CHS Pics | A ‘community lunch’ in Freeway Park

No matter how you count them, there are more and more people living unsheltered in Seattle’s core. Friday, one of the group’s trying to help expanded its work to a new location.

Operation Sack Lunch partnered with the Freeway Park Association and Compass Housing Alliance to offer free hot meals in the greenspace between downtown, First Hill, and Capitol Hill Friday afternoon.

The nonprofit OSL has been providing nutritional meals since 1989 and is an advocate for “an equitable food system.”

In addition to the food, Capitol Hill regular Pasquale provided some music on the chilly January day. OSL was also accepting donations for donations to help it acquire a new Mobile Meal Kitchen vehicle.

With approvals on expansion, schools-friendly lease, Seattle Asian Art Museum set for 2019 reopening after $54M overhaul

Closed for renovation (Image: Alize Asplund)

By Alize Asplund, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved Monday two pieces of legislation that open the way for a $54 million overhaul and a new 55-year lease for the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park after years of community meetings and negotiations.

“A lot of what is driving this project is the need to serve audiences that want to participate and the project will allow us with a new education space to serve broader and bigger audiences,” Seattle Art Museum director Kimerly Rorschach said prior to a council committee vote on the plans last week.

Construction on the $54 million project is set to begin as early as February with the overhauled facility projected to open in October 2019, when it will be open to the public 40 hours per week for 50 weeks out of the year under the new deal. Continue reading

Updated Asian Art Museum lease proposal includes free visits, arts education for Seattle Public School students

Up against an end of year deadline, the Seattle City Council committee overseeing legislation required before the start of construction on the expansion of Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum made a “ratify and confirm” decision on a 55-year lease for the continued operation of the cultural center. The council’s parks committee is now ready to get around to the confirm part of the business.

Friday afternoon, the Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities Committee will hear public comment on the final two pieces of legislation in the SAAM expansion process. One bill, when approved, will alter city code to allow expansion of a “non conforming” museum inside a city park. It’s a custom patch written specifically for the SAAM expansion that will also limit any future expansion. Continue reading

Step 1: Dream up $90K Capitol Hill, First Hill, or Central District parks & streets idea

Step 2: enjoy your improved neighborhood. The city’s annual Your Voice, Your Choice process is starting up again. You have until February 2nd to take part in the first phase of helping decide how to spend $3 million on park and street improvements in Seattle.

Need inspiration? These were the District 3 winners in 2017.

DISTRICT 3  

  • Capitol Hill: Crossing Improvements at I-5 Exit on to Olive Way (Cost: $75,000, Total Votes: 240)
  • Central District: Traffic Calming on 17th Ave S between E Yesler Way & S Jackson St (Cost: $15,000, Total Votes: 200)
  • Judkins Park: Improved Connections to Judkins Park from S. Dearborn St (Cost: $90,000, Total Votes: 173)
  • Capitol Hill: Crossing Improvements at 19th Ave E & E Denny Way (Cost: $83,000, Total Votes:  171) 

City departments were to include the winning proposals in their annual budgets with plans to implement the projects in 2018.

The process to collect new proposals ends Friday, February 2nd. Your ideas should adhere to three simple values. Your proposed District 3 projects should:

  • Benefit the public
  • Add a physical or capital improvement project in Seattle’s parks or streets
  • Not exceed a budget of $90,000

Add your proposal here

There is also a map of the project ideas from 2017 that will roll over to the 2018 process. “These are ideas that were submitted in 2017 and considered potentially feasible, but not funded through the 2017 process,” the city says.

After the hundreds of proposals are collected, Project Development Teams in each district will “turn ideas into concrete project proposals,” the city says. Over summer, the final proposals for each district will be put up for a vote.

Each of the city’s seven district will be eligible for up to $430,000 in projects.

To beat Republican tax changes, $54M Seattle Asian Art Museum upgrade deal can move forward

In a rush against time and the looming Republican evisceration of federal tax credits, the City of Seattle will enter into a 55-year lease for the continued operation of the Seattle Asian Art Museum and an agreement that paves the way for a needed $54 million upgrade of the 84-year-old building its calls home in Volunteer Park. The agreement will come even as the City Council parks committee shepherding the agreement is asking for more from the deal.

Park committee chair Debora Juarez outlined the next steps in the long process to move ahead on construction in a meeting Thursday as the clock ticks before the likely expiration of some $6 million in Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit officials expect to utilize on the project. In the “ratify and confirm” procedure, the city will move ahead of the lease to beat the December 31st deadline — but Juarez and other members of the committee say they want to see much more from the Seattle Art Museum’s end of the agreement.

“It’s not that I’m not in your corner, I just want it to be done right,” Juarez told museum and city officials Thursday. Continue reading

Parks ready to show off lighting plan to keep Cal Anderson busy, safe at night

White Light at Midnight, Cal Anderson Park

Lighting at Cal Anderson could be getting a makeover in the coming years, and the public is getting a chance to weigh in next week on the potential improvements to create a safer, more efficient, and hopefully more aesthetically lit park.

The city has been engaged in a lighting study of Cal Anderson for the past few months, explained Oliver Bazinet of Seattle Parks. They began by walking around the park at night with some community groups and looking at where and how the lighting in the park might be improved.

