CHS Pics | Fun and games on Broadway at the 11th Unity Fair

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There is a new leader and big changes and growth coming for Seattle Central, Capitol Hill’s community college and school to around 17,000 students across 78 degrees and certification programs. But some things don’t change. Thursday brought the 11th year of the longtime student-run Unity Fair to the school’s plaza that runs along Broadway and invites a mix of students and Capitol Hill passersby into the SCC mix. This year’s unity fair again included music, food and game booths, dancing, contests, and general shenanigans. It’s a very Capitol Hill moment to walk around the corner to find Supreme LaRock and Dave B performing in the open air. If you missed walking through this year, makes sure you stop by in year 12.

 

The CHS Crow approves: Corvus and Co. opens on Broadway

Guymon pours a drink on a busy opening night (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Guymon pours a drink on a busy opening night (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

To get an idea about how Corvus and Co., Broadway’s newly opened Levantine-flavored bar/restaurant and Capitol Hill’s second big debut of the week, took shape, ignore the crow for a minute and focus on the owl. Co-owner Izzy Guymon projected an image of the mystical beast onto the plaster that covered the original brick of the longtime Byzantion restaurant the new joint replaced. He then chipped away at it, piece by tiny piece, eventually forming the relief that now looms over the new space.

It’s not about being meticulous — it’s about pounding it out and carving something new. Corvus, which opened officially Monday night on northern Broadway, is hoped to bridge the gap between the pretensions of Capitol Hill’s craft cocktail scene and the real power of community and, well, spirit in its bars and restaurants.

“We’re not a craft bar, we’re not a dive bar, we’re right in between,” Guymon told CHS Monday night. Continue reading

Seattle Central pursues rare opportunity to expand Broadway campus

The Site D development will tower over Capitol Hill Station's western Broadway entrance (Image: CHS)

The Site D development will tower over Capitol Hill Station’s western Broadway entrance (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill’s community college is currently negotiating a deal that could bring a new technology center or on-campus faculty housing to its Broadway campus. It’s a rare opportunity for Seattle Central College to expand with building height departures already in place, made possible by the arrival of light rail on Capitol Hill.

Five sites surrounding Capitol Hill Station were acquired by Sound Transit for construction of the light rail facility — what’s left is to be transformed into dense “transit orientated development.” Four of those sites will be developed into housing, retail, and community space by Portland-based firm Gerding Edlen. SCC was given a right of first refusal to develop the fifth property, known as Site D, which surrounds the west entrance of the Capitol Hill Station at Broadway just south of Denny Way.

Representatives for Sound Transit and SCC have confirmed the two sides are working on a deal for the college to acquire the property, but offered few details on the status of the negotiations. In a 2015 report on its “major institution master plan” SCC said it was also working with developers to explore options for the site.

Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, who was confirmed as SCC president in May, recently told CHS that creating faculty housing on Capitol Hill was a major priority. “Most faculty and staff cannot afford to live on Capitol Hill,” she said, According to Edwards Lange, the average faculty member at SCC makes around $57,000 a year. Continue reading

OK, now we know how many people are riding the First Hill Streetcar

(Image: SDOT)

(Image: SDOT)

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.18.38 AMThere are still no ridership goals for the First Hill Streetcar route but we now have our first full accounting of the 2.5-mile line connecting Pioneer Square, the International District, First Hill, and Capitol Hill.

Last Thursday, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and its performer friends celebrated a day of free rides on the streetcar (Image: Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce)

Last Thursday, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and its performer friends celebrated a day of free rides on the streetcar (Image: Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce)

So far in May, around 3,100 people ride the streetcar every weekday. The numbers are boosted by the “Free Ride Thursdays” promotion responsible, so far, for the two busiest days in the dataset just released by SDOT.  The promotion continues through the end of the month.

Even without the free days in the count, the First Hill Streetcar’s trend appears to be on an upward climb from its start of service in January with free rides and little fanfare. For comparison, the opening of Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link line has boosted light rail weekday ridership into the high 50,000s.

The Seattle Transit Blog took a look at the numbers and pointed out that Sunday numbers are suppressed by the line’s reduced service hours, May 1st’s service was disrupted by a planned shutdown, and that the ridership totals seem to indicate a “seemingly high rate of non-ORCA use (both via fare evasion and paper ticket purchasing).”

A plan for a half-mile northern extension of the First Hill Streetcar and the accompanying Broadway bikeway designed to keep bikes off the line’s dangerous tracks remains in the works.

One arrest after fire set inside Broadway apartment building — UPDATE

Firefighters called to the Broadway Crossing building early Tuesday morning found signs of a suspicious fire — and a combative man who was taken into custody by police who rushed to the scene.

