East Precinct’s new commander takes on Pike/Pine crime

Capt. Paul McDonagh in what we *think* was his first public appearance as the new East Precinct commander Friday morning (Image: CHS)

Capt. Paul McDonagh, speaking, in what we *think* was his first public appearance as the new East Precinct commander Friday morning (Image: CHS)

In a Friday morning meeting with business owners from Pike/Pine’s biggest clubs to its smallest and with representatives from retailers like Elliott Bay Book Company and local real estate development companies, East Precinct’s new commander Capt. Paul McDonagh addressed concerns that not enough is being done to police Seattle’s current busiest nightlife and entertainment district.

McDonagh, newly returned to the post he helmed for two and a half years starting in 2009, told the business owners and representatives that increased patrols are already underway and that detective work and investigations are already making a difference. “You’re not going to see officers on every block,” McDonagh said. “That doesn’t mean that we’re not working.”

The meeting came after a letter to city officials and the mayor from more than 40 Pike/Pine businesses in March calling for more cops to patrol the booming neighborhood. “Capitol Hill has a quickly increasing number of residents and people visiting it,” one portion of the letter said. “This increase needs to be met with an increased budget for policing and social services.”

According to details discussed at Friday’s meeting, six to eight officers are typically on patrol at any given time. Emphasis patrols essentially double the police force on the streets. “There will be nights where I put even more out,” McDonagh said. Continue reading

Gokan by Musashi, with a focus on the art of sushi, opens on E Union

A fixture inside Gokan by Musashi (Image: Agazit Afeworki)

A fixture inside Gokan by Musashi (Image: Agazit Afeworki)

By Agazit Afeworki, UW News Lab special to CHS

Private Tatami rooms bring Japanese customs to Capitol Hill (Image: Agazit Afeworki)

Private Tatami rooms bring Japanese customs to Capitol Hill (Image: Agazit Afeworki)

Rushing in, Gokan by Musashi restaurant owner Jun Park makes his rounds shaking hands with his staff, picking up phone calls and getting the music changed over the speakers. Offering some green tea, he apologizes for being late.

He was up until 5 AM the night before. But there was a good reason: He was cutting fish.

The busy owner of Musashi in Seattle and Bellevue decided to take a chance by opening a new restaurant on Capitol Hill.

Gokan debuts with a soft opening Friday night.

Gokan’s traditional and modern Japanese mix — complete with two tatami rooms — reflects Park’s passion to elevate the innovation in sushi bars. Park said he referred to his roots when building Gokan, which means “five senses” in Japanese, because he was tired of the fast-food style in his other restaurants.

“People would just eat and go,” said Park. Continue reading

Coffee’s ‘biggest event’ just downhill from the fertile roasting grounds of Capitol Hill

"Fraser at the helm of the roaster" -- Victrola Coffee Roasters

“Fraser at the helm of the roaster” — Victrola Coffee Roasters

For the second year in a row, Capitol Hill will be the coffee playground to attendees of one of the largest coffee conventions in the country, happening just off the Hill in the Washington State Convention Center.

Thousands of coffee professionals started gathering this week for the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s expo. Four days of lectures, demonstrations, and competitions officially kicks off Thursday.

The opening day concludes with a block party just outside Melrose Market from 7 to 10 PM. Thursday night’s event is open to the public, as is the latte art competition inside the E Pike Victrola. Local baristas are encouraged to compete and their local customers are encouraged to go cheer them on. Organizers tell CHS the block party will include a beer garden, food trucks, and of course, plenty of coffee.

Typically, the SCAA event travels to different city each year. The return to Seattle and the convention center coincides with the recent nearby arrival of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. Starbucks is this year’s official event host and says it is eager to show off its new showy operation on Capitol Hill.

But Starbucks won’t be the only roaster for attendees to check out within walking distance of the convention center. Capitol Hill is home to the densest cluster of coffee roasters in the city, which includes Victrola, Caffe Vita, Espresso Vivace, and Stumptown. Eastlake is also home to roasters for Kalani Organic Coffee and Monkee Tree Coffee.

According to permit information obtained by CHS, there are 30 coffee roasters within the city limits where green coffee beans are heated until they’re brown and aromatic.  Continue reading

EcoDistrict is diving for dumpster solutions on Capitol Hill

(Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

(Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

We all contribute to it, but most people never want to think about trash until it becomes a totally unavoidable problem. Some would say the dumpsters around Pike/Pine have reached that tipping point.

As part of their mission to foster a more livable urban neighborhood, the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict will use $10,000 from a city grant to develop solutions to make the neighborhood’s dumpsters less of a nuisance.

