For a briefing to the City Council Tuesday morning, transportation planners have unveiled a proposal to change the agreement between Seattle and Sound Transit so that City Hall will be in position to see increased revenue if the First Hill Streetcar ridership numbers are strong.
Planners also revealed that CHS’s November forecast for the start of operations of the First Hill line between Pioneer Square and Broadway is likely too ambitious.
“Construction of the Project is nearing completion,” the planners write. “Although the start date of passenger service is uncertain due to delay in delivery of the streetcars, service could begin as early as the first quarter of 2015.”
UPDATE: SDOT planner Ethan Melone told the council committee that streetcar manufacturing “setbacks” have lead to the uncertainty about when the First Hill line can start service. In February, CHS reported about fire testing issues causing problems with the manufacturing schedule. Council committee chair Tom Rasmussen acknowledged that he had been briefed on the problems in February but criticized SDOT for missing deadlines on quarterly reports on the line and the manufacturing problems. The council member asked for a more complete update on the manufacturing problems in the next quarterly report due at the end of this month.
UPDATE: Following our report on the morning briefing, SDOT issued a statement on the delay.
“The schedule for streetcar delivery and service will continue to have some uncertainty until mid-November when more is known about testing results, supply chain issues and the pace of local production,” the SDOT statement reads.
SDOT says “several” of the streetcar vehicles are “near completion” and are expected to be delivered in December with “the entire fleet expected to be ready for operation in early 2015.”
The full statement is below:
If you have visited Capitol Hill or the International District lately, you have likely seen the finished construction work for the new First Hill Streetcar line. New track, electrical lines, traffic signals and sidewalk abound thanks to the project. But one critical component is missing: the streetcar manufacturer is behind schedule in delivering the line’s streetcars.
The Panorama House building at 1100 University (Image: King County)
Central Seattle tenants already know what is coming these days when a new company buys their building on Capitol Hill, in the Central District, or on First Hill. But before the rents get jacked up at First Hill’s Panorama House, a 52-year-old, 19-story, concrete highrise on University just east of Boren, the building’s owners are taking things one step farther. By May or June, new owners Security Properties and related building management company Madrona Ridge Residential are planning to empty Panorama of residents before a massive overhaul. Here’s part of a message we received from a resident:
At the open house, it was announced that Security Properties intends to renovate the entire building and, in order to do so, they will be forcing everyone to move out. They said that they intend to have the residents begin moving out as early as February of next year, and will have the entire building empty by May or June in order to completely renovate the entire building.
As the wheels of justice slowly turn, a trio of major criminal trials involving Capitol Hill and First Hill are moving forward.
- Road rage murder trial: The trial of the man accused in the alleged at 15th Ave NE and 75th road rage murder of Broadway QFC wine steward Yancy Noll is slated to begin later this month. According to court records, the case against Thomasdinh Bowman will begin being heard on September 22nd. Bowman has pleaded not guilty to the first degree murder charges in what prosecutors have called a “thrill kill” case. If convicted, prosecutors say Bowman will face up to 31 years in prison.
- Monfort trial Jury selection: The trial of the accused cop killer who faces the death penalty after he allegedly opened fire on two East Precinct officers on Halloween night 2009 and killed veteran officer Timothy Brenton is scheduled to move forward with jury selection in October. According to court records, jurors will begin to be notified early in the month before a planned selection process that is expected to begin on October 27th and could last into December. The trial for accused killer Christopher Monfort is slated to begin in January. In 2013, a judge ruled Monfort could not face the death penalty because county prosecutor Dan Satterberg’s office had “failed to exercise the discretion it is statuatorily and constitutionally obliged to exercise.” That decision was later reversed. Early in 2014, Governor Jay Inslee instituted a moratorium on all executions in the state. Satterberg office continues to pursue a capital case against the defendant.
- First Hill murder: The trial of Dr. Louis Chen — accused of stabbing his family to death inside a First Hill condo in August 2011 — has been pushed back and isn’t currently slated to begin until spring 2015, according to court records. In 2012, CHS reported that Chen had been “restored” to competency with mental health treatment and found fit to stand trial for murdering his partner and toddler son.
Nearly 2,000 residents landed just off 15th Ave E on Capitol Hill in 2013 — and none of them work at Amazon… yet. Part of the news in an announcement last week that Group Health was ending its affiliation with Virginia Mason and planning to partner up with Swedish is the end of an era at the Group Health Capitol Hill campus. Sometime in spring 2015, the last momma will give birth at Group Health’s 15th at Thomas campus.
Starting in 2016, Group Health patients will go to Swedish First Hill and Cherry Hill hospitals where they will be treated by Group Health. As part of the planned change, maternity services will transition to Swedish’s busy First Hill Birth Center.
Group Health officials say “patients’ access to services, including voluntary termination of pregnancy, ‘death with dignity’ services and access for gays and lesbians, will not be compromised by Swedish’s connection to Providence Health & Services, a Catholic health-care system,” the Seattle Times reports.
