Beyond the books: Bailey Coy’s Wells not leaving Broadway he helped create

More than three years ago, Mayor Greg Nickels officially announced a city-funded effort to enhance the business environment on Capitol Hill, recognizing a Capitol Hill action plan developed over many months by community business leaders and city staff. A crowd of community members, city people and even journalists gathered for the presentation at a well-known Broadway business: Bailey Coy Books. As pretty much everyone knows by now, Bailey/Coy closed for good last Friday after 26 years on Broadway.

That Bailey Coy was the backdrop for the mayor’s announcement about Capitol Hill was appropriate because Michael Wells, Bailey Coy’s owner since 2003, was instrumental in bringing what was called the Broadway Economic Vitality Action Agenda to fruition. Wells, among others, had been deeply involved in any number of activities related to improving the business climate on Broadway and Capitol Hill.

This effort included being among the core group of people who resurrected the dormant Broadway Business Improvement Association after that group had fallen off the map. Wells also served as president of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce when it reformed as a result of the city signing off on the Broadway plan.

Which is all to say that when a store like Bailey Coy Books closes more may be lost than a desirable place to buy books. A great deal of institutional memory acquired during years of being a neighborhood business owner, not to mention countless hours of volunteer effort, can slowly evaporate as well.

For Michael Wells, by virtue of no longer being a Broadway business owner, he is by definition no longer a member of the Broadway BIA. Wells’ remains on the chamber board though he will step down in December, a decision that predates having to close the bookstore.

Not that Wells intends to remove himself completely from community involvement. Capitol Hill still runs deep in his veins. And despite having to close Bailey Coy he remains optimistic about Broadway’s long-term prospects, pointing to the large residential developments on Broadway’s north end as well as the eventual completion Broadway’s light rail station in 2016 as signs that Broadway will weather the current economic downturn.

“I think in a number of years the district will really thrive,” he said. “I was hoping to keep Bailey Coy hanging on long enough to be part of it. But I’m sure I’ll stay involved in some capacity.”

Given how much Capitol Hill has changed over the years, Wells thinks its probably time for a new crowd of community leaders to take their turn. He acknowledges that when people step aside after years of involvement there can be a loss of continuity as well as a loss of knowledge regarding the issues, the process of working with the city, etc. Then again, many people are involved, not everyone moves on at the same time and community involvement always has its own ebb and flow. Broadway evolves over time, and so, logically, should the people who choose to become community activists.

While well-documented changes in the book-selling universe led to the store’s closure, in stark and simple terms it boiled down to this: Bailey Coy experienced a 50 percent drop in sales over its last year. Making payroll was becoming a serious problem. In the end, Wells said, there really wasn’t any realistic alternative.

“We might have been able to keep going if we completely changed the kind of store we were. It would have been a change for the worse and I didn’t want to try to stay alive running a really bad bookstore,” he said. 

The next two weeks will be a mad dash getting ready for Bailey Coy’s Dec. 3 wake and auction. Once that event is over, Wells plans on going to bed for the rest of December. It will be the first time since he moved to Seattle in 1989 that he won’t be spending the holiday season behind a cash register.

Come January 1, he’ll start the daunting process of figuring out what comes next. The task will involve a considerable amount of soul searching. Having been a book seller for his professional life, Wells recognizes that the job hunt will likely involve an act of reinvention.

While his future is unknown, Wells can say this much with certainty: he has no plans on leaving Capitol Hill. After 20 years living a stone’s throw from Broadway Wells isn’t going anywhere. He even allows for a short laugh at the mere suggestion.

“No, I’m definitely not leaving the Hill,” he said. “I really wouldn’t know how to live anywhere else.”

Bailey/Coy Wake
When:   Thursday, December 3, 2009 06:00 PM – 09:00 PM

Where: Bailey/Coy 414 Broadway Ave E

What:  Please join us for our party/wake/auction/fundraising event that promises to be a blast!!!

For 26 years, Bailey/Coy Books served as Capitol Hill’s literary hub, providing the community with a place to be amongst books, talk about literature and meet their favorite authors.

On Thursday, December 3, we’re holding a wake for the store, in memory of all those years, and celebrating the customers who’ve walked through the doors, the authors we’ve hosted, the generations of books we’ve sold and the staff who have served us so well.

We’ll also hold an auction of the memorabilia we’ve collected over the years. We want to say good-bye in style – and raise some cash to help the store.

