CHS Pics | Life through the eyes of a driver, played out on board a Capitol Hill bus

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IMG_2293IMG_2418We may be excited about our new subway but Capitol Hill’s first love is the bus. Performer Stokley Towles has turned interviews with the city’s Metro drivers into a show so public transit oriented, you’ll watch it performed on a real live bus on the real live Capitol Hill.

Check out Behind the Wheel:

“Behind the Wheel: Life on the Metro Bus” will take place on-board a Metro bus parked at the Route #47 bus stop near 727 Bellevue Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102 on Capitol Hill.

Performance running time: 50-minutes. Ticket prices: General $15/Student $10. For ages 12 to adult (performance includes the word f#ck).

April 28, 29, 30. Thursday, Friday and Saturday 7:30pm
May 5, 6, 7. Thursday, Friday and Saturday 7:30pm
Purchase tickets at Brown Paper Tickets.

The performance debuted last week and CHS stopped by to check out the action as crowds climbed aboard to experience the one-person show that “attempts to see the world through the eyes of a King County Metro bus driver.” The performance was funded in part by 4Culture and Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture.

And, if you plan to attend, you can, of course, take the bus:

We recommend you take the bus to the performance. The #47 stops at the performance site. The #9 and #49 are walking distance from the performance site. The #8 is also walking distance and operates on Denny Way and stops at Bellevue Ave E.

Make note of your driver — Towles might eventually need more material.

Tiny Resto seeking new ways to turn Capitol Hill neighbors into customers

With so much of the city’s attention this week on the light rail tunnels to the heart of Capitol Hill, one of the smallest, more off the beaten track players in the neighborhood’s food and drink scene is marking three years of staying alive in the restaurant business with plans to do even more to draw in its neighbors and make them customers.

“It’s going to be the same place, just more chances to enjoy,” said Johanna Robinson of her plans for Resto, on E Thomas between Summit and Bellevue.

For these first three years, Resto has kept things exceedingly simple, open only for dinner service, with typically 20 or so customers per night from 6  to 10 PM, Tuesday through Saturday. Patrons make a reservation on the restaurant’s website and pay a flat $60 fee per person for the restaurant which prides itself on steak and seafood. Then they show up and eat whatever the chef feels like making — no menus. Continue reading

Hamza Warsame death ruled an accident

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The King County Medical Examiner announced Wednesday afternoon that investigators have determined the December death of Hamza Warsame in a fall from a Capitol Hill building was an accident in a case that surfaced concerns about hate crimes and anti-Muslim sentiment in Seattle.

The teen Seattle Central student died Saturday, December 5th in a 60-foot fall from a building near Summit and Thomas. At the time, CHS was one of the only media outlets to report the death. But the story quickly grew into an international controversy and brought to light local tensions and concerns about hate and Islamophobia against local Muslim communities.

Late last month as national news outlets including the Los Angeles Times began reporting on the case, Seattle Police officials said there was no evidence the 16-year-old was beaten before he fell. A representative from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office told CHS its investigation into the death was on hold while police investigated the case.

Wednesday afternoon, a Seattle Police representative said the medical examiner’s announcement won’t close the investigation until detectives are satisfied the medical results match up with collected evidence. The official cause of death from the examiner was announced as blunt force injuries from an “unintentional fall from building.”

Warsame attended Rainier Beach High School and was starting his first quarter at Seattle Central under the college’s Running Start program, a SCC spokesperson told CHS. Running Start allows high school juniors and seniors to take college–level classes for high school and college credit. His sister told CHS the family immigrated from Somalia to Seattle in 1994. She said Hamza wanted to attend MIT in Boston to study computer science. “He was interested in technology, he was a game fanatic,” she told CHS.

SPD investigating Capitol Hill gay bashing and robbery

Seattle Police are investigating a Capitol Hill gay bashing and robbery after a man said he was assaulted near E Harrison and Summit Sunday night.

The victim, who asked to remain anonymous, told CHS he was walking home around 10:30 PM Sunday when the assault occurred. As he passed the suspect, the victim said he heard the man call him a faggot then immediately started punching him in the head.

“He wasn’t yelling or anything. In a calm voice just kept saying ‘fucking faggot, fucking faggot,’” he said. Continue reading

More development planned at 19th and Mercer: Monsoon stays but a (probably) exceptional cedar might have to go

This could be the view on the west side of 19th and Mercer. Note: no (probably) exceptional tree

This could be the view on the west side of 19th and Mercer. Note: no (probably) exceptional tree

The "preferred" design scheme for a new five-story building proposed at 19th and Mercer

The “preferred” design scheme for a new five-story building proposed at 19th and Mercer

This week’s Capitol Hill design reviews are getting upstaged. Firstly, the meetings are happening the same time this is going down at City Hall. Secondly, a new Capitol Hill project slated for review next week is way more interesting.

A proposal for a new five-story apartment building on the northwest corner of 19th and Mercer is slated to come before the design review board for the first time next week. It’s a corner where plans for development were in motion before. This time, the plan includes neighborhood restaurant Monsoon and the cluster of businesses in the offices behind the restaurant and its new rooftop deck.