A Group Health spokesperson told CHS the Capitol Hill maternity facility welcomed more than 1,700 babies to the world in 2013 with a complimentary first breath of Capitol Hill air. Let’s hope a future dominated by First Hill babies is a good one.
For years, maps of the First Hill Streetcar on Broadway have shown a dotted line extending north of E Denny Way to indicate the possible addition of two or three more stops to the route. The city is now ready to fill-in that line, and end it at Broadway and Roy.
Officials at the Seattle Department of Transportation say they have settled on a $25 million extension of the streetcar with a stop at Broadway and Harrison and a terminus at Broadway and Roy — two stops bewilderingly known as the Broadway Streetcar. The city had been considering an additional third stop at 10th and Prospect, but officials said the estimated $12 million price tag outweighed the benefits of extending the line near Volunteer Park.
“In some respects, the writing was on the wall. When we came back with the gross cost estimates, it was a lot,” said SDOT spokesperson Art Brochet.
The First Hill Street car is expected to open in November, running from Pioneer Square to a temporary Capitol Hill terminus at E Denny Way. When service begins, the First Hill Streetcar will have ten stations along a 2.5 mile route from S Jackson and Occidental to Broadway and Denny Way and will connect Pioneer Square, the ID, Little Saigon, First Hill and Capitol Hill.
Planning for the half-mile, two-stop extension is now 30% complete. Brochet said construction of the two stops could begin in 2016 with an opening in 2017. Continue reading
Public park space. Consultant. Release. Report. Blah blah blah. Let’s talk giant street Scrabble. Tuesday night, the tri-way intersection of University, Union, and Boylston hosted an oversized Scrabble tournament in the middle of the street smack in between Pike/Pine and First Hill.
Hopscotch CD returns
The tournament designed to bring attention to First Hill’s lack of public spaces pitted four two-person teams head to head and attracted onlookers and plenty of second-guessing. City officials are hoping to hold future tournaments in other areas of Seattle in need of a creative though temporary mini-park. Maybe this dude from Portland will come.
For more gaming fun on the streets of Central Seattle, get ready for the second annual Hopscotch CD event on Saturday, August 23rd. The Jackson Commons community event creates 2.9 miles of hopscotch play areas across the Central District. Included in the fun, Centerstone’s parking lot at 722 18th Ave will host the grandmamma of all hopscotch games in an attempt to break a world record.
First Hill community representatives say the neighborhood is in desperate need of more public park space and for ten years Seattle Parks and Recreation has been trying to acquire land to build it. In 2000 and 2008 voters approved levies to fund land acquisitions for new parks on First Hill, but affordable properties are almost non-existant in one of the densest neighborhoods in the state.
Last year Parks reached out to the First Hill Improvement Association and the neighborhood’s burgeoning cadre of civically active residents to talk about alternatives. What the city came up with was the First Hill Public Realm Action Plan.
The plan gathers representatives from the city’s Department of Transportation, Department of Planning and Development, and Parks to explore using parks levy funds to carve out public space from the city’s existing assets — primarily streets, sidewalks, and parking. Continue reading
On July 21st a Cleanscapes truck driver struck and killed Rebecca Scollard,42, in broad daylight as she crossed 8th and James — an intersection known to be among the most dangerous pedestrian crossings in the city.
A memorial walk on Wednesday morning will honor the life of the Capitol Hill resident and seek to bring awareness to pedestrian safety issues. The walk is sponsored by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, which has committed to organizing memorials whenever a person is killed walking or biking in the city. Following the walk, city representatives will hold a meeting to discuss how to make streets safer for pedestrians.
Witnesses at the scene of the collision told police that a large commercial truck struck Scollard and did not stop. Police later identified the driver.
Details from the event’s Facebook page:
The Memorial Walk for Rebecca Scollard will begin at 9:30 am on Wednesday, August 13 with a gathering in front of St. James Cathedral on 9th Avenue. We will carry signs and walk quietly to the site of Rebecca’s death at 9th and James, where we will hear a few words from people who knew and cared for Rebecca. Singer/songwriter Jim Page will offer a song or two, friends of Rebecca and City representatives will be asked to say few words.
After the Memorial Walk, we will move to Ozanam House at 801 9th Ave. to debrief and discuss ways that safety for people who walk, bike and use transit can be improved along James Street. We want to focus on the needs of the vulnerable people who live and obtain services in this neighborhood – older adults; homeless people; people with chronic mental illness and/or substance abuse; people recovering from traumatic injuries or living with chronic disease. Ozanam House is a residence for chronically homeless men, where Rebecca was known as a valued friend.
We have planned this event in coordination with Seattle Women in Black, who hold a midday vigil in recognition of homeless people who die in Seattle. Their vigil will be held from noon to 1 in front of the Seattle Justice Center at 5th and Cherry.
Thank you very much for your dedication to a City where all can live and travel safely.
