‘Single family home neighborhood’ — the Madison Valley PCC mixed-use battle

An $85 filing fee — and lots of billable hours — is holding up a Madison Valley mixed-use apartments and PCC grocery project but the long, drawn out Seattle process to develop the property might finally be set to move forward.

Conflict between a community group attempting to use the State Environmental Policy Act as a defensive blanket and developer Velmeir Companies will come to a head by December as the city’s Hearing Examiner is slated to make a decision on an appeal against the project.

Save Madison Valley, a group aimed at maintaining the area as a “single family home neighborhood,” has been working, it says, to ensure that Velmeir commits to mitigating the environmental impacts of its 82-unit, mixed-use six-story development at 2925 E Madison.

The project passed through the first stage of the design review process finally in January 2017 after a relatively rare three sessions in front of the board. The design from Meng Strazzara was fully signed off on last September — but the project isn’t yet close to breaking ground.

Save Madison Valley is asking the Hearing Examiner to reverse the design review decision and the city’s determination on the project’s environmental impact and require the development to undergo new rounds of costly, time consuming review. It’s a strategy cut from similar cloth to the legal fight holding up Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program that has cost the city plenty in legal fees — and maybe 717 affordable apartment units.

But Velmeir may not have to wait for December to move forward. Continue reading

Speaking of Seattle transit bumps, officials sorting Madison Bus Rapid Transit trolley problem

While we’re taking a spin as the Capitol Hill Transit Blog, the area’s next big transit investment is facing a major barrier to acquiring its much needed $60 million federal grant. It’s not Donald Trump. And it’s not this E Madison gay bar.

The Seattle Transit Blog broke the news last week — the Seattle Department of Transportation and King County Metro have been sideswiped by a collision of international trade barriers, the unique design of Madison “Bus Rapid Transit,” and the corridor’s challenging grade and are scrambling to find a bus design capable of meeting the $120 million project’s needs and plans for electric trolley coaches:

Continue reading

Worker dies after forklift flips at Madison Valley construction site — UPDATE

A worker at a construction site died Monday morning, apparently crushed when a forklift unloading materials from a waiting truck flipped on the sloping pavement of E John at 26th.

Seattle Fire and police flooded the area around 26th and John around 10:45 AM for a heavy rescue response but the worker died at the scene. Continue reading

Developer ready to build higher if fight over Madison Valley PCC project drags on

Wednesday, activists are planning to protest outside the opening of New Seasons in Ballard to bring attention, they say, to the private equity investment firm-owned grocery chain’s anti-labor, anti-union activities. In Madison Valley, another grocery chain is facing pushback but the circumstances are much different. A land development deal to build a six-story, mixed-use apartment building, anchored by a new PCC grocery store in the heart of Madison Valley is about to close but opposition from a neighborhood group, if successful, could stop construction from breaking ground any time soon.

Community group Save Madison Valley has opposed the scale of the project since Velmeir Companies agreed to purchased the property currently home to City People’s in 2016. Velmeir expects to receive final approval from the city in the next few weeks to begin work where the garden store currently resides. But a Save Madison Valley appeal could gum up the “master use permit” process.

“The area is ripe for development, but it’s been a development on steroids,” said Melissa Stoker, SMV spokesperson. Continue reading

After big hopes for Capitol Hill, chef makes smaller plans work in Madison Valley at Petite Galerie

After a quest to crowdfund a new gourmet restaurant on Capitol Hill didn’t pan out, the right hand man of one of Seattle’s kitchen legends decided to stick to his home turf to open one of the more creative additions to Seattle fine dining to open in the city this year.

Chef Rob Sevcik has opened Petite Galerie in Madison Valley, putting a former chocolate shop to work as “a ‘studio’ where he and his staff could spend their days creating new dishes and working with ingredients to explore taste, texture and food.” Continue reading

Addo incubator pops up at 23rd/Madison with everything from Richard’s Burger to Japanese brunch

There’s no existing model for the wide range of culinary experiences Eric Rivera is cooking up at his private dining venue Addo in the former of Crush on 23rd and Madison. He’s making it up as he goes along, and a glance at Addo’s upcoming meal calendar reveals Rivera’s freewheeling, globetrotting approach to pop-up dining: a seven-course family-style seafood dinner ($65), a traditional Japanese brunch ($35), a gourmet homage to Dick’s Drive-In called the “Richard Burger” ($17, includes fries and special sauce). To accurately describe what Rivera is up to, one must resort to the terminology of the tech industry: It’s an incubator, a beta testing laboratory, a gastronomic version of Netflix.