Auctioneer Laura Michalek will oversee bidding on a pair of white boxer shorts signed by David Sedaris, original cartoons out of our guestbook by Matt Groening and Lynda Barry, a poster signed by Annie Leibovitz, an original painting from the Big Fucking Hands series by Ellen Forney, signed first editions and other very special and very odd items. We’ll also auction off dates with two of Capitol Hill’s celebrity politicians, State Senator Ed Murray and City Councilmember Sally Clark.

Entertainment will be provided by Fuschia Foxxx and the magnificent Dina Martina. Food and champagne will be served, all provided by local Capitol Hill eateries such as Poppy, Table 219, Charlie’s and High Five Pies. Tickets are $40. We will pop the champagne open at 6 PM–the entertainment, and the auction, will begin promptly at 7.

Tickets will be available at or at the door. Space is limited – so buy early and buy often.

The ghosts of Hill’s indie bookstores past

Well, that was quick. Walking through Bailey/Coy Books today, about ten days since the bombshell news came out that the store would close at the end of November, was much sadder than expected. While braced for something far removed from a usual bookstore visit I was surprised at the knot in my stomach at the sight of the store standing on its very last legs.

Roughly half the floor space has been cordoned off by bookshelves, leaving visible empty floor space behind. Shelves are stocked with a far smaller number of titles than you might presume and a fractional amount compared to what constituted business as usual. There’s been a mad rush to take advantage of bargains before the store closes for good. Another telling sign: The shelves themselves are for sale.

No surprise that there’s pretty much universal agreement that Bailey/Coy’s closure is a terrible thing. On Broadway for 26 years, the store has been (and still is, for the next three weeks at least) one of Capitol Hill’s signature businesses.

But sadly, perhaps not surprisingly, it’s hardly the first time a well-established independent bookstore on the Hill has closed its doors. For one example, in March of this year Horizon Books shut down on 15th Avenue East, not long after closing its University District location. In so doing, a used bookstore that had been around for more than 30 years ceased to be.

Remember also Beyond the Closet at 518 E. Pike Street. The LGBT bookstore closed in 2005; I believe it opened in the late ‘80s. Capitol Hill was obviously a natural fit for the store before vast changes to the bookselling industry led to its financial downturn. Another factor in this case was greater acceptance of LGBT titles in mass-market bookstores like Barnes and Noble. By the middle of this decade selling gay and lesbian titles was not the mark of distinction it once had been.

Going back a little further, Pistil Books held court on East Pike Street where Bimbo’s Bitchin’ Burritos now draws crowds. But in the Spring of 2001, owners Amy Candiotti and Sean Carlson closed the physical store and became an Internet-only operation. During a gathering at the store to discuss changes in the book industry, the owners bemoaned closing the shop but had to face economic realities. Carlson said he’d been making $5 per hour for years, an amount that simply wasn’t sustainable. The bright side in this case is that the online business remains; check them out at

Those who’ve logged more than a decade of residence on the Hill may remember Red and Black Books on 15th Avenue East, where Shoprite currently plies its trade. The store featured a huge variety of publications simply not found in other stores. Leftist political treatises, obscure poetry, multicultural children’s books – the store’s mission was to sell non-mainstream titles. Logically located on the Hill and run as a collective of devoted members, its model worked for years. And then did not: the store closed in early 1999. Another bookstore, Pages, opened in the space briefly, focusing more on being an Internet café when such things were somewhat novel and closing shortly thereafter.

Just about everyone knows that what’s lost when independent bookstores close is more than places where one can buy books. Bailey/Coy Books helps define Broadway and Capitol Hill. No doubt the Elliot Bay Book Company, should it move to the Hill, could fill a void Bailey/Coy will leave behind. But this would come at the expense of the void its departure would create in Pioneer Square. While such a relocation would be good for the Hill, it’s probably not a great move for the city as a whole. Call it NIMBYism in reverse.

If Bailey/Coy couldn’t make it, nor the others that have gone under before it, who can? Because it’s hard to imagine a neighborhood where a niche bookstore like Red and Black or Beyond the Closet, or a well-titled independent like Bailey/Coy would fare better. And that is truly a scary thought.

8 commanders in a decade: East Precinct’s revolving door

Since 1999, when then Captain John Diaz (now the city’s interim police chief) left the East Precinct following a lengthy tenure, there have been eight — count ‘em, eight — East Precinct Commanders minding the fort on 12th and Pine.

