Rockland Residency gives artists worldwide a free place to create in the CD

IMG_7490Seeing Seattle for the first time, imagining its possibilities and places to explore, is an experience that can evoke some serious inspiration. To help artists tap into that creative energy, a Central District couple have transformed a house they own into a free artist residency that has already attracted interest from around the globe.

The Rockland Residency was founded by local artists Shawn Landis and Jodi Rockwell in 2015. The 27th and Marion home, known as the Butterfly House, turns over to artists from February and April and is rented out as a regular residence the rest of the year. The “unmarried husband and wife team” developed the free residency program to offer space and time for artists to create and connect with the city.

“It’s a great way to share and gather artists together to give them space and time to create their work without the stress and strain of everyday life,” Landis said. “It is very critical for creative thought, to have that structure of support around you, and I wanted to give that back.”

Landis and Rockwell do not charge residents for the time they spend at the house. Residents can stay for two to four weeks, depending on their projects.

One of the most recent residents was Carla Bertone, a muralist from Buenos Aires, who stayed for two weeks in the architecturally distinct 1963 home, designed by renowned Seattle architect Victor Steinbrueck. During her time at Rockland, Bertone completed and presented a mural she installed, titled “Psychedelic UFO”.

“Their creative energy feeds me, knowing they are here producing work, it generates more of that energy,” Rockwell said. “That part surprised me, when it began, knowing someone was here really focused on their work, it inspires me.”

Along with a small group of artists, Landis and Rockwell choose residents from a wide gamut of applications. In its inaugural year, Rockland received 38 applications from 12 different countries. Selected to participate are writers and visual artists from New York, Finland, Buenos Aires, Mexico, and Texas. To commemorate their time, each artist is asked to design a flag to represent them, which Landis then sews and hangs from a flag pole outside.

As stated in their Mission: “The residency is open to anyone engaged in a creative process involving and not limited to: visual art, writing, music, performance and new media. Our goal is to share what we have established for ourselves in property and networking to link dedicated artists outside of the Seattle area to those within.”

“It pulls us out because we get to show off what our city has to offer, the connections we have from our fifteen years here,” Rockwell said.

To learn more about the residency, visit

Washington Hall nonprofit owners seek $300K from city to complete restoration

10644867_881201198580902_1892594002608393627_nIn 2009, Seattle nearly lost a giant among the city’s diminishing stock of culturally significant buildings. Washington Hall, built in 1908 by the Danish Brotherhood, was a cornerstone of the Central Area community through much of the 20th Century. Past performers at the 14th and E Fir space have included Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and a young Jimi Hendrix.

Rescuing it from demolition, the preservation nonprofit Historic Seattle acquired the building in 2009 and have been slowly been restoring it since. In 2014 the nonprofit secured a $300,000 city grant to add an elevator. Ultimately the group found a cheaper solution that did not require use of those funds.posters_wahall

Now the nonprofit is proposing to use the grant to complete its restoration efforts and enter into a new memorandum of understanding with the city on how those funds will be used. Washington Hall plans to use the $300,000 from the city to finish an exterior restoration and interior buildout of the building, which it says it cannot do without the grant. The full restoration will also include new nonprofit offices.

On Wednesday, the City Council’s affordable housing committee moved the proposal to a full council vote. It will be introduced to the full council on Monday.

A grand re-opening of Washington Hall is scheduled for June 1st.

Two shot in weekend of Central District gun violence — UPDATE

A male victim was dropped off at Harborview with a gunshot wound to his buttocks following a shooting incident that lit up 911 line Sunday night around 28th and Jackson. The shooting was part of a series of gun incidents around the Central District over the weekend — but fortunately the only one in which somebody was hit.

Police fanned out around 28th Ave S after the reports of shots fired started coming into 911 around 9:15 PM.

Police found casings and bullet holes in houses in the area but no victims were immediately located. Some witnesses said three to four males involved in the melee had been seen speeding away in a silver car.

A few minutes later, a 29-year-old male victim was dropped off at Harborview with a gunshot wound to his posterior. The injuries were believed to be non-life threatening, according to East Precinct radio dispatches.

The shooting was part of a weekend of gun violence. Police were also investigating a Sunday afternoon drive-by reported in the 700 block of MLK Way S, and two early morning gunfire incidents at 23rd Ave S and Lane and 14th Ave S and Lane, plus another reported drive-by earlier that morning at 14th and Main. Meanwhile, police also investigated a shooting early Saturday morning around 14th and Alder and a gunpoint robbery just before 3 AM Saturday at 23rd and Cherry.

