Citizen group looks at six-story development planned for the *other* corner of 23rd and Union

Screen-Shot-2015-03-25-at-9.50.37-AMWednesday night, neighbors and community members interested in future development on they *other* corner of 23rd and Union have an opportunity to meet with the developer behind two projects at the busy Central District intersection thanks to citizen group The Central Area Land Use Review Committee:09-30-15_2220 E Union

CHS reported here on the first design review for the project from Lake Union Partners to build “a six-story, market-rate apartment building” on the site currently home to a 23rd and Union gas station, an urban farm, and Cappy’s Gym (which has moved).

Construction is nearing completion, meanwhile, for the six-story LUP project on the southwest corner.

At the March meeting, the review board voted to move the northwest corner project forward:

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 4.38.11 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 4.35.59 PMThe next — and possibly final — step in the design review process has not yet been scheduled.

Meanwhile, the process to update Seattle’s comprehensive plan continues — including the forward-looking amendment, below, that spells out some of the developmental directions for the area including 23rd and Jackson and the Miller/Madison area. The updates and amendments will be finalized over the coming months before City Council votes in early 2016. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Peloton at center of bicycle cafe pack coming to Pike/Pine, 12th Ave


Team Peloton: Dustin Riggs, Mckenzie Hart, Paul Dano, and Aaron Grant

IMG_2809A tightly packed group of businesses combining passion for the bicycle with food, drink, and repair and maintenance services is pedaling its way around Capitol Hill. As the yellow jersey in the race of big city trends, you’re probably not going to be surprised to learn that the streets of Capitol Hill and the Central District will soon be home to not one, or two, but three bicycle cafes.

“Many cyclists kind of pick up the sport and it leads to a rabbit hole,” Dustin Riggs tells CHS. “There is a lot of culture around it.”

Riggs and his partners hope to clip into that two-wheeled enthusiasm as they prepare to open Peloton at 12th and Jefferson by early October.

“The coffee and the beer and the bikes. It’s just a lifestyle kind of thing,” he said. Continue reading

Hold-up at 16th/Mercer part of string of overnight armed robberies

Seattle Police investigated a string of armed robberies overnight that included a hold-up on Capitol Hill near 16th and Mercer.

According to SPD radio dispatches, a male victim was robbed of his wallet and phone by a group of three armed with handguns near 16th and Mercer just around the corner from the Canterbury around 10:30 PM Sunday. The suspects were last seen running northbound on 16th Ave E. Police were told the sound of what was believed to be cap gun firing could be heard as the group ran away. There were no reported injuries. UPDATE: The victim in Sunday night’s crime tells CHS he was able to track his phone to an address… in Renton. The victim also said he had to wait 90 minutes on the phone after he called SPD to relay the information. No word on whether SPD was able to act on the information.

Later just after 1 AM, a female victim told police a group of three males tried to stick her up near 19th and Main, firing off a handgun in the process before fleeing toward Blanche Lavizzo Park. The female victim described three males wearing bandanas over their faces. At least one male was armed. She told police one in the group put the gun to her waist and demanded her belongings. The victim said she told the robbers she had nothing before they turned her loose and she fled to a nearby apartment.

Police were investigating whether the same group was also involved in a third robbery during the night reported elsewhere in the area. We do not yet have details on the third incident. UPDATE: A third incident — actually the second in the three robbery sequence — was reported around 12:15 AM on Beacon Hill on 15th Ave S. If the robberies involved the same group, they apparently traveled south from Capitol Hill after the 16th and Mercer robbery before doubling back north for the 19th/Main robbery in the Central District. SPD is investigating.

The possible spree follows a period of relative quiet for street robbery activity after the typical summer flare-up on Capitol Hill and in the Central District. Last week, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was in the Central District to discuss increased policing resources and funding in a sign of increased federal activity in the area to respond to concerns over gun violence.

UPDATE 9/29/2015 9:30 AM: SPD has posted a report on the robbery spree:

A group of three men are suspected in a series of overnight robberies in the East and South Precincts.

SPD robbery detectives believe the trio of suspects first approached a man and a woman at 16th Avenue and Mercer Street around 10:40 PM Sunday night. The suspects, who had hooded sweatshirts pulled over their faces, pulled guns on the victims and demanded cash and cellphones before fleeing the scene.

The victims told police they heard what sounded like a “cap gun” going off as the suspects fled. Officers tried tracking one victim’s cellphone, but were unable to locate it.

About two hours later, just before 12:30 PM, police received two back-to-back reports of robberies on Beacon Hill. First, a woman reported a group of suspects had flashed a gun in the 3000 block of 14th Avenue S. and threatened to shoot her if she didn’t hand over cash.