I think I can do this from memory, so here goes the captain roll call since then: Toni Malliet, Nick Metz, Mark Evenson, Fred Hill, Mike Meehan, Landy Black, Paul McDonagh and, beginning on October 28, Jim Dermody. Counting Diaz that’s nine commanders in ten-and-a-half years. Of those who’ve held the post after Diaz’ moved up, McDonagh’s tenure, roughly two-and-a-half years, is the longest.

Seems like quite a lot, yes?

Yes. It is a lot. Because leaving aside the particular merits of each individual, such a revolving door calls into question whether the common good is as well served as it could and should be. So many transitions in such a short period of time by definition makes it harder for a commander to establish strong relationships with the community, and it certainly makes it harder for the community to get to know the commander in charge of the precinct. Building relationships take time, and continuously having to re-build such relationships is probably not the most efficient way to go about it regardless of the good intentions on both sides of the podium.

Assuming enthusiasm, intelligence and professional competence — and only one of the group of former commanders left the position under challenging circumstances (you get an extra bonus point for remembering which one, plus another point if you remember why) it’s reasonable to assume that stability in the position is of considerable benefit, all the more so given the police department’s official emphasis on neighborhood policing.

Certainly some commanders are better than others. And it’s understandable that career goals and abilities direct captains to higher positions. Assistant Police Chief Nick Metz, for instance, took a turn as head of the East Precinct in 2000. And Landy Black left the East Precinct to become the Police Chief in Davis, Calif.

But it’s disruptive when a well-regarded captain moves on. I remember quite a few people were upset when then Captain Diaz left the precinct after more than five years in the position. On the other side of the coin, several people asked me who Captain Evenson was after he was moved to another position following a short stint at the East Precinct.

I interviewed each of the East Precinct commanders around the time each took the reins. They had appropriately positive things to say about their new job, which, if memory serves, in each case represented a promotion and their first posting as a newly-minted captain. But after several such conversations I asked how long a new commander expected to stay on the Hill. Here’s Mike Meehan’s reply from 2004:

“I say this laughingly, but I told my boss that my intention is to stay here until the day I retire. I’ll stay here as long as they allow me to stay. I am very happy to be at the East Precinct.”

Meehan stayed until mid-2005.

The community should and no doubt will welcome Captain Dermody to the neighborhood. Here’s hoping he’s able to stick around for awhile.

Another life for Twice Sold Tales


Fair to say Twice Sold Tales qualifies as one of the Hill’s venerable businesses. Owner Jamie Lutton first started selling used books out of a cart in the old Broadway Market in 1987; the move to her own store front off Broadway on East John Street came in 1990, after which the store evolved into a neighborhood fixture and a business that helped define Capitol Hill.

So it’s worth considering how Twice Sold Tales is doing after Sound Transit took over the block and tore down the store and other buildings to make way for Broadway’s light-rail station. The store’s most recent incarnation — call it Twice Sold Tales 3.0 — opened on the southwest corner of Harvard Avenue East and East Denny Way in May 2008 in a vacant storefront that had been a dental clinic. It’s a warren-like space with nooks and crannies that appeal to book hunters as well as the cats that call the store home. (As of this posting four felines occupy the premises.)

When asked how things were going, Lutton was quick to answer, “I’m still here!”

Any changes to Twice Sold Tales’ current fortunes are sufficiently intertwined between its Sound Transit relocation and the overall economic downturn that Lutton finds it difficult to separate the two. In simple terms, it’s been a tough stretch. Overall, she said, foot traffic is way down — not surprising given the store is no longer adjacent to a heavily used bus stop — but the people who do walk in are more apt to buy books rather than simply browse.

“More customers come with specific intent. Fewer walk in just to use the bathroom or camp out,” she said.

Shoplifting is way down, Lutton opines, because far fewer homeless people walk inside. Her clientele is a little older than it used to be and a little more residential, also not surprising since she’s closer to more apartments and condos. She said she’s now sells fewer books about drugs and marijuana growing operations and is selling more mysteries, more books about birds and more science fiction.

“I do my happy dance if someone wants to sell me science fiction titles,” she said.

Physically, the store is 50 percent larger than its predecessor and thus more titles fill the shelves, roughly 40,000 by Lutton’s best guess. But the relocation/recession meant that she recently had to lay off three employees, leaving 2.5 coworkers when there used to be eight. Lutton herself typically works six days a week, sometimes more. At one point this year she worked three straight months without a day off. Such is the life of an independent bookstore owner.

