What’s holding up the First Hill Streetcar

"Test train." (Image: SDOT)

“Test train.” (Image: SDOT)

Testing. Specifically, a longer-than-expected fine tuning and integration of the various First Hill Streetcar systems in order to have all six cars pass the final tests needed to start taking passengers. The most recent setbacks were highlighted last week by Seattle Department of Transportation director Scott Kubly.

Adjusting and testing the streetcar software to ensure an optimal blending of the two braking systems is one of the latest issues getting attention, according to SDOT’s Ethan Melone. The problem is jerking decelerations and stops that occur as a result of the dynamic brakes, which generate electricity back into the system, and friction brakes not working in harmony.

Unlike the streetcar’s propulsion system (which also caused delays), the dual braking system is not new. Melone said the longer-than-expected testing has been a surprise to both SDOT and to Inekon.

“It’s not really a new hold up. It’s just been this process of getting all the vehicles tested.”

Several component manufacturers are now in Seattle working with Inekon, the lead manufacturer, and Pacifica Marine to iron out the kinks, Melone tells CHS.

SDOT is also waiting for two streetcars to complete the “acceptance testing” phase. That requires up to two weeks of preparation and one to two days of track testing, Melone said. Once that’s finished, the cars will still have to go through another round of testing that will require running the 2.5-mile Capitol Hill to Pioneer Square route multiple times (around 300 miles) during normal operating hours.

“It’s not really a new hold up,” Melone said. “It’s just been this process of getting all the vehicles tested.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill post office finds a new Broadway home


The Broadway Post Office will relocate one block north in January. (Image: CHS)

The Broadway Station building was purchased by developers way back in 2012 (Image: CHS)

The Broadway Station building was purchased by developers way back in 2012 (Image: CHS)

OfficeMax’s attempt to put a new spin on its paper-focused business didn’t last long at The Lyric on Broadway. Maybe the U.S. Postal Service will have better luck.

The hunt for a new location for the Broadway post office has come to an end as USPS plans to move one block north into the space vacated by OfficeMax early this year.

A USPS spokesperson tells CHS the new Broadway Station will be open sometime in January.

According to USPS, all the same postal services will be offered at the new location and PO Box customers will retain their box numbers and be able to use the same keys.

With the current Broadway Post Office slated for demolition to make way for a 6-story, mixed-used development, USPS began officially looking for a new Capitol Hill location in June. At the time, USPS said it was planning to move “to a yet to-be-determined location as close as reasonably possible to the existing location.” A USPS official told a City Council committee in May that the agency intended to find a longterm home.

With more than 5,000 square feet of retail area, the former OfficeMax space is small by box store standards but was likely too large for many independent retailers. USPS says it plans to occupy about 4,200 square feet of the space, leaving the potential for another small retailer to move in.

The Broadway OfficeMax was one of six nationwide “vector” stores — a smaller-format concept meant to target urban neighborhoods. The store opened in January 2014.

Unlike the Capitol Hill Station development across from the current post office, some of which will reach 85-feet high, the project planned to rise on the northwest corner of Broadway and Denny will be 65-feet tall, and will include 44 units, ground level retail and limited, four-stall surface parking accessed via the alley. There will be no underground parking for residents living across the street from one of the soon-to-be busiest public transportation hubs in the region.

Meanwhile, realtors for the the former post office site at 23rd and Union are hoping to set a record sale price for the MidTown Center property.

The new tenant for the Lyric fills one of the largest — but not longest running — gaps in Broadway commercial real estate. The large space formerly home to Castle Megastore remains empty. The former state liquor store location is still in search of a tenant following a fashion retailer’s abrupt exit. Another notorious empty space remains where the old Broadway Grill once called home. But it’s not all bleak, empty stretches, or outlandish landlord speculation — the former home of Charlie’s is lined up for a new project that will shape the space into a new form of its former glory.

Refresh Frozen Desserts opens on Broadway

(Image: Refresh)

(Image: Refresh)

Your wait is over. The big chain Yogurtland has fled the Hill. Crazycherry has passed. Local fro-yo purveyor Refresh Frozen Desserts opens Saturday.

Hours are 9 AM (they serve espresso, too) to 10 PM in the Broadway Building at Broadway and Pine.

Bobby Gaon owns the new business with his wife and family members. He told CHS they snatched the space up as soon as it hit the market after another franchise player backed out, attracted by the shop’s close proximity to Seattle Central College. Offerings include Italian ice, sorbets, soft serve custard and soft serve gelato with coffee from Kuma Coffee, a local direct trade roastery, and yogurt from Arkansas-based Honey Hills Farms.

The opening joins a shift in tenants in the Hunters Capital-owned building. Ian’s Pizza on the Hill is also set to join the building replacing a franchise pizza business that shuttered this summer.

