Residents face more than hiked rents after $73.9 million purchase of First Hill apartment tower

The Panorama House building at 1100 University (Image: King County)

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.

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Courts: Yancy Noll and First Hill murder trials, Monfort death penalty jury selection

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.

Big changes for Capitol Hill campus as Group Health babies making First Hill move

Little Lucas Douglas was Baby New Year to start 2014 at the Group Health Family Beginnings Birthing Center at 15th and Thomas (Image: Courtesy of Group Health)

Little Lucas Douglas was Baby New Year to start 2014 at the Group Health Family Beginnings Birthing Center at 15th and Thomas (Image: Courtesy of Group Health)

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.

Extended First Hill Streetcar, bikeway will (probably) terminate at Roy in 2017, funding still unresolved

(Image: SDOT)

(Image: SDOT)

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 4.18.38 PMFor 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

CHS Pics | First Hill scrabbles for park space — Next: Hopscotch CD returns

IMG_4175Public 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

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 initiative seeks to re-imagine ‘parks’ in dense neighborhoods

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.13.00 AMFirst 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

Memorial walk to honor woman struck and killed by truck on First Hill

10590411_664654093617853_3286561185982884768_nOn 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.


Pill Hill loses a drugstore as E Madison Rite Aid shutters

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.

Street Scrabble tournament part of plan to create new public spaces on First Hill

(Image: SDOT)

(Image: SDOT)

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

CHS Pics | Seattle Night Out 2014 around Capitol Hill

Well stocked at 22nd and Republican (Images: Alex Garland)

Well stocked at 22nd and Republican (Images: Alex Garland)

Summit and Thomas (Images: Jim Simandl for CHS)

Summit and Thomas (Images: Jim Simandl for CHS)

Dinner time thanks to City Market (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to 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 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!!

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Police searching for truck driver after First Hill pedestrian struck and killed at one of city’s most dangerous intersections — UPDATE

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

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 incidentThe 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.

First Hill McDonald’s walkout kicks off Seattle fast food strikes — Early rally at Cal Anderson

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

IMG_0242Pro-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

Take note, Bertha, First Hill hospital tunnel project nearly complete

DSCN1442While drilling for the Alaska Way tunnel faces another massive set back, a lesser known — albeit much smaller — tunnel is nearing completion beneath First Hill. And workers didn’t need a janky boring machine to dig it either.

In order to connect a central sterilization area with future operating rooms, crews at Virginia Mason Medical Center have dug through roughly 90 feet of earth, oftentimes using only hand shovels, to construct the hospital’s new tunnel.

The staff-only tunnel will run in between Spring and Seneca to connect Virginia Mason’s Central Pavilion hospital with the newer Jones Pavilion at Spring and Boren, where the operating rooms are currently being built. Continue reading

Maybe Capitol Hill’s affordable housing won’t be built on Capitol Hill

The Decibel is part of a trio of affordable apartments planned along 12th Ave south of Capitol Hill

The Decibel is part of a trio of affordable apartments planned along 12th Ave south of Capitol Hill

It is possible the solution to affordable apartments for the people of Capitol Hill won’t actually be *on* Capitol Hill. The Decibel, the second in a triumvirate of affordable apartment projects from Seattle’s Spectrum Development Solutions on the edge of the city’s Yesler Terrace urban village project, is scheduled to take its first bow in front of the East Design Review Board on Wednesday night. It is joined on the docket by a four-story mixed-use project planned for a Central District corner home to a community hub – The Fatima Cafe. More on both projects, below. Continue reading

Prepare for Metro cuts with new First Hill commuter slide — UPDATE


UPDATE: A commuter takes the plunge on the new transportation system

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 8.17.44 AMArea civic leaders are unveiling a set of alternatives Thursday to help commuters get around the city should the Metro service-saving Prop 1 not gather enough King County votes before next Tuesday’s Election Day. While it’s not the warmest day for it, the new First Hill infrastructure will certainly be wet enough for a fast ride. Stop by. The new system utilizes ORCA cards and accepts transfers.

County leaders to announce “New Commuter Toolkit” featuring Slip ‘N Slides and zip line
Seattle – Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci, and Redmond Mayor John Marchione will announce a “New Commuter Toolkit” on Thursday. They will unveil plans for a zip line from Seattle to Redmond and have a prototype Slip ‘N Slide on hand for commuters from Capitol Hill to downtown. This will ensure commuters are prepared in case King County voters don’t approve Proposition 1 to prevent devastating cuts to bus service.

