What the 17-story apartment tower set to replace the First Hill McDonald’s will look like

(Image: Holland Partners)

(Image: Holland Partners)

In the most urbanist of all universes, the projects up for discussion at Wednesday night’s meeting of the East Design Review Board would switch places, the 17-story apartment tower planned to rise above the corner currently home to the First Hill McDonald’s would take up residence on 10th Ave E behind the coming-soon Capitol Hill Station, the four-story apartment building planned to neighbor the most mass of mass transit booted over to First Hill… well, actually, in the most urbanist of all universes, nobody would bother building a four-story apartment building.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 4.10.48 PM1001 Minor Ave
Early Design Guidance application proposing a 17-story building containing 199 residential units and 5000 sq.ft. commerical space. Parking for 160 vehicles to be provided below grade. / View Design Proposal  (16 MB)    

Review Meeting
April 22, 2015 6:30 pm

Seattle University

824 12th Ave
Admissions & Alumni Community Building
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance  
Project Number: 3019363  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: BreAnne McConkie

Late last year, CHS broke the news that the First Hill McDonald’s at Minor and Madison was being lined up by developer Holland Partners for a 17-story, mixed-use apartment tower at the site. Wednesday night, the review board will weigh the proposal for the first phase of the development process for the project.

The developers call the proposed project “a valuable addition to the diversity in the First Hill Area.” Continue reading

Five streateries coming to Capitol Hill (Plus, the new Sugar Plum parklet)

A Central District parklet along E Union opened last year between 23rd and MLK (Image: CHS)

A Central District parklet along E Union opened last year between 23rd and MLK (Image: CHS)

Five of Seattle’s first dozen nine new “streateries” will be located on Capitol Hill. The hybrid combining the parklet concept with traditional sidewalk patios will create small seating and deck areas for customers in the section of the streetside typically reserved for parking. When the sponsoring businesses aren’t open, the streateries are intended to serve as public park space.

Here’s the roster of Capitol Hill locations announced Monday by the Seattle Department of Transportation:

  • Montana (conversion) — E Olive Way
  • Comet and Lost Lake (conversion) — 10th/Pike
  • Mamnoon — Melrose
  • Bottleneck Lounge — E Madison
  • New project from Comet/Lost Lake partners in former Kingfish Cafe space — 19th Ave E

Two of the five represent a conversion from permitted parklets at the locations into the new format that allows for businesses to operate the spaces as sidewalk cafes exclusively for their patrons during business hours — though the Comet/Lost Lake parklet was never implemented.

In addition to securing approval from neighboring businesses, the streatery hosts are also on the hook for paying for the displaced revenue from removed on-street parking –$3,000 per space, per year. In the case of Montana, site of the city’s first parklet that took up all of 1.5 on-street parking spaces, the E Olive Way bar is on the hook for $4,500 per year  doesn’t owe a damn thing because there’s no paid parking (yet) on E Olive Way. Dave Meinert and the guys at the Comet? They’ll owe around $6,000 per year, apparently. (Updated at 7 PM)

Montana owner Rachel Marshall tells CHS she doesn’t know about the timing for the conversion of her space on E Olive Way saying that working things out with the state liquor board will be her next step — along with writing that check to the City of Seattle.

Meanwhile, the city also announced that 15th Ave E will get a new “old school” parklet in front of the under construction Sugar Plum. The announcement, below, also teases a First Hill location for a new parklet — we’re asking for specifics on where that is planned to be located. UPDATE: SDOT says the press release is incorrect — the location being referred to is not on First Hill but in the Denny Triangle area, instead. Continue reading

Blotter | Driver reportedly flees after hitting pedestrians outside First Hill McDonald’s — Plus, Seattle U threat

(Image: @alanwaite via Twitter)

(Image: @alanwaite via Twitter)

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • Madison hit and run: Police were searching for a driver who reportedly left the scene of a morning car vs. pedestrian collision near the First Hill McDonald’s involving multiple victims, one with reported serious injuries. A driver struck at least two pedestrians outside the First Hill McDonalds Friday morning, according to police radio traffic. Witnesses told police the driver left the scene following the collision. Police were searching the area for a female suspect following the incident. We don’t yet have specifics of the injuries sustained but a witness described the scene of the incident via Twitter:

    The female driver had not been contacted by police as of 10:30 AM.