UPDATE 4:55 PM: According to SPD, a 28-year-old man was shot in the leg early Sunday morning and dropped off at Harborview Medical Center. The victim said he had been shot near 12th and Main. SPD said the incidents were not random acts and that police would be increasing patrols in the Central District following the weekend shootings.

After years of pushback, Swedish Cherry Hill expansion plan set for approval

A process in its fourth year of shaping the development plans for the Central District’s Swedish Cherry Hill campus appears to have finally reached a conclusion. Monday afternoon, the full City Council is expected to approve the application for a new master plan and rezoning for the hospital and medical facilities at 500 17th Ave.

The approvals passed out of the Council’s planning committee two weeks ago in a “quasi-judicial” process following years of meetings and appeals against decisions in favor of the plan from Swedish and developer Sabey Corporation as neighborhood groups raised concerns about the size and scope of the planned expansion.

A 24-person citizens advisory committee was formed in late 2012, and, in the spring of 2015, announced their official disapproval of the MIMP with correcting recommendations. The MIMP was then tentatively approved by the city (after five days of hearings over the summer), after which seven separate appeals were filed by the likes of the Squire Park Community Council, the Cherry Hill Community Council and several CAC members. Issues driving the appellants include the proposed height increases, the impacts on neighborhood parking, and the expansion’s consistency with the city’s comprehensive growth plan. Finally this spring. Alternative 12 received the blessing of the City council committee.

Amendments to attempt to address lingering concerns and, according to Council member Lisa Herbold’s staff, “intended to a. make the mass of institutional structures more compatible with the neighborhood and b. create a more gradual transition from more intensive zones to less intensive zones” were approved by the committee:

(1) Western block Amendment: reduces the maximum allowable MIO height to 125’, resulting in approximately 98.400 s.f. reduction or about 6%.

(2) Eastern Block Height Amendment: Conditions a portion of this half-block down to zero feet.

If approved by the full Council, Monday’s votes will pave the way for Swedish to add an additional 1.5 million square feet to the 1.3 acre Cherry Hill Campus.

Bus Stop | Off Capitol Hill: What service could look like across CD, First Hill in 2025

The #2, Central District, Seattle
Route-48In April, Bus Stop looked at what King County Metro’s long range plan — envisioning our bus network in 2025 and in 2040 — might mean for Capitol Hill routes and the riders on them. Today I want to look at how the future network sketched out by Metro’s planners imagines how things will change in Capitol Hill’s connecting communities, First Hill and the Central District.

Frequent routes
Metro defines a frequent route as a route running at 15-minute or better frequency during most of the day. Evening service, however, can be another story, but we are going to look at the frequent routes Metro has included in its long range plan as those are going to be the most important ones for providing reliable neighborhood service.

One of the most frequent routes in this network will remain the route 48. Funds have been dedicated in the Move Seattle levy package to convert the 48 corridor into a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor, combined with the highest ridership route in Metro’s fleet, the 7 running on Rainier Avenue in Southeast Seattle. Continue reading

New Seasons Market considers 23rd and Union in search of second Seattle location

Screen-Shot-2016-02-16-at-4.11.19-PM-600x385UnknownThe Portland-based grocer vying for the marquee space at the future Capitol Hill Station development has expanded its search for a location near Capitol Hill.

Developers behind a project at northwest corner of 23rd and Union tell CHS that New Seasons Market has expressed an interest in taking over the future building’s 18,000-square-foot ground-level retail space. No leases have been signed and New Seasons declined to comment about any specific locations the company was scouting except to say that it was excited about the prospect of landing near Capitol Hill. The grocer is opening its first Seattle location in Ballard next year.

The Lake Union Partners project at 2220 E Union will replace the intersection’s gas station, community garden area, and former boxing gym with a six-story, 144-unit  “market -rate apartment building” planned to stand 65-feet tall includes underground parking.

The main retail space will be geared for a small format grocer, said Lake Union Partners principal Pat Foley. “When we started meeting with the neighborhood we heard that people wanted an independent market,” he said.

New Seasons received some public push back when it came out that the company was an early frontrunner to occupy the future development above the recently opened subway station at Broadway and Denny Way. News of the 19-store grocery chain coming to Seattle prompted a group of unions and advocacy organizations to send a letter to the Sound Transit Board saying they were concerned with “an anti-union climate” at the company. CHS recently reported on Central Co-op’s aspirations to takeover the anchor tenant space.

In a statement to CHS, New Seasons touted its B Corporation certification, focus on local and sustainable products, and above industry wages as evidence of its progressive values. “Capitol Hill is a vibrant community and we are excited by the potential of being part of the neighborhood,” the company said in a statement.

