How they dust the Capitol Hill Station jets

(Image: Sound Transit)

Since its opening in March 2016, Capitol Hill Station has helped move thousands of people through their lives in the city. Every descent to the platform has left neat freaks a little more freaked out. Jet Kiss, the work by artist Mike Ross that turned A4 fighter jet war machines into sexy pink gloss love machines, often looks like it needs a good dusting. Hopefully it will help you to relax to know Sound Transit has an expert on the case.

Meet “Art Collection Specialist” Tim Marsden:

As the person in charge of more than 100 art installations at bus and train stations and other Sound Transit facilities from Everett to Lakewood, Marsden is the chief caretaker of a collection of museum-quality work by nationally-renowned artists.

His official title is “Art Collection Specialist.” That’s a catchall for everything the Seattle artist juggles to maintain an art collection exposed to the elements, passing trains, buses and thousands of riders every day.

“In a nutshell, I am responsible for the care and maintenance of the public art collection – which to my mind is to identify problems before they become problems,” Marsden said. “I like to get eyeballs on the work and a good method for this is to schedule regular cleanings.”

More on Marsden and the special challenges of keeping Jet Kiss shiny bright here.

Station development update
Meanwhile, you will have the opportunity to see the updated designs for the development projects set to rise around Capitol Hill Station in an open house on June 6th. The projects including four seven-story buildings with a combined 427 market-rate and affordable apartment units, plus more than 59,000 square feet of commercial and community space are lined up for a second and possibly final round of design review this summer — likely in August — following a first review session last December.

The Capitol Hill Champion community group reports that lead developer Gerding Edlen is in the process of interviewing potential anchor tenants for the project. Also, Gerding Edlen and the Capitol Hill Farmer’s Market “have agreed on a tent layout that accommodates approximately 70 stalls for the large weekend market in the plaza and festival street and approximately 30 stalls for the smaller weekday market” in the project’s plaza, the group reports.

15th Ave E QFC block has new owner: Capitol Hill’s Hunters Capital

The “big property deal set to reshape Capitol Hill’s somewhat sleepy 15th Ave E” has gone down. For now, the quiet-er stretch of Capitol Hill commerce will stay as somewhat sleepy as ever.

“We look forward to becoming a part of this vibrant street as we value the unique retail and residential mix,” Jill Cronauer, chief operating officer at Hunters Capital said in an announcement Monday morning that the Capitol Hill-focused real estate development and property management firm has acquired the block of 15th Ave E home to QFC and a stretch of local businesses for $11.25 million. Continue reading

$14M deal for Elliott Bay Book Company building

A prime piece of Pike/Pine’s commercial past and present has a new owner. A company associated with the Keeler Investment Group, an investor in “Pacific Northwest-based, early stage, private equity and real estate opportunities,” for $14 million, according to King County records.

Longtime owner Capitol Hill-based Hunters Capital announced the sale Monday of the Ford Building, the 97-year-old former auto row warehouse now home to Elliott Bay Book Company, the Little Oddfellows cafe, and upscale fashion retailer Totokaelo

In March, Hunters officials told CHS they had a letter of intent with a local buyer.  “It’s not some big, national conglomerate,” Mike Oaksmith, director of development at Hunters said at the time. Elliott Bay owner Peter Aaron told CHS that the bookstore is well positioned for any change of building ownership. Aaron said Elliott Bay is in the midst of a “long term” lease — “more than 10 years is what I’m comfortable saying,” Aaron told CHS. Continue reading

‘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