway is slated to disappear this weekend when city crews take down one of Capitol Hill’s most prominent street-side trees. City officials say the towering Raywood ash at the northeast corner of Broadway and Mercer has become a danger after it began “exhibiting an increasingly unnatural lean.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation Urban Forestry team announced the city would be removing the tree Saturday. The city says crews had been monitoring it for several years. A public notice was also recently taped on the tree trunk. Continue reading

Egyptian will play host to SIFF 2014, but theater remains empty as nonprofit takeover still being evaluated

Nine months after the screen went dark at The Egyptian Theatre, the lights are still out at the at the prominent Capitol Hill cinema space. But CHS has confirmed the 600-seat theater will raise its curtain once again when it plays its part in hosting the 40th annual Seattle International Film Festival this May.

“It’s good to be able to use the Egyptian after being dark for so long,” said SIFF’s Rachel Eggers. ”We love having SIFF on Capitol Hill and love being able to connect with the community.”

Eggers said crews will soon begin spiffing up the theater’s interior and putting up some new artwork outside — a welcomed change from the now longstanding “farewell” marquee. Continue reading

New small biz group with anonymous membership proposes $11 minimum wage with tip credits

For months Seattle’s minimum wage debate has centered around $15 an hour or bust. Now a newly formed group, whose membership appears to be anonymous, says it’s time for Seattle’s small, independent businesses to push back. On Wednesday Forward Seattle released a direct counter to the $15 Now plan, in what seems to be the first detailed alternative to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 12.03.01 PM

The counter plan proposes an $11 an hour minimum wage for small businesses in 2015 with adjustments made annually through 2017. Tips, bonuses, commissions, and profit sharing would all get counted towards a minimum wage under the plan, and the state minimum wage would be retained for all tipped and commission workers.

Forward Seattle also wants phase-ins for non-profits, but said big businesses could handle a jump to $12.50 an hour by next year. The group would use federal guidelines to delineate big and small businesses.

The group describes itself as a “non-partisan, self-funded, grassroots organization representing local, independent businesses.” CHS could not reach anyone from Forward Seattle in time for publication, but here’s what the group’s website has to say.

Forward Seattle advocates an increase in the minimum wage that is gradual, sustainable, responsible and measurable … Forward Seattle believes that an increase in the minimum wage is a matter of justice, solvency, sustainability and survival, not just for the Seattle local independent business community, but for the citizens involved in them and the public at large.

A few more points on the group’s plan:

  • No exceptions made for collective bargaining agreements or unions
  • Training wages, including a rate for workers under 18 years of age
  • A policy adopted must be measured, evaluated and reported upon for actual impact on low-wage earners prior to adopting new policy beyond 2017.

The Seattle Forward site also has this “open books” post about an anonymous West Seattle coffee shop. Many small business owners who want to pull the reigns on $15 Now have said it’s been difficult to discuss the issue publicly without being vilified.

The plan will surely be a topic of conversation at the next Capitol Hill Community Council meeting, where the entire April 17th meeting will be devoted to the minimum wage debate.

In a Wednesday piece for The Stranger, Andrew Friedman, owner of Liberty and soon-to-open Good Citizen, warned an immediate $15 an hour minimum wage would shutter small businesses. Seattle Forward’s counter plan comes a week after Mayor Ed Murray held his daylong Income Inequality Symposium on the Seattle University campus.

Mayor will discuss pre-K for all plan Thursday in CD, dinner and childcare included

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Murray gives a civics lesson to preschoolers in Boston during his pre-K tour in March. (Photo: City of Seattle)

Mayor Ed Murray wants to have voluntary, affordable, and high quality preschool classes available to all 3-and-4-year-olds in Seattle as early as fall 2015. On Thursday he’ll be at the Garfield Community Center to talk about his plan to get it done. And to prove the city really knows what parents of little ones need, dinner and childcare will be provided. The event starts at 6 PM, RSVP at upk@seattle.gov with how many adults and kids you’ll be bringing.

The City Council’s “gap analysis” of pre-K needs was released in January and found that up to 37% of the city’s 12,300 3-and-4-year-olds were not enrolled in preschool education. Murray traveld to the East Coast in March to tour pre-K programs and learn from municipalities that have implemented universal preschool programs.

Given the well documented benefits of preschool, there’s little disagreement among Seattle’s elected officials that the city ought to ensure all kids have the opportunity to go. The challenge ahead is how to fund it. City council member Tim Burgess has put the number at anywhere from $8,000 – $17,000 per student per year.

Join the mayor Thursday, April 3rd from 6pm-8pm at Garfield Community Center. There will be dinner, childcare, and interpretation provided. CommunityOutreachFlyer_English