About Ari Cetron

Ari is a Seattle-based writer and editor. Find out more about him at www.aricetron.com

Seattle Central’s Capitol Hill growth plan includes new tech building on Broadway, student housing replacing parking garage

Student housing rendering

The longterm plan? Replace SCC’s massive parking garage with student housing

A proposed set of updates to Seattle Central’s growth plan could mean some big changes for the school and the neighborhood over the next 20 years including a new technology building on Broadway and new student housing replacing the school’s massive E Pine parking garage. In more normal times, the master plan update would be chugging along right now, holding meetings, gathering public comment, revising drafts of the proposed changes. Typically, this sort of update would take two years.

But like everything else, the update is on a kind of pause while we wait for the COVID-19 crisis to shake out.

Seattle Central, like all large institutions (mostly colleges and hospitals) across the city, has its own land use master plan separate from the surrounding neighborhood. The current plan for Seattle Central was developed in 2002, with the idea that it would last for 10 years. So, in true Seattle style, here we are 18 years later doing the update.

But even that will take longer than it usually would. Brittney Moraski, a member of the advisory committee studying the update, noted there is a moratorium on meetings for their committee and others like it, owing to virus concerns. Meetings through June have been canceled. July isn’t looking good, either.

“Our work has been paused,” she said.

Some of the process has moved online. Continue reading

New Supportcapitolhill.com effort launches to connect neighborhood businesses to ‘stay home’ shoppers

You can’t shop inside Ghost Gallery right now. But you can shop Ghost Gallery online via supportcapitolhill.com (Image: Ghost Gallery)

A Capitol Hill-based design firm is working to help local businesses across Seattle connect with their “stay home” customers in the wake of virus-related closures.

“I came up with this idea of like an Etsy for neighborhoods,” said Sara Green, principal and creative director at DEI Creative.

Local businesses, hard-hit by virus-related restrictions, have been hustling to find new ways to generate income, and the Support Local site developed by DEI is one way for them to do that.

The websites are a bit like a virtual shopping mall, featuring at least a few products from dozens of different stores in the neighborhood. The program launched first in Ballard, and the site there features clothing, furniture, toys, books, beer, and the ever popular gift cards from a number of businesses around that neighborhood.

Or, you can buy things from them at the support local site supportcapitolhill.com.

And even after the virus has run its course, and we’re back to going to stores in person, Green said she hopes to keep the site going.

“My intention is for this not to go away,” she said. Continue reading

Census 2020 social distancing: Why you should spend 5 minutes now to avoid a knock on your door later

(Image: CHS)

It might seem like a well-thought-out contingency plan on the part of the federal government, if it weren’t for a mountain of evidence showing that there is no such thing.

This year, for the first time in history, the U.S. census has moved online, hopefully minimizing personal contact at a time when a once per decade government tally runs up against a once per century (let’s hope) viral pandemic.

For anyone who doesn’t remember from government classes, 2020 is a census year. The due date for this assignment? April 1st.

The U.S. constitution mandates that every 10 years, the government take a count of everyone who lives here. While there had been a bit of a dust up over a Trump administration plan to add in a question about respondent’s citizenship status, that question is not included.

If you haven’t yet, you’ll soon receive a mailer from the government with a 12-digit alphanumeric code on it. Go to my2020census.gov, click start and type in the code. You will then be asked a series of questions, and can choose one of 13 languages. Questions include how many people live in your household, their name, age, gender (only male or female options) and race (a lot of options, including the option for multi-racial people to check more than one box). There’s also a question about if you own your home (with or without a mortgage) or rent. The questions are based on your living arrangements as of April 1, so take that into account. Continue reading

$1.74 billion bond measure would bring much needed upgrades, new 10-story tower to Harborview

(Image: UW Medicine)

There are some big decisions to make this election year. In November, King County voters may face a vote on a $1.74 billion bond to renovate and expand Harborview Medical Center.

The hospital, situated on First Hill, is owned by King County, but staffed and operated by the University of Washington. As a publicly owned and operated hospital, Harborview serves many people who need healthcare and would not be able to pay for it including, but not limited to, the area homeless population.

In addition, Harborview serves as the Level 1 trauma center for the states of Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana. It is the disaster preparedness and control hospital for Seattle and King County. In short, if you find yourself there, something very, very bad has likely happened.

The hospital has 413 beds, 40 of which are in single rooms, and 20 of those 40 are reserved for patients in need of psychiatric care. The hospital says that typically, 50 beds in double rooms can’t be used because of infection protocols. According to the King County Executive’s office, it had more than 16,000 admissions last year. All this adds up to a hospital that routinely has more patients than it has places to put them. Continue reading

Clad in brick, concrete, and metal, design for five-story building replacing 15th Ave E gas station rounds into shape

(Image: Studio Meng Strazzara)

A plan to add 68 apartments and space for four businesses to 15th Ave E in a design that echoes auto row preservation-focused projects elsewhere in the neighborhood will be getting its turn before the design review board Wednesday, February 19th.

In this case, there is not auto row building to develop — only an old gas station to tear down. The Hilltop Gas Station had been put on the market in 2016. Hunter’s Capital, the Capitol Hill-based development company purchased the property for $2.75 million in 2018. Since then they’ve been working on a redevelopment plan, one which is now entering the home stretch.

The plan now calls for a five-story building, residential over retail. While an earlier version called for more residential units, that number has been scaled back to 68. Michael Oaksmith of Hunter’s Capital, explained the reason was simple, the developer wanted to add more one- and two-bedroom units into the building.

