About Bryan Cohen

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

Custom gift company the latest tech-y start-up to move into Pike/Pine

(Image: Knack)

(Image: Knack)

11822391_673529589449538_8971537360606685925_nAs one big tech giant continues to build up in South Lake Union, boutique firms with much smaller footprints are finding a home on Capitol Hill.

The latest is Knack, a custom gift service that promises to restore the “delight back into modern gift giving by allowing even the most overscheduled and craft-averse to easily create meaningful, made-by-you-just-for-them gifts.”

Last year Knack was set up as a pop-up shop in the Pacific Place Mall. Now the boutique gift service is entering the world of online commerce by allowing customers put together custom gift packages online. Continue reading

Seattle closes its first ‘$15 minimum wage’ investigation

It’s been five months since Seattle’s minimum wage law went into effect, effectively giving thousands of workers a pay raise as well as creating a new office to investigate violations of the law. Earlier this month, the relatively new Office of Labor Standards launched a dashboard to track the number of wage complaints and investigations.

So far there’s been just one closed investigation of wage theft in Seattle. It came against Homegrown sandwich shop, which has several locations in the city including one inside Capitol Hill’s Melrose Market.

According to Homegrown co-owner Ben Friedman, the investigation was opened in May after Homegrown was found to be miscalculating their tip credit at all their Seattle locations. Under the minimum wage ordinance, the tip credit allows smaller companies to pay $10 an hour if employees make $11 an hour with tips.

“Within days of receiving the notice, we sent letters out to all of our employees affected by the issue, along with back pay plus interest. The Seattle Office of Labor Standards quickly closed their investigation,” Friedman told CHS in an email. Continue reading

SPD increases efforts to put ‘shooters in handcuffs’ after East Precinct gun violence

Seattle Police commanders say they’re taking a laser focused approach to identifying and arresting suspects of violent crime in the wake of an uptick of shootings in the city, several of which have occurred in the East Precinct.

Chief Kathleen O’Toole highlighted the department’s recent strategies to tackle gang violence with “predictive analysis” at a briefing Tuesday. The cornerstone of the increased effort is a daily meeting at the department’s Real Time Crime Center, where officials discuss every violent crime that occurred over the past 24 hours.

In the meetings which began last month, O’Toole said information on suspects vehicles and known gang affiliations is widely distributed and specific officers are tasked with making arrests. SPD also began holding a weekly violent crime meeting with regional and federal law enforcement agencies.

“Shooters in handcuffs, that’s our top priority,” O’Toole said. The effort recently led to the recovery of a stolen vehicle connected to the August 13th killing of 24-year-old Antonio Jones at 26th and Columbia. Continue reading

Round two of E Pike’s pedestrian zone will feature earlier start, drag, street yoga — UPDATE: no mimes!

IMG_4579Updated-map-image-1024x630Now the fun really begins. After Pike/Pine revelers needed a little coaxing to get into the street during the first trial run of the E Pike pedestrian zone, local drag performers should have no problem drawing people off the sidewalks this weekend.

The second round of Capitol Hill EcoDistrict’s street closure pilot program starts Saturday night and will include an earlier start and performances through the evening. Vehicle traffic will be blocked on E Pike between Broadway and 12th Ave from 8 PM to 3 AM, however 10th and 11th Avenues will remain open to traffic.

The night’s festivities will start with a free street yoga class at 8 PM put on by SweatBox Yoga. Owner Laura Culberg said mats and athletic clothing would be optional for the beginners level session.

The main event starts a 9 PM with the Grand Diva Deluxe drag show performed on a stage just outside The Wildrose. Here’s the rundown from host Jackie Hell:

You won’t be the only drag queen on E Pike St this night! The lineup includes some of Seattle’s finest, including: Tony James, AKA Freckles Riverside, of New Noise Productions (the King of F’ing with Burlesque). RainbowGore Cake, the 12 year old, drag superstar. Shelli Kountz, bringing you Drag King realness. Ade, the sultry singer we all love. Honey Bucket, Pac Highway’s hottest Ho.

