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Crosscut: Stop complaining, Capitol Hill

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It seems ironic that in the midst of Seattle’s booming urban growth the big complaints about it would be coming from Seattle’s most urban of neighborhoods, Capitol Hill.
But angst is palpable, even in a neighborhood that has mostly embraced change. A recent Capitol Hill Housing Community Forum took “There Goes the Neighborhood” as its theme. — Knute Berger, “Capitol Hill confronts change” via Crosscut

All well and good — except, well, you missed some punctuation, Knute.

The essayist — who was also part of the forum and, by our count, restrained himself to remind the audience he was born in Seattle less than a dozen times — ruminates on Capitol Hill’s current state of worry. “The Bauhaus project looms, B&O Espresso has fled to Ballard, and the Egyptian Theater is closing. There are worries that cheap retail space is being replaced by pricey new space, endangering small, funky, local businesses,” he writes.

But the theme of the session was, actually, “There goes the neighborhood?” — a question leaving open the possibility that Capitol Hill is doing just fine, thank you very much, or at least will survive no matter how many mixed-use projects spring up across it. CHS wrote about the discussion here — 2013 Capitol Hill Housing forum by the numbers — Build more, regulate it

Berger’s essay ends with a more philosophical solution for his vision of angst-y Capitol Hill. “Rapid change is part of our culture,” Berger consoles. “Capitol Hill, and Seattle, must face what seems like a tricky contradiction: Embrace the change and stand our ground, at the same time.” In other words, build more, regulate it.

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6 thoughts on “Crosscut: Stop complaining, Capitol Hill” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. Worse then the long loved local businesses all leaving is the ridiculous rent hike Capitol Hill landlords are foisting on their tenants. The lower middle class is getting priced out of the neighborhood.

  2. I think the angst the neighborhood is feeling is multi-dimensional …
    – long time businesses are moving, closing
    – traditional non food/drink retail is struggling
    – new mixed use building have very high rent, changing the vibe dramatically
    -Pike/Pine feels like a dirty, roving drinking party house on the weekends
    -Cal Anderson has flipped from a place of family fun to someplace often dark and menacing

    It’s not one thing, its how all these things and many others are changing the face of the neighborhood. I think that people feel energized by some of the changes but worry about others and its good we are talking about it all

  3. I’ve lived on the hill my whole life. Its constantly changing. People hate change, especially hipsters and republicans. Gentrification is good. Live in the CD if you have been priced out. Its a great up and coming area of central Seattle right down the street and very affordable. This is just the eb and flow of how cityscapes change over time– Business leave, new ones are established.

    I will admit the Hill has lost its funk of the 1990’s and early 2000’s but the nightlife is thriving and the food scene is amazing.

    The notion that the lower middle class is getting priced out of the neighborhood is silly. Sorry, but if you look historically at Capitol Hill, Its never really been an area for lower middle class families. Have you seen the 100 year old mansions lining the streets??

    • “The notion that the lower middle class is getting priced out of the neighborhood is silly.”
      Oliveoy is talking about south Hill, you about north Hill.
      Also, danewood didn’t say “families” just “lower middle-class” such as baristas who live in the south part of the Hill getting priced out by the new buildings.
      “People hate change, especially hipsters and republicans.”
      That gave me a chuckle. Have you been to any of the meetings? Hipsters and republicans? Ha ha, if that’s your idea of hipsters and republicans you really need to get out more. :D

  4. Keep in mind that the Hill is really two distinct areas, one overwhelmingly residential and one that has always been a mix of higher-density residential (mainly apartment buildings) and commercial. I think most of the outrage comes from high-density development in the more residential areas. This outrage can lead to strict new restrictions demanded by voters. For example, to enlighten those of you not from here, all the very tallest buildings downtown are much older than you would probably guess. In the 1970s & 1980s resentment grew at ever taller buildings (the Manhattanization of Seattle) and strict new zoning height restrictions were put in place. The same will likely happen with Hill redevelopment if it is not done carefully to voters’ liking–strict, some would call draconian, new restrictions put in place.