‘Contemporary furniture’ retailer Blu Dot opening showroom on Capitol Hill

Minimalist but friendly, Blu Dot is bringing one its few worldwide showrooms to an auto row building on Capitol Hill that has been home to furniture before.

CHS has learned that the Minneapolis-headquartered furniture, design, and lifestyle brand will open a Seattle showroom on the corner of Pine and Crawford Place in the Colman Automotive building that is currently a whir of construction activity for a seismic overhaul and tenant upgrades. The work will create the new Blu Dot store and a new restaurant project lined up to neighbor it as well as a rooftop bar. The building was the longtime home of original and vintage furniture concern Area 51.

There are currently only five Blu Dot showrooms around the world. The most recent addition opened in Chicago this winter. UPDATE: “Blu Dot currently has six stores in the U.S. and nine stores globally,” a company rep tells CHS. Continue reading

Pratt Fine Arts Center plans expansion in mixed-use development

(Image: Pratt Fine Arts)

(Image: Pratt Fine Arts)

Pratt Fine Arts Center’s plans to expand are moving forward with designs in progress and money in the bank to anchor a six-story, mixed-use development on the block it calls home at 20th and Jackson.

“In order to achieve Pratt’s long term vision, we have worked tirelessly to find the best way to accommodate Pratt’s growing need for additional facilities to better serve art students and independent artists,” Steve Galatro, Pratt executive director said. “This multifaceted development will expand our capacity, unlock new potential, strengthen the connections to our neighborhood, and ensure that creativity thrives in a dynamic urban campus for many years to come.” Continue reading

Despite stormy economic seas, Whole Foods still set to anchor 17-story Broadway tower

The Danforth, still rising, its anchor Whole Foods, still coming to Broadway and Madison

The Danforth, still rising, its anchor Whole Foods, still coming to Broadway and Madison

As news broke this week that Whole Foods is pulling out of its plan for a new West Seattle store as part of nationwide cutbacks, CHS asked what about the company’s plans for The Danforth, the 16-story mixed-use building rising at Madison and Broadway.

A company spokesperson says plans have not changed for the Broadway store. “We are still on schedule to open our Capitol Hill store at the corner of Broadway and Madison in late 2018,” she tells CHS. Continue reading

You might be able to move into your new Capitol Hill Station apartment in 2019

Earlier this month, Sound Transit and Capitol Hill Station celebrated one year of service carrying thousands of riders every day on the light rail line connecting downtown to Montlake by way of Broadway. The two acres of so of pavement around the station, you might have noticed, remain empty but there are big plans. Here is what comes next after December’s first design review — and why the one-year celebration didn’t include a ribbon cutting from the project’s developer Gerding Edlen for the some 400 affordable and market-rate apartment units and 59,000 square feet of commercial and community space planned to rise around the station.

Destined to begin construction in 2018 and open for new residents late the following year, the architects behind the largest buildings and the key central plaza above Capitol Hill Station are refining plans following the project’s first step in the special streamlined design review process set up for the community-guided “transit oriented development.” As part of its application for the critical land use permit, Hewitt Architects submitted a roster of planned design changes based on feedback from the design review board for the project’s main Site A building along Broadway and the pedestrian plaza that will sit above the busy light rail station below and is hoped to create a central gathering place, a home for the Capitol Hill farmers market, and a new gateway for the adjacent Cal Anderson Park.

Here are some of the changes being planned for the next and final round of design review expected to take place this summer:

  • Parking: The developer’s rep told the crowd at the December design review that there was likely to be fewer parking spots than included in the design plan. True… kind of. The big lot is down to 158 spaces: Site A was previously showing 183 parking spaces on 3 below grade parking levels. This has been reduced to 158 spaces. 
  • Broadway pass-through: The plan for a passageway through the development to connect Broadway through to the internal plaza will be de-cluttered and the quasi-public space will hopefully be more inviting and provide small retailers with a more active environment: The pass-through for Site A has remained at 15’-0” minimum width and all bicycle racks have been removed. The residential lobby no longer lines the entire south side of the pass-through allowing for further activation of the retail spaces. Retail is now visible at both the west and east. Continue reading

As King County booms, how many people live on Capitol Hill? 32,989… and counting

Ways of clapping

“The Seattle area is the ninth fastest-growing metro in the nation, gaining about 1,100 residents per week,” the Puget Sound Business Journal reported Thursday. For those wondering, no, they aren’t all moving to Capitol Hill.

About 32,989 people live in the neighborhood, according to 2016 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. But if you feel like the rate of growth around you has been increasing, you are right. King County, it turns out, gained the fourth highest total of new residents from 2015 to 2016 with an increase of 35,714 neighbors in the county.