East Union is the second development for Lake Union Parters on 23rd and Union. After starting construction in May of 2014, six-story apartment development The Central is now open for new tenants on the southwest corner of the intersection. The corner retail space at The Central remains open after e-bike dealer Electric Lady opened in April and Squirrel Chops cafe+salon cafe+salon opens next door later this year. Foley said he envisions a family focused cafe or possibly a hardware store moving into the space.

Between the two projects, Lake Union will have spent $7.9 million on property alone to create around 240 apartment units, nearly 16,000 square feet of commercial space, and parking for some 160 cars.

Capitol Hill food+drink | Feed Co. Burgers coming to Central District

Don’t mistake the transition of Zoe the restaurant to Zoe the event space as saying a whole lot about the state of the restaurant business around Seattle and Capitol Hill… or the Central District for that matter.

“I have other projects in mind that aren’t just casual style family places like burgers,” Scott Staples tells CHS.

But, first things first, he and Heather Staples are planning to open the first Seattle location for Feed Co. Burgers, a casual, counter-service burger concept from the Quinn’s Pub food and drink family, sometime later this year after a summer buildout.

The project will claim 1,800 square feet of commercial space on the northwest corner of the new Stencil development under construction on E Union at 24th Ave. It will share the building’s ground floor retail with another project with Hill roots — Union Coffee from Zack Reinig, who has helped spouse Molly Moon Neitzel grow her E Pine-headquartered ice cream empire, is also lined up for the Lake Union Partners-developed building.

Staples said he has been eyeing another project farther east on E Union for a long time and had considered buying a property or two along the way before deciding on a deal with Lake Union. The restaurant will be well placed to serve the growing number of tenants moving into the area, the residents from nearby neighborhoods looking for walkable options, and the steady flow of families driving through 23rd and Union from around Central Seattle. Continue reading

Capitol Hill, CD property owners cited for fair housing violations

A property owner on Capitol Hill and another in the Central District were among 23 owners recently cited for violating Seattle’s fair housing law.

Seattle’s Office for Civil Rights has filed “directors charges” against owners at 23 properties after testing revealed alleged discriminatory practices against prospective renters based on familial status, disability, and use of a federal Section 8 voucher.

Test sites were selected at random and conducted by email and phone by the Northwest Fair Housing Alliance in Spokane. The specific citations for individual properties were not immediately available.

Owners of Langston Manor at 424 19th Ave E and a 4-plex apartment at 718 21st Ave were among those cited for fair housing violations. The 19th and Republican apartment complex is owned by Langston Manor, LLC and managed by Northwest Apartments. A representative for the management company said they had not yet been notified of the violation.

The 21st and Columbia property is owned by Xiaonan Song and Xiaobing Zhu. Hanneman Family Properties, LLC was also cited for violating the fair housing law at building in Eastlake, located at 2020 Minor Ave E.

“These test results are not isolated incidents – they demonstrate patterns of behavior that have profound impacts on people’s lives,” said SOCR director Patricia Lally. The SOCR constructors conducted 97 tests and found a troubling number of violations:

  • Familial status (32 tests): 2 charges / 31% of all tests showed evidence of different treatment.
  • Disability (33 tests): 6 charges / 64% of all tests showed evidence of different treatment.
  • Section 8 voucher (32 tests): 13 charges / 63% of all tests showed evidence of different treatment.

SOCR also field two additional charges for discrimination based on marital status and national origin.

In the familial status test, some property owners gave less information to testers who said they had children than those who said they did not. One manager advertised for “professional tenants only.” Testers also found landlords advertising for maximum occupancies below the true limits.

In the disability tests, some property owners refused to allow service dogs while other repeatedly hung up on testers calling from the Washington State relay service. Some landlords illegally rejected applicants who mentioned using Section 8 vouchers.

Last year two Capitol Hill-area apartment buildings were among 13 in Seattle given “director’s charges” by the city alleging rental housing discrimination following random inspections last year. Overall, 64% of tests for “Race” discrimination “showed evidence of different treatment” and 63% of “Sexual orientation” tests also resulted in unfair treatment.

For more information on Seattle’s fair housing law, visit SOCR’s website.

23rd and Union’s Liberty Bank Building faces first design review

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 4.40.20 PM

No it won't be blue and yellow -- but this is the general shape of things to come

No it won’t be blue and yellow — but this is the general shape of things to come

City Hall is looking to the Capitol Hill Housing project to develop a mixed-use affordable building at 23rd and Union as a model for the development Seattle needs as it builds its way out of its affordability crisis while attempting to be sensitive to issues of history, gentrification, and equity. The money to power the nonprofit developer’s project is moving into place. The desire to honor the legacy of the region’s first Black-owned bank that stood on the site is there.

