The (relatively) giant retailer coming to E Pike will be a… grocery store

As much as the return of the Capitol Hill Block Party has some remembering the “good old” days of Pike/Pine circa 1997, the changes underway on E Pike may eventually leave you pining for the CHBP days of yore — or, at least, remembering a day when there weren’t all those pesky large grocery stores on every block.

CHS reported this spring about the mysterious, relatively huge, 10,000 square-foot retailer making plans to join a new mixed-use development under construction on E Pike:

According to permits, the project’s plans for multiple retail units along the street have been pushed aside in favor of one combined “retail store” in the project. At just over 10,000 square feet, the store would be about half the size of Elliott Bay Book Company, for example, but twice the size of the still-empty OfficeMax that shuttered on Broadway earlier this year.

The developer wasn’t talking.

But CHS has learned that the project is being lined up as a grocery store involving an unknown company with plans to join what will be a wave of new market offerings joining the area in coming years. By 2017, a Whole Foods Market is destined to rise at Broadway and Madison as part of a 16-story apartment development. And developers say a “Portland-based grocer” is in talks to become the anchor retail tenant in the development surrounding Capitol Hill Station.

We’re not sure what that leaves as far as grocer possibilities to join E Pike where hundreds of new apartments will soon join the market in the blocks between Broadway and Summit. Maybe Samuel Pitts is getting back into the business.

UPDATE 7/24/2015 10:00 AM: Uh oh. In a letter dated July 20th, DPD says the plan for the mystery project to combine what was planned as multiple storefronts on E Pike doesn’t jibe with zoning. The developers have the opportunity to reply to the correction notice.Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.10.44 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.10.55 AM

Design review: seven-story Crosby Capitol Hill on Bellevue, six (more) stories at 22/Madison

The future Crosby Capitol Hill (Images: B+H Architects)

The future Crosby Capitol Hill (Images: B+H Architects)

The recipe at Crosby Capitol Hill (Image: B+H Architects)

The recipe at Crosby Capitol Hill (Image: B+H Architects)

Now that we’ve solved downtown’s design issues, Capitol Hill can get back to making sure the buildings in its next waves of development are full of “community,” “connection,” and, as the developers of the Crosby Capitol Hill project on Bellevue Ave put it, “lifestyle.”

The Crosby and a six-story project planned for the *other* corner of 22nd and Madison will go in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night.

1517 Bellevue Ave
Land Use Application to allow a 7-story structure containing 45 residential units, 5 live/work units and 700 sq. ft. of retail space. Existing 2-story building is to be demolished. — View Design Proposal      

Review Meeting: July 22, 2015 8:00pm — Seattle University, 824 12th Ave, Admissions & Alumni Community Building
Review Phase: REC–Recommendation  See All Reviews
Project Number: 3018252  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: Beth Hartwick

The first item on the agenda for what should be the final review for the project at 1517 Bellevue Ave is a discussion of the project’s branding:Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 3.43.38 PMJust kidding. There’s nothing you can do about it other than accept and embrace.Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 4.11.35 PM

But you can weigh in on whether the form and finish of the seven-story, 50 market-rate unit project live up to this: Continue reading

20 things CHS heard during Monday’s *hot and heated* Seattle rent control smackdown

“We don’t need trickle-down economics… We need affordable housing.”


“Rent control does nothing to create new housing. We need solutions now … There are people homeless and sleeping in their car tonight.”

Forgoing Seattle’s usual non-confrontational forum-style political events, Monday evening’s debate on rent control was a heated affair. Around 1,000 people tried to pack into a balmy Town Hall at 8th an Seneca to hear City Council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata argue the merits of rent control with Republican Rep. Matthew Manweller and Smart Growth Seattle director Rodger Valdez. There was a large crowd outside unable to enter the at-capacity venue.

The event ostensibly centered around four questions posted to the debaters but was mostly a relentless back-and-forth on rent control more broadly.

1. What has caused housing-affordability crisis in Seattle?
2. What have been the affects of rent control where it has been adopted? 
3. Without rent control can the market make housing affordable?
4. What will be impact of rent control on Seattle?

The answers were broad and there was, of course, no clear winner other than the idea that rent control — in some form or fashion — remains a popular ideal for Seattle residents struggling with affordability.

But it’s not the answer to lower rents, the anti side argued Monday night. “Rent control does nothing to create new housing,” Valdez said, a common refrain from the opposition. “We need solutions now … There are people homeless and sleeping in their car tonight.” Continue reading

What the Convention Center expansion will look like: Denny Triangle Integration + 9th Ave Mixing Zone + Pine Street Gallery + Boren Ave Beacon


UPDATE 7/23/2015: The board has asked developers to come back with a new proposal and requiring a third early design guidance session. The meeting for the next review has not yet been scheduled.