Minutes later, police received another report from a man, who said several suspects had approached him as he was getting out of his car in the 2900 block of 15th Ave S–just a few blocks away from the first robbery on Beacon Hill–and demanded cash and credit cards. Again, the suspects fled.

In a fourth case, a woman reported three masked suspects had approached her in a parking lot at 19th Ave and Main St. just after 1 AM and demanded her wallet and cell phone before they fled. The victim told police she heard what sounded like a gunshot as the suspects ran off.

K9 teams assisted in searching for the suspects throughout the night, but were unable to locate the men. No one was injured in the four incidents.

The suspects reportedly covered their faces with sweatshirts or bandannas during the incidents, and victims were only able to describe them as Hispanic men in their 20s. Detectives believe all four cases are connected and are working to track down additional details about the suspects.

If you have any information about these cases, please contact the SPD Robbery Unit at (206) 684-5535.

The victim in the incident on Capitol Hill tells CHS was with his wife during the holdup and has since seen periodic pings from his phone south of Seattle and on Beacon Hill. TV crews descended on the area around 16th and Mercer Monday night.

U.S. Attorney General meets with Central District reps, praises SPD reform, and, yes, brings cash for community policing programs


Attorney General Loretta Lynch addresses the media alongside Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Mayor Ed Murray (Image: CHS)

Seattle’s efforts to combat gun violence while simultaneously curbing excessive policing tactics is drawing a lot of attention — and even more cash — from the federal government.

On Thursday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited the Central Area as part of a national community policing tour where she highlighted, among other things, the progress the Seattle Police Department has made in meeting federal mandates to address excessive use of force by officers.

On the same day Lynch was in town, the Department of Justice monitor tasked with overseeing SPD’s use of force consent decree filed a report about how the department was progressing with internally tracking use of force incidents.

The monitor found that SPD was doing a good job in three out of four categories, including investigating the most severe use of force incidents. However, the monitor’s report said SPD sergeants “still had a ways to go” in adequately investigating mid-level use of force incidents by officers, like those involving tasers and pepper spray.

Lynch praised SPD and City officials for making progress towards coming into full compliance with the consent decree:

Thanks to the consent decree and the commitment to change it represented, the Seattle Police Department has adopted policies and instituted trainings to address bias, curtail the use of force and implement new mechanisms of accountability. Those reforms have not only led to positive results in Seattle, but have become a model for similarly situated departments throughout the country.

SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole was hired last year as the mayor searched for the right person to guide the department through its consent decree process.

Even as reforms are implemented, tensions continue to surface in the process. While many city officials and community leaders have praised the firing of officer Cynthia Whitlatch for her “sustained policy violations involving bias, abuse of police discretion, and escalation of a contact” in a July 2014 arrest on Capitol Hill, the Seattle Police Officers Guild and some East Precinct officers see the chief’s decision to sustain the findings of the Office of Professional Accountability as a betrayal of a veteran officer.

When asked about articles in the police union newspaper that have mocked the consent decree, Lynch said in a Thursday media briefing that her interactions with officers during the day had been positive. “I think that change is hard. It can be hard to be introspective,” she said. Continue reading

Banks makes headway in D3 chase putting public safety on the table — UPDATE


Banks announced her plan at Powell Barnett Park Thursday morning. (Image: Bryan Cohen)

Pamela Banks has finally struck a campaign blow in an election season that has mostly seen incumbent Kshama Sawant dominating. The candidate will look to build on that success Thursday with a push on public safety at a Central District park playground recently caught in the crossfire of ongoing gun violence.

UPDATE: Banks called for the City to hire ex-gang members to quell gun violence as the main part of her plan to address public safety concerns in the Central Area. The proposal would require hiring at least 12 “violence interrupters” to diffuse deadly confrontations, she said.

The program is modeled off one in Chicago and is a revival of sorts of a Seattle initiative that was disbanded in 2010, Banks said. Banks also called for more resources to be devoted to SPD’s community police teams — an issue Attorney General Loretta Lynch was due to speak about later in the day at a “community policing forum” in the Central District. That would likely involve hiring more officers, Banks said.

During the media conference at Powell Barnett Park, Banks took the opportunity to note Sawant’s relatively quiet stance on the issue of public safety in this year’s election. “My opponent hasn’t lead on this issue and hasn’t even made a public statement regarding this violent crime in this city,” Banks said.

Banks said addressing violent crime is her top issue in the campaign.

A full statement on the Banks “Jobs Stop Bullets” plan has been included at the bottom of this post.

Original report: After her plea for Democratic unity failed to secure a key endorsement from the 43rd District Democrats earlier this month, the D3 challenger found a friendlier response this week from her home legislative district as the 37th voted to throw its support behind Banks.