How fast is Capitol Hill growing? First, the 32,989 datapoint for 2016 comes with some caveats. CHS used census tracts which most closely match the boundaries of Capitol Hill, which we generally consider to be from I-5 to 23rd Ave, and Roanoke to Madison. Since the census tracts don’t quite match up with our definition (bigger in some places, smaller in others, (get with it census)), the numbers are going to be a bit off. For those keeping score at home, we used census tracts 64, 65, 74, 75, 76, 83 and 84. Continue reading

E Madison Piecora’s development planned to finally break ground this spring

IMG_4342While we watch for 2017’s sortie of property deals to play out — including two core auto row-era(1), preservation-friendly buildings (2) in the Pike/Pine Conservation District and a block of 15th Ave E (3) — the story of what comes next for a big Capitol Hill property deal from the past is finally ready to play out.

A spokesperson for developer Equity Residential tells CHS that the project to create a six-story, 137-unit project with parking for 78 vehicles and a planned 3,800 square feet of retail space is finally ready to break ground this spring on the empty, weeded-over, fenced-off lot where neighborhood favorite Piecora’s served up its “New York Pizza” and slices for 33 years. Continue reading

Seattle City Council approves nation’s first Renters’ Commission

Council member Tim Burgess

Council member Tim Burgess

Applause followed the City Council’s unanimous approval of an ordinance creating a Seattle Renters’ Commission on Monday.

“This was truly a grassroots effort that started up on Capitol Hill and will now benefit the entire city of Seattle,” Council member and prime sponsor Tim Burgess said.

“We just want to give renters a formal voice here at City Hall,” he said. “… Renters need landlords and landlords need renters, so if this commission can help bridge that relationship then that will be a positive move for our city.” Continue reading

Rapha Seattle opens on Capitol Hill this week

In October of 2013, neighbors enjoyed one final night at Bauhaus inside its original Melrose and Pine location. The only activity at the corner since has involved hard hats and construction crews building the eight-story, preservation incentive-boosted Excelsior Apartments above the old block formerly home to the cafe and a collection of independent shops and a small handful of apartments.

That will change this week as global cycling brand Rapha is ready to debut its latest “clubhouse” retail and cafe concept on the corner:

We’re thrilled to announce the opening of Rapha Seattle on Wednesday, March 22nd at 8AM. Rapha Seattle will offer the latest Rapha products, host events and exhibitions, serve the finest coffee as well as screen live road racing throughout the year. We hope to see you soon.
Continue reading

Protest against displacement at 23rd and Union targets landowner’s Madrona home, sparks scuffle at Uncle Ike’s

Protesters said they were targeting the home of the family member who heads the Midtown Center partnership as Madrona got an unusual influx of activists Saturday night

Protesters said they were targeting the home of the family member who heads the Midtown Center partnership as Madrona got an unusual influx of activists Saturday night

A protest against gentrification and displacement in the Central District that followed the eviction of a longtime neighborhood activist from his 24th and Spring home showed just how personal the tumult around change can be as the Madrona home of a 23rd and Union property owner was targeted — and the owner of a controversial marijuana store momentarily lost his cool Saturday night.

Protesters Saturday night gathered at 23rd and Union outside the office space where the Black business incubator Black Dot is being booted from the teed-up-for-redevelopment Midtown Center. The protest was a planned response after the eviction of Omari Tahir-Garret from the block earlier in the week. The rally and march eventually traveled all the way to Madrona where protesters said they were targeting the home of Hugh Bangasser, head of the family partnership that owns the Midtown Center and is planning to sell the property for redevelopment.

But the sparks flew late in the night after the march returned to 23rd and Union and organizer Cliff Cawthon brought the group to the parking lot of “gentrifier” Uncle Ike’s where the I-502 pot shop was once again surrounded by a mix of protesters, Seattle Police, and Ike’s security employees. Continue reading

Standoff at 24th and Spring in eviction of longtime Central District activist

A longtime Central District resident whose activism for Black rights has often put him at odds with law enforcement and the legal system sparked a protest and a standoff Wednesday morning at 24th and Spring as the King County Sheriff, Seattle Police, and a work crew arrived to evict him and his UMOJA Peace Center from the Midtown Center block.

Omari Tahir-Garrett, who is in his 70s, was reportedly barricaded inside the house where he has lived for around a decade while working as a caretaker for the property owned by the Bangasser family who is now trying to sell the land for long-awaited redevelopment. UPDATE 2:15 PM: Authorities have determined that Tahir-Garrett is not inside the house. A protest organizer says Tahir-Garrett is “safe” and not in custody.

UPDATE 3/16/2017 8:53 AM: Police say they responded to the corner Thursday morning to help “a man trapped inside a boarded house.” We’re checking to find out more. According to police radio dispatches, SPD officers entered the house around 8 AM after being called to the scene to a report of somebody trapped inside. The person was “removed from the property” around 15 minutes later.

DSC01265UPDATE 3/16/17 2:15 PM: In an appearance outside his boarded house and flanked by City Council member Kshama SawantOmari Tahir-Garrett and organizers of the two days of protests against his eviction at 24th and Spring said they will rally again on Saturday for inclusive development with a march starting at 23rd and Union. Continue reading