“More of a unit mix,” Oaksmith said. Continue reading

After long lines — and a Sanders landslide — as Capitol Hill caucused in 2016, here’s how 2020 presidential picking will work

A scene like this line of voters waiting to get into the Century Ballroom during the 2016 caucus won’t be happening in 2020

Whatever else happens, Washington’s contribution to selecting a Democratic candidate to challenge Donald Trump won’t end up like Iowa.

In 2020 for the state’s presidential primary, both parties are ditching caucuses and awarding delegates based on the results of the primary. Contrasting with 2016, when republicans held a primary, and democrats held a primary (which didn’t matter) and a caucus (which did matter), everything should be much simpler.

Washington has also moved up its primary from May — at which point the candidates are generally decided —  to March 10, the week after Super Tuesday, when votes here will likely still be relevant. And decision time is fast approaching — the ballots will be sent out next week.

The format should be fairly simple. Every registered voter in King County will get the same ballot, explained Halei Watkins of King County Elections. In Washington, voters do not register as a member of a political party. Therefore for the primary, you will need to choose to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary, and on the outside of the envelope indicate which one and certify that you won’t participate in the nominating process of any other political party. To be clear, this does not make you honor-bound to support anyone in the general election,  it just shows which party you may vote for in this primary. Continue reading

Home to a depth of Seattle history, neighbors seek federal recognition of Capitol Hill’s Millionaire’s Row

Millionaire’s Row from the Volunteer Park water tower (Image: CHS)

Seattle may have a new spot on the National Register of Historic Places if a couple of neighbors have their way. DJ Kurlander, Bryce Siedl and Jim Jackson are leading an effort for federal recognition of a stretch of 14th Ave E known as Millionaire’s Row.

If approved, the district which stretches from E Prospect just south of Volunteer Park to south of E Roy, would be honored as historic.

That recognition, unlike being classified as a landmark by the city, has no implications for future uses of the properties. It would not restrict redevelopment or renovations of either the inside or outsides of any of the homes. Nor would not preclude the area from any future zoning increase.

“This ins’t any kind of stealth reaction against the city’s density. The National Registry has no effect on what can be built. But as the city changes, it’s also important not to forget its history either, and that’s the whole purpose of the nomination,” Kurlander tells CHS. Continue reading

Paving the way for taller buildings on smaller lots, 21-story First Hill apartments will be super green and use modular construction

A rendering of the planned 901 Madison high-rise

(Image: Sustainable Living Innovations)

A new high-rise residential building along Madison Street will make use of both the city’s Living Building initiative and a new modular construction technique as it climbs above First Hill.

The land on the corner of 9th Ave and Madison is currently home to the Quarter Lounge, George’s Delicatessen, and the now-empty former home of Lotus Asian Kitchen.

The building will be demolished to make way for a 21-story residential structure, with ground floor retail, being built by Sustainable Living Innovations.

Plans call for a 176-unit building, of which 47 will be affordable units, using two housing programs — MFTE and Mandatory Housing Affordability. The building will have a mix of sizes including efficiency, and 1- and 2-bedroom units. The affordable housing component will similarly have a mix of efficiency and 1- and 2-bedroom units. Five of the 47 affordable units will be 2-bedroom units.

The developers of the 901 Madison project say they are working with the existing retail tenants, and talking with the First Hill Improvement Association to find the best fit for retail in the area for the corner across the street from neighborhood icons Vito’s and The Sorrento Hotel. Continue reading

Beyond Sawant vs. Orion, plenty more big decisions on the November ballot: County Council, affirmative action, Tim Frickin’ Eyman’s car tab B.S.

Gossett, Zahilay, Referendum 88, Eyman

While the District 3 Seattle City Council race has been dominating the Internet around here, there are other important decisions to be made on November’s ballot. These include a potentially big upset in a County Council race, and a pair of statewide initiatives which would have far ranging consequences, arguably of more lasting impact than anything else on the ballot.

State voter pamphlets have already been delivered. Local pamphlets are due to be mailed October 15 and ballots on October 16. Election Day is November 5, ballots must be postmarked or placed in a drop box by then. Online voter registration is available until Oct. 28. In person registration is available up to and including Election Day, Nov. 5 at the county Elections Annex.

King County Council District 2: The County Council race pits a pair of Franklin High School graduates, from classes a couple decades apart, against each other. In the three-candidate August primary, political newcomer Girmay Zahilay received 56% of the vote to Incumbent Larry Gossett’s 37%. If those primary numbers hold for the November election, it would represent a generation change in county leadership. Continue reading

23rd Ave Vision Zero work ready to move into fifth year of construction — including 23rd and John overhaul

We’re still almost a year away from the start of construction on the northern segment of 23rd Ave. When it’s done, expect some big changes to the intersection at John Street, and lots of other little upgrades scattered about.

If it feels like some kind of construction has been happening on 23rd Ave for a long time, that’s because it has. Major roadwork began on 23rd back in 2015, with the section between Madison and Jackson streets. That phase wrapped up in 2017, and then work started on the stretch between Jackson and Rainier. While the work is largely done there, there are still some bits left such as intersections and sidewalk ramps.

The stretch from John to Roanoke is next in line for a series of upgrades. In 2018, the city put that stretch of 23rd (which is actually 24th for most of its length) on a road diet, leaving two southbound lanes, but changing one of the northbound lanes into a turn lane.

But the project is far from over. In the next couple of weeks, the city plans to install High Friction Surface Treatments at Lousia, Lynn and Helen streets. The treatments, a layer of a rough, granular coating, should provide some extra grip to help cars navigate the road without skidding. The hope is that crews will be able to install the treatments over a weekend, probably the weekend after Labor Day, if the weather cooperates. Continue reading