Capitol Hill Pets | Aurea and Raider in Volunteer Park

CHS caught up with Aurea Astro and Raider at the Holiday in the Park event at Volunteer Park. Raider is a pit bull/lab mix who is about seven. Raider is usually never without her ball but lost it on the way to the park that night. Aurea and Raider were united on Christmas Eve two years ago and so far “it has worked out” for the both of them. If you find Raider’s ball, let us know.

We ask photographer Alex Garland to follow marchers in the rain and do crazy things like trying to make yet another picture of yet another huge apartment building look interesting. We thought we’d ask him to do something a little more fun. Capitol Hill Pets is a semi-regular look at our furry, fuzzy, feathered, and finned friends found out and about on Capitol Hill.

CHS Pics | Waiting for the Santa train at Holiday in the Park

The Conservatory’s Holiday Express train always delivers

Volunteer Park Trust’s annual celebration of the holidays provided some seasons greetings warmth on a frosty Thursday night in Seattle. Now in its sixth year, the community group’s Holiday in the Park event again featured pathways lit with luminarias and plenty of caroling thanks to community sponsors. The trust continues its work on projects large and small across the park including new efforts to create safety fencing around the lily ponds and a lighting overhaul. This year, it can also celebrate the last steps before construction can finally begin on a $54 million overhaul of the park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum, a project VPT has supported.

Looking for more holiday spirit around the Hill including Santa appearances and the return of the Punk Rock Flea Market? Check out the Happy Hilladays section of the CHS Calendar, below: Continue reading

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

With City Council set to pave way for construction, Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion planned to finally begin

Now with a price tag of around $54 million, the planned expansion and overhaul of the 84-year-old Seattle Asian Art Museum has been more methodical and procedural than its critics contended as they unsuccessfully tried to halt the project over the summer. Believe it or not, there is yet another important step in the process.

Thursday morning, the Seattle City Council’s Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries, and Waterfront Committee will take up two pieces of legislation to pave the way for construction on the project to finally begin in 2018 — a year after the museum closed to prepare for the work last February.

With city council approval of the two bills, SAAM should return in full glory — with 13,000 more square feet of space and with important climate control system and seismic upgrades — by October 2019. 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

Pictures from the crowd: Seattle Pride March and Volunteer Park Pride Festival

Thousands marched Sunday from Capitol Hill to support LGBTQ rights (Image: SDOT)

CHS may be taking a break this summer but the crowd is still busy taking great pictures and videos. Here are a few of the best we’ve found from the weekend’s happenings at Saturday’s Volunteer Park Pride Festival and Sunday’s Seattle Pride March. You’ll also find a bonus video from the 2017 Volunteer Park Criterium. Thanks, crowd! Happy Pride!

And then a parade rolled through.

A post shared by Kevin A. Cameron (@kacekevin) on

Continue reading

Group denied in bid to halt Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion in Volunteer Park

Before a busy weekend of Pride and cycling in the park, there is good news for one of a slate of major projects lined up to improve Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park.

The city’s Hearing Examiner has denied the appeal from a community group seeking to halt the $49 million overhaul and expansion of Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum. In a ruling issued prior to this week’s scheduled hearing on the appeal, Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner denied the group’s effort to require a costly environmental impact study for the project, reversing a decision from the city’s planning department. Continue reading

Protect Volunteer Park group appeals Seattle Asian Art Museum decision

A citizens group seeking to put up a major barrier to the $49 million plan to overhaul the infrastructure of the 1933-built Seattle Asian Art Museum and expand it 3,600 square feet into its home Volunteer Park is looking for public support — and funding — for its last-ditch appeal against the project:

On June 7th a hearing examiner will consider our appeal and we are preparing to provide as much expert testimony as needed to illuminate the threats to Volunteer Park and the museum building. The Protect Volunteer Park team has retained the prominent, environmental attorney David Bricklin of Bricklin Newman LLP. Thus far, our team has been donating their time and energy as well as the funds for months of legal counsel. We now need more financial help, so we can keep protecting the park from the museum expansion.

The appeal from the group calling itself Protect Volunteer Park asks the Hearing Examiner to require a costly environmental impact study for the project, reversing a decision from the city’s planning department.

The project is planned to begin construction by the end of this year has been designed to expand the 1933-built museum more than 13,000 square feet by extending the backside of the building 3,600 square feet into the park. The museum will add more display space to represent South Asia and India as well as fix infrastructure issues including a climate control system and seismic upgrades, while making the museum ADA accessible. In February, officials put the museum project back in motion after a brief pause.

While hearings in front of the examiner are open to the public there is no opportunity for public comment beyond the testimony of the appellant and the applicant.

Learn more about Protect Volunteer Park at protectvolunteerpark.org. For more about SAAM’s plans for expansion, visit seattleartmuseum.org/inspire.

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

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(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.