Amplified sound will end by 10 PM. The programming will then shift gears into more “calming” performances that could include human statues, mimes, and acoustic musicians.

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SDOT cameras have been recording the scene around E Pike as part of the pedestrian zone study. We wonder what they’ve seen! (Image: CHS)

Last month, the City installed video cameras along E Pike in order to complete a pedestrian count study of the Pike/Pine core, including during the pedestrian-only trials. Seattle Department of Transportation officials tell CHS the cameras are “strictly” for counting purposes (unlike the cameras federal agents quietly installed in the CD last month).

Data from the study won’t be ready until next month, according to a SDOT spokesperson. A handful of interns will be responsible for painstakingly counting each pedestrian captured on hundreds of hours of video, though we’re sure they’ll catch some interesting moments to make the time go by.

The success of the E Pike pedestrian zone could go a long way towards making the EcoDistrict the next big thing on Capitol Hill. EcoDistrict representatives recently went before City Council members to tout their successes since launching in 2013 and to discuss their tackling even bigger neighborhood projects in the near future.

Here are car/parking details for Saturday night:

No parking will be allowed on E Pike Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue, and the east side of 11th Avenue 150 feet north of E Pike Street, from 6PM until 3AM. The following left turn lanes will be closed from 8PM to 3AM: -Southbound Broadway at Pike -Northbound 12th Avenue at Pike Closure details: Three blocks of E Pike Street will be closed to vehicles from 8PM Saturday until 3AM Sunday Parking on E Pike Street will be closed between Broadway and 11th Avenue starting at 6PM Saturday

For more information visit capitolhillecodistrict.org 

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Summit Block Party matures along with the building that helped inspire it

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

IMG_22122015 could be the start of a new era for the Summit Block Party. In his second year as lead organizer, Adam Way is taking a more professional approach to the fourth annual day of free music, food, and beer happening this Saturday.

Special events permits have been acquired, t-shirts and other merchandise produced, and liability insurance purchased. Way even got the city to close street parking on the Summit Ave block between Howell and Olive for the party and secured a $1,000 Department of Neighborhoods grant to help offset costs.

“On the whole, there is a (push) for quality,” Way said. “I don’t want people to feel like the free admission wasn’t worth it.”

“I don’t want people to feel like the free admission wasn’t worth it.”

At the same time, the building on the block that had been the street party’s creative source is undergoing a similar transformation. The DIY madhouse days of the Summit Inn came to an abrupt end last year after it was bought out by developer Brad Padden who plans to renovate the entire building next year.

The Summit Inn and its resident community were key in getting the block party off the ground, but when Padden increased rents by $100 with promises of further increases, many tenants moved out. The original Summit Block Party organizers also decided to step away from the event this year. That doesn’t appear to be dampening the party. Way has made peace with the City and the new Summit Inn owners, who have agreed to provide electricity for the day-long event. “We’re just trying to do our part,” Padden said. Continue reading

The queen of Capitol Hill is moving downtown

Derschang inside her recently opened Little Oddfellows (Image: CHS)

Derschang inside her recently opened Little Oddfellows (Image: CHS)

Daydreaming about your glamorous life in Linda Derschang’s $1.7 million Interlaken home is one thing. Dealing with the realities of maintaining the 90-year-old house is another. After calling Capitol Hill home for the better part of 30 years, Derschang tells CHS she is leaving for the simpler life across I-5. This week, she starts her move to a condo in the Denny Triangle.

“My friends say ‘you’re not really moving into a neighborhood,’ but I don’t really need to move into a neighborhood,” she said. “I still spend so much time on Capitol Hill.”

Derschang and Capitol Hill have been inextricably linked since the late 1980s, when she moved to the neighborhood and opened her first Seattle business, a punk clothing store called Basic. Even so, Derschang is downplaying the significance of her neighborhood departure .

Derschang will actually be closer to Linda’s Tavern, Oddfellows Cafe + Bar, and her office above the 10th Ave restaurant in her new home at the base of Capitol Hill. She insists she hasn’t grown tired of us, either: Had there been more new condo options on Capitol Hill, Derschang said she would’ve stayed in the neighborhood.