Original report: With Capitol Hill community groups saying the massive project needs to do more to help connect the neighborhood with downtown, developers and architects working on the 1.2 million square-foot expansion of the Washington State Convention Center just across I-5 from Pike/Pine return to the design review board Tuesday night with a fleshed-out plan for the project that includes designs for a “9th Avenue Mixing Zone,” a “Pine Street Gallery,” and a “Boren Beacon” as well as the start of planning for “codevelopment” to create a 30-story apartment tower and a 16-story office building near the site.

“The Expansion of the Washington State Convention Center represents a transformative opportunity to define the next evolution of this building type,” the design packet for Tuesday’s review reads. “By creating an open, welcoming facility, scaled to respond to a variety of neighborhoods, with spaces that are c activated and encourage engagement between the event and the city, this project can reimagine the ‘Seattle Experience’ to create a meaningful, authentic and lasting impression for delegates and visitors.”

1600 9th Ave
Design Review Early Design Guidance application proposing a 5 level exhibition and meeting room facility, with retail at grade, 800 parking spaces and associated loading docks within the structure. (Washington State Convention Center Expansion). Includes associated MUP 3020177, 1711 Boren Ave — View Design Proposal  (49 MB)    

Review Meeting: July 21, 2015 5:30 pm, City Hall Room / 600 5th Ave / Bertha Landes Conference Room
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number
Planner: Garry Papers

5 stories above grade
2 stories below grade

  • 250,000 SF of Exhibition Space*
  • 120,000 SF of Meeting Space *
  • 70,000 SF of Ballroom Space*
  • 280,000 SF of Lobby & Circulation*
  • 510,000 SF of Support Spaces*
  • 500-800 Parking Stalls*
  • 200,000 SF of Loading Area*
  • Street-Level Retail & Restaurants

Following the project’s first pass through the design review process in May, CHS reported on efforts by Capitol Hill community groups to shape the project by pushing for a better connection between Pike/Pine and downtown. The Seattle Design Commission also weighed in with street by street criticisms of where the project’s initial design proposal fell short. The Department of Planning and Development has also received more than a dozen letters about the project, many calling for a better pedestrian experience. Continue reading

‘Existential transgender wild western’ Sidewinders one of many ‘lasts’ before Hugo House redevelopment

There will be many last bows for Hugo House as we know it before a planned, literary nonprofit-friendly redevelopment of the property.

Sidewinders, the production from Fantastic.Z Theatre Company now playing Hugo, is lined up to be the last of its kind in the old space — and possibly the new:

In the Northwest premiere of this existential transgender wild western by award winning playwright Basil Kreimendahl, Dakota and Bailey find themselves stranded in a strange barren land.

Part of a planned six-story development, The new Hugo House facility will be “approximately 10,000 square feet” and will share the ground floor with a 1,500 square-foot “commercial space” being planned for a cafe at the corner of 11th and E Olive.

While the design of the new facility is still being worked out, the players involved in Sidewinders say a theater stage likely won’t be part of the new Hugo as the center focuses its mission and other performance spaces at 12th Ave Arts establish themselves in the area.

Literary events are scheduled through the fall at Hugo House and there has been no announcement yet for a planned community gathering to say goodbye to the old building and celebrate the new.

In the meantime, you can begin the drama of nostalgia now through August. Information on Sidewinders showtimes and more here on the CHS Calendar.

In the wake of the Woo! Girl, #LOVETHEHILL, #IAMCAPITOLHILL campaign for Capitol Hill

In some ways, they are the obvious reactions to an artistic slap in the face that was so sadly well placed, you could only shake your head in agreement. The Legendary and Woo! Girl posters were so cynical and sly that they can’t possibly be matched. But two social media-fueled campaigns are doing their part to also define the neighborhood and spread love for Capitol Hill with a multimedia mix that spills onto the streets of the like-it/unlike-it neighborhood.

CHS told you about the planning behind the #LOVETHEHILL campaign this winter as graphic designer and Hillebrity Gregory Smith and fellow Seattle Central Creative Arts Academy student Jess Ornelas teamed up for a project to liven up the old Atlas Clothing building on Broadway and create a documentary about the people who live and work on the Hill and their complicated relationship with the neighborhood’s changes:

Watch for a cameo by CHS publisher Justin Carder. Very exciting.

With backing from the likes of Caffé Vita, Ben Haggerty and Tricia Davis, and Linda Derschang, the campaign also includes a #LOVETHEHILL soundtrack:

You can learn more at

Meanwhile, the #IAMCAPITOLHILL campaign has created a series of interviews with leaders and creators in the LGBTQ community. Here is the episode featuring performer Aleksa Manila:

“Capitol Hill is still queer. These are our stories,” the Seattle Pridefest-backed campaign’s tagline goes.