  • SU bomb threat: A threatening note forced the evacuations of three buildings on the Seattle University campus Friday morning. Students and staff were cleared from the buildings as police searched floor to floor and office to office for the unspecified threat. Here is the security bulletin sent by Seattle University to the campus:Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 9.43.11 AM

UPDATE: All clear!Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 11.36.14 AM

SPD says a student found “two threatening notes in a women’s restroom.”

$1.6 million pet hospital to open on First Hill

Speciality doctors are probably more concentrated on First Hill than anywhere else in a state or two. Soon, pets will have a hospital in the neighborhood, too.

Kirkland’s Seattle Veterinary Specialists is building out its second pet hospital at 8th and Madison in the former M Street Grocery space. The referral hospital is expected to open by September.

Medical director Jim McCutchan told CHS the hospital will have around 100 doctors and staff specializing in surgery, oncology, and emergency medicine. “This is where your vet sends you for the tough stuff,” McCutchan said.

It turns out, building a specialty pet hospital isn’t so different than building one for humans. McCutchan said the project’s $1.6 million budget reflects the costs of installing medical gas and special infrastructure for electrical, HVAC, and plumbing.

McCutchan, who also owns the Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital, said the decision to open a hospital in Seattle came down to the city’s booming population.

“Seattle is very pet friendly and they’re bringing their pets with them,” he said.

Madison’s independent urban market M Street Grocery opened in 2007 and closed four years later when owners couldn’t reach an agreement with the landlord on a new lease. The 4,500 square-feet of street level retail has remained empty since.

Veterinary medicine appears to be a growth industry in the area. In addition to existing providers like Urban Animalhere —  and Broadway Pet Hospitalhere — making upgrades, another new provider is also coming to Broadway’s Harvard Market. The Banfield Pet Hospital is expected to open in the Broadway at Pike shopping center later this year. It’s a much more modest undertaking than the SVS project on First Hill with a base construction budget around $350,000. The vet business isn’t necessarily the hottest service and retail industry around, however. Earlier this year, the Capitol Hill Animal Clinic closed after its longtime 15th Ave E location was snapped up by a marijuana entrepreneur.

Vote on which mural should liven up Sorrento Hotel’s massive parking garage wall

Two big, dreary, concrete walls on First Hill are about to get a facelift and you can have a say in which muralist should get to do it.

The group hired to apply some of the Ace Hotel “casual luxury” to the century-old Sorrento Hotel is hosting a public meeting to show off three mural ideas for the hotel’s parking garage walls. Part of the meeting will include a public vote on which artist should get commissioned for the 32-foot by 120-foot mural to go on the 9th and Madison exterior.

The meeting will be held Sunday from 11 AM-2 PM in Sorrento’s Madison Room. Representatives from Magnetic/ERV, the company now managing the Sorrento, will be available to talk about the future of the iconic hotel.

The project is a collaboration between Magentic and Seattle Mural Project funded through a Department of Neighborhoods grant.

In October, the Sorrento announced that Magnetic was taking over management of the 76-room hotel and with plans to start its revamp work this year. Magnetic is a hospitality management company with staff that have worked on the Palm Springs Ace Hotel and a handful of other boutique hotels around the country.

In addition to the mural project and sprucing up the guest rooms, a Magnetic spokesperson told CHS the team would also re-conceptualize The Hunt Room restaurant and Fireside Room lounge. The building’s unique Madison-facing courtyard is also slated to get a new look.

A colorful start to Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar testing

Mayor Murray and King County Council and Sound Transit board rep Joe McDermott take a ride (Images: CHS)

Mayor Murray and King County Council and Sound Transit board rep Joe McDermott take a ride (Images: CHS)

In front of a rainbow assortment of new trolleys, the first completed tram for the First Hill Streetcar — sky blue — took a very important load of passengers for a 600-foot ride Friday morning as testing for the system has moved into full motion.

It only required one “reboot.”

“This is another step in our efforts to get streetcars running throughout Seattle,” passenger and Mayor Ed Murray said to the media assembled to cover the event at the system’s International District maintenance facility.