Arriving fire crews to a report of smoke on the building’s fourth floor reportedly found signs of an intentionally set fire and person believed to be armed with a knife or gun. Police were called to help in a “fast backup” situation to assist the first responders and took the man into custody. A report of a second suspect was apparently unfounded but prompted police to evacuate the building.

The Seattle Fire Marshal was dispatched nearly immediately to the just after 3 AM incident in the Broadway and Pine apartment building to investigate.

Residents of the building, meanwhile, had a rough night’s sleep. Here’s a note from one sent to CHS:

Fire alarms went off around 2am. Fire trucks arrived and gave the all clear. Few minutes later the alarms went off again and no fire response until someone from the building called saying it wasn’t false alarm. He smelled smoke.

SPD is investigating the incident.

UPDATE: SPD has posted details of the arrest:

Seattle police arrested a 32-year-old man for arson early Tuesday after firefighters found him standing over a fire in the stairwell of a Capitol Hill apartment building.

Around 3 AM, firefighters responded to a building in the 800 block of East Pine Street after smoke tripped an automatic fire alarm. After arriving at the apartment complex, firefighters entered a stairwell and found a 32-year-old man standing over a pile of burning debris. The man whispered that there was someone else in the stairwell with a gun, and firefighters noticed the man was holding a knife in his hand, so they backed out of the building and called for police.

SPD officers arrived and approached the stairwell and arrested the 32-year-old man. A team of officers checked the stairwell for signs of a man with a gun, but only found scorched walls, smoldering debris, and a burnt cellphone.

Police recovered two knives and a lighter from the man and booked him into the King County Jail for investigation of arson.

Increasing sewer problems can be a nasty nuisance for older Capitol Hill buildings

During a busy night a Nacho Borracho, the Capitol Hill bar’s plumbing was having a tough time keeping up with the margarita drinking crowd. When the problem persisted the following night, owner Rachel Marshall knew something was up.

The culprit turned out to be the roots of a Broadway tree that had obstructed the building’s sewer pipe connecting to a city sewer main. To fix it, a plumber had to cut up the sidewalk and replace part of the pipe. The bill came to a whopping $35,000, according to Marshall. Luckily for her, the building’s property owner picked up the tab. “It was an awfully good piece of news,” she said.

While the cost of Nacho Borracho’s repair was unusually high, similar sewer repairs are becoming increasingly common around Capitol Hill. As buildings age, so do the original pipes that connect homes and commercial properties to the city’s sewer system. Eventually these so-called side sewer lines crack or even worse, become blocked causing raw sewage to spill out in all the wrong places. Fixing the lines can be costly and a massive inconvenience.

In recent years, plumbers have been increasingly busy fixing side sewer lines around Capitol Hill. According to city permit data, there were 114 side sewer permits issued around Capitol Hill in 2011. In 2015, side sewer activity more than doubled to 241 issued permits. It’s a citywide trend in a Seattle that turns 163 this May 23rd. Continue reading

Another bug for the First Hill Streetcar as technical issues obscure ridership count

Beset by manufacturing problems and delayed launch dates, the First Hill Streetcar continues to face technical difficulties in its fourth month of operation.

The latest complication has prevented the Seattle Department of Transportation from tracking daily ridership on the 10 stop streetcar line. According to an SDOT spokesperson, the streetcar’s automated passenger counters are collecting data, but there is no way for the department to access it — the information is not making its way to the software system set up to read it.

Seattle Streetcar Departing Broadway & Marion Street Station in Kodachrome...
For now, the department has a few other ways to measure things. In March, SDOT calculated 50,159 rides from ORCA Card taps — roughly 1,618 rides per day. But even with a complete daily count, it would be unclear how ridership was meeting expectations. It turns out, SDOT has no projections for how the streetcar should have performed that month. In fact, SDOT’s only ridership forecast or goals come from a 2010 Sound Transit study (PDF) that projected ridership would reach 3,000 to 3,500 daily passengers by 2030.

The 2.5-mile line connecting Pioneer Square, the International District, First Hill, and Capitol Hill began its service in January with free rides and little fanfare.

The Seattle Transit Blog, meanwhile, reports on progress for the City Center Connector portion of the city’s planned streetcar network while also casting a skeptical eye on the lack of visibility for the First Hill line.

To help expose the streetcar to more riders, SDOT has teamed up with neighborhood organizations to offer free rides during three Thursdays in May. Continue reading

Seattle Central’s new leader happy to finish what she started: more programs, new building on Broadway

12794826_10153879683713564_6350373210411560513_oThe president of Capitol Hill’s community college can finally drop “interim” from her title this week. Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange was confirmed as the head of Seattle Central College on Tuesday after being appointed interim president in July.

