About Bryan Cohen

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

Tougo Coffee owner ready to open charcuterie and wine spot Bannister next door at 18th and Union


(Image: Bannister)

(Image: Bannister)

The Central District’s one-block commercial stretch along 18th Ave at E Union is one of the quaintest and most neighborhood-y around. Since 2007, Tougo Coffee has anchored the stretch as a neighborhood hangout. Now owner Brian Wells says he’s hoping to cultivate the same sense of community one door down at Bannister, his new charcuterie-wine-cocktail venture.

Wells tells CHS he’ll hold a reservation-only soft open starting October 24th and a grand opening on November 1st.

On the menu, Wells said to expect fine cheese, cured meats, olives, made-in-house pickles, and a full bar.

The restaurant is named after Edward Mitchell Bannister, a 19th century artist Wells said he has long admired.

Wells started his coffee career in Boston in 1991. He moved to Seattle in 1996 and spent most of his time in the service industry. In 2010 CHS reported on financial and tax troubles at Tougo. The 18th Ave cafe closed temporarily while Wells fundraised to pay back business taxes in order to renew his license. Since, Wells shuttered his Westlake Ave location. Wells said these days everything is going swell at Tougo and he’s ready for the expanded business venture. Continue reading

Seattle’s bus funding ballot measure *could* resurrect the 47 with sales tax hike and car tab fee


The 47 taking its final run. (Photo: CHS)

After months of warning, Metro’s funding woes finally came to Capitol Hill’s doorstep in September when the the 47 bus was discontinued along with 28 other routes around the regional bus system.

Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposition 1 asks Seattle voters if they want to buy back some of those services in Seattle and improve existing routes with a $60 annual vehicle license fee and .1% sales tax hike. If enacted, the measure is expected generate around $45 million annually for the hamstrung bus system.

Some of those funds could be used to restore Rt. 47 and others that were among the lower performing routes in the system, though the plan does not spell out which routes would get funding. Those decisions would likely be left up to the City Council. The group Yes For Seattle Transit has identified several existing Capitol Hill-area routes that would likely be improved or expanded, including routes 2, 8, 9x, 10, 25, 43, 48, 49, and 60. Continue reading

City has failed to enforce paid sick leave, says auditor report

Mike McGinn signs paid sick leave into law in 2011 at Plum Bistro (Photo: CHS)

Mike McGinn signs paid sick leave into law in 2011 at Plum Bistro (Photo: CHS)

In 2011 when Mayor Mike McGinn signed mandatory paid sick leave into law on Capitol Hill, it was hailed as a major progressive victory and a crowning achievement of his administration. Then there was that small bit about actually putting it to work.

From when the law went into effect in September 2012 to December 2013, workers made 143 valid complaints about paid sick leave enforcement, but a recent report found none of those resulted in fines on employers or anything more harsh than an advisory letter. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | What’s it mean to be home to the 6th best bar in the world? 12th Ave whiskey and bitters emporium Canon will show you

IMG_0278Ask two people on Capitol Hill for the best bar in the Seattle Inner City and you’ll get three different opinions. But somehow, the industry journal Drinks International is able to rank the 50 best bars in the entire world. This year 12th Ave’s Canon came in at number 6.

What does that mean for you, dear Capitol Hill drinker?

Since it opened in 2011 with a 12-page menu, Canon has steadily grown and tweaked its dizzying selection of spirits, bitters, and ornate cocktails. It now boasts one of the largest spirit menus in the country — a 130-page tome (PDF) that represents around $1 million worth of inventory.

Owner Jamie Boudreau said the recently released top ranking took him by surprise. Even though Seattle’s high-end food+drink culture has grown by leaps and bounds, Boudreau said the city is still considered quite provincial in the craft cocktail world.

“To crack the top ten when I know the judges are always in New York, always in London, always in Chicago, it’s impressive,” he said. “To have a recognition of Seattle’s cocktail culture is really great. It’s nice that the city is starting to get noticed.”


Continue reading

Former director to do time, pay back thousands she stole from Capitol Hill school program

Five years and a $125,000 civil lawsuit settlement later, a former director of a Capitol Hill after school program has been sentenced to 17 months in prison and ordered to pay another $82,000 in restitution for embezzling thousands of dollars from the program she increasingly used as her personal bank account, according to court documents.

Earlier this month, Cathy Reed pleaded guilty to multiple counts of theft from Kids’ Club, a non-profit after school program at 18th Ave E’s Stevens Elementary. From 2009-2011 Reed used Kids’ Club money to buy a new car, fund personal vacations, and even pay property taxes on her house. CHS first broke news of the allegations against Reed last October. At that time, Reed did not respond to multiple requests for comment, nor was she home when we knocked on the door of her Lake Forest Park home.

In court documents, the King County prosecutor said Reed’s actions were a clear case of a person who chose to live beyond her means.