Inside, workers were assembling three more cars set to join the fleet including a hot pink number one Seattle Department of Transportation representative said captured the, um, “modern energy of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.” The colors of the multi-hued cars were “inspired” by the “different characteristics” of the neighborhoods the 2.5 mile streetcar route travels through — Pioneer Square, the International District, First Hill, and Capitol Hill. Continue reading

City Council Notes | First Hill ‘prototype parks,’ smart meters, ‘No Construction Parking’ signs in Pike/Pine

Walking your cat through the First Hill Public Realm

Walking your cat through the First Hill Public Realm

Here’s a look at this week’s Capitol Hill-centric highlights from the Seattle City Council’s chambers:

  • First Hill Public Realm report: The council’s transportation committee will hear an update on a program to create more public spaces in the densely-packed First Hill neighborhood. CHS reported on the First Hill Public Realm plan earlier this year. Tuesday, representatives from SDOT and Seattle Park will tell council members about what comes next for the initiative — including two “prototype” parks on University St:Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 2.32.35 PM
  • Pedestrian report: Tuesday’s transportation committee meeting will also include a briefing on the latest annual report from the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board. Looking forward, the board report says the body’s focus on 2015 is on the big picture: “The update of the Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP) will occupy a substantial share of the board’s focus and activity in 2015.”
  • Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 2.48.07 PM‘No Construction Parking’ signs: In SDOT’s March update to the council, the report notes a small improvement for residents and businesses pinched by ongoing construction in central Pike/Pine — “To keep parking open for businesses, we collaborated with contractors working on 10th and 11th Ave between E Union and E Pike to manufacture and install ‘No Construction Parking’ signs”
  • Smart meters update: Wednesday’s meeting of the energy committee will include an update on the $94 million program to build an “advanced metering” system in Seattle to replace the outdated manual process used today to determine energy consumption and billing. The council will hear that negotiations for a vendor to build out the system are expected to begin in April and that the current plan calls for residents who might have concerns including privacy or health to be able to opt out of the smart metering program for a yet to be determined fee. Initial meter installations are expected to begin this fall with “mass meter deployment” (run, paranoid residents, run!) by June 2016.Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 2.52.54 PM
  • Another City Council candidate: James Keblas, former head of the city’s film and music office and currently working with Capitol Hill-based creative agency Creature, will run for an at-large seat on the council.
  • Pike Place Market expansion: Monday, the full council approved legislation from committees on a $34 million expansion of Pike Place Market and an ordinance updating the muni code to prohibit eviction of renters from apartments if landowners haven’t registered the property’s units with the Department of Planning and Development. The council also approved a clean-up of Seattle’s “cable communications” ordinance reportedly designed to better recognize changes in technology and address issues of inequity for cable customers:
    The new Code changes are intended to improve competition and customer service by eliminating cable franchise districts in favor of a more flexible provision that opens the entire City to competition. The Code also contains new requirements to ensure equity and build-out service to low-income households, enhanced call answering standards and reporting, and more flexibility and protections for residents and owners living in condos and apartments.

First Hill apartment asbestos issue a cautionary tale for tenants in old buildings

Cadence acquired The Broadmoore four years ago (Image: King County)

Cadence acquired The Broadmoore four years ago (Image: King County)


When the property managers at a First Hill apartment building recently began drilling holes in the walls to install a new heating system, resident Eric Stapelman was immediately alarmed.

Worried that the dust flying around contained asbestos, the chef-owner of E Pine’s Shibumi called the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to have the Terry and Jefferson building tested. Initial results found asbestos levels in remnants from drilling were two times the allowed limit, according to the agency’s report obtained by CHS. The agency ordered Cadence Real Estate to stop the work.

Cadence acquired the 1911-built building in 2011 for $5.1 million, according to county records. The company has acquired property across the area including E Pike’s The Winston which it acquired for $4.3 million in late 2011.

While a second round of testing with more precise instruments found levels were not actually harmful, a PSCAA spokesperson told CHS the stop work order at The Broadmore will stay until Cadence hires an asbestos contractor to do another round of testing. Candence did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

In the meantime, Cadence put up plastic containment areas in some units where work remains unfinished. “The fact that they’re having people live in the apartments and not offering them a place to go… they’re turning people’s lives upside down,” Stapelman said.

UPDATE (3/20): In an email to CHS, Cadence principal Barrett Johnston said the company has been working with tenants to get the new heating system installed as fast as possible.

I have my EPA RRP certification for lead paint abatement, and we test for this prior to working in units as well. We have spoken with the PSCAA and EPA and have done what they have asked of us. It is unfortunate that we attempted to do everything required of us, and keep the residents safe from any potential hazardous substances, but are still being seen as trying to do things improperly.

By its nature construction is invasive and can be a burden for people living in a work area and we are aware of this and try to make the living environment as comfortable for people as possible. Unfortunately the continued blocking has caused the project to be delayed and some tenants are living in spaces with dust screening still up and no progress being made.