Finding a way to get the dumpsters out of the public right of way will be near the top of the to-do list.

“You can’t permanently store garbage receptacles in the right of way,” said EcoDistrict director Joel Sisolak. “But the challenge is if you don’t put them in the right of way, where can you put them?” Continue reading

Which (relatively) giant retailer is coming to E Pike this summer?

IMG_5263Site Plan (3)

If you're looking for clues, this design rendering probably can't be trusted

If you’re looking for clues, this design rendering probably can’t be trusted

At 10,437 square feet, whatever new store is planned to open on E Pike in the new AVA Capitol Hill building this summer will instantly become one of the bigger retailers in the neighborhood.

But, so far, the building’s developers at AvalonBay Communities aren’t talking.

CHS asked the AVA folks about new permit paperwork that showed up earlier this month for a relatively huge new store fronting the 600 block of E Pike in the seven-story, 245-unit, mixed-use project under construction at the site of the former Phil Smart Mercedes dealership.

According to permits, the project’s plans for multiple retail units along the street have been pushed aside in favor of one combined “retail store” in the project. At just over 10,000 square feet, the store would be about half the size of Elliott Bay Book Company, for example, but twice the size of the still-empty OfficeMax that shuttered on Broadway earlier this year. The planned Broadway Whole Foods, on the other hand, will be four times larger than our new, unidentified Pike/Pine retailer.

For your speculating pleasure, 10,400 square feet is plenty of room for an Apple Store which reportedly were averaging around 8,400 square feet of store space a few years back. We have no idea how big a space Uniqlo needs, however.

The AVA Capitol Hill building is slated to open in August 2015.

The future of service in Pike/Pine -- here's what the AVA Capitol Hill will look like

The future of service in Pike/Pine — here’s what the AVA Capitol Hill will look like

Chocolate bunnies pop up on Capitol Hill

(Image: Dolcetta Artisan Sweets)

(Image: Dolcetta Artisan Sweets)

Whatever your level of faith, it’s difficult to resist a chocolate bunny. Saturday, Capitol Hill will again host the annual pre-Easter pop-up of Dolcetta Artisan Sweets:

It’s almost time… stop by Sole Repair Shop tomorrow (Saturday) between 11 and 4 for handmade Easter treats – decorated chocolate bunnies, Easter egg macarons, chocolate covered nougat, colorful bonbons, and your favorite Dolcetta bars, truffles, and caramels.

11134090_910351475681913_579227808923137028_oMeanwhile, a more permanent provider of sweets and amazing chocolate creations just might have something left for your basket at Bakery Nouveau. Here are a few treats we found on Nouveau’s Facebook page:

Bakery Noveau is open 7 AM to 9 PM at 137 15th Ave E. Dolcetta Artisan Sweets pops up at Sole Repair at 1001 E Pike from 11 AM to 4 PM Saturday.

Here’s the 2015 list of 2015 Capitol Hill-area egg hunts.

Where crime rose — and dropped — on Capitol Hill in 2014 as SPD prepares for more Pike/Pine ‘emphasis patrols’

On patrol in Volunteer Park -- an area in Beat C1 likely not lined up for increased patrols (Image: SPD)

On patrol in Volunteer Park — an area in Beat C1 likely not lined up for increased patrols (Image: SPD)

Screen-Shot-2015-03-11-at-10.47.23-AM-600x2611 (1)Heading into summer, a group of more than 40 Capitol Hill business owners are once again raising concerns about the level of nighttime police staffing around Pike/Pine. The group recently sent a letter to Mayor Ed Murray and City Council members to ask for more gang and narcotics unit cops to work the area and more foot and bike patrols on the streets. With a new (returning) commander about to be announced — the East Precinct has been lead by 10 different commanders over the past 15 years — here’s a look at how last year’s promised step-up in policing played out as crime levels in general across Capitol Hill rose.

Overall, the number of reported Capitol Hill crime incidents leapt 12.5% in 2014 marked by a huge surge in thefts like ripping off bicycles and car prowls. Assaults also climbed nearly 8% while street robberies and burglaries dropped vs. the previous year. The local trends mirrored what SPD saw across the city in 2014 — and the department claims it is making progress on vehicle thefts and car prowls so far in 2015.

In the core area of the emphasis patrols — Beat C2 — street robberies actually ended up down year over year after spiking last summer. Theft, despite the increased patrols at the end of the year, remained a significant menace in the area. See the end of the post for more areas touched by the increased Pike/Pine patrols. Continue reading

Maryland firm makes $89 million Capitol Hill buy-in with Sunset Electric and REO Flats

A Maryland-based real estate investment firm has thrown down $89 million to acquire two new preservation-minded, mixed use buildings in the heart of Pike/Pine.