“There is no evidence … of a gambling addiction, or of a drug problem, or of a compulsive shopping habit,” said deputy prosecuting attorney Amanda Froh. “Instead, those records tell the story of someone who was living her life, day by day, in a manner beyond what her income could sustain.” Continue reading

Low turnout? Vote in the CHS Primary (and vote on the monorail again!)

unnamed-5The Capitol Hill Community Council held an electoral forum for its monthly meeting Thursday night. The council invited representatives of five ballot initiatives to come speak (only four showed).
Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, who’s running un-opposed for Capitol Hill’s 43rd district seat, began the meeting by saying he was concerned about low public interest in the November 4th election. It was apt assessment given Thursday night’s meeting was primarily attended by speakers.
Below are CHS’s notes on the night’s discussions. We’re not sure they’re going to boost that “low public interest” but maybe they’ll help inspire a few extra ballots to be cast.

Gun control – I-594

  • I-594 seeks to expand criminal background checks for gun purchases to all private gun sales, including gun shows and Internet sales.
  • Rep. Brady Walkinshaw spoke on behalf of I-594, saying the best thing supporters could do was get out the vote. “This issue is really going to rise and fall with turnout,” he said. Continue reading

Is Capitol Hill’s Electric Tea Garden brewing a redux?


Thanks for the tip, Marley

Last November, the Electric Tea Garden held a “last blast” dance party in its second story club space above the American Artificial Limb Co. at 14th and E Pike. But on Wednesday night, just under one year after ETG’s final weekend, a sign of life appeared on the shuttered club’s front door: a notice that ETG was applying for a new liquor license.

ETG’s owner Bruce Mason and others associated with the club have not yet responded to CHS on what is in store for the space.

A neighboring business tells CHS that there are plans to reopen the dance club.

When the club closed last year, Mason told CHS that an impending rent increase and gentrification in the neighborhood had weakened the club’s long term prospects. Continue reading

Sorting out the opposing pre-K measures on the November ballot

"Children at Broadway Playfield, 1918" (Image: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr)

“Children at Broadway Playfield, 1918″ (Image: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr)

Two competing preschool measures will be up for a vote come November 4th. Both Prop 1A and Prop 1B support a using some tax dollars to support and expand private pre-K programs with the aim of eventually putting all Seattle’s kids through voluntary preschool, but the measures differ on several key points. And only one has the mayor’s backing.

You’ll have to answer two questions that will look like this on your ballot:

1. Should either of these measures be enacted into law?

– Yes
– No

2. Regardless of whether you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be?

– Proposition 1A
– Proposition 1B

If “no” wins on the first question, nothing happens. If “yes” wins, then either 1A or 1B will be enacted depending on which one garnered the most votes. Got it? OK, here’s what they do… Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Bordeaux Mansion goes on and off market in three days


We’ve written about the fast acting, cash-is-king housing market on Capitol Hill, but this is downright impressive. A $3.4 million mansion on Capitol Hill’s Millionaires’ Row was on the market for only three days before a sale was pending.

The Bordeaux Mansion, one of the most stunning along the northern stretch of 14th Ave, went on sale last week. The 8-bedroom, 7,600-square-foot house was last on the market in 1999. The Seattle landmark was built in 1908 by Thomas Bordeaux, a prominent lumber baron.

Check out photos here and more details from Curbed Seattle:

The hexagonal turret and tall brick chimney are the immediate examples of the home’s Bavarian/Tyrolean style. The four-story home is flush with porches overlooking the landscaped double-lot property. Inside, there’s five bathrooms, four fireplaces and a renovated kitchen. Down in the basement you’ll find a wine cellar, exercise room and indoor lap pool. But you can find us up in the fourth-floor, 360 sq. ft. media room with skylights that allow you to enjoy views of, well, just about everything.

Proposed developer fees could drastically expand city’s affordable housing efforts

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 2.02.49 PM

Areas where the fee could be implemented (Image: City of Seattle)

The Seattle City Council moved one step closer to implementing a long-discussed program to place a fee on new construction in Seattle in order to expand the city’s affordable housing efforts.

On Tuesday, members of the council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee unanimously passed a resolution stating the council’s intent to draft a so-called linkage fee program and instructs relevant city departments to start drawing up the plans. The resolution will go before the full council on October 20th. It will likely take several months for a draft ordinance to surface, council members said.

The linkage fee would replace the city’s existing incentive zoning program and could generate multiple times more funding for affordable housing projects. Under the initial proposal, developers in certain area could either pay a per-square-foot fee or dedicate at least 3% – 5% of the units in their project to those making below 80% of the area mean income.

The proposal has drawn serious ire from developers and their attorneys, some of whom were present at previous committee meetings. Council member Sally Clark said during Tuesday’s committee meeting that it was not lost on her that perhaps dozens of attorneys were listening in, but she said the plan would move forward. “This deals with a good problem to have, an affordability crunch due to the strong desire to develop in the city of Seattle,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray has tapped the expertise of Capitol Hill developer Maria Barrientos and others for his housing affordability advisory committee. The flurry of affordable housing activity comes as Seattle recently became the 10th most expensive U.S. city for renters with rents rising faster than any other major city.

