Mayor announces cash to support Capitol Hill, CD business groups


Taste of the Caribbean’s Carlene Comrie (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill will once again get a major $137,000 chunk of the city’s Only in Seattle marketing and neighborhood business improvement funding, Mayor Ed Murray announced Thursday night. In addition, the neighborhood will get money to help address the impact from construction in the area and a check will also be cut to help the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce plan for the creation of a larger Business Improvement Area. Meanwhile, the Central District is also in line for a financial boost to help merchants overcome construction woes and a $102,000 Only in Seattle infusion — the latter now enjoying its second major press release from the mayor’s office.

“We just want to create a business that provides some economic support to the community as well as give a taste of our culture,” owner Carlene Comrie said in welcoming the mayor, an assemblage of City Hall staffers, media, and small business owners to her E Jefferson restaurant for Thursday’s announcement. “We’re mostly all Jamaican here and we’re very, very proud of that.” Comrie and business partner Dwayne Blake opened Taste of the Caribbean in 2013.

“This city is changing. But one thing not changing is its neighborhoods’ small businesses,” the mayor said Thursday night.

“You supply jobs. Give us our goods. And create community and culture in our neighborhoods.”

Capitol Hill’s portion of the Only In Seattle pie was part of $1.6 million in funding awarded. Here are the Only in Seattle components: Continue reading

Say goodbye to Hugo House’s old Capitol Hill home with party where you can write on its walls

Your 2016 calendar is filling up but make sure to leave a mark for the going away party for an old friend. Hugo House has announced details of its May 7th Epilogue/Prologue party:

It’s the end of one story and the beginning of another. Come to the last party at the current Hugo House to celebrate your time here and look toward the future. We have plenty in store for you.

Have a beer or wine on us (if you RSVP below)
See mock-ups of the new building
Browse through a gallery of photos from great times at Hugo House (since 1997)
Snag food from a food truck
Meet new people and spend time with old friends
Confess your Hugo House stories in a confession booth
Take photos with friends in our writerly photobooth
And, best, of all:Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 10.39.59 AM

No, this isn’t a cliché—we actually want you to write your poems and stories and anything you want on almost every wall of Hugo House. Then we’ll send you an ebook of excerpts from the wall and photos from the night.

You can learn more and RSVP here.

In January, CHS reported on Hugo House’s plans for an interim home on First Hill before its 2018 return to 10th Ave in its new mixed-use home. The old Hugo House will be demolished later his year to make way for a new six-story, apartment development that will include a new 10,000 square-foot writing center. More than 100 years old, the one time Manning’s Funeral Parlor was deemed unworthy of landmark status in 2013.

Meanwhile, V2, a new creative arts space and facility is busy making over the old Value Village building before its planned development in 2017.

Design review: lightened-up eight-story project on First Hill, second six-story at 22/Madison

Broadstone First Hill, now with less perceived mass!

Broadstone First Hill, now with less perceived mass!

The East Design Review Board busies itself Wednesday night with two projects on the periphery of Capitol Hill — one will reach six stories and add to the mixed-use overhaul around 22nd and Madison, one will reach eight stories “to create an urbane park lifestyle” on First Hill.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 4.51.33 PM2100 E Madison
Planned to be part of a burst of development activity in the area, developer Jim Mueller’s planned second six-story project at the intersection is set for what should be its final step in the design review process Tuesday night.

The 50-unit apartment building with 3,800 square feet of commercial space and underground parking for 20 vehicles sailed through its early design guidance session last July. Architects Weinstein A+U return Wednesday night with their fleshed-out design proposal for a building the board has already commended for its “aesthetic of the ‘floating’ building on a transparent and inset base,” a composition that is “unique within the immediate context.” By context, of course, the board means the Safeway across Madison and, on the southern corner of the 22nd/Madison intersection where the Twilight Exit once stood, the first Mueller six-story project that is currently under construction.