You can learn more at

Upzone the Central District: 23rd Ave Action Plan calls for 65 feet at Union, 85 at Jackson

It’s not exactly a preview of what is coming when the Seattle City Council’s select committee on affordable housing meets for the first time on Monday to begin the road to implementing the mayor’s HALA plan. But the plan to upzone three key areas along 23rd Ave and require the inclusion of affordable housing in the Central District fits right into the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda puzzle but with almost none of the buzz.

Monday is the deadline for public comment on the Department of Planning and Development’s approval of the early environmental review phase for three proposed upzones in the city’s 23rd Avenue Action Plan:

  • 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. InfoScreen Shot 2015-07-17 at 9.59.13 AM Continue reading

Hidden in plain sight, Richmark Label owner says he won’t be leaving Capitol Hill any time soon



It is the largest manufacturer on Capitol Hill hidden in plain sight. Everyday Richmark Labels prints millions of labels, mostly for consumer products, from its warehouse in the heart of Capitol Hill at 11th and Pine.

Maybe it was the beige exterior — now in the midst of transformation — or the large maple trees that camouflage the building’s true size, but, for 45 years, Richmark has been churning out labels at all hours of the day and night, relatively unnoticed.

The company’s creations hide in plan sight, too. Safeway tuna fish sandwiches, Elysian’s Split Shot beer bottles, and Fuel Coffee packages are just a handful of the thousands of products that wear Richmark labels.

In 1970, owner Bill Donner moved the business from downtown to the former auto garage on the southeast corner of Cal Anderson Park. He has been running the business since he was 22 after his father started it decades earlier. The company originally printed buttons and award ribbons, transitioning to adhesive labels after they were popularized in the 1950s.

“It’s not because we make things nobody else can make,” Donner said of his longevity in the business. “We’re just faster than anybody else and… I’ve developed systems for manufacturing and selling.” Continue reading

Sawant and Licata will face-off with pro-development duo in rent control debate

11017071_997832463595084_4462568534337995994_oIt won’t be the decisive bout on the issue of rent control, but a Monday evening debate will be the first major event in Seattle to focus on the policy.

In the left corner, City Council member and District 3 candidate Kshama Sawant and her Council colleague Nick Licata. In the right corner, Republican state Rep. Matthew Manweller of Ellensberg and Smart Growth Seattle director Rodger Valdez. Former City Council member Peter Steinbrueck will officiate.

Rent control has been a key campaign issue for Sawant in this years election. She elucidated some of her ideas on the issue here, including why many of her economist colleagues oppose the policy.

At the developer-backed organization Smart Growth Seattle, Valdez has spent much of his energy advocating for pro-density policies at the city level. He’s also written about how the city should use affordability policies already in place instead of pursuing rent control. Manweller is also not a fan: Continue reading

Hearing underway as neighborhood group tries to curb expansion of Swedish Cherry Hill

Screenshot-2015-01-11-at-8.19.34-PM-400x284A city arbiter’s office is the latest arena for the drawn out struggle over the planned expansion of the Swedish Medical Center’s Cherry Hill campus.

On Monday, the city’s Office of the Hearning Examiner started day-long hearings to resolve an appeal neighbors filed against the city for approving an environmental study of the hospital’s plans, drafted by developer Sabey Corporation.

Concerned Neighbors of Swedish Cherry Hill claim the Department of Planning and Development failed to fully assess the impact of the hospital’s expansion on the surrounding area. Ultimately, the group is hoping the appeal will force Swedish to heed neighborhood concerns.

The most pressing concern for neighbors is that the building plans are too big and too tall to fit into the largely residential area. Lack of parking, obstructed views, and flimsy traffic mitigation plans are also cited in the group’s appeal. According to Swedish, the 1.6 million square foot site is nearly at capacity and needs to build up in order to continue serving its growing patient population.

The hearings are expected to last at least through the end of the week.

The fight over the hospital’s planned expansion goes back two years to when members of a Community Advisroy Committee started weighing in on the hospital’s Major Institution Master Plan. During the course of those meetings, the group managed to whittle down the size of the hospital’s proposals, but a consensus was never reached.

Swedish was recently the target of a large protest over nursing shortages and the improved benefits to attract new hires. Hundreds of hospital workers, union organizers, and a handful of elected officials staged a picket outside the First Hill campus against the management of the Providence Health Services-allied hospital.

For more details on the Swedish Cherry Hill appeal and recordings of the proceedings, visit the hearing examiner’s case page