The study focused only on Cal Anderson Park, not the adjacent — and frequently fully lit — Bobby Morris Playfield.

A group of consultants came up with a mock-up plan, and that plan will be presented to the public for review for the first time next Thursday night. Continue reading

New lights, lily pond fences coming to Volunteer Park

With one of the biggest projects to improve the park underway at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, some smaller improvements are also coming to important features of Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park.

The community-driven Volunteer Park Trust has announced fundraising and planning are moving forward to improve the fencing around the park’s much-loved lily ponds as well as an upgrade of the park’s 40 street lamps.

Volunteer Park Trust’s Jeff Crandall tells CHS planning for the lily pond improvements began in 2010 as generations of Capitol Hill families have gone through the unfortunate experience of consoling soaking wet children who fell into one of the twin ponds near the park’s reservoir.

The new fences are not a response to the January 2017 accidental drowning death of Hill resident Amy Vanderbeck. “We’re very sorry about her death but we don’t have any information that this could have prevented what happened,” Crandall said.

Vanderbeck’s family, however, knows how easy it has been for rascally kids to jump into the ponds. Her sister told CHS that, in the weeks before her death, Vanderbeck had dealt with a sad and soaking wet kid who slipped into the pond on a family outing to the park. “She hated that pond,” the sister said.

The $46,000 project will replace the small wire fencing that has surrounded the ponds with a new sturdier, historically respectful barrier: Continue reading

Standing ovation for design for new Volunteer Park amphitheater, still questions about museum expansion

Members of the Capitol Hill community spoke with Owen Richards Architects and the Volunteer Park Trust on April 6 at the Volunteer Park Conservatory (Image:)

Members of the Capitol Hill community spoke with Owen Richards Architects and the Volunteer Park Trust about the new amphitheater designs on April 6 at the Volunteer Park Conservatory (Image: Grace Kramer for CHS)

By Grace Kramer, UW News Lab / Special to CHS

The Volunteer Park amphitheater renovation project is drawing closer to approval and residents gathered Thursday night to discuss the proposed designs.

Owen Richards Architects and the Volunteer Park Trust invited the community for an open house on the proposed designs for the Volunteer Park amphitheater and there were lots of opinions, especially about another Volunteer Park renovation project, the Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion.

“It’s the first design I’ve seen in Seattle recently that’s actually an improvement,”  said Marge Mackinnon, a Capitol Hill resident, about the new amphitheater.

The SAAM expansion, on the other hand?

“There are lots of art museums in Seattle,” said Mackinnon, “To destroy part of the park sucks.”

This isn’t the first time that the public has had a chance to see the amphitheater’s proposed designs. ORA Architects and the Volunteer Park Trust, as part of the terms of their funding grant from the Neighborhood Matching Fund, have been required to keep the design process transparent. They’ve done many public meetings and open houses so that the community can provide feedback on their designs.

Owen Richards, founder and principal architect with ORA, has worked on other projects like Chihuly Garden and Glass. He said that when he holds public events for buildings and structures he’s nervous because changes in a neighborhood are typically emotionally charged, but he doesn’t feel that way about the Volunteer Park amphitheater.

“At this point we’ve talked so much with the public it doesn’t feel controversial,” he said.  Continue reading

Something upon which we can all agree: Hurrah for the new Volunteer Park amphitheater

FRONT-STAGE-IN-USE-600x367

(Image: ORA Architects)

It’s been kind of a tough year for new things but one project coming to Capitol Hill seems to have risen above the tumult. Thursday, you can celebrate that general sense of neighborhood goodwill with the Volunteer Park Trust and check out the latest designs for a new amphitheater in the much loved northern Capitol Hill park:

Amphitheater Design – Open House

CHS showed you some of the latest designs and ideas behind the concepts last month.  The updated design calls for the translucent roof over the stage to be wavy, “referencing a leaf” with pivoting doors, instead of sliding, for a backstage area and new bathrooms as well as a flexible room that can be used for costume changes and storage. Other plans for the new amphitheater call for re-grading the seating area with a focus on reducing the flat space in front of the stage and improving ADA accessibility.

The new amphitheater is planned to be located just north of the current one which is masonry and in need of replacement.

Following Thursday’s meeting, ORA Architects will incorporate feedback and refine the final plans.  Grants from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and funds from Volunteer Park Trust have moved the project forward so far. The Seattle Parks Foundation will be the driver for fundraising and grant seeking to bring the project to life. The total project cost — design through construction — is estimated to be between $3 million and $4 million.

Construction is planned for fall 2018 with the new amphitheater hosting its first performances in July 2019.

You can learn more at volunteerparktrust.org.

Seattle Parks hosts LGBTQ youth job fair on Capitol Hill

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 10.04.52 AMHey kids! Get a job! A bunch of Capitol Hill and nearby businesses and organizations will be at 19th Ave’s Miller Community Center this weekend for a job fair designed for LGBTQ youth… and their friends.

LGBTQ and Allies Teen/Youth Job Fair 2017

The LGBTQ and Allies Teen/Youth Job Fair 2017 is part of the Seattle Parks Teens program and will feature “over 24 employers and organizations with lots of jobs, stipend opportunities, and internships for youth ages 14 – 24,” the department says.

Bring your resume and a confident but friendly handshake. None of this Donald Trump power play stuff, please.