Cadence will also be required to obtain a construction permit from the agency, which it failed to do prior to starting work. Nearly all apartment building owners are required to get a permit from the PSCAA if they are doing significant work inside their buildings.

Once the final round of testing is complete and Cadence performs any necessary asbestos abatement work, the PSCAA spokesperson said the agency would issue a permit which would allow work to continue.

According to PSCAA, a property management company should be able to confirm if its secured the proper clean air permits to do work inside a building. If you’re unsure, contact the agency here.

Stapelman told CHS Cadence has refused his request for the company to pay for a temporary relocation while the work gets completed. He said he will be moving out as soon as he can. “This should not have happened,” he said.

What’s for sale at the newest shop in Pike/Pine? First Hill condos

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The latest business to move into Pike/Pike won’t be the one selling sex toys, it will be selling condos — 168 of them from a single new First Hill building to be exact.

The sales office for the soaring 24-story Luma condo building will be opening next month on E Pike near Broadway. The space had been occupied by Emerson Salon, which transitioned management and consolidated its space last year.

Marketing company Red Propeller is handling sales for Luma, which is under construction a third of a mile away at Boylston and Seneca. The new addition to Seattle’s skyline will open sometime next year without any commercial or retail space.

It wasn’t just happenstance that Luma’s sales office is opening near the heart of Pike/Pine. Red Propeller is hoping the office location will help the company reach Luma’s target buyers — creative, urban professionals

“What we’re really selling is a proximity and access to First Hill and the Pike/Pine neighborhood,” said Red Propeller’s Stephen Fina. “The sales office immersed in that experience.”

“Live every angle at the intersection of First Hill and the Pike/Pine,” one promotion for the project reads.


Artist rendering of the coming-soon Luna

The office will be open through summer 2016 when its 4 to 5 employees will move into an office in the completed Luma building, Fina said.

The land the Luma is being built on was purchased by Swedish pension fund adviser Alecta for $4 million in 2010. Another developer paid almost twice that in 2007 with plans for a high-end condo project but that venture got wiped out by the last recession. Before construction, a group of neighbors fought to no avail to scale back the Luma project.

Condo sales offices have been mostly absent around Capitol Hill since the housing market crash in 2007.

Luma developer Lowe Enterprises is one of the only companies to build new condos around Central Seattle and, really, through the entire city. Last year, Lowe vice president Suzi Morris said Luma’s location presented a prime opportunity for condo development in an otherwise tough financing environment.

Fina said he couldn’t speculate about the future of condo development around Capitol Hill, but he said interest in condo ownership is definitely on the rise in the neighborhood.

First Hill Streetcar vehicle testing to begin

A First Hill Streetcar tram being assembled after arrival in Seattle  -- More pictures on City Council transportation committee chair Tom Rasmussen's Facebook page

A First Hill Streetcar tram being assembled after arrival in Seattle — More pictures on City Council transportation committee chair Tom Rasmussen’s Facebook page

From the status update presentation

From the status update presentation

Testing will begin this month as Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar line moves toward a start of service this summer. The announcement is part of a series of updates planned as part of Tuesday’s City Council briefing with Seattle Department of Transportation head Scott Kubly on the status of the delayed streetcar line.

“Vehicle manufacturer is six months behind schedule for all vehicles to be ready for service,” reads the first bullet point on the “Current Status” slide in the presentation prepared for the city council’s transportation committee. The full document is embedded below.

Kubly, right, speaks Tuesday morning at the City Council transportation committee briefing

Kubly, right, speaks Tuesday morning at the City Council transportation committee briefing

UPDATE 3/10/2015 10:45 AM: In Tuesday morning’s briefing, Kubly responded to questions about why SDOT’s contract with the streetcar manufacturer didn’t have a stronger incentive for the maker to stay on schedule for a project the SDOT director was intended to begin service last year and how the department provided updates on the situation to the rest of City Hall.

Speaking on the ambitious Move Seattle transit initiatives earlier in the morning, Kubly spent the rest of his time with council bogged down in the difficulties of delivering the start of service on the First Hill Streetcar line.

Laying the fault of the delays on challenges presented by “a combination” of new battery technology, new communications software, and changes in national fire standards, Kubly said that SDOT will change the way it contracts for “liquidated damages” in future manufacturing deals. Liquidated damages are “damages whose amount the parties designate during the formation of a contract for the injured party to collect as compensation upon a specific breach.”

Kubly said in the re-worked First Hill Streetcar deal, owed liquidated damages will be paid in spare parts.

Continue reading