SDOT responds to CHS First Hill Streetcar delay report — UPDATE

The tracks are in... now we just need the streetcars (Image: Stacy Witbeck)

The tracks are in… now we just need the streetcars (Image: Stacy Witbeck)

Here is an official statement from the Seattle Department of Transportation about CHS’s report that a SDOT official has told Capitol Hill Block Party organizers the 2.5 mile First Hill Streetcar line connecting Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill will not be ready for service in time for the annual July event.

This is the response sent to CHS about the status of the line. We’ll let you parse the statement:

As previously announced, the manufacturer of streetcars for the First Hill Line has failed to meet the delivery milestones for the six-vehicle fleet, which has delayed both testing and the start of passenger service. SDOT is assessing liquidated damages against the contract price and tracking the manufacturing progress on a daily basis. SDOT cannot establish an opening date until we are satisfied that the manufacturer can meet commitments to a revised schedule for all six vehicles.

A spokesperson for SDOT also referred us to http://seattlestreetcar.org/firsthill.htm for more info and “ship tracking for the very first streetcar coming from the Czech Republic.”

The Sound Transit-financed, SDOT-built $132 million First Hill Streetcar project includes the tracks running through streets up Jackson from Pioneer Square to Broadway across First Hill and Capitol Hill as well as a separated bikeway designed to improve the area for bikers and steer them clear of the dangerous streetcar trackbed. Continue reading

More delay for First Hill Streetcar puts open date after July Block Party

(Image: Gordon Werner via Flickr with permission to CHS)

(Image: Gordon Werner via Flickr with permission to CHS)

It may be time to add the First Hill Streetcar to the list of Seattle transit projects facing serious setbacks. After the Seattle Department of Transportation pushed back the launch date from fall 2014 to “early” 2015, CHS has learned that the SDOT now expects the Capitol Hill-to-Pioneer Square streetcar won’t be in service until at least August.

An SDOT official, speaking at last week’s meeting of the Seattle Special Events Committee, said the streetcar would not be operational for this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party, which runs from July 24th-26th. SDOT media personnel did not respond to requests for comment on this story. The SDOT official who spoke at the meeting pointed us to this December update (PDF), but the document says nothing about when the streetcar would come online. Meanwhile, City Council transportation chair Tom Rasmussen also did not respond to our repeated requests for comment on the delay. Continue reading

First Hill open house to discuss ideas for creating public space in a dense, expensive neighborhood

10849746_10152681958713472_254082806541285596_nThey can construct big and tall apartment buildings on First Hill — and there are projects underway and plans to do so on a growing number of corners along Madison like here and here. Creating public space for those residents present and future and the thousands of people who work on First Hill is the goal of the First Hill Public Realm Action Plan. Wednesday night, city planners will host an open house at First Hill’s Town Hall to talk about how “street spaces” and “private development” can create “a greener, more walkable neighborhood” —

Open House: First Hill Public Realm Action Plan
Wednesday, January 7 5:00 PM
First Hill’s growing residential population, cultural institutions, and influx of workers warrants high quality public spaces that meet mobility and recreational needs. The current First Hill neighborhood plan (from 1998) recognizes this need for open space in this bustling, downtown-adjacent neighborhood, but despite efforts to advance this goal, land acquisition has proven to be challenging. For this educational open house, city staff will be present to discuss open space concepts and implementation strategies for these innovative open space proposals. Moving beyond land acquisition, the plan incorporates street spaces and private development to create a greener, more walkable neighborhood.

Presenters include Susan McLaughlin, Urban Design Lead/Project Manager at Seattle Department of Transportation; Donald Harris and Chip Nevins, Department of Parks & Recreation, Property and Acquisition Services; Lyle Bicknell, Principal Urban Designer with the Department of Planning & Development; and Alex Hudson, Coordinator for the First Hill Improvement Association.

Last year, CHS wrote about the City of Seattle initiative for the First Hill neighborhood born of the challenges of acquiring adequate land for parks in the area. In 2000 and 2008 voters approved levies to fund land acquisitions for new parks on First Hill, but affordable properties are almost non-existent in one of the densest neighborhoods in the state. With Seattle’s continued growth, First Hill’s plan might end up part of the solution for the future of “parks” in the city.

A documentation of the plan including specific concepts for locations across First Hill is below.
Continue reading

Massive mural to adorn First Hill’s Sorrento Hotel parking garage

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 12.06.42 PMTransforming dreary concrete walls into interesting spray paint and paper compositions has been one of the street art movement’s greatest gifts to society. A new work is now being commissioned for such a wall on First Hill.

The group hired to apply some of the Ace Hotel “casual luxury” to the century-old Sorrento Hotel has rolled out one of their first projects: a big mural to liven up the drab exterior of the hotel’s parking garage. Magentic/ERV has teamed up with the Seattle Mural Project to commission a 32-foot by 120-foot mural for the 9th and Madison exterior. Continue reading

Displaced First Hill seniors offered discounts at retirement communities

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

In September, around 200 residents of a First Hill apartment tower — many of them elderly, long-term residents of the building — went on the search for new housing after learning they would be forced to move out for an overhaul of the building starting next year.