“Let’s try to keep everything the same for a little while.”

The lifestyle change isn’t something Derschang says she sees as part of a trend among the old guard of Capitol Hill business owners, who have either already moved on or never called the neighborhood home in the first place. The move, she said, is rooted in much more universal impulse: “As we get older, we want to downsize.”

As far as the Derschang Group’s food and drink empire is concerned, Derschang says she has no plans to either shrink or expand following this month’s opening of Little Oddfellows inside the Elliot Bay Book Company.

“Let’s try to keep everything the same for a little while,” she said after laughing off the suggestion that the Denny Triangle could be home to her next venture.

Derschang has been a nonstop nightlife force in Seattle for two decades. She opened the Baltic Room in 1997 and Chop Suey in 2003. In 2006 she opened King’s Hardware in Ballard, and then returned to Capitol Hill to open Smith in 2007 and Oddfellows Cafe in 2008. Bait Shop came in 2012 and Tallulah’s opening closed out 2013.

Last year CHS looked back at the history of Linda’s Tavern as the beloved watering hole turned 20 and glanced ahead at what the future might hold amid so much neighborhood upheaval. At the time, Derschang said she was unsure if the “nice place for nice people” would be able to roll with Capitol Hill culture changes for another 20 years. The future hasn’t necessarily become any clearer for Derschang, but she will have a good vantage point from which to survey it all.

15th Ave’s Gaslight Inn makes first appearance before landmarks board Wednesday

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(Images: Gaslight Inn)

The Gaslight Inn house near 15th and Howell has been a relatively quiet character in Capitol Hill history, but it’s reflection of the neighborhood’s changing role in the city over the past century is undeniably special.

The 3-story, 7,700-square-foot house was completed in 1907, a time when Capitol Hill was primarily the neighborhood of choice for city Seattle’s wealthy entrepreneurs. It was built by Paul Singerman, a business owner and philanthropist who was also a notable character in the Central Area’s Jewish history.

By the 1920s, the building had become a rooming house — a precursor to the boom of multi-unit dwellings that would popup during the Great Depression.

Since that time, the building has been used for guest boarding of one type or another. In 1983, current owner Stephen Bennett took over the building and began remodeling it with his partner. After decades of use as a budget guesthouse, the 1727 15th Ave E property needed a serious sprucing up.

In the formative years of the Capitol Hill gayborhood, longtime Gaslight employee John Fox said many gay couples bought similar rundown houses to fix them up as their own.

“It’s how the gay community used to live,” he said. “We remember a time when you weren’t necessarily welcomed everywhere and this was our way of making something nice in our neighborhood.” Continue reading

City vows to crack down on hookah lounges as opponents call the move xenophobic

(Image: King's Hookah Lounge)

(Image: King’s Hookah Lounge)

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The murder of International District community leader Donnie Chin has City Hall targeting Seattle’s hookah lounges. Monday afternoon, the City Council’s chambers were again filled with community members speaking for and against the proposed ban that would close 11 lounges around Seattle.

According to Seattle Police, hours before the murder two suspects were inside King’s Hookah Lounge at 8th Ave and S Lane, near where Chin was gunned down.

The incident has put a spotlight on the lounges where customers go to smoke flavored tobacco through Middle Eastern water pipes. According to Mayor Ed Murray, more than 100 fights and disturbances have been connected to the lounges since 2012.

Murray announced he would be directing the city’s health and law departments to ramp up enforcement of the lounges. The state currently bans smoking in places of employment, as does a provision in Seattle’s business licensing code that goes into effect this week. “These establishments are unlawful businesses that continue to thumb their noses at the law,” Murray said in a statement. Continue reading

Homicide detectives seek tips in investigation of deadly shooting — UPDATE

Investigators worked to finish the collection of evidence Sunday morning (Image: CHS)

Investigators worked to finish the collection of evidence Sunday morning (Image: CHS)

Seattle Police detectives are seeking help in their investigation into a Capitol Hill gunfight outside The Baltic Room that left one man dead early Sunday morning.