You can learn more at refreshdesserts.com.


‘Thousands of years of history,’ bottle by bottle, at Broadway’s EuroPub beer room


IMG_1625We did not make EuroPub up.

After a longer than expected construction process, the project from European beer importer Witold Szczepaniak is quietly opening on a limited schedule in the overhauled mini-mart neighboring Phoenix Comics and the Perfect Copy shop just down from Dick’s Drive-In.IMG_1636

Continue reading

‘Open items’ — First Hill Streetcar hits more delays

IMG_7702-600x400The cynics in the CHS audience may have nailed it. The long-delayed First Hill Streetcar may not begin service until 2016.

KING 5, reporting on Tuesday’s City Council transportation committee meeting, says Seattle Department of Transportation director Scott Kubly acknowledged that the system faces further delays:

Kubly says a problem with the propulsion system caused the first delays, and testing revealed “water damage in the inverters” for all seven cars. He says they’ve undergone 250 miles of testing, and six of the seven cars are currently in the area. However, one of the cars’ inverters had to be sent back to Switzerland for maintenance. There has also been a problem with a software glitch.

In a briefing provided to the committee, SDOT said testing is not complete and various “open items” remain to be solved before service begins on the ten-stop, 2.5-mile streetcar line from S Jackson and Occidental to Broadway and Denny Way:

  • The manufacturer has completed dynamic acceptance testing on cars 1, 3 and 5 and plans to complete this for cars 2 and 4 by the end of next week. SDOT/Metro also completed traction power integrated tests last week.
  • Completion/acceptance of Car 6 is uncertain due to need for repair of water-damaged inverters
  • Various “open items” remain even on cars that have completed dynamic testing, ranging from installation of informational graphics and loading route information to the passenger information system, to correcting important features that are not functioning as required by Metro

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 5.27.54 PMIn August after SDOT still had not identified a start date for the line originally planned to begin service in 2014, CHS polled readers on their predictions for when the streetcar would begin carrying passengers on Broadway. The overwhelming top pick? “2016” — UPDATE: Details on the changing timelines over the years — a range from 2012 to 2016, then 2013, then 2014 —  are below in comments.

Construction on the rails and the line’s accompanying bikeway have been complete since late 2014 and the streets impacted by the construction have seen all of the work and changes but few of the intended benefits of the new transit option.

Issues around the trolleys manufactured by Inekon have lead to delays and contractual financial penalties that have reached $750,000 for the Czech firm. The unique power system being deployed in the First Hill line has been a big issue. Heading from Pioneer Square to Broadway, the First Hill Streetcar will operate on electrical power provided by a single overhead wire “which receives electricity provided by four traction power substations strategically located along the 2.5 mile route.” On the return trip downhill, new hybrid batteries will provide the streetcars power “generated through its regenerative braking along the inbound route, much of it downhill.”

When service begins, the new streetcars will arrive at the 10 stops every 10 to 15 minutes from 5 AM to 1 AM Monday to Saturday and 10 AM to 8 PM on Sundays and holidays. The trains will share traffic lanes with motor vehicles. The streetcar’s current northern terminus will deliver riders to Broadway and Denny — across the street from future light rail service at Capitol Hill Station. Planning to extend the streetcar and its accompanying bikeway north on Broadway to Roy by 2017 is also underway.

A race, of sorts is shaping up, Capitol Hill Station and the 3.1-mile light rail extension connecting downtown to Husky Stadium via Broadway is set to open in early 2016. Will the Sound Transit-financed, SDOT-built $132 million First Hill Streetcar to meet it?

UPDATE: A statement on the delay from Mayor Ed Murray has been posted to the Seattle Transit Blog:

I share the public’s frustration that the First Hill streetcar has yet to enter service. We continue to focus on fixing the problems this administration inherited. SDOT renegotiated the penalties for late delivery to make the delays more painful for the manufacturer, which now owes the City nearly $800,000 for failure to meet deadlines. This delay is unacceptable. If these higher penalties are not successful in motivating the contractor to complete its work, we will be forced to consider other alternatives.

Capitol Hill food+drink | Goodbye Corretto, hello Workhorse Cafe — UPDATE: Buon pomeriggio, Corretto

IMG_3084UPDATE 3:30 PM: We have weird jobs here making CHS exist. Working with other human beings to learn their stories and share them on the blog means getting into all the quirks and peculiarities that make the world go ’round. So, we shouldn’t have been surprised when James Orr told us this story, below, was great — and, oh yeah, we’ve decided after a week to go back to just being Corretto. “Not sure how to spin it without making me look like an idiot,” Orr said. We won’t go that far, James. In fact, we have to thank you. This makes for one of the weirdest CHS episodes yet. The details about Orr and how he fits in with his uncle’s partnership and how he hopes to shape Corretto going forward remain the same, he said. It’s just the Workhorse part you can set aside. The new name is coming down. Corretto is sticking around.

