Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce to shut down as plans for new effort to represent neighborhood business community takes shape

The chamber’s Stars on Broadway effort honored neighborhood nonprofits with holiday stars on the Capitol Hill Station construction wall

Back in the old days of the mid-2000s, the chamber called this old house (no longer) at 10th and Thomas home (Image: CHS)

The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce’s ambitious but thus far unsuccessful effort centered around creating an expanded business organization with the power to assess properties from I-5 to 23rd Ave will end in 2019. The nonprofit organization representing the neighborhood’s business community is suspending operations effective June 2nd, the board announced Thursday.

But a larger organization with a strong track record of effective — and socially progressive — pro-business advocacy is ready to fill the gap.

Louise Chernin, executive director of the Capitol Hill-headquartered Greater Seattle Business Association, tells CHS her organization hopes to step forward to create a new effort under the GSBA wing dedicated to the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It’s a continuation, she says, of work already underway at the GSBA.

“They’ve called us in the last two years because they weren’t getting services,” Chernin said about Capitol Hill shops and restaurants who have been looking for more support in their issues with Seattle City Hall and in Olympia. “I think we’re just going to continue doing what we do but we’ll just be more open about it. We respected the chamber, we wanted them to succeed. We’re hoping this new version, they will succeed.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce seeks new leader as Wells steps down

Wells at a Capitol Hill candidate debate pitting McGinn vs. Murray (Image: CHS)

Wells at a Capitol Hill candidate debate pitting McGinn vs. Murray (Image: CHS)

With a significant change in its purpose and culture on the rapidly approaching horizon, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is looking for a new person to represent its more than 300 members.

In a Thursday morning announcement, the business community and advocacy organization said that Michael Wells is leaving the organization after serving as executive director at the nonprofit for five years.

Like our thriving neighborhood, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce continues to evolve. And, today, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce announces Michael Wells, the Chamber’s Executive Director, has decided to leave the organization. Michael’s departure comes after nearly ten years of distinguished service as president of the board and more recently as Executive Director. Michael advanced many of the neighborhood and the organization’s goals and helped strengthen Capitol Hill community by connecting leaders from organizations across the Hill. We are incredibly proud of the work that Michael has done for the neighborhood, and his legacy with this organization will live on.

“Michael will be sorely missed, but with the strength of our partners, our incredible members, and our diverse and representative board, we believe the future is strong, and we look forward to continuing to serve you and Capitol Hill,” the announcement reads. Wells will leave his role at the end of the month, according to the statement from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

The chamber board is currently co-chaired by Jill Cronauer, director of property management at Capitol Hill developer Hunters Capital, and resident representative Meghann Glavin who works at Starbucks.

In a letter accompanying the statement, Wells recalled his days as a Broadway business owner at Bailey Coy Books and the “astonishing decade of change” in the neighborhood.

It’s time to move on.  After over a decade of working for the Capitol Chamber of Commerce – first as a volunteer and the first President of the Board of Directors, then as staff – I’ve decided to pursue other opportunities.  It’s been an astonishing decade of change for me and for Capitol Hill.  As a small business manager and owner (Bailey/Coy Books, R.I.P.), I struggled and celebrated with all of you in the good times and bad as an indie, locally owned business.  And after the closing of the store I made the economic health and prosperity of this neighborhood that I love so very much my work.

Wells tells CHS he is taking time to assess his options before announcing what comes next. Continue reading

Hack the CD hopes to help shape the ‘New Economy’ for Seattle’s Africatown

34de56e0-6153-4875-9785-c36ef0b7c342A “Cultural Innovation Conference” focused on Seattle’s Central District and Africatown returns to 17th Ave S’s Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute this weekend.

Hack the CD invites entrepreneurs and creators new and established to come together to collaborate on ideas, projects… and a party:

The 2015 Hack the CD Cultural Innovation Conference is a three day, all ages event held in Seattle’s Africatown – Central District, that convenes the brightest minds to participate in the New Economy through design, entrepreneurship, and technology.

Do you own your own business or thought about starting one? We’re calling all all artists, authors, chefs, developers, designers, hustlers, and tastemakers to an entrepreneurial jam session!

In one weekend, learn marketing and branding secrets from the pros, tips for new technology tools, and automation of your workflow to free up your time. Come with a new startup business idea or an existing venture.

  • 7pm – Friday, July 24th Network, Pitch Ideas, Form Teams, Begin Work

  • 10am – Saturday, July 25th Continue Work, Meet Coaches, Attend Workshops

  • 9am – Sunday, July 26th Finish Work, Present, After Party

Geekwire covered the first Hack the CD event held last fall.

For more information on attending, sharing experiences from your established Central District-area business, or volunteering, check out hackthecd.org.

Capitol Hill gothic boutique says only a ‘miracle’ can save it — Plus, T-Mobile dials Broadway

(Image: BedlamBedlam)

(Image: BedlamBedlam)

Every now and then the flow of daily events includes coincidences that appear to be part of connected patterns. Sometimes, a T-Mobile just opens on Broadway and it doesn’t mean anything. Sometimes, your friendly neighborhood gothic fashion shop just can’t make the rent.

“It looks like, short of a miracle, we’re going to be forced to close our doors at the end of this month,” the management of the 18-month-old BedlamBedlam boutique posted Wednesday. “We’ve spent the last year and a half struggling to make it work, and at this point we just don’t see any way.”

Meanwhile on Broadway, the sign has gone up outside the Broadway Market shopping center for a new T-Mobile store, one of nine locations now within a 5-mile radius of Capitol Hill but the only true blue T-Mobile operation in the neighborhood. Continue reading

Chapter 40: Elliott Bay Book Company opens up about its past, present and…

Aaron gets ready to cut the ribbon at Elliott Bay's 2010 Capitol Hill grand opening (Image: Suzi Pratt for CHS)

Aaron gets ready to cut the ribbon at Elliott Bay’s 2010 Capitol Hill grand opening (Image: Suzi Pratt for CHS)

It might not seem an encouraging sign when you describe the state of your business with phrases like, “We’re still alive” and “We continue to survive.” Such is the way Peter Aaron opened our interview about Elliott Bay Book Company, his iconic bookstore that marks the 40th anniversary of its founding this year. But, before you jump to any conclusions, there’s more to the story.

Let’s pick things up in 1999 when Aaron bought the independent bookstore, inheriting a literary legacy and a business model that, even then, looked destined to go the way of VHS rentals. Squeezed by big box chains, large discounters and the early rise of online sellers, the store had barely survived the three preceding years.

“Put it this way, during that three-year period, our sales volume decreased by one third,” said Aaron. “From a profitability point of view, it had gone from a comfortable business to one that was marginal.”

Nine years after the store had been featured in Newsweek as an example of successful independent bookstores, it seemed likely the next chapter for Elliott Bay Book Company would be followed by the number 7 or 11. Continue reading