Still another sign of change: Lutton sold her Twice Sold Tales on lower Queen Anne earlier this year.

“That was a sign of the economy,” she said. “It’s just thriftier to run one shop instead of two.”

As for her experience with Sound Transit, the agency that took possession of her store through eminent domain, she’s basically sanguine about how it all went down. The relocation money provided by the agency didn’t come close to what was required to reopen her store — adding a wheelchair ramp alone cost roughly $20,000 — nor does she think Sound Transit’s efforts at signage and promotion were or are sufficient. But she said it things could have been worse; after all, she’s still in business. Lutton gives the agency a B, even B-plus, all things considered.

“For one thing, Sound Transit first told me I’d have to leave by 2001 and they didn’t get around to it until 2008. Their delay helped me out a lot,” she said.

Yes, there still are kitty cats (Photo: Doug Schwartz)

She’s less enamored with her dealings with the city, saying that obtaining the permits allowing her to convert the space into a used bookstore was cumbersome, expensive and often subject to the evolving whims of bureaucratic capriciousness.

“Don’t get me started about the city,” she said.

Lutton projects more than just cautious enthusiasm about the prospects of enduring through tough economic climes. It took years, but she said she was very lucky to find Twice Sold Tales’ current location. And after 20 years she clearly still relishes being a bookseller. Recently a customer came in and asked for a specific algebra textbook. Jamie had the title at the counter within arms reach and handed it over within seconds. It had been in the store for months but Lutton was just resorting it. Such moments of serendipity — not to mention a $50 sale — bring a smile to her face, not to mention the stunned look on the face of the customer.

Lutton acknowledges that the Internet, Amazon’s Kindle, changing reading habits etc. make the notion of running a brick-and-mortar used bookstore a far more precarious proposition than it used to be. But she’s determined, and actually even nominally optimistic, about Twice Sold Tale’s chances:

“I’m having a good experience here. Business is not great but it’s acceptable. I have a corps of regular customers who keep me open and I still have eight years left on my lease. I’m planning on staying. Besides, I don’t know how to do anything else.”

Police Blotter: Car attack, drugs, library graffiti

The following are based on incident reports from the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct. They represent the officers’ accounts of the events described.

Property damage

Just after 4 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 18, officers responded the 1700 block of East Alder Street after a woman reported hearing a loud noise coming from the street below her apartment. She looked down and saw a man inside a parked car. He was bent down under the dashboard, and she heard the noises when he started breaking the steering column apart. He was pulling so hard on the column that the car was rocking up and down. The suspect was also seen opening the trunk and was still rooting around the trunk when officers arrived. He was immediately detained. Officers found two screwdrivers and a flashlight in his pocket. They looked in the car and saw the ignition dangling from the steering column by its wires. The man was arrested and read his Miranda rights. He said the trunk was open when he walked by and denied being inside the car, calling the witness a liar. He was later booked into King County Jail. Damage to the car was estimated to be in excess of $1,000.

Drugs etc.

At 9:25 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17, officers on routine patrol received a call that a female suspect with an outstanding felony warrant had been spotted leaving a bar near the 1200 block of East Jefferson Street. The word was that she’d gotten into a car as a passenger, and the car took off east along Jefferson. Officers caught up with the car on the 1800 block of East Jefferson Street and pulled it over. The female passenger immediately identified herself and acknowledged that she knew there was a warrant out for her arrest. Prior to re-arrest, she was asked if she had any contraband on her. She said she had an “8-ball of cream” on her; officers recognized the term as street vernacular for crack cocaine. A search was conducted, and officers recovered two small plastic bags containing a rock-like substance in her pants. The substance later tested positive for cocaine. The woman, who is in her late 20s, was arrested and booked into King County Jail.


At 9:15 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17, officers responded to an East Alder Street house after a woman reported that someone had broken into her house. She told officers that she and her roommate left for work in the morning and came back home to discover that someone had pried the screen off a side window and gained entry. Once inside, the suspect (s) took a laptop computer, a cell phone charger and a bowl with about $20 in coins in it. It appeared the perpetrator left through the same window. A neighbor told officers that a lot of people came and went to the house. She added that she saw a car arrive at the house at around 8 in the morning. It stayed for a few minutes then left. Such behavior, she said, occurred about every two days.