The Panorama, a 52-year-old concrete highrise on University just east of Boren, was sold in September for $73.9 million. Shortly after the sale, new owners Security Properties notified resident they would need to be out by summer 2015 for the massive renovation.

A Federal Way-based housing company is offering seniors at Panorama special deals at two of their retirement communities: El Dorado West in Burien and Mill Ridge Village in Milton. Village Concepts is also offering to pay for residents’ moving costs and one month’s rent. Continue reading

Goodbye First Hill McDonald’s, hello 17-story mixed-use building  

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

The First Hill McDonald’s franchise is an intriguing community hub. The Madison and Minor location seems to accomplish what an urban McDonald’s can be at its best: a place for surgeons, construction workers, homeless people and everyone in between to gather together for a cheap, gigantic cup of coffee and a bite to eat. Other times, it’s just weird.

Documents recently filed with the city show the First Hill McDonald’s is now a goner and slated to be torn down. Developer Holland Partners has filed permits to demolish the McDonald’s building and erect a 240,000 square foot, 17-story mixed-use development.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 2.47.11 PMDetails on the new project are sparse, but early plans call for 200 apartment units and 151 parking spaces. The Vancouver, WA based developer was also behind the similarly sized Coppins Well project next door. At the time, developers touted the Coppins Well project as the first high-rise apartment building to break ground on First Hill in 35 years.

Just a few blocks away, Whole Foods will be part of a 16-story mixed-use apartment building planned at Madison and Broadway slated to open in 2018.

CHS couldn’t reach anyone at Holland for comment about the McDonald’s project.

A representative for franchisees in the region said the Madison McDonalds has been open for about at least 17 years (see comments for memories of this location going back to the 1970s). Earlier this year, CHS reported on McDonald’s employees urging their coworkers to walk off the job for higher wages. We don’t know yet if the franchise will relocate in the neighborhood or nearby, but the possibility may get the Capitol Hill rumor mill churning again.

Capitol Hill infill fills in with seven stories on Boylston, four off Broadway

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The “site analysis” for the 1404 Boylston project is AWESOME and worth clicking to see a larger version (Image: S+H Works)

It will be a real-world lesson in neighborhood infill development — and the work of E Pike-based architect Hugh Schaeffer — as the East Design Review Board gathers Wednesday night to assess two proposed development projects that will create another 140 or so apartments on Capitol Hill in exchange for one two 1900s-built single family homes and a 1905-built, 8-unit apartment house.

(Image: S+H Works)

Coming soon to Boylston just off E Pike — seven stories (Image: S+H Works)

1404 Boylston
On Boylston just off E Pike, the Emerald City Manor building has provided a place to live on Capitol Hill since 1905. Today’s Hill calls for a bigger solution.

Planned as a seven-story affordable apartment building with 105 units that will replace the old manor, the developers of the Boylston Flats project promise some lofty goals –including helping to connect Capitol Hill to First Hill: Continue reading

Whole Foods coming to Capitol Hill in new development at Broadway and Madison

Site Plan (69)Whole_Foods_Market_logo.svgNational grocery chain Whole Foods Market has finally found its home on Capitol Hill.

The company announced it will open the 40,000 square-foot market in 2018 as part of a new 16-story apartment development planned for the 1000 block of Broadway near Madison.

It will be the ninth Whole Foods in Seattle, the company said.

“We have been interested in the Capitol Hill and First Hill communities or a long long time,” a company spokesperson tells CHS. “We couldn’t be more pleased about the location of the new store.”

In 2009, CHS reported on the Austin, Texas-cased company’s interest in Capitol Hill and rumors of a store opening on north Broadway.

The spokesperson said the 40,000 square-foot store qualifies as “extra medium” size in the spectrum of the company’s more than 400 markets around the world.

Continue reading

First Hill’s grand Sorrento Hotel getting hip Pike/Pine-style makeover

(Image: The Sorrento)

(Image: The Sorrento)

Sorrento-17Just a few blocks from the rambunctious nightlife of Broadway Pike/Pine, the Sorrento Hotel and its restaurant and bar have quietly persisted for nearly a century as one of the few remnants of Seattle’s original cocktail culture. Now the family behind the hotel is seeking to apply some of the the Ace Hotel “casual luxury” recipe to breathe new life into the First Hill gem.

The Sorrento has announced that the Seattle-based firm Magnetic/ERV is taking over management of the 76-room hotel and plans to start its revamp work early next year. Magnetic/ERV 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.

Cori Ready, a Seattle event designer that’s working with the Magnetic/ERV, told CHS the management group is still in the early planning stages of the overhaul. “We want to make it more like a culture hub,” Ready said.

Continue reading

First Hill’s Stimson-Green hosts Haunted Mansion Party

(Image: Kayla Clark Events)

Inside Stimson-Green (Image: Kayla Clark Events)

Which is more frightful? The $100 ticket price *or* the marketing of the “ghosts” of “mistreated slaves” for a “haunted mansion party” Saturday night at First Hill’s landmark Stimson-Green house?

For a hundred bucks plus fees, you fan find out at Seattle event producer Kayla Cook’s October 25th Haunted Mansion Party:

Are you ready for a scare? Join us at the Stimson-Green Mansion for the first annual Haunted Mansion Party. Rumor has it, the mansion is haunted…. Continue reading