Next for E Olive Way restaurant space: International Montessori Academy

One of the more rapidly blighted empty spaces on Capitol Hill will spring back to life in 2018. The little ones who will put it to use every day will say more about Capitol Hill Station and the neighborhood’s proximity to downtown than this stretch of Capitol Hill’s nightlife growth or a new highly anticipated industry coming to the street.

The International Montessori Academy, a Bellevue-based provider of Mandarin Chinese, French, or Spanish language immersion and Montessori education for elementary school-age children, is set to begin construction to overhaul the former home of the giant Zhu Dang restaurant on E Olive Way, shuttered since late November 2015. Before its life as a restaurant, the short-lived The Social nightclub venture overhauled the building as a dance club and restaurant.

“It’s close to downtown with very easy access and there are lots of families on North Capitol Hill,” school founder Yimin Chen tells CHS about the next big project coming to E Olive Way. “People live there, people work there.”

In addition to overhauling the building to serve as a school, the academy is a major investment. A company owned by Chen purchased the 1928-built property for $4.8 million over the summer. The seller was the family behind Zhu Dang — they had paid more than $3.3 million for it in 2013. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Post | How to help Lowell Elementary

From Colleen Kimsey

You’d imagine that now, as the dust from the brouhaha surrounding the McCleary Decision
around how education is funded in Washington State has begun settling, there would be a baseline of adequate funding for our schools. When we walk past the big brick building on Mercer street, I think many of us picture a school that matches its exterior: sort of august and privileged, or at the very least, the kind of place that can afford to provide its teachers with enough Expo markers to teach. But as the recent expose by KOUW revealed, even wealthy Capitol Hill struggles to support Lowell Elementary in everything from adequately funding teacher’s basic needs, to keeping students safe throughout the school day day, to retaining quality teachers in a stressful teaching environment. Continue reading

Heads-up parents, Seattle school bus drivers to hold ‘one-day’ strike Wednesday

(Image: Teamsters Local 174)

More than 400 school bus drivers from Teamsters Local 174 will hold a one-day strike Wednesday, November 29th as they try to pound out a new contract with First Student, the company that provides yellow bus service to Seattle Public Schools. The union says the heads-up is intended to give families time to make other plans for their kids to get to and from schools Wednesday:

The Unfair Labor Practice strike will protest First Student’s unilateral change and implementation of an inferior medical plan for its employees – an illegal action under the National Labor Relations Act, as healthcare is the subject of negotiations and cannot be changed without bargaining with the employees’ Union. Teamsters Local 174 does not typically announce strikes in advance; however, in this case, the Union and its members wished to give Seattle parents adequate notice to make arrangements for their children. Bus service should resume on Thursday, November 30; however, a longer strike can be called at any time if a deal is not reached.

While many public schools in Seattle function as “neighborhood schools” where kids live within walking distance, many of the district’s special programs for students are based at specific schools across the city. On Wednesday, those kids will need to find another way to get to school.

The Teamsters are asking for support at picket lines planned at First Student bus yards

Parents of children in the Seattle School District who ride the bus to school are encouraged to make alternate transportation arrangements, as bus service throughout the School District will be impacted. For anyone who would like to show support to the striking drivers, there will be active picket lines outside of First Student bus yards in Lake City and South Park.

First Student – South Park Bus Lot:
8249 5th Ave S.
Seattle, WA 98108

First Student – Lake City Bus Lot:
13525 Lake City Way NE
Seattle, WA 98125

Teacher at Capitol Hill private middle school faces child porn charge

A teacher at Seattle Academy, a Capitol Hill private middle school, has been charged after federal investigators acting on a tip from a family member say thousands of images showing young girls from a Ukranian “softcore child pornography ring” were found on the 41-year-old’s laptop .

Though he was adamant he never touched any of his students, investigators say Gabe Cronin admitted he had “morphed” student faces onto the pornographic images: Continue reading

Two big items on Sound Transit’s agenda for lots of affordable housing on Broadway, First Hill — UPDATE

UPDATE 3:35 PM: The Sound Transit board approved both motions Thursday afternoon paving the way for a “no cost” transfer of two First Hill properties to nonprofit developers Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing and, in the second vote, putting in place a memorandum of understanding between the transit agency, Seattle Central, and Capitol Hill Housing for a swap of Capitol Hill properties. Details on the plans are below.

In public comments, Bellwether’s CEO Susan Boyd called the joint proposal with Plymouth “a bold plan” that will create much needed affordable housing on First Hill.

Board member and Seattle City Council member Rob Johnson called the First Hill proposal “very consistent with what the community asked for” and said the neighborhood’s “YIMBY” spirit was reflected in the plan.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said affordable housing is now central to Sound Transit’s mission as it also works to provide transit to the region’s growing population. Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, meanwhile, voted against the motion saying he was troubled by the “no cost” aspect of the plan as a “dangerous precedent.”

Additionally, the board also approved a motion on a plan for “Central Transit-Oriented Development” near the Roosevelt light rail station that will involve Bellwether and Mercy Housing Northwest.

Original report: Sound Transit’s board is scheduled to make two key decisions on property it owns across First Hill and Capitol Hill that will potentially open the way for big deals around affordable housing and and expanded Seattle Central.

The Sound Transit Board will vote Thursday whether to move forward with two land deals.

One motion paves the way negotiate with Plymouth Housing and Bellwether Housing in a purchase of Sound Transit land at 1014 Boylston Ave and 1400 Madison meant for high-rise affordable housing, up to 160 feet.