In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the 16,000-student college, Edwards Lange has a deep work plan ahead of her that includes: diversifying the faculty, filling a widening funding gap created by state cutbacks, increasing graduation rates and transfers to the University of Washington — and sealing an agreement to develop a new building on campus.

Edwards Lange said SCC is currently negotiating with Sound Transit to develop property at Denny Way and Broadway — known as Site D —  that was vacated during the Capitol Hill Station construction and now neighbors the western Broadway entrance to the station.

SCC could soon add a new building next to the western Broadway entrance to Capitol Hill Station (Image: CHS)

SCC could soon add a new building next to the western Broadway entrance to Capitol Hill Station (Image: CHS)

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A new technology center is one idea that has been floated at SCC. The school could utilize its status as a major institution to build above the 65-foot zoned height limit along Broadway. Edwards Lange said the SCC project could also include staff or student housing.

While the permanent hire won’t necessarily imbue her with more power to accomplish those goals, it will allow Edwards Lange a shot at seeing though some of the work she’s already started.

“I am so happy and excited to be permanent,” she said. “There have been a number of things started that I want to see to completion.” Continue reading

SFD battles 10th and John house fire — UPDATE

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(Images: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

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Seattle Fire struggled to contain a basement fire inside a 10th Ave E house Wednesday night.

The blaze was first reported around 8:15 PM as smoke wafted across Broadway.

Seattle Fire arrived to find flames shooting out of the lower level of the northeast side of the 1904-build building being used as a triplex at 207 10th Ave E behind the Broadway Locksmith. After an initial attempt to knock flames down from the outside of the building, Seattle Fire’s multiple units at the scene reconvened outside after encountering major smoke and flames coming from burning debris in the basement.

The response was still underway and the fire not yet under control as of 8:40 PM. UPDATE 8:51 PM: The fire is reported under control. The Seattle Fire Marshal has been called to the scene to investigate the cause.

Everybody in the building was reported to have exited and there were no major injuries reported according to preliminary reports.

Tuesday night, Seattle Fire responded to a debris fire outside an E Denny house across from Cal Anderson Park. Meanwhile, earlier in the day on Wednesday, Seattle Police had been called to a disturbance involving a combative person at the 10th Ave E address.

UPDATE 9:51 PM: Seattle Fire confirms no reported injuries.

UPDATE 5/5/2016 10:05 AM: Seattle Fire says the investigation to determine a cause of the 10th Ave E fire continues. Seattle Police are not yet investigating the incident.

According to people familiar with the property, the house has had issues with squatters. Officers were called to the address earlier in the day for a request to assist Seattle Fire with a combative female at the house, SPD records show.

Vacant apartments, houses, and small buildings around the neighborhood awaiting demolition for new multifamily developments make for popular squat locations. In January, Seattle Fire fought a basement fire in a building at 12th and John destined for demolition where squatters and drug users had been hanging out. The cause of that fire was determined to be “improperly discarded smoking material.” That charred building remains standing, by the way, and is yet to be demolished. Meanwhile, last month, police investigated a reported armed robbery at an 11th Ave E house being used by squatters. According to the report on that incident, the squatters had made themselves at home, going so far as to store a firearm in one of the house’s closets.

It’s not a new phenomenon. In 2010, the City of Seattle went to court to have the Belmont Ave “biohazard house” demolished. That house had become so contaminated by human waste and drug use that police refused to enter it.

The 10th Ave E house is not currently slated for demolition but firefighters reported finding the basement apartment space of the house crammed with debris as they attempted to fight the blaze.

UPDATE 5/5/2016 1:52 PM: Like the 12th and John fire earlier this year, the 10th and John fire has been ruled an accident caused by improperly discarded smoking materials.

CHS Pics | May Day labor and immigration march takes new route on Capitol Hill

May Day El Comite - 7 of 24

May Day El Comite - 13 of 24

Images by Alex Garland for CHS

It has become a familiar refrain for Seattle’s mainstream media to hold up the city’s annual May Day labor and immigration rights march as a peaceful counterpoint to the violence and mayhem that accompanies the May Day night protests. We cover the 2016 edition of the annual contest pitting Seattle Police and its crowd management tactics vs. agitated protesters here.

The annual march organized by immigrant labor rights organization El Comité shouldn’t be reduced to a convenient editorial prop. The march’s organizers set out to make their voices heard and the groups involved choose their own path through the city. That’s why in 2016 we got more Marcha Y Manifestacion Anual del 1o de Mayo on Capitol Hill than ever.

Continue reading