In two separate deals, ASB Real Estate Investments has acquired Sunset Electric and REO Flats – a pair of “beachhead” Seattle investments that the company says is a perfect complement to its $5.7 billion portfolio spread across the U.S.

The acquisitions underscore how developers and investors are increasingly looking to Capitol Hill as the ideal neighborhood to house (and profit from) Amazon and Seattle tech’s ballooning workforce.

In a statement, CIO David Quigly sang the praises of Capitol Hill, including its proximity to South Lake Union.

These acquisitions fit within our overall portfolio strategy to invest in dynamic urban neighborhoods and commercial districts in leading U.S. cities. Capitol Hill is one of Seattle’s most attractive places to live for millennials—it’s extremely
pedestrian friendly and convenient to the employment centers in downtown and South Lake Union. Seattle, meanwhile, commands one of the country’s healthiest local economies, and ASB is pleased to gain a beachhead in the market.

Arizona-based Wolff Co. sold the seven story, 92-unit Sunset building for $41.6 million or $456,000 per unit (not accounting for the value of the building’s four vast commercial spaces). In 2012, Wolff paid $6.7 million for the poster-covered, empty building at the corner of 11th and Pine. The Weber Thompson-designed project was just selected as the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce building of the year. “The seven-story building at 1111 E. Pine incorporates a two-story brick facade that was part of a 1926 auto-row building. The old facade was integrated into the new structure and frames the street-level retail,” the DJC writes.

Hill-based Madrona Real Estate Services and a New York investment partner sold the 14th and E Pike REO Flats for $47 million, according to property records. Madrona acquired the property including the 1925 converted storefronts in 2008 for $1.5 million according to King County records. The building had served as a printing shop in the past. While the project was extremely friendly about its (temporary) displacement of a coffee shop, other longtime businesses including 60 Minute Photo were pushed asideJohnson Architects designed the building with around 100 residential units.

Sunset Electric was one of the first major projects to open in Pike/Pine that used the city’s 2009 preservation incentive program. The incentives allowed Sunset’s developers to build a fifth floor of residential units in exchange for keeping parts of the original 1926-built facade. REO Flats benefitted from the incentive program as well. The city is now considering expanding the preservation incentive program to other neighborhoods in Seattle.

In addition more than 200 residents, both buildings are home to food and drink establishments with roots of varying depths on Capitol Hill. REO includes Omega Ouzeri, Nue, and Porchlight Coffee while the Sunset is home to Stout.

Project will give maligned Pike/Pine gentrifiers, bros, and Woo! girls their Due Process through art

Greg Lundgren and Jed Dunkerley talk Due Process strategy. Jason Puccinelli, the P in PDL, will also be part of the project (Image: The Factory)

Greg Lundgren and Jed Dunkerley talk Due Process strategy. Jason Puccinelli, the P in PDL, will also be part of the project (Image: The Factory)

The recent burst of artwork reacting to the gentrification and gay-washing of Capitol Hill has so far excluded one group crucial to the equation: the people actually inspiring the work. The art trio PDL want to change that.

Here’s the setup: Put a large easel and 45 canvases in the heart of Pike/Pine during peak weekend madness and see what the Woo! girls and dude bros come up with. Along the way, PDL will gather some basic artist info like age, gender, sexual orientation, occupation, and favorite bar. Call it an unscientific anthropological survey of Pike/Pine nightlife explored through drunken art.

“We have a premise, but we have no idea what the response will be or what the reaction will be,” said Greg Lundgren, the “L” of PDL. “It could be that people rise to the occasion … it could be they’re all paintings of dicks.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party lineup released under new brand celebrating Pike/Pine’s blocks

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 4.52.32 PMWith a renewed focus on their festival’s namesake neighborhood, Capitol Hill Block Party organizers announced on Tuesday the first batch of performers playing this year’s three-day music festival. Headliners for the July 24th-26th event will be TV on the Radio, RATATAT, and The Kills. Three-day passes ($118.67) go on sale starting at 9 AM 10th/Pike Standard Time.

“We made a concerted effort to book bands we felt best exemplified the spirit and history of the festival, putting an emphasis on indie rock and punk bands alongside genres like hip-hop and EDM,” said festival organizer Jason LaJeunesse in a statement. A list of all the performers announced Tuesday is below.

Discounted three-day passes also went on sale for $99 and will be available through Thursday. Later, three-day passes go for $125.

In years past, LaJeunesse made the lineup announcement on KEXP. We’re getting an early morning jump on the performers this year as the announcement was tied to an East Coast collaboration with Billboard. Continue reading