2100 E Madison St

Land Use Application to allow a 6-story structure containing 50 residential units and 3,800 sq. ft. of commercial at street level. Parking for 20 vehicles to be provided. Existing structure to be demolished. / View Design Proposal  (39 MB)    

Review Meeting: March 23, 2016 8:00pm, Seattle University, 1000 E. James Way, STCN- Student Center 210 Multipurpose Room
Review Phase: REC–Recommendation  See All Reviews
Project Number: 3020124  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: Magda Hogness

Here’s how the 21100 E Madison project design concept is described:

Design Alternate 3 locates the residential entry off Denny Way. Denny is the preferred location for a residential entry (per the SDOT Street Classification Map, Madison Street is classified as a principal arterial). There are two retail spaces along Madison, and a retail space along Denny to the north of the residential entry. The residential units are oriented in a “T” scheme. This maximizes the units with street frontage, and does not require openings along the northeast of the site, which has an adjacent to another NC-65 parcel. The residential levels are set back from the northwest property line at the alley by twenty feet, allowing for a uniform elevation at the alley façade.

And, hey, tree lovers, the building is being designed to make space for the 31-foot chestnut also currently resident on the block.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 4.40.34 PM1001 James
We’re not sure what it is about Broadstone projects but the board seems to not mind calling the developer back for the relatively unusual second (and sometimes third!) recommendation level design review. So it goes with this First Hill project slated for the land where a much smaller apartment building and a parking lot are currently located at Terry and James just off Broadway.

The eight-story, 338-unit, 285-parking stall gargantuan Broadstone First Hill development tried to take its first pass through the final recommendation phase in January but the board had other ideas. “The Board suggested the building be ‘broken’ or opened up on the Terry façade,” notes from the meeting read. Elsewhere, the board members “directed the applicant to erode the building massing” to better open the project’s courtyard concept. In other words, the building was just a bit too hulking.

Developers Alliance Realty Partners and Encore Architects have responded with a new set of plans for the proposed project that attempt to satisfy the requests for a lighter approach and to “reduce the perceived massing.”

“The Board requested the applicant continue developing a residential project with an inviting sense of place for this First Hill location to create an urbane park lifestyle,” the meeting notes conclude.

Will the newly modulated design do the trick? Alliance hopes so. But they’ve gone four before.

1001 James Street

Land Use Application to allow an 8-story, 338 unit apartment building with 5,320 sq. ft. of retail located at ground level. Parking for 285 vehicles is to be provided below grade. Existing apartment building to be demolished. / View Design Proposal  (194 MB)    

Review Meeting: March 23, 2016 6:30pm, Seattle University, 1000 E. James Way, STCN- Student Center 210 Multipurpose Room
Review Phase: REC–Recommendation  See All Reviews
Project Number: 3019215  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: Holly Godard

First Hill club fixture Ruby Bishop inducted into Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame

BishopThis Sunday night, Ruby Bishop will once again saddle up behind the piano at Vito’s on First Hill for her weekly performance. The only difference will be that the 96-year-old Seattle jazz legend will have a new, well deserved title to add to her long list of accomplishments: hall of famer.

Bishop was inducted into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame Tuesday night at the Golden Ear Awards put on by the nonprofit and music publication Earshot Jazz. Bishop has been signing and playing a mix of classic ragtime, standards and oldies in Seattle for over 70 years and playing her weekly gig at Vito’s since 2010.

“You can tell that the piano comes as naturally as breathing to her, and she holds a grace and ease that you don’t (see) very often,” said Vito’s owner Greg Lundgren. “She still has mischief in her eyes and a sharp wit.” has more about Bishop’s remarkable life:

During World War II she, like many women in her era, became a Boeing B-17 mechanic and draftsman. After the war she learned steno-typing in preparation for becoming a court reporter, then studied to be a beautician. She later took up cabinetry-making, becoming one of the first women in the Pacific Northwest in that field. That expertise paid off in the 1950s when she rebuilt the entire family kitchen. Whatever jobs she held to help support the family however, she always looked to her nighttime music career as her main profession.