At 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 16, officers responded to the Capitol Hill branch of the Seattle Public Library after learning that someone had sprayed graffiti on one of the library’s signs. That person had spray painted the letters TFS on a sign which has the library’s name and logo on it. Other letters or symbols had been sprayed as well but officers were unable to identify them. Officers photographed the sign and left a business card and a case number with the library. The cost for supplies and labor to repair the damage were estimated to be $50.

More graffiti

On Sept. 15 at 4:10 a.m.  officers responded to Seattle University’s Connelly Center after campus security called 911 to report a graffiti incident. A suspect had used black spray paint to write the letters SNLE along the east side of the building. Security thought the incident occurred between midnight and 2:30 in the morning. Officers photographed the graffiti. But since the university doesn’t have security cameras pointed at the east side of the Connelly Center, there were no suspects.

Police blotter: Assault, shoplifting, suspicious behavior

The following are based on incident reports from the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct . They are based on the officers’ accounts of the events described. 

At 11 minutes past midnight on September 11, a man called 911 to report that an assault had taken place near the corner of 11th Avenue and East Pike Street. Officers arrived to find a man in his mid-30s being treated by paramedics. The man was noticeably intoxicated. He was missing the top of a front tooth and officers thought a part of his upper lip had been ripped off. At first he was hesitant to tell officers what had happened, but he eventually told them that he was crossing East Pike Street when a car driving westbound failed to stop for him at a crosswalk. The man then pounded his fist on the car, which prompted the car to stop. The vehicle’s passenger got out of the car, walked up to the man and punched him in the face. The man got back in the car and the car sped away. A witness told a similar version, adding that the victim walked into the intersection very suddenly. Officers searched the area for the car without success. The victim was taken to Harborview Medical Center for additional treatment.

At 5:19 p.m. on September 10 officers responded to a 23rd Avenue convenience store after the store’s owner reported that a disturbance was taking place inside. As they approached the store they were flagged down by a man and a woman. The pair identified themselves as customers and told police the dispute began after the store owner acted rudely to them. The store owner, and a witness, said that the couple created the situation when, after becoming upset with the store’s prices they started arguing with the owner. The witness said the owner was threatened that someone would come to the store and beat him up. He requested the pair be trespassed from the store, and officers concurred. The pair, a man in his late 30s and a woman in her early 40s, were issued trespass admonishment cards. When they refused to sign them, the were escorted by officers away from the store.

Also on September 10, at 10:20 a.m., officers responded to the 15th Avenue East QFC after a store employee reported a shoplifting incident. He’d seen a man in his mid-20s walk through the store taking numerous items from the shelves and putting them in his backpack. He then tried to leave the store but was stopped by the employee, who snatched the backpack back. The backpack was left behind and the shoplifter ran away in an unknown direction. Officers searched the area for him without success. The employee told officers he pulled out roughly $310 worth of items from the backpack.

And again on September 10, this time at 10:34 a.m., officers responded the Seattle Academy’s main building on 12th Avenue and East Union Street. The call regarded a man in his mid-20s who appeared to be watching high school girls walk in and out of the school. His stood on the sidewalk starting at girls for about 45 minutes. His behavior intimidated staff and students at the school. The man was confronted by a school official and asked to leave. When the man said he just wanted to lay down police were called. They spoke with the man in a nearby alley. He provided ID, which was checked and cleared of warrants. He was very slow answering questions, kept pacing back and forth in the alley and acted very confused. When asked if he was ever arrested, he said he was, a year ago, for walking down the street naked. As he had no criminal history in Seattle, officers thought the incident might have occurred in another city. When asked if he had any mental issues he said he did not. Officers issued a trespass admonishment card prohibiting him from being in the area for one year. He signed the paperwork, said he understood the terms and walked away from the scene.

Blotter: PBR, pit bull and love, stolen business pants, dodgeball theft, bully gets beat

The following are based on incident reports from the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct. They represent the officers’ accounts of the events described.