“It was great to see so many friends and neighbors at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, and to earn the endorsement of the 37th District Democrats,” Banks said in a statement:

I’ve known many of these strong Democrats for years. Some friendships go back to when I helped make sure small businesses kept their doors open during light rail construction back in the 1990’s and others are friends and fellow parents from when I served as Garfield PTSA President.

This is the kind of results-driven, hands-on community activism that I love, and it was humbling and gratifying to see so many people turn out and support my candidacy for City Council. I continue to make housing, education, jobs and public safety my priorities, and making a difference on these issues energizes my campaign.

Banks will look to continue her momentum Thursday with a push on public safety and a morning announcement in Powell Barnett Park, “the scene of a shooting on June 25.” Continue reading

Nate’s CD brings chicken and waffles game to 12th and Jefferson


(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_7274Nobody is saying there’s a rivalry between former partners but there definitely appears to be a little healthy competition over chicken and waffles in the Central District.

Rainier Beach-born Nate’s Wings and Waffles is now open near 12th and Jefferson in an overhauled Ethiopian restaurant.

The second location of the restaurant from Darren McGillAndrae Israel, and NBA star Nate Robinson opened over the weekend and is planning to be “officially” ready to deploy its full game starting Tuesday. The special is the Pumpkin Pie Waffle. Get some. Continue reading

Inspired by Capitol Hill’s rainbows, Seattle rolling out colorful ‘Community Crosswalks’ program

Don't get excited. The rainbow street sign was just a prop (Image: CHS)

Don’t get excited. The rainbow street sign was just a prop (Image: CHS)

Inspired by the rainbow crosswalks of Capitol Hill — and a DIY act of pavement activism in the Central District — the City of Seattle Monday announced a new program that will allow neighborhoods to add their own colors to their streets.

The new Community Crosswalks program “will allow unique crosswalks to be approved and installed through an established process, ensuring that they are safe, reflective of community values and can be maintained,” the announcement of the shared Department of Neighborhoods and Seattle Department of Transportation programs reads.

“This is about celebrating and enhancing community identities,” Mayor Ed Murray is quoted as saying in the announcement. “The iconic rainbow crosswalks on Capitol Hill started a broader conversation on how we can incorporate neighborhood character in the built environment across Seattle. I’m excited to see more history, culture, and community on display for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

In June, the mayor, city officials, and community members were on hand as Seattle unveiled the colors of Gay Pride on six Pike/Pine intersections. While some criticized the $73,000 project for ignoring larger issues affecting the LGBTQ community on Capitol Hill, the crosswalks have become a sort of landmark feature in the neighborhood and a visible symbol of the neighborhood’s gay culture.

With the new program in place, SDOT say it will review any "crosswalks installed or modified outside of this process" like the crosswalk work that showed up in the Central District this summer

With the new program in place, SDOT say it will review any “crosswalks installed or modified outside of this process” like the crosswalk work that showed up in the Central District this summer

Following the Capitol Hill rainbow project, the red, black, and green colors of the Pan-African flag appeared on crosswalks in the Central District. Social activists including The United Hood Movement took credit for the unofficial paint jobs. “Painted crosswalks in other neighborhoods is an idea we are exploring,” an SDOT spokesperson told CHS in August. “We haven’t yet developed a plan or a process for this.”

The new program announced Monday will work in conjunction with the Neighborhood Matching Fund process and lays out a set of requirements including a design and color scheme “reflective of community values” in your neighborhood: Continue reading

CHS Pics | Central Area Block Party 2015

(Images: Alex Garland)

The 23rd Ave Action Plan is a City of Seattle program seeking to transform the important corridor with a new wave of redevelopment:

  • 23rd and Union: Increase height limits from 40 to 65 feet in the immediate blocks around 23rd and Union. Increase height limits from 30 to 65 feet on the block of Union between 21st and 22nd. Increase limit from 30 to 40 feet between 20th and 21st.

  • 23rd and Cherry: Standardize on 40-foot heigh limits on blocks near Garfield Community Center and the high school.

  • 23rd and Jackson: Increase height limits from 65 to 85 feet around 23rd and Jackson.

The process should bring rezone recommendations and the environmental public comment period soon.

But Saturday was about a party. The second annual Central Area Block Party sponsored by the 23rd Ave Action Community Team brought music and fun to E Cherry and the Garfield Community Center. There was also plenty to eat — including the (temporary) return of Catfish Corner to the street as it plans its reopening in the Central District at 23rd and Jackson.

Meanwhile, Saturday also brought the three-mile Central District edition of the Seattle Summer Parkways event inspired by a similar annual event in Portland designed to get the community out onto car-free streets. Attendance at the Seattle Department of Transportation-backed event was reportedly well below expectations, according to participants. We’ll have more on the inaugural weekend of the Seattle version of the event soon.

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.