City Council vote will pave way for new youth detention center at 12th and Alder

12th and Alder in a design rendering of "Concept A"

12th and Alder in a design rendering of “Concept A”

UPDATE: The Seattle City Council voted 8-1 Monday in favor of a land use bill that will give King County the ability to replace its crumbling Youth Detention Center at 12th and Alder.

Land use bills rarely evoke significant emotion or public attention, but Monday’s meeting drew a number of public commenters who opposed spending more money on a youth detention system that disproportionately detains African Americans.

Council member Kshama Sawant cast the lone “no” vote, saying the county should instead use a fraction of the estimated $200 million to repair the currently crumbling Youth Services Center and spend the rest on youth jobs programs. Council member Mike O’Brien said it was not up to the council to decide whether or not to continue investments in youth detention and that the old facility needed to be replaced.

Council members passed an amendment to the bill that would delay the implementation of the zoning changes until April 2015 so a racial impact study of building a new detention facility could be complete.

In 2012, 55% of voters approved a $210 million levy to build the new 144-bed facility. The existing center has 210 beds. Detention data shows the current center is typically less than half full.

The council bill would alter the zoning code to allow for construction of the new center, even though one already exists on the 9-acre site. The new facility, called the Children and Family Justice Center, will also include a courtroom and gymnasium:

The project includes building a new 136,992 square foot (sf) courthouse with 10 courtrooms, a new 98,031 sf juvenile detention facility with 154 dorms, and a new four-level parking structure with 440 spaces. The existing buildings will be demolished, leaving 2.8 acres of the county-owned property at 12th Avenue and Alder Street unused.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 9.41.47 PM

Continue reading

Alleged Broadway Grill hacker now charged with stealing and selling 2 million credit card numbers

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 6.14.42 PMThe Russian man charged with stealing credit card numbers from the now shuttered Broadway Grill is now accused of stealing up to 2 million credit card numbers far beyond Seattle and leading a large international hacking syndicate, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

On Tuesday a federal grand jury in Seattle returned a “second superseding” indictment on Roman Seleznev, charging him with an additional 11 counts related to hacking, stealing credit card information, and selling the numbers through “carding” sites.

UPDATE: Seleznev pleaded not guilty to the new charges. A trial date was scheduled for November.

In a press release, Seattle’s acting U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes said Seleznev was a leader in the international marketplace of stolen credit card numbers and even created a website to teach others how to do it. New information examined by the grand jury showed Seleznev was operating his criminal scheme right until he was apprehended in Russia, according to the press release.

Seleznev allegedly used severs around the world to conduct his operations and sold credit card numbers through the website “2pac.cc.” In a separate indictment in Nevada, Seleznev faces racketeering charges.

Seleznev was indicted in Seattle in 2011 but wasn’t taken into custody until July 5th. DOJ representatives wouldn’t say how the suspect was ultimately captured or how he ended up in Guam, his first stop in U.S. territory. The arrest of Seleznev, the son of a member of Russia’s Duma, set off international protest as his home nation called his seizure a kidnapping part of a string of disputes with the U.S. over cybercrime.

According to the 2011 indictment, Seleznev’s hack of the Broadway Grill point of sale system resulted in at least $1.7 million in losses to banks and credit card companies. Seleznev’s charges include five counts of bank fraud, eight counts of intentionally causing damage to a protected computer, eight counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, one count of possession of unauthorized access devices, and two counts of trafficking those devices. He also faces five counts of aggravated identity theft.

SPD: Pike/Pine robberies decreasing with two-fold increase in weekend police patrols

Discussing Pike/Pine crime at the East Precinct (Image: CHS)

Business owners and community member discuss Pike/Pine crime at the East Precinct (Image: CHS)

A month of ramped-up of police activity to stamp out Capitol Hill robberies and assaults seems to be making an impact, or at least that was the consensus among Seattle Police top brass, including Chief Kathleen O’Toole, and a group of Capitol Hill business owners who met inside the East Precinct on Friday afternoon.

East Precinct Captain Pierre Davis said there has been a 42% decrease in street robberies over the past month as he’s doubled the weekend police presence in Pike/Pine. On Friday and Saturday nights Davis said he is now deploying up to 30 officers around the Pike/Pine area. The push required the support of the chief and Mayor Ed Murray to divert limited resources to patrolling Capitol Hill’s nightlife activity, Davis said.


By CHS’s count, combined robberies and pickpocket incidents across Capitol Hill fell from 38 reported in August to 16 in September. In 2013, the tally went from 21 to 11 in the same period. More of the latest Capitol Hill crime trend totals here

“Not everyone gets this,” Davis told CHS. ” We may have to look at making this permanent. That will take resources.” Continue reading