On the afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 1, officers on a routine foot patrol through Cal Anderson Park were approached by a man who complained that another man was drinking beer in the park in clear violation of park rules and Seattle law. Not only that, but that man, who was drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon 40-ouncer, was being rude as well. Officers were directed to the suspect, who was sitting on the “grassy knoll” just north of the Bobby Morris Playfield. He was in his mid-40s and was clearly intoxicated. At first glance he seemed to be offering sips of beer to his pit bull. Concerned that the pit bull might attack the officers if physical force became necessary, they asked the man to step away from his dog. The man refused and became belligerent. They grabbed him by his side. But he broke free and ran away, a process that was repeated several times before officers successfully detained him. The man spoke mostly gibberish, but eventually told the officers that he loved them, that they were only doing what they had to do. The next thing the officers had to do was arrest the man and book him into King County Jail. In addition to the open container citation, he was charged with assault and obstructing an officer.

Sometime between the hours of 5:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on Friday, July 31, officers responded to a 10th Avenue East business after the owner reported that his pants had been stolen. The owner said that the door to the back room, which opened to an alley, had been left unlocked. The pants were of minor importance, but the loss the man’s wallet and keys, which were in the pants, was of far greater concern. There were no suspects.

Also on Friday, July 31, but at a later hour (10:37 p.m.) officers on routine patrol were dispatched to a 19th Avenue apartment after a neighbor phoned in a noise complaint. The complaint did not involve a party or a large social gathering but was instead generated by a dog that howls in the night. The callers told officers that the dog’s owner frequently leaves the animal in his apartment for an extended period of time. After awhile the dog starts to howl. Beyond the irritation of the loud howls, the men were concerned that the dog is being neglected. They called police to have the situation documented and said they were going to call animal control.

During the evening of Thursday, July 30, a man called 911 to report that his messenger-style bag had been stolen. He told officers that he’d put the bag down in order to play dodge ball at the Cal Anderson Park tennis courts. When he returned, his bag was missing. Inside was a textbook and his laptop computer. There were no suspects. Police gave the man with a business card and an incident number.

At 2 a.m. on Wednesday, July 29, officers responded to an assault call at East Pine Street and Belmont Avenue. Fire Department personnel were providing medical treatment to a man in his mid-40s when they arrived. They spoke to a witness first, who told them the victim had walked out of R Place and started harassing a homeless man who was sitting in a nearby doorway. The man in the doorway repeatedly asked to be left alone. But the verbal abuse continued until the man in the doorway punched his abuser, who then fell to the ground. The man then walked away. Officers next spoke with the victim, who was heavily intoxicated. He could barely stand and his speech was nearly unrecognizable. But he managed to say that another person had been harassing the man in the doorway, that he’d only gone over to ask if he was OK. The attack, he said, was unfounded. Officers were unable to locate the man in the doorway. The victim had scrapes on his knee, elbow and ear. He declined an invitation of additional medical assistance.

Blotter: foiled purse snatch, sandwich + sushi thief and case of the disappearing roomie

The following are based on incident reports from the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct. They represent the officers accounts of the events described. As David Letterman says, no wagering.

On the morning of July 26, officers responded to an apartment along the 100 block  of Harvard Avenue East after a man reported that his car was being stolen at that very moment. He described a male suspect in his 40s; when officers arrived they had little problem locating him. Officers asked the man if the car in question was his and he said it was not; they asked him if he knew the owner and he said he did not. The man was arrested without incident. But prior to his being booked at King County Jail the suspect developed a medical problem. An ambulance was called and the suspect taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment. Officers requested that car prowl charges be filed upon his release.

July 25, 10 p.m., corner of Broadway and East Denny Way: A man in his 20s grabbed a woman’s purse as she was walking on the street and immediately fled. The man didn’t touch the woman during the purse snatching. He was pursued by two witnesses south on Nagle Place and then north on Broadway. As the suspect scaled a fence he dropped the purse. The woman was able to recover it, and no items were missing. The man was last seen running through the Bonnie Watson parking lot and into Cal Anderson Park.

At 4:06 a.m. on July 25, officers on patrol were flagged down by the QFC store at the 400 block of Broadway East. They heard two men screaming in front of the store, turned and saw a store employee grab a bag from a male suspect, observed beer and several other items, later determined to be a sandwich and sushi, fall to the ground. They were told that the suspect, a man in his late teens, had taken the items from the store without paying for them. The man told officers he took the items because he was hungry and hadn’t eaten in one-and-a-half days. He saw a delicious sandwich in the deli section and took it. The suspect told officers that he hadn’t taken the sushi – an unknown girl put the sushi in his bag. The man was arrested and booked into King County Jail. The items were returned to the store unharmed.