UPDATE: Property owner Glenn MacDonald and Amanda Twiss just sent over more information and this image (“looking up  Mercer towards 18th”) of the proposed design:street image 19th & Mercer

In 2008, a four-story, 52-unit building was lined up for the northwest corner of 19th and Mercer. This is what the Weber Thompson project would have looked like:

This 2008 project was planned for Monsoon's corner

This 2008 project was planned for Monsoon’s corner

The global economic slowdown derailed the development and allowed Monsoon owner Eric Banh to end his five-block search for a new home. In the years since, the economy heated back up and the area’s development kicked back into gear. Across the street, the 19th and Mercer building rose and brought new neighbors to the street. Monsoon expanded and added its rooftop deck. And, now, the corner’s redevelopment is back in motion again. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | The intriguing Harry’s Fine Foods project

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

Neighbors around Bellevue and Mercer received an intriguing land use notice recently:

Land Use Application to change the use of an existing multipurpose retail, sales and service (store) to restaurant.

That existing multipurpose retail, sales and service (store)? That’s Harry’s Fine Foods — or, at least, the two-story building the grocery store called home before clearing out earlier this year.

The restaurant? That’s the most intriguing part.

CHS has learned that one of the biggest behind-the-scene names in Seattle food+drink is behind the Capitol Hill restaurant project involving a secret chef and an ambitious buildout set to transform the old neighborhood bodega into a new culinary destination.

Harry’s Fine Foods, LLC, a company run by real estate broker to Seattle’s food and drink stars, Laura Miller, purchased the property in the summer of 2014 for $560,000 according to county records. Miller “wields great power within Seattle’s close-knit restaurant community because she helps chefs navigate the abstrusely touchy process of securing a restaurant space,” as Seattle Met put it in a profile of the real estate pro last year. We’re not aware of any previous instances (on Capitol Hill, at least), where Miller stepped up and bought a property destined for food and drink transformation. But we also haven’t had a chance to speak with her. The busiest woman in Seattle’s food business can be difficult to connect with. We’ll keep trying. UPDATE: Miller tells CHS the building is the fourth such that she’s developed in Seattle — but first on Capitol Hill.

“It’s just too competitive up there,” the real estate ace said.

Miller said she likes to find candidates to rehab, not tear down. She pointed to a property in Greenwood now home to a Caffe Vita, Blue Bird Ice Cream, and Cornuto as an example.

We did connect with the chef all of this fuss and hullabaloo is about, however. Continue reading

What happened to Capitol Hill ‘conspirators’ in the FBI’s 2010 Russian spy case

The story is something out of a Cold War thriller, with a Capitol Hill twist. Buried cash, “deep cover” spying, “brush passes” at train stations to exchange bags of money, all ending with a U.S.-Russia spy swap on a Vienna airport runway.

Russian intelligence called it the “Illegals program” — an ambitious multiyear spy operation carried out by at least 11 deep cover Russian agents in the U.S. that all came crashing down five years ago this summer. Two of those spies, a married couple with children, lived in Seattle as early as 2004 and left in 2009.

They lived on Capitol Hill.

Known in the U.S. as Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills, the couple lived relatively quiet lives. He purported to be from Yonkers, New York while she claimed to be Canadian. Their spycraft never drew any suspicion from neighbors or their landlord at 424 Belmont Ave E.

In 2010, after the couple had moved to Virginia, they were arrested as part of a major FBI surveillance investigation into the Russian spy ring. It wasn’t until then that the true identities of Mikhail Kutsik and Natalia Pereverzeva were revealed. FBI agents called them the “Seattle conspirators.” Continue reading

Summit Ave E building part of workforce wave bringing ‘below market’ apartments to Hill — 8 units at a time

A rendering of the now-complete -- and open to residents -- Local 422

A rendering of the now-complete — and open to residents — Local 422

She had spent months looking for the right place to live. She wanted to be able to walk to her job downtown at an orthodontist’s office, but still be able to afford her rent. Then she found a new building on Summit Ave E, The Local 422 and landed one of the units built under Seattle’s Multifamily Tax Exemption Program.

“I got really lucky,” said the new resident CHS ran into after a tour of the new project. “It’s the tiniest (income) window you have to hit.”

Under the program, developers must make at least 20% of their units available only to tenants making 80% or less of the average median income for the area. In exchange, the developer is exempt from property taxes. The exemption lasts for up to 12 years, so long as the developer keeps up their end of the deal. Continue reading

Man stabbed in hand in reported Mercer/Bellevue robbery — UPDATE

(Image: @mik_nei with permission to CHS)

(Image: @mik_nei with permission to CHS)

A male victim suffered a “severe” knife wound to the hand in a reported robbery at E Mercer and Bellevue Ave E Tuesday night just before 10:30 PM.

UPDATE: According to police, the victim said he was meeting with a “friend of a friend” to sell a laptop when the robbery and stabbing occurred:

XXX said he was selling his MacBook Pro laptop to a friend of a friend. He said he couldn’t think of the friends name at the moment but would be able to give it later. He met with 4 unidentified suspects (1 Hispanic male and 3 Hispanic females)in the back of a Ford F-150 on E Melrose St and Bellevue Av E.    XXX    said he was hesitant to get in the vehicle, but the male suspect, who was driving insisted on it. Once inside the vehicle, the male suspect pulled a 7in military style fixedblade knife demanded the laptop and his money. The suspect took  XXX    ‘s laptop and $200 in cash.

Police were unable to question the victim further at the hospital after the victim was given pain medication. Police say they had “prior contact” with the victim that night at the E Olive Way Starbucks where he said he was meeting a female who wanted to buy his laptop.

Police were looking for a vehicle described as a silver Ford F150 truck carrying three males and one female reportedly involved with the incident.

Seattle Fire responded to the area near Mercer and Bellevue at 10:21 PM to a report of a stabbing.