Jason Orr of Workhorse Cafe (Image: )

Jason Orr of Workhorse Cafe (Image: Lael Henterly)

Original post: To passersby it may seem that the space at 416 Broadway E has been going through something of an identity crisis in recent years. First it went from the popular trattoria Panevino to the ambitious Italian restaurant / coffee shop / bar Corretto. Then last week Corretto’s new owner, Jason Orr, propped up a sandwich board in front of the business emblazoned with the name Workhorse Cafe.

“Twenty people texted me like, ‘what just happened?’,” says Orr, who took over Corretto this summer. “We considered shutting down for week or two and completely redoing everything, but we decided we didn’t want to do that because we’d lose a lot of the current clientele and so we wanted to do this piece by piece so people get used to the name and realize the food is still going to be on par.”

Orr is new to the Capitol Hill food and drink scene — and to Seattle. After seven years ascending the corporate ladder Orr realized he had been far happier working as a bartender. Then he got a call from his uncle, James Duvall, the proprietor of Café on the Ave in the University District.

“My uncle said he had found a place out here that had a lot of potential and he was like, ‘Do you want to go in and buy this place and run it?’ I was like, ‘Of course!’,” says Orr. “So I got rid of all my stuff and came out here.” Continue reading

Blotter | Crowd chases down Capitol Hill groping suspect

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • Groping suspect captured: Police are crediting bystanders and a victim’s decision to yell for help for capturing a sex assault suspect Thursday night. From SPD:
    The woman was waiting at a bus stop at Broadway and E. Union Street around 9:15 PM when she noticed the suspect walking past her. He suddenly approached the victim from behind and groped her. The woman began screaming, drawing the attention of several bystanders, who yelled at the suspect.When the suspect fled northbound on Broadway, several witnesses chased after him–one on foot, another on a bike–and called police.Police say bystanders were able to pin the suspect to the ground near Broadway and Pike where the man was taken into custody. The 29-year-old suspect was booked into jail for investigation of indecent liberties. Police say the man is a registered sex offender.
  • (Image: SPD)

    (Image: SPD)

    Wanted man netted in CD drug bust: Police are crediting the Major Crimes Task Force for nailing a wanted felon in the Central District Tuesday night in a drug arrest that also netted a stolen gun:
    Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF) detectives first noticed a green SUV parked in the Central District when it appeared the three occupants were dealing narcotics.  The detectives called for patrol officers to help them stop the SUV as it left the area.

    Patrol officers caught up to the SUV in the 400 block of 26 Ave. and when they attempted to conduct a traffic stop the three occupants ran from the car.  Officers chased the driver of the vehicle as he ran through yards in the area before taking the 24-year-old suspect into custody not far from where they started.

    Police say the suspect is a five-time convicted felon with multiple warrants for his arrest. Detectives found a loaded .40 cal handgun, 18 grams of methamphetamine, 2.6 grams of heroin, 2 grams of crack cocaine, 3.6 grams of marijuana and $2,300 in the car, according to SPD. Police say the gun was stolen from a Tacoma home just days earlier. The suspect was booked into King County Jail for weapons and narcotics charges.

  • Bus driver injured by tossed bottle: Police were called to investigate after a private bus driver was injured after a beer bottle shattered his window near Broadway and Pike. In the early morning Sunday, September 6th incident, police say the driver suffered a cut cheek when the thrown bottle shattered the bus’s window “throwing glass pieces all over the drivers area.” The driver left the area and drove to the 1300 block of E Madison where he was met by police. Seattle Fire responded to treat the driver at the scene. No suspect description was included in the SPD report on the incident.
  • Pike construction burglary: The burglar in an August 30th overnight break-in at a construction site in the 500 block of E Pike netted a few hundred dollars worth of goods but apparently passed up a bigger score, according to police:Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 1.43.45 PMPolice were unsure how the thief compromised the site’s 8-foot-high fence.


QFC and Broadway Market property owners respond to safety concerns

8444039163_d4da170492The companies behind the Broadway Market and its centerpiece tenant QFC have responded to CHS’s coverage of crime and safety issues at the store that culminated last month with an employee pepper spraying a man outside the store.

Meanwhile, the employee involved in the dangerous altercation still has his job after speaking out about the incident.

Prior to the CHS story about QFC clerk and assistant manager Mathew Chandler, QFC’s parent company declined to comment on the situation.