On July 24, a woman who lives in an apartment at the 600 block of East Mercer Street reported that a shoebox where she kept money was missing. She told officers that a week before a pipe in the building had burst, and since then the apartment manager has had workers on the site performing repairs. She wondered if there might be a connection. There are no suspects.

At 6:30 p.m. on July 24, a man called 911 from his Boylston Avenue East residence to report that he had arrived home two days previously and discovered that almost all of his roommates belongings were gone. The man went into his home office and discovered that all of his papers had been gone through. He next discovered that bank and IRS statements were missing. There was no damage to the house, and his roommate was the only other person who would have had access to the statements. The man called his roommate’s mother to ask what should be done with the few items the roommate left behind. She said do with them what you will and apologized. Officers left the man with a case number and a victim follow-up form.

Also on July 24: Just before 9 p.m. officers responded to Broadway’s Everyday Music after being informed that a man inside refused to leave the store. Upon arrival they approached a man in his 40s who was arguing loudly with a store employee. He appeared to be greatly intoxicated and mumbled a few vague expletives at the officers as he leaned on the counter. Officers told him he’d be arrested for trespassing if he didn’t leave. He didn’t, and they did. He was charged with trespassing as well as obstructing an officer and was later booked into King County Jail.

Riding the rails: Bauhaus to Bauhaus via Tukwila (plus, Cap Hill to airport by light rail)

All exit at the end of the line. (Photo/Doug Schwartz)

And on the fourth day, I paid. For a light rail ticket on Sound Transit’s shinny new Central Link line.

Trip details: Set off from Bauhaus, walked seven minutes to Westlake, waited 10 minutes for a train. The ride to Tukwila took 36 minutes, then 14 minutes for the return train to set out, then 37 minutes back to Westlake and another eight minutes back to Bauhaus. In all, 1:52 minutes, with a latte as my reward.

It was a sunny day and a pleasant ride. I’ll pass on a long list of observations, which would probably be on the boring side. Light rail to Tukwila is not, after all, a trip to the moon.

But a few things warrant quick mention. Maybe 45 people left Westlake just before noon. Maybe six people got on in Tukwila for the ride back, though it almost got crowded by the time the train entered the former bus tunnel. Excluding the bus tunnel, the actual underground portion was less than five minutes in duration. And once the train passed the Rainier Beach station, when it no longer had to contend with stop lights, the ride got pretty zippy. One couple was heading the airport, suitcases in tow. And one women stepped on the train at the Mount Baker station and asked someone if the train went to Kent. Answer: no, and the woman stepped off.

It seems clear that once the line is extended to the airport, which should happen in December, Link could be an actual transportation alternative for people who don’t live near one of the stations.

Seattlest shows us how to get to the airport via light rail from Capitol Hill:

Instead of mimicking Seattle’s big-time media outlet, which spent the new light rail’s first in-service day counting parking slots in Tukwila and heads on trains, we decided to give the new line a practical test. Our goal: to get from Capitol Hill to SeaTac (and back).

The route:

  • The 10 bus to Westlake (4 min.),
  • A light rail ride from Westlake Center to Tukwila (34 min.)
  • A shuttle bus from the Tukwila station to the airport (9 min.)

Not bad. Of course, Seattlest left out our biggest travel downfall — packing (8 hours). Fortunately, there’s still brand new Neighborlogs Seattle network sponsor STITA Taxi when we’re late.

For more on taking light rail to the airport, see No airport express for light rail from earlier this year.

I’m pretty much a fan of light rail. But despite the good words and celebratory self-congrats offered by various electeds at Link’s Saturday opening – you’d have thought Patty Murray was angling for a knighthood or something – it’s worth remembering what Link Light Rail is not.

What happened to the Deluxe light rail station?
For one thing, it is not what it set out to be when voters approved funding to create Sound Transit in 1996. The agency’s travails in the early part of the decade are well known, and it deserves credit for getting its house in order. But originally, light rail was meant to open in 2006 and cost a billion or so dollars less. And it was supposed to include Capitol Hill.

Just before Westlake. (Photo/Doug Schwartz)

Early imaginings had a station at Broadway and East Roy Street, across from the Deluxe, as part of a mixed-use project that might have included the Capitol Hill library, as well as a Broadway station further south. And a First Hill station was to be part of the mix as well, a natural choice given the dense population and the large numbers of people who work at the neighborhood’s numerous medical facilities. The north Broadway station was abandoned early on, a fairly defensible decision given its proximity to the Broadway station now under construction. But not building a First Hill station will be a significant loss.

