Capitol Hill’s REI history, auto row legacy convince board to consider second 11th/Pine building for landmarks protection

Thanks to a confluence of history that includes Pike/Pine’s auto row and the nascent era of one of the best known companies in the Pacific Northwest, advocates for better preservation of Capitol Hill’s remaining auto row buildings got more than they could have hoped Wednesday night. The Seattle Landmarks Board voted unanimously to nominate *both* the exterior and — thanks to the three-story structure’s impressive upper-story truss — the interior of the White Motor Co. building at the corner of 11th and Pine for consideration for the city’s official historical protections.

A hearing that began with the representative for the property owners noting she was speaking to the body “in the hope that this not be nominated,” ended with a vote to examine the building’s worthiness for protection despite those hopes. The official nomination hearing is now slated for January.


Images: reihistory.com

Last week, CHS featured a letter written by neighborhood resident Andrew Haas advocating for full preservation of the White Motor Co. building and the neighboring Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company structures home to Value Village, the Rhino Room club and The Stranger alternative weekly newspaper. Haas spoke up again Wednesday night during the public comment portion of the hearing, calling the White Motor Co. building “remarkably intact” and making the case for the significance of REI’s decades in the building as the workplace of the company’s first full-time employee, outdoor enthusiast Jim Whitaker.

The head of government and community affairs for REI also spoke in favor of the nomination. Marc Berejka said his company was unaware that the buildings that made up its onetime headquarters were being considered as landmarks until learning of Haas’s advocacy. The Kelly-Springfield building had previously advanced to the next round in the landmarks process following its late November hearing.

“Our members have expressed a deep sense of connectedness to the smell of creosote,” Berejka quipped about the legendary odor inside the building now home to Value Village. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Chanukah’s first night brings jelly donuts, awesome holiday sweaters to E Pike

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(Image: Alex Garland)

No, that wasn’t the soft opening of a new LGBTQ-friendly jelly donut bar on E Pike Tuesday night. That was the first night of Chanukah inside Gay City’s Calamus Auditorium as Kolenu, Seattle’s Jewish LGBTQ group, held its annual Light the Night celebration. You can be part of another community Chanukah celebration Friday night as E Pike’s Temple De Hirsch Sinai hosts its latke dinner.

Spiritual in another way altogether, Wednesday afternoon brings a holiday celebration of a different sort to E Pike — Sun Liquor is holding a secret eggnog pop-up shop.

Should the Pike/Pine parking lot between 10th and 11th be a landmark?

Why is this parking lot depressed? Click here

Why is this parking lot depressed? Click here

A future neighbor of the Hot House

A future neighbor of the Hot House

You’ll need to act quickly to save one of the last (kinda) surface parking lots in Pike/Pine.

The paperwork has been filed to “demolish” the lot on the Tetris-shaped parcel of land destined to squeeze in the Modera project just south of Pike, a sixth new building planned or under construction in three blocks of 11th Ave. Barring some sort of last minute activist intervention, the pay lot between 10th and 11th Avenues will be destroyed to make way for the six-story, 135-unit mixed-use development.

Wednesday, activists, neighbors and concerned citizens will have their opportunity to speak up in person on the potential to protect the White Motor Company building at 11th and Pine as an official Seattle landmark. You can also send your thoughts via email but need to get them in ASAP if you want your remarks to be part of the record.

There will be no such hearing for the parking lot behind the Winston Apartments — home to residential tenants above, longtime lesbian bar the Wildrose, the Hot House spa, and, soon, a Castle Megastore below. The below-present-day-grade lot is a goner. Maybe you’ll want to fire up your old auto row-era jalopy for one final chance to pay $18 per hour to park under the stars of Pike/Pine. (Beats parking at the Broadway/Pike gas station, though…)

But do not despair, lover of the automobile. Like so much change on Capitol Hill, the demolition of the parking lot clears the way for new things. Included in the proposal for Mill Creek Residential’s Modera along with its 6,000 square feet of retail space is a massive underground parking lot with room for more than 120 motor vehicles and 40 or so bikes.

SPD, DOJ announce indictments from arrests made during Pike/Pine crackdown

CHS found Chief O’Toole on Broadway on one of the first nights of this year’s increased policing in Pike/Pine (Images: CHS)

Seattle Police and the Department of Justice are holding up indictments on weapons charges against two men arrested on Capitol Hill as further proof that emphasis patrols in Pike/Pine have been effective in deterring violence and getting guns off the street.

“I meet regularly with Capitol Hill residents and business owners and we’ve talked at length about their crime and quality of life issues,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole says in a statement provided by the US Attorney’s office. “These cases demonstrate that we’re listening carefully and working with our Federal partners to address their concerns.”

Facing the federal weapons charges are Robel Gebremedhiu, 31, and Awad Aynisher, 30. The men were arrested in separate incidents this fall on Capitol Hill.