These new options are environmentally sustainable and promote an active, healthy lifestyle for commuters. Experts think King County’s 150 days of annual rainfall make our region a perfect place to test commuting by Slip ‘N Slide. Students and commuters will be on hand to demonstrate how to travel via Slip ‘N Slide, which will be set up alongside Seneca in Freeway Park. All are welcome to participate.

Eastside leaders will be on hand to unveil the preliminary design and route for a zip line to Bellevue and Redmond. This exciting new transportation option is also environmentally sustainable and will provide commuters unparalleled views of Mt. Rainier.

While buses currently serve thousands of commuters well every day, regional leaders stressed the need to prepare commuters for what life will be like if we don’t approve Proposition 1. Metro bus rides are facing the elimination of 72 bus routes and cuts to another 84 routes. These cuts will make it difficult or impossible for many students to get to school, seniors to get to medical appointments, and people with disabilities to get to work. That’s why an unprecedented coalition of businesses, labor unions, elected officials, and advocacy organizations have endorsed a Yes vote on Proposition 1.

UPDATE by Sebastian Garrett-Singh: “It will be more and more difficult for people to get around,” said Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen, stating the sopping wet obvious Thursday afternoon. The Council Member who chairs Seattle’s transportation committee told the crowd that if Proposition 1 does not pass it will negatively impact not only bus riders commutes but drivers through increased traffic congestion overall. One purposefully absurd solution: a zipline.

“You can get on the zipline and fly right over Lake Washington,” said Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci. “This is plan D at this point,” said Marchione, to a chorus of chuckles.
A handful of attendees at the unveiling of the Seneca Slip ‘N Slide tried the new downtown express. James Sido of the Downtown Seattle Association said, despite the fun times, the Prop 1 vote is serious business. “We’re very much in favor of Prop 1,” said Sido. “This is a matter of equity. The demand is higher than it’s ever been. Now is certainly not the time to take that away from people.”


Blotter | Police search for Tuesday morning First Hill bank robbery suspect

First-Hill-Robbery-2-3.25.14-300x277See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • First Hill robbery: Police are looking for this man in connection with a robbery Tuesday morning just before noon on First Hill. You can call 911 if you have information about the incident.

    Seattle Police are currently searching for a suspect wanted in connection with a robbery at the Key Bank in the 1200 Block of Madison Street.  The robbery occurred at about 11:40 this morning. The suspect fled the bank on foot.  Below are images of the suspect, taken from bank surveillance cameras.  Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact Seattle Police.

First Hill Forum has hopes of sorting out what neighborhood is — and what it could be

Crossing on First Hill (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Crossing on First Hill (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Capitol Hill rarely gets lost in the shuffle. Many of its issues — and opportunities — are well known and well communicated all the way to City Hall. Its next door neighbor First Hill has never quite amassed the same sense of communal spirit. But now the First Hill Improvement Association is looking to change that by gathering residents and community members together for the inaugural First Hill Forum on Saturday, March 22nd — an event designed to gauge the make-up of its denizens, determine what matters most to them, and then start the job of reshaping the neighborhood for the better, organizers say.

“We want people who work here to come, people who live here, people who come here for medical services -  everyone,” said said Mary Ellen Hudgins, president of the community group. “We’re really looking for a broad perspective of what First Hill is, and what it can be and should be for everyone who lives here and comes here.”

Hudgins hopes that the event will be the first step in many in raising a level community awareness. Already, Hudgins has seen dozens of new people expressing interest in volunteer work. She hopes that this momentum will result in a renewed sense of neighborhood solidarity.

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Dangerous Madison Park crossing, 23rd Ave intersection, First Hill sidewalk considered for city fund

A proposal to help make for a safer crossing of E Madison near Trader Joe's didn't make the cut -- this year (Image: Doug McLaughlin via Flickr)

A proposal to help make for a safer crossing of E Madison near Trader Joe’s didn’t make the cut — this year (Image: Doug McLaughlin via Flickr)

Last week, a Department of Neighborhoods community group considered nine new street and parks project for central Seattle and Capitol Hill. Below, you’ll find the three projects that made it through and are being studied for feasibility by the city to be part of some $1.2 million in funding through the Neighborhood Parks and Street Fund. We’ve also included descriptions of all the proposals just in case you want to rally around one of the passed-over ideas next year or you find something to inspire a similar project in your own neighborhood. Continue reading