Over time others recognized her musical ability. By the time she was nearly in her 50s, Bishop had achieved enough prominence to be recruited by the U.S. Army to entertain G.I. troops stationed in South Korea and South Vietnam. By this point she was also performing before audiences in London, Paris, and Stockholm. Despite that success Bishop continued to view Seattle as her home.

Seattle’s first jazz hall of fame class in 1990 appropriately included Ernestine Anderson, the legendary Central District jazz singer who died last week at the age of 87.

Ruby Bishop at Vito’s from Joon Chang on Vimeo.

One dead in three-car crash on First Hill

(Image: Seattle Fire)

(Image: Seattle Fire)

A man was killed early Wednesday morning in a three-vehicle collision involving an ambulance on First Hill.

According to Seattle Fire reports and SPD radio dispatches, the ambulance was struck around 12:15 AM near Boren and James as it was turning into a medical facility with its patient onboard.

The male driver of a Prius involved in the collision died at the scene. Five people in the ambulance were not injured in the crash. Another ambulance from private carrier AMR was dispatched to complete the transfer of the patient.

UPDATE: SPD has posted a preliminary report on the incident and says the driver of the third vehicle showed signs of impairment was taken into custody for investigation of vehicular homicide:

Detectives are conducting their investigation of a fatality collision that occurred shortly after midnight at Boren Avenue and James Street.  One person was pronounced dead at the scene and another person is in custody.

At approximately 12:15 am, an Acura sedan was travelling at a high rate of speed westbound on James Street when it collided with a Toyota Prius travelling southbound on Boren.  The impact from the collision caused both vehicles to collide with an AMR ambulance as it was slowing to stop at the intersection.  Seattle Police and Seattle Fire responded to the collision scene.

Sadly, the 60-year old male driver of the Prius was pronounced deceased at the scene.  The 27-year old male driver of the Acura displayed signs of impairment and was placed under arrest for Investigation of Vehicular Homicide.  He was transported to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries and will be booked into the King County Jail once he is released from the hospital.

The occupants of the ambulance, the AMR driver, a second AMR employee, two flight nurses and a patient were not injured as a result of the collision.

Detectives from the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad (TCIS) responded and will continue the investigation.  This remains an active and ongoing investigation.

SPD closed the street to investigation through the night as investigators recorded evidence and documented the scene. It was reopened to traffic early this morning.

Another new neighbor for the Frye: 23-story senior housing tower announced for First Hill

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 3.12.55 PMIt’s another apartment tower on deck for First Hill, this one aimed at senior housing.

Seattle’s Columbia Pacific Advisors announced last week it has entered a deal to build a 23-story senior housing tower at Terry and James on property owned by the Archdiocese of Seattle.

The tower at 620 Terry Ave, located across Cherry St. from the Frye Art Museum, would be comprised of independent living apartments, assisted living units, and memory care suites. The design from Ankrom Moisan Architects call for 1,800 square feet of retail and 188 parking stalls.

The project would require the demolition of a single family home, office building, and surface parking lot — all owned by the Archdiocese, which will to retain ownership of the property.

“The ground lease will provide important long-term funding for Archdiocesan programs and for the Cathedral’s many social outreach ministries, while preserving church ownership of the property,” said Archdiocese spokesperson Greg Magnoni in a statement. Continue reading

Proposed five-story development gets cold reception from 13th Ave E neighbors

Plans for 13th Ave E

Plans for 13th Ave E

The future view on 13th north of Mercer

The future view on 13th north of Mercer

It takes a brave person to develop a five-story building on 13th Ave E between a landmark 1910-built cooperative and a $1 million home. Many neighbors are looking forward to meeting him Wednesday night at the latest gathering of the East Design Review Board. Meanwhile, First Hill’s famous pavement parks will soon have more residents to enjoy them as a triangular lot where Union meets University is reviewed for a six-story, mixed-use addition to the neighborhood.