Wednesday night, Central District residents will have their first say about the early design concept for the Liberty Bank Building, a planned 6-story development with 116 affordable apartment units above 3,300 square feet of street-level retail space and parking for 18 vehicles.

The design from the architects at Mithun seeks to “support Capitol Hill Housing’s mission to provide safe and affordable housing to low- and moderate-income individuals and families” while honoring Liberty Bank’s history and achieving “a strong activated urban street experience.” Apartments are planned as a mix of two-bedroom, one-bedroom, and studio units and the project will be built to meet the Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard.

A process to upzone areas around 23rd Ave is already underway

A process to upzone areas around 23rd Ave is already underway

To achieve these goals, Capitol Hill Housing is seeking a contract rezone in a separate process:

A legislative rezoning that includes the project site is currently being considered based on the recommendation of the 23rd Avenue Action Plan Urban Design Framework (23rd Avenue UDF). Due to the timeline of the legislative process, the proposed project is seeking a Contract Rezone that is consistent with the recommendation of the 23rd Avenue UDF. The project site is proposed to be rezoned from its current NC2P-40 & NC2-40 zoning to NC2P-65 zoning

Several design elements are being planned to recognize the legacy of Liberty Bank:

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 5.12.49 PM

Meanwhile, the Office of Economic Development has also been involved to find ways to ensure that commercial space is targeted towards local business, with a focus on black owners. OED brought together a group of Central District organizations with the goal of creating a pipeline of area small business owners that can move into the space when the project is complete, a City Hall rep told CHS earlier this year. Centerstone, Africatown, and the Black Community Impact Alliance are also discussing how arts can fit into the equation as part of the Central Area Arts District.

In late 2014, Capitol Hill Housing opened the 12th Ave Arts mixed-use office space + performance space + commercial space + affordable housing development.

Meanwhile, the area around 23rd and Union is busy with development. One six-story building is now complete on the southwest corner and another just wrapping up design review on the northwest corner. Both are projects from private developer Lake Union Partners and both are being put together as market-rate developments — though a quest to upzone the northwest project could help the community have a little more influence. Meanwhile, a deal for the block of MidTown Center has been tied up in a legal battle.

Wednesday night’s session will be about the building’s bulk and massing and discussion of proposed departures from Seattle building standards envisioned in the project like the street-level courtyard that could eventually run along 24th Ave.

2320 E Union St

Design Review Early Design Guidance application proposing a 6-story structure containing 116 residential units above 3,300 sq. ft. of ground-level retail space. Parking for 18 vehicles will be located within the structure. This project requires a contract rezone from NC2P-40 and NC2-40 to NC2P-65.

View Design Proposal  (53 MB)    

Review Meeting
May 4, 2016 6:30pm

Seattle University

824 12th Ave
Admissions & Alumni Community Building
Review Phase
EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number

Tami Garrett


Vulcan eyes tax breaks to include affordable housing at 23rd and Jackson

Vulcan's 23rd and Jackson project will go in front of the design board for the first time on May 10th

Vulcan’s 23rd and Jackson project will go in front of the design board for the first time on May 10th

Vulcan’s $30.9 million acquisition at 23rd and Jackson is seen as a bellwether for development and increased gentrification set to continue its march across the Central District. It may, indeed, be a significant representative — but that doesn’t mean the development will be purely market-driven. The real estate giant plans to use a tax break to help create affordable housing in the new development that replaces the Promenade 23 shopping center. But a plan to create what could be even more significant requirements for affordable housing in Seattle developments isn’t yet part of the plan at 23rd and Jackson.

Instead, Vulcan is proposing to use Seattle’s affordable housing incentive program, the Multifamily Tax Exemption, to make 20% of its units affordable. That would include some true family housing (two and three bedroom units), but that could change.

In a statement, the developer described the affordable element of its planned development to CHS:

Vulcan’s proposed development project at 23rd & Jackson will contain 566 units that will contribute to the mayor’s goal for 30,000 new market rate and 20,000 new affordable housing units in the next 10 years. We have planned the development under existing zoning and are electing to participate in the MFTE program. Under our current design we will produce approximately 113 affordable units including 49 units affordable to households earning 65% of Area Median Income ($41,145 for single person, $58,695 for family of 4).

A new ordinance proposed by Mayor Ed Murray would require all projects in certain areas of the city like Vulcan’s to either include “five to eight percent of units as affordable for residents earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for 50 years” — or pay the city to build affordable housing elsewhere. Continue reading