“I’m always trying to work 60 to 90 days out, plugging in awesome ideas that I think will sell—and then some weird ones,” he says, “When I run out of ideas or get stuck with ‘writers block,’ that’s when I reach out to people to collaborate.” Continue reading

Prosecutors file charges in East Precinct gunpoint rape and robbery case

Prosecutors are charging 24-year-old Timothy D. Harris, Jr. with one count of first degree rape and another of first degree robbery after a woman was sexually assaulted at gunpoint in her home and her car was ditched near Madison Valley in a December 17th attack police say was set in motion when the two met earlier in the month and exchanged phone numbers.

CHS reported on details of the Sunday, December 17th attack here. Police say they were able to use Harris’s phone number to track him to the downtown shelter where he was a resident. According to court documents filed before the Christmas holiday, prosecutors say Harris has a limited criminal history and was new to the Seattle area: Continue reading

Police make arrest in East Precinct gunpoint rape and robbery

Police say they have arrested the man who raped and robbed a woman at gunpoint in her home and then ditched her car Sunday night near Madison Valley.

CHS is not identifying the 24-year-old suspect who has not yet been charged but was taken into custody Wednesday after police used his phone number to track him to the downtown shelter where he is a resident.

According to police, the suspect met the woman earlier this month as she walked through Belltown where they exchanged numbers. The two communicated by phone until Sunday when police say the victim invited the suspect to hang out. Police say he arrived around 3 PM and the two sat inside the victim’s residence, smoking a marijuana “blunt” together. The victim told police when she returned to the table with a glass of water for the suspect, he was waiting for her with a gun.  Continue reading

Expert: Woman’s unsolved 2015 Madison Valley death ‘most likely a homicide’

A photo of Schmidt on adventure in Alaska provided to CHS by her family

Family of Devan Schmidt, the 29-year-old found dead in a Madison Valley home in 2015, say they have proof she was murdered but the case is not moving forward because the victim was a young woman found with drugs in her system.

“If a young woman has drugs in her system and she is raped and murdered in Seattle… it’s just going to be written off as undetermined?,” Lia Kendall asks. The victim’s sister, provided CHS with the findings of a renowned forensic pathologist and toxicologist expert who says the death “is most likely a homicide.”

“The findings at the autopsy point to it, the findings at the scene support it and the circumstantial evidence is almost compelling,” the expert wrote in a July 2017 letter to Kendall shared with CHS in which the pathologist offers to take part in possible legal proceedings in the case. CHS is not identifying the expert because Kendall agreed not to make his involvement in the case public until there is an arrest and charges. Kendall says the investigator has offered his services at no charge.

On the morning of May 2nd, Schmidt was found unconscious by a housemate. The roommate called 911 and was guided through CPR. Seattle Fire medics rushed to the house near E Denny Way and 29th Ave E but pronounced Schmidt dead at the scene. The case troubled the medical examiner who wrote that circumstances around the death were “concerning for homicidal violence,” and asphyxia “could not be ruled out.” Continue reading

Family still looking for answers in unsolved death of Devan Schmidt

This week marks two years since the death of Devan Schmidt.

The 29-year-old died inside a Madison Valley home on May 2nd, 2015. The medical examiner was unable to determine a cause and manner of death but noted that the investigation scene and circumstances around her death were “concerning for homicidal violence,” and asphyxia “could not be ruled out,” according to documents provided by a family member to CHS.

Her family has continued to seek justice and the Seattle Police Department case remains open.

Schmidt’s loved ones sent CHS the following statement and are asking for help in finding out what happened that May 2nd morning in Madison Valley.

It has been two years as of today that our beloved daughter, sister, auntie, and friend’s life was abruptly taken away. Devan C. Schmidt will always be remembered as a woman who loved life, adventure, family, friends, laughing, being silly, a good book to read, and dancing in the rain. She is loved and missed by many and will never be forgotten. We still have many unanswered questions and ask that anybody who has information regarding her death or the circumstances surrounding it, please contact the SPD homicide division.

— Friends and family of Devan Schmidt

If you can provide information, call the SPD homicide tip line at (206) 684-8763.