13th Ave E
The historic cooperative The Maryland on 13th Ave E just north of E Mercer has 20 units. Residents in most if not all of them have already written to the review board to lodge their complaints about the project’s height, bulk, and scale in this quiet patch of Capitol Hill between the Broadway corridor and 15th Ave’s commercial district.

There are also concerns about the loss of sunlight and the leafy lot where behind an old garage where the project is planned: Continue reading

With 6 buildings on Capitol Hill and more across city, Bellwether hopes to be sign of things to come for Seattle affordability

Bellwether's Cambridge Apartments on Union just above the Convention Center is being prepared for a $10 million overhaul (Image: Bellwether)

Bellwether’s Cambridge Apartments on Union just above the Convention Center is being prepared for a $10 million overhaul (Image: Bellwether)

The Cambridge building (Image: Bellwether)

The Cambridge building (Image: Bellwether)

If Seattle is going to add 20,000 units of affordable housing like Mayor Ed Murray wants, Capitol Hill-based Bellwether Housing stands poised to be an important part of the process.

Back in 1980, a group of businessmen decided to do something about housing affordability. They founded a nonprofit called the Seattle Housing Resources Group, which over time has transformed into Bellwether Housing.

Of course, 1980 was a different era. Interest rates were around 20%. Housing prices were in the early part of a six-year drop, according to the folks at Seattle Bubble. The Boeing bust had hit, and the Microsoft boom hadn’t yet started. In that same story Seattle Bubble notes the median home price in King County in 1979 was a little more than $192,000 (in 2007 dollars). Today, it’s more than $500,000 (in 2015 dollars).

But despite what would be considered relatively cheap housing today, Bellwether’s founders decided they needed to act.

“They recognized at that time that having affordable housing downtown was important to downtown,” said Doug Daley, executive director of Bellwether. “That perspective hasn’t changed much today.” The group has grown into major provider of affordable housing in Seattle, and shares its expertise by consulting with groups in other parts of the state working on similar issues. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Italian Family Pizza coming to First Hill

577105_226130367512484_1106699299_nOne of 2016’s big food and drink trends on Capitol Hill will also play out on First Hill. Seattle’s Italian Family Pizza is slated to replace an exited check cashing business at the corner of Boren and Madison before the summer.

We know, we know. Pizza is coming everywhere you look. But the project from Steve and Jennifer Calozzi is also part of three big openings coming this year in which a food and drink venture will open inside a former money mart.

Steve Calozzi says the former check cashing businesses have a surprising amount of infrastructure in place. But mostly, he just liked the corner.

“I’m a city guy. I go out on the corner and I see the city,” Calozzi said. Continue reading

Chen pleads guilty to 2011 murders of son, partner in First Hill condo

Chen in a 2013 court appearance (Image: CHS)

Chen in a 2013 court appearance (Image: CHS)

Louis Chen has pleaded guilty to the 2011 slaying of his partner and their toddler son inside a First Hill condo, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg announced Thursday:

A 43-year-old man pled guilty this morning in the fatal stabbings of his partner and their two-year-old son in Seattle in 2011. The defendant, Louis C. Chen, pled guilty to charges of Murder in the Second Degree for the murder of his partner, Eric Cooper, and Murder in the First Degree for the murder of their two-year-old son Cooper Chen at their apartment in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood on August 11, 2011. Each charge includes a deadly weapon enhancement. The defendant faces a sentence range of 34 to 49 years in prison, which includes the deadly weapon enhancements. Prosecutors will recommend a top of the range sentence of 49 years. Chen was originally charged with Aggravated Murder, however, the death penalty was not requested in the case. Today’s guilty plea achieves the goals of the prosecution with certainty, finality and what could potentially be a sentence of life in prison. The defendant also gives up his right to any appeal in the case. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled. The sentencing hearing will be before Judge William Bowman in courtroom W-739 of the King County Courthouse. The case was handled by Senior Deputy Prosecutors Don Raz and Mary Barbosa.

The plea agreement means we’ll never know how a cough syrup defense being planned by Chen’s attorney’s would have played out at trial. Continue reading