“We thought in viewing their proposal that their numbers were reasonable,” said Sarah Lovell from Sound Transit. “It is an expensive project. It’s expensive to build a high-rise. But stacking two housing project increases their ability to get subsidies. They’re trying to be really efficient with their design.” Continue reading

Private Northwest School announces $8.6M in property acquisitions around Summit campus

(Image: Northwest School)

The challenges of educating Seattle’s youth are daunting. But schools continue to be a growth industry on Capitol Hill.

Summit Ave’s private Northwest School announced Wednesday morning $8.6 million in property acquisitions to expand its city-style mixed middle and high school campus.

Map courtesy Northwest School

Formerly owned by Barokas Martin and Tomlinson Law Firm, the properties include land and building structures at 1422 and 1418 Bellevue, and a 14-space parking lot at 1417 Bellevue. “The building at 1418, which is in disrepair, will be deconstructed and the land converted into a ‘pop-up’ garden. In accordance with the school’s sustainability values, the materials from deconstruction will be salvaged or repurposed, whenever possible,” according to the school’s announcement. The school’s business offices, meanwhile, will move temporarily to the 1422 building.

There are bigger plans for the properties ahead. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Lowell Elementary not to blame for disproportionate homeless student population

(Image: Lowell Elementary PALS PTA)

“How do you deal with these children coming in with such highly traumatic home lives?”

20%. The problems behind Lowell Elementary’s disproportionate enrollment of homeless students are larger than just one school. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction shows 3,498 students as homeless in the district.

“That is not an SPS problem, that is a foundational problem,” Seattle Public Schools (SPS) spokesperson Kim Schmanke said. “A lot of the things we’re doing would be supportive of homeless students but are not solely targeted because we are not a social or counseling center for students.”

The district’s resources are stretched too thin.

Take it from Nick Hodges, the co-president of the Parent-Teacher Association at Lowell Elementary who just recently recovered from homelessness along with his wife and two kids who attend Lowell.

“The biggest problem has always been the structure of getting help in our school,” Hodges said. “How do you deal with these children coming in with such highly traumatic home lives? How can you bring them into a situation that’s going to be stable for them six to seven hours in a day, and make them feel comfortable and safe with the proper resources and send them back to a shelter secure and feeling better about themselves?” Continue reading

Election 2017: Which school board candidate is best for Capitol Hill kids?

Last week, concerns about the challenges faced by a Seattle Public Schools elementary campus on Capitol Hill were a reminder of just how challenging it is to maintain — let alone build — the system amid tight budgetary environments and further squeezing from Olympia. November’s election to select new school board members will be one step in helping the district’s children grow and, hopefully, thrive.

Seattle Public Schools District 5 representing portions of Capitol Hill and the nearby of Central Seattle presents a spirited November contest. candidates, Zachary DeWolf and Omar Vasquez, tried their best to make their case at a recent forum held in the Madrona neighborhood.

Vasquez was previously a Summit Charter Schools board member. Since running, however, he has distanced himself from the work and updated his online resume information.

“I don’t always have control over my work profiles,” Vasquez said. “I’m not hiding anything about this.” Continue reading

KUOW: District didn’t want us to visit this struggling Seattle school… on Capitol Hill

E Mercer’s Lowell Elementary (Image: CHS)

Everybody — including CHS — focused on the drama around the Lowell Elementary S Path was missing a larger, more pressing need for many students at the Capitol Hill elementary school: a place in the city to call home.

In a moving and frustrating report, KUOW documents the school’s astounding 20% homelessness rate for students and the reportedly shaky educational environment the budget-strapped school district has in place for the kids:

Lowell Elementary School sits across from million-dollar houses on a quiet street in Capitol Hill. But this school serves some of the poorest children in the city.

The percentage of homeless students in Seattle Public Schools has doubled in the past five years. As of spring, 7 percent of the student population lacked a permanent address. That number is much smaller at some schools, and much larger in others.

At Lowell, 20 percent of students were homeless at last count.

Continue reading

Two-car shootout sends bullets flying along MLK and Cherry

A shootout involving two vehicles and reports of around 30 shots fired sent a bullet through a school window and left students at area schools sheltering in place Tuesday morning along MLK Way and E Cherry.

Police were called to the area near Powell Barnett Park around 11:45 AM to a report of 20 or so gunshots coming from two vehicles. The crime scenes quickly multiplied as reports came in of bullets striking an E Cherry market and the nearby NOVA High School where bullet fragments broke a window, according to East Precinct radio dispatches.

According to the SPD brief on the incident, there were no injuries reported:

Witnesses began calling 911 just after 11 a.m. to report gunfire near Powell Barnett Park.  When officers arrived they spoke with the witnesses who said the occupants of two vehicles, possibly two grey sedans, were firing shots at each other. They said the cars continued to travel through the area, eventually going westbound on East Cherry Street. The witnesses said both cars sped away before police arrived. Officers found property damage to a nearby high school. No one was injured and there is no indication any students were involved in the incident.

Three public schools — NOVA, Garfield High, and Leschi Elementary — were ordered to shelter in place during the incident, according to radio dispatches.

According to the latest SPD statistics, reported gunfire incidents are up slightly in 2017 with incident concentrated toward South Seattle.

SPD said they are continuing to investigate Tuesday’s shootout. If you have information that could help, call the SPD non-emergency line at (206) 625-5011.

Wednesday, meanwhile, the national Coffee with a Cop Day brings East Precinct representatives to the 23rd and Jackson Starbucks.