The US Attorney says both of the indicted men have been connected to a gang known as the East African Posse: Continue reading

Capitol Hill upscale fashion boutique Totokaelo moving headquarters to New York

Totokaelo as it opened on the Hill in 2012 (Images: CHS)

Totokaelo as it opened on the Hill in 2012 (Images: CHS)

Totokaelo - Capitol Hill, SeattleWith the goal of becoming “the biggest luxury fashion brand in the world,” Capitol Hill upscale fashion boutique owner Jill Wenger is taking her act to New York City.

“We’re leaving so we can globalize,” Wenger told the Seattle Times. “I want to be the biggest luxury fashion brand in the world, and the most coveted and the most beloved.”

The current flagship Totokaelo, opened adjacent Elliott Bay Book Company in summer 2012 as part of a mini retail revival on 10th Ave in the middle of Pike/Pine’s nightlife success and expanded in 2013 to add a lower level men’s floor, will remain open. But the company’s executive core is following Wenger to New York for adventures we’ll probably be reading about soon in glossy magazines.

Wenger moved her store from Pioneer Square to 10th Ave as the pendulum swung in the area from tenants like sex club Basic Plumbing to Odd Fellows Cafe and Elliott Bay in 2012. CHS spoke with Wenger about her entrepreneurial spirit as Totokaelo debuted on the Hill. The East Coast connection has always been strong with early Totokaelo media write-ups frequently including the soundbite that “80%” of the shop’s online sales were made in New York.

The move leaves behind a seemingly posh bit of office space in the Odd Fellows building next door. “CREATIVE/DESIGN OFFICE FOR LEASE,” the listing reads, “as seen on Remodelista.” The former Totokaelo HQ will run you $6,500/month for the 2,500 square-foot space with 25-foot ceilings. “The space is amazing,” the listing promises.

 "I work best in clean, calm, and vibrant spaces—spaces where you stay energized but maintain focus," Wenger told Remodelista. "I like white because it's bright and reflects natural light through a room. Painting desks and objects white eliminates visual blocks, so that heaviness just disappears." (Image: Remodelista)

“I work best in clean, calm, and vibrant spaces—spaces where you stay energized but maintain focus,” Wenger told Remodelista. “I like white because it’s bright and reflects natural light through a room. Painting desks and objects white eliminates visual blocks, so that heaviness just disappears.” (Image: Remodelista)

You can visit Totokaelo Seattle at 1523 10th Ave. Learn more at totokaelo.com.

Buzzworthy vintage furniture and design shop Homestead Seattle opens on Capitol Hill

(Image: Homestead Seattle)

(Image: Homestead Seattle)

The husband and wife partners behind antique and vintage interior design retailer Homestead Seattle undersell the business just a little.

“We find and restore and fix up vintage and antique furniture,” Ryan Tansey tells CHS about the business he runs with wife Michele that has just opened a brick and mortar shop on Capitol Hill.

The couple has an eye for finding one of a kind pieces that fit into a kind of American classic look just trendy enough to be upvoted and liked. Until now, their showroom has been their stylish Madrona home. Now, Homestead Seattle’s look is on display on E Pine in the retail space left empty with the nerd consolidation of Gamma Ray Games up the street.

“The way that we looked it, we’ll have a lot more visibility and foot traffic,” Ryan said. “Especially for local folks to stop by and see.”

The Homestead Seattle store is currently open by appointment but the Tanseys said they expect to around the shop with doors open for visitors on weekends through the holidays.

You can check out what is currently for sale — A leather Henredon sofa for $1,995? A MC Selig table for $495? An East German map of France for $395? Vintage bullhorns for $195 —  here in the Homestead Seattle online collection.

Homestead Seattle joins street art supply provider Art Primo as new retailers on the block.

The new Homestead Seattle is located at 411 E Pine. Check out homesteadseattle.com for more information.

Canadian-born Suika izakaya arrives on Capitol Hill

Makoto Kimoto is taking the quiet approach to launching a new food+drink venture on Capitol Hill (Images: Josh Kelety for CHS)

Makoto Kimoto is taking the quiet approach to launching a new food+drink venture on Capitol Hill (Images: Josh Kelety for CHS)

Vancouver BC is spilling over onto Capitol Hill, ever so quietly. Tucked into 611 E Pine, the space that formerly housed the 611 Supreme during its 18 year run, is a little slice of Vancouver, Japan and Korea: the Suika izakaya-style bar and restaurant.

Its soft opening earlier this week was as low profile as their hushed start of work on the space back in August. And that’s apparently intentional. “I don’t want to do any marketing or anything, just let people talk, if they like it,” said Makoto Kimoto, co-owner of both Suika Seattle and Suika Vancouver.

Originally from Japan, Kimoto has been living in Vancouver for the past seven years, working in the restaurant business with fellow entrepreneur and co-owner of both the Canadian and Seattle Suika restaurants, Minoru Tamaru. Tamaru and Kimoto have opened a total of four restaurants, eateries, and bars across Canada, with Suika Seattle the fifth to join the family.