After publication, we heard back from portland-based spokesperson for QFC/Fred Meyer Melinda Merrill who told CHS in an email she could not discuss specifics of the store’s security or Chandler’s suspension but said the company is working with Seattle Police to improve the situation at the busy store.

“It’s how we always operate stores in tough neighborhoods,” she said. “We work closely with law enforcement and local officials to make sure we’re doing all we can to always keep our customers and our employees safe… we very much want to see this area remain a livable neighborhood and look to our city government to help us achieve that,” Merrill said.

On August 12th, Chandler escorted a man outside of the store who was causing a disturbance. Once outside, Chandler said the man threatened to kill him with a champagne bottle. Chandler warned the man he would mace him if he came any closer. When the man raised the bottle over his head, Chandler sprayed him. Police arrived and arrested the suspect for harassment.

Chandler told CHS he was still employed at QFC after talking to CHS about the incident. The longtime employee told CHS he was suspended for one week and docked three days of pay for violating QFC policy by carrying mace while working.

Meanwhile, the company that recently purchased the  block-long shopping center for $43 million said it, too, is actively trying to make the area safer.

Florida-based Regency Centers Corporation acquired the Broadway Market in late-2014.

According to Regency spokesperson Kalin Berger, the company hires one security guard to patrol the block from 7 AM to midnight everyday. That’s in addition to security/loss prevention staff that QFC hires to work inside the store. According to Berger, the security guard is not an off-duty police officer.

“Since we acquired the property late last year, we’ve upped the security efforts significantly in keeping with our standards of safety,” Berger said. “If we see and hear the need for more measures, then further steps will be taken, no question.”


With Sawant and Banks HQs on Capitol Hill, District 3 race heads into final miles

From 42floors.com: "Located in Capitol Hill, this 3-story building at 126 10th Ave E is the perfect spot for developing businesses in Seattle. With 4,823 square feet, you will have more than enough room to house you and your staff comfortably. As an added amenity, onsite parking is easily accessible for all building tenants..."

From 42floors.com: “Located in Capitol Hill, this 3-story building at 126 10th Ave E is the perfect spot for developing businesses in Seattle. With 4,823 square feet, you will have more than enough room to house you and your staff comfortably. As an added amenity, onsite parking is easily accessible for all building tenants…”

Located just across the street from the future Capitol Hill Station, the homeliest building on this 10th Ave E block lies at the intersection of a surprising variety of Capitol Hill narratives, including light rail, microhousing, and socialist politics.

In 2009, a group of contractors hired to dig the light rail tunnels under Capitol Hill purchased the 126 10th Ave E building and the two-story brick building next door for their offices. When the tunneling wrapped up last year, the contractors sold the properties off for $1.95 million, pocketing a cool $765,000 on the transaction. Continue reading

Revival moving up by moving down to street level on Broadway

(Image: Revival)

(Image: Revival)

An indie fashion business is ready to take things to the next level — street level on Broadway.

Capitol Hill’s Revival has closed its shop perched above the corner of Broadway and Thomas as it prepares a new home downstairs in the space left empty by the departure of World Beads.

“It’s done really well considering all the challenges and being hidden away,” owner Ashley Busacca told CHS in August when we spoke with her about Revival’s move.

CHS also talked with Busacca last year about the vintage and fashion shop she opened on Broadway after moving to Seattle from San Francisco. “People are like ‘I live across the street and I had no idea you were here, when did you open?’ I’m like ‘six months ago!’,” she told CHS.

She is hopeful for the shop’s prospects at street level. “We’re not going to change what it is. We’re just going to expand it,” she said. The new space will allow Busacca to add art and home furnishings to her offerings.

Busacca (Image: CHS)

Busacca (Image: CHS)

As for sad beaders, we don’t have much information about the exit of World Beads. Its sibling Seattle store has also shuttered and we haven’t been able to reach its Canadian-based ownership. E Pike’s Stitches — we visited the sewing and craft shop in 2014 to celebrate the fabric store’s 10th year of business on Capitol Hill — has tried to pick up some of the slack. Owner Amy Ellsworth says Stitches has increased its bead inventory. We expect to received that beaded CHS Crow sweater you’ve been promising any day now.

On Broadway, Busacca said she’s excited about the increased connection to Broadway and ready to take the good with the bad from being in the midst of the busy urban environment.

“I love Capitol Hill. I love Broadway. I live down the street. I will have been here two years in October,” she said.

She admits the growth for revival and the opportunity for a Broadway storefront have her rushing her life and business plans a bit. But with an overhauled shop space and a fresh coat of paint, Busacca is ready to make it work.

“Capitol Hill and Broadway have been amazing to me,” she said.

You can learn more and watch for an announcement of the planned mid-September re-opening at revivalshopseattle.com.