SPD has not yet released a suspect description and officials have not yet confirmed the identity of the victim.

A Seattle Times staffer reported that the victim was the son of Ritchie “OG Ratt” Williams — a member of Seattle’s Hoover Crips who was fatally shot in 2013. Posts on social media memorializing “Monie Ratt” appeared in the hours following the shooting Sunday.

"In Loving Memory Of Ramon Mitchell" via GoFundMe.com

“In Loving Memory Of Ramon Mitchell” via GoFundMe.com

UPDATE 8/18/2015 3:10 PM: Officials have identified the victim as Ramon Mitchell, 23. A fundraiser has been set up to help cover his funeral expenses:

In Loving Memory Of Ramon Mitchell
Ramon Mitchell /monie however you known him we all know he was loving person and loved by his family.
On August 16,2015 monie was at a club in capital hill when senseless shots rang out and out of 30 shots Ramon was the only person who was shot and killed.
Monie was the kind of person who was a leader, a friend,loving father to his only baby girl and a goal getter. Monie was taken away way to early from all of his family for no reason. Our family is asking for all caring hearts to donate what you can to support us threw this diffitcult time all donations will be used towards the cost for the funeral no other accounts should be donated to other than this account.

Mitchell, unable to own a gun because of a past robbery conviction, was convicted for unlawful possession of a firearm after his arrest in 2014 during the investigation of a South Seattle burglary. He was sentenced to a year in jail that was scheduled to end in June.

Original report: As of Monday, SPD’s report on the incident was not publicly available as homicide detectives typically put a hold on reports while they investigate, an SPD spokesperson told CHS. Continue reading

As community-powered Broadway Hill Park finally digs in, grants awarded to tool library, Central Area Block Party

Thanks to reader Neal for the picture

Thanks to reader Neal for the picture

Broadway Hill Park schematic

Broadway Hill Park schematic

Construction is finally ready to begin to create Broadway Hill Park on the empty lot at the corner of Federal and Republican some five years after the land was purchased by the city for $2 million.

The city’s Opportunity Fund grant process helped push the project to its final stages with a $750,000 boost. Another $17,500 from a Neighborhood Matching Fund Small and Simple grant paid for for the schematic design including community gardening, art, and open spaces. That design, by the way, has been ready and on the shelf since 2011. The long wait hasn’t been a total waste, however. Neighbors have put the lot at one time lined up for a development project to some good use as a place to hangout — and sometimes more.

Meanwhile, a new wave of grants will help create new greenspaces and community projects around Central Seattle. The Capitol Hill Tool Library and a pocket park at 19th and Madison are just a couple of the projects that received matching grants from the city last week.

The Department of Neighborhoods awarded just over $467,000 in neighborhood matching grants through its Small and Simple Projects Fund. Neighborhood groups have pledged match with $600,000 in volunteer hours and donations to receive the grants.

Here are the Capitol Hill and Central District specific projects:

  • $25,000 to Friends of Cayton Corner Park to prepare construction documents for a neighborhood pocket park on Capitol Hill. (Community match: $12,630)
  • $12,000 to Capitol Hill Housing Foundation to engage renters living in the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict in voter registration and a 2016 Renters Summit. (Community match: $30,980)
  • $16,000 to Sustainable Capitol Hill to create a community tool library and fixer’s collective to provide items to check out or use in the workshop. (Community match: $42,100)
  • $10,000 to Gay City Health Project to solicit public input to create a database of health care providers to ensure the LGBTQ community has access to high quality, competent healthcare. (Community match: $7,220)
  • $11,500 to 23rd Avenue ACT (Action Core Team) to produce the Central Area Block Party in September to highlight the history and culture of the community. (Community match: $10,712)

Both the Cayton Corner Park and tool library are projects that have been several years in the making. Residents around the Cayton park have been working since at least 2013 to spruce up the triangle parcel. Sustainable Capitol Hill found a home for its tool share program in March at Crawford Pl and E Pike inside the First Covenant Church.

The application for Small and Simple grants reopens in October.