“We did the research and we decided last June to come down to Seattle,” said Kimoto.

Suika is part of a new wave of Asian-flavored restaurants opening on Capitol Hill. It joins spring 2014-born Shibumi in the Capitol Hill izakaya arena. As for the BC takeover of Capitol Hill food and drink, it has begun. Next comes Gastown’s Meat & Bread in the Central Agency building joining recently re-opened Lark and its myriad new offspring.

An izakaya is aimed to serve a variety of purposes, from providing filling meals to full bar and appetizer service. But according to Kimoto, sharing is a key feature woven into Suika’s menu. “Most of our dishes are to share. It’s not [just] for people to come and order individually,” he said. Continue reading

Essensuals London brings British beauty to 11th and Union — Plus: Kismet opens on Broadway, Bang celebrates 2 years

IMG_3864Paris and London at 11th and Union? Newly opened boutique salon Essensuals London is bringing the freshest cut, coloring and styling techniques from Toni&Guy UK to Capitol Hill. After nearly a year of commuting back and forth between Los Angeles, hair whisperers (and twin brothers) Jason and Robert Townsend have opened up shop in the new retail space located next to French pastry shop Ines Patisserie at 11th and Union in the Viva building.

The brothers left Beverly Hills in search for a new home to offer their UK-inspired styling services and quickly set their sights on Capitol Hill. “We had been coming to Seattle quite a bit and fell in love with it,” Jason Townsend tells CHS. “It seemed like to us, at least, Seattle is what other major cities wish they were,” he said.

“We started looking around, we saw the style here, the cool people here, we just wanted to be part of it,” he said. Continue reading

Effort underway to win landmarks protection for two Capitol Hill buildings steeped in history of REI and auto row

The building in 1937 (Image: Puget Sound Regional Archives)

The building in 1937 (Image: Puget Sound Regional Archives)

A White Motor truck

A White Motor truck

Earlier this week, we told you about a project to study, illustrate, and activate inspired by and as a reaction to change on Capitol Hill. Here’s another Capitol Hill neighbor ona mission. With its neighboring auto row structure already under consideration for possible Seattle Landmarks Board protection, the White Motor Company building at 10th and Pine — more recently The Stranger/Rhino Room building or the Velo Bikes building — that is planned to be part of the same preservation incentive-powered office development will come before the board next Wednesday to see if it, too, should qualify for the next round of deeper scrutiny as a possible Capitol Hill architectural landmark.

CHS typically climbs through the reports on neighborhood proposals — you’ll find the White Motor Company report prepared on behalf of the developer at the bottom of this post — but this time, we’re turning things over to Andrew Haas.

Inspired by the early good prospects for the Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company building next door and wanting to do more to save intact the last of Pike/Pine’s auto row structures, Haas is hoping to organize a large community response prior to the December 17th meeting of the landmarks board that will feature a hearing and public comment on the White Motor building. UPDATE: Kelly-Springfield, the home today of Value Village, moves to the next round in the process in early January.

UPDATE 12/17/14: Responding to issues surrounding the removal of historical, decorative elements of the building (covered here by CHS), two City Council members have sent a letter to the landmarks board asking that “the alterations” not “impact” the review of the building’s historical significance:

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Haas’s case for preservation and details on how you can weigh in on possible landmarks status is below.

Historic Preservation of Auto Row Buildings on Pike and Pine
– Andrew Haas

I am organizing to save a couple historic gems of Pike Pine’s auto row district, fix the broken landmark designation process, and stop the defacement of historic buildings by owners/developers trying to avoid landmark designation. As you are well aware, the bulldozers are destroying the heart and soul of the Pike Pine neighborhood. A showdown is about to occur that could be a major turning point. The Kelly-Springfield Motor Building and the White Motor Building, two of the finest remaining historic auto showrooms, are coming before the Landmark Preservation Board December 17th at 3:30 pm. Both buildings are located on 11th Ave between Pike and Pine on Capitol Hill. Last month the Landmark Preservation Board voted to recommend the Kelly-Springfield Motor Building, REI’s center of operations for 33 years, as a historic landmark. This is the first auto row building on Capitol Hill to make it this far in the process. This is our only opportunity to protect these historic landmarks from the wrecking ball and our best opportunity to set a higher bar for the redevelopment of the Pike/Pine neighborhood.

Continue reading

CHS Pics | On the third day of Pike/Pine-mas

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IMG_4586Images: Jim Simandl for CHS

Pike/Pine’s now annual celebration of the holiday season — and holiday season shopping — continues Sunday after a Saturday filled with alterna-Santas and disturbingly tall reindeer.

The Holiday Hotspot is a community party in Pike/Pine put on by the people behind the Capitol Hill Block Party to help the area’s businesses and provide a little seasonal celebration for the daytime people of the nightlife neighborhood. Continue reading