The Rite Aid on Madison in First Hill has closed after the chain drugstore’s management chose to not renew its E Madison lease, a company representative tells CHS.
The Rite Aid rep said the location in the midst of First Hill’s myriad medical facilities was underperforming and has moved all of its pharmacy prescriptions to the 201 Broadway E location. All the pharmacy clients were informed prior to the transfer, the company said.
The rep said Rite Aid employees from the First Hill branch have also been given positions at neighboring stores.
“It wasn’t reaching our expectations and goals,” the Rite Aid representative said. “We thought it would be best to consolidate to the other store.”
The closure won’t exactly leave local customers without options. There are two Bartell’s within blocks of the shuttered Madison at Summit location.
16 competitors will be selected to go head to head in a battle of letters Tuesday near the tri-way intersection of University, Union, and Boylston. Someday, planners would like to see a park at the location. Next week, you’ll see double and triple word scores.
The “street Scrabble” tournament is part of the First Hill Public Realm Action Plan, a Seattle Department of Transportation, Department of Planning and Development and Seattle Parks collaboration with the First Hill Improvement Association to “develop a new public space network in First Hill.” You can read more about the plan here.
Seattle’s first ever Street Scrabble Tournament will be held August 12th from 4 to 7 PM. Here’s how to enter the lottery to be one of the lucky 16: Continue reading
Well stocked at 22nd and Republican (Images: Alex Garland)
Summit and Thomas (Images: Jim Simandl for CHS)
Dinner time thanks to City Market (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)
We love seeing the faces and fun of the Seattle Night Out block parties. CHS again made a whirlwind visit of the neighborhood events around Capitol Hill — and the nearby. Check out the good times and good food, below. Even the mayor showed up! If you have pictures from Tuesday night that you’d like to share, please let us know in comments or send mail to email@example.com. Happy Night Out!
UPDATE: City Market’s Cain Morehead notes that the annual E Howell block party is also a fundraiser for a good cause:
The City Market Seattle block party raised $321.00 last night in donations for the Swedish Women’s Cancer Center. This will be donated in memory of Diana Pastrana. Thanks to all who attended and donated to make the party a great success. We beat last year by almost $100.00!!
UPDATE 8/1/2014: SPD says it has identified the driver in Thursday’s incident:
SPD Traffic Collision detectives have identified the truck and driver involved in the collision and are still investigating the cause of the incident. Police have not arrested the driver of the truck, who is employed by a local waste management company, under contract with the city.
Cleanscapes has confirmed that the collision involved one of its vehicles and drivers.
This map from a 2010 SDOT study showed the dangerous conditions for pedestrians around 9th and James
Original Report: A person crossing the street near 8th and James was struck by a large commercial truck and killed Thursday afternoon near a First Hill crossing that is one of the most dangerous in Seattle. Police are searching for more information about the truck and the driver who left the scene of the 3:30 PM incident.
Seattle Fire and police rushed to the collision Thursday but the medic response was quickly canceled as arriving crews found the victim dead at the scene. Witnesses told police that a large commercial truck struck the pedestrian and did not stop. “Police do not yet know if the driver was aware they had struck the victim, and have not yet established whether this is an intentional hit and run case,” an SPD spokesperson wrote in the department’s initial report on the incident. The victim has not yet been publicly identified. UPDATE: The victim has been identified as 42-year-old Rebecca Scollard. Her most recent address is listed as the Seattle Housing Authority’s low-income Denny Terrace building at 100 Melrose Ave E. She has also been a resident in transitional housing on Belmont Ave.
Police were interviewing witnesses and had located cameras near the scene that may have captured images of the truck or the incident. Investigators remained on scene into the night to collect evidence. If you have any information that may aid the investigation, call 911.
The block where the collision occurred has repeatedly been identified as one of the most dangerous areas for pedestrians in the city. Ironically, it is located at the entrance to Harborview Medical Center.
Pro-labor coalition groups and backers of the $15 minimum wage were on hand Wednesday night as four workers at the First Hill McDonald’s walked off the job as a planned day of worldwide protest against low wages and unfair practices got an early start in Seattle.
“We are not respected by McDonalds corporation,” one striking worker who has been employed by the company for eight months and now makes 15 cents more than the minimum wage told CHS. “We as a team don’t get treated as such. This is about our self respect and dignity.”
This employee has worked at the First Hill McDonalds for five years. Originally from Mexico, he said he has been in the country for six years. His wages started at $7.15 he said and he now makes $9.32.
A rally is planned Thursday morning in Cal Anderson Park at the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed hour of 6:30 AM before workers and supporters march on another international provider of breakfast fast food. The actions are part of a global day of action planned for May 15th to continue to pressure international fast food chains to raise wages and improve their policies for workers.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray made a May Day announcement of his plan to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15. The plan is now in the hands of the City Council and Socialist first-year representative and labor advocate Kshama Sawant.
A statement on the Seattle strikes sent on behalf of pro-labor group Working Washington is below. Continue reading