Slow lane to rapid-transit
It’s important to remember how late Seattle was getting to the rapid-transit party. Consider the years 1863, 1896 and 1986. In 1863, London opened the world’s first subway line, using steam-powered trains, building six stations that are still in use today. Budapest was next in 1896. Closer to home, Portland opened its light-rail system in 1986.

Seattle voted down rapid transit in two Forward Thrust initiatives in 1968 and 1970. As a result, $900 million in federal funding – back when that was a lot of money – earmarked for the project went to Atlanta instead. (It’s light rail system started running in 1979.) Saying no 40 years ago, in hindsight, was a substantial missed opportunity. Creating a rapid transit system now costs far, far more than it would have 40 years ago. And wouldn’t it have been nice to have had a Broadway station in, say, 1976, rather than its anticipated 2016 opening?

Such a mindset was one of the compelling reasons to press ahead with light rail when Sound Transit’s problems nearly sank the project nine years ago.

Thus with light-rail’s opening last weekend, along with construction extending the line north, there’s a strong chance that someone blogging about Seattle’s rapid-transit system 40 years from now won’t be bemoaning the previous generation’s missed opportunities.

1222 East Madison Street project kicked back by review board

Despite one of the nicest pre-summer evenings of the year last night’s meeting of the design review board actually drew 15 people beyond those who had to be there. The meeting, to discuss the proposed development for 1222 East Madison Street, was potentially the last chance to consider the development before it received the board’s recommendation and takes the next step toward permitting. CHS discussed the 1222 project previously here.

The project is slated for the lot where the Precision Tune now sits. It’s located immediately east of the Trace Lofts and just south of the Elysian Brewery. On the north side, it abuts a parking lot that could itself be developed in the future. As Josh noted the other day, the plan calls for a six-story, mixed-use structure with street-level retail and underground parking. The breakdown goes like this: 104 units, 51 parking spaces and 6,000 square-feet of commercial space. The units are mostly studio apartments, with a few larger units having “open bedrooms,” meaning a room that can be separated with a sliding door.

Baylis architect Kevin Cleary described an updated building that incorporated suggestions from last year’s design review board meeting. He pointed to the updated building’s smaller retail spaces, a relocation of the automobile entrance along 13th Avenue, a recessed entry at the corner of 13th and Madison and adding rhythm and articulation to the building as elements reflected in the new design.

In the end, a divided board did not grant its recommendation despite saying much in praise of the project. But concerns over the 13th/Madison corner compelled the board to request the developers address that aspect of the design and present an update at a future public hearing. Specifically, the board didn’t like the concave entry and asked the developer to look at more asymmetrical and different shapes.

Other issues the developers need to address include the auto entrance on 13th Avenue as well as how that entrance interacts with services such as garbage pick-up. And the board requested the developers reexamine the materials used and shape of the concrete awning above the main entrance (see to architect’s graphic and note the awning above “1222”).

Developer Kevin Wallace of Wallace Properties said he was hoping to receive the board’s recommendation last night. While not pleased with the decision, he asked that the board move as quickly as possible to schedule the additional hearing. The board made no specific promises but said it would expedite the process; the next hearing could take place in roughly two weeks. Meeting notices will be sent out once a date is established.

A few thoughts in closing. Wallace said that the project’s goal is to create “workforce” housing. When asked just what that meant, he said it meant housing that would be affordable to those making the county’s median income or less. For a single earner, the median income in King County is just less than $54,000 a year. While reminding that the building has yet to be built, Wallace said that rents in the neighborhood of $1,200/month were likely.

Also, the hearing lacked anything approaching drama, which is one way of saying that there were no diatribes of disgust at the proposal, no forceful opposition, no irate or hostile tirades. The few comments offered were largely positive. I’ve also been to design hearings where the board recommended projects despite voicing greater objections and more lengthy concerns.

One last thing that comes to mind is that this is a project where the developer seems intent on actually going forward as quickly as possible. This is notable given the current state of the economy and how that effects, say, the stalled project at 500 block of East Pine Street. Wallace expressed concern on several occasions about the difficulties obtaining financing and his eagerness to try to break ground soon. When I asked what soon meant, he said, “We hope to be in the ground in November. But financing is tricky these days.”