Square Room’s got some sick chicks on display

Seems that people-on-duck violence in the Pike-Pine corridor is escalating. Quinn’s started it with a gutsy menu that has drawn protests (and ravenous crowds) to their fattened, seared (and tasty) duck livers served atop frites. Now, Square Room is using taxidermied ducklings to bedeck shop windows just down the road a bit (910 E. Pike Street). What’s next? Bike Polo in Cal Anderson featuring mallets and Mallards?

Evidently, a protestor slipped a note under the Square Room door, which staff have proudly displayed alongside the alleged sick chicks.

Alternately, this note could have been left in protest of Square Room’s exhibition of artistic vinyl toys representing hypersexualized women. Square Room couldn’t be reached for comment — they weren’t picking up their phone at the time of posting.

Kanye’s megahyped sneaks land tonight; CapHill ground zero for WA

On the way to work this morning (7am) I passed a bunch of college-aged kids camped outside sneakerfreak paradise Goods at 1112 Pike Street. They’ve been waiting since last night for the 12am Saturday release of Kanye West’s limited edition Nike Air Yeezy sneakers. According to the groggy campers, Washington State’s getting just nine pairs and all of them are landing at Goods. Camping all night and day to pay $300 for black high-tops with pink trim? Only in our ‘hood. And of course Manhattan — where kick-crazy kids have been camped out since last weekend, according to some reports. Good luck to the campers!

No guilt boy banishes winter melancholy at 11th and Pine

There’s pretty much just one use for the building on the southeastern corner of 11th and Pine: play host to wild postings and paste art. The “sad happy horny sad” bottle is a fave and longtime fixture on the building. It’s been joined by “no guilt boy,” pictured here in this post (click here for larger version). This young man captures the caphill ethos of sexual freedom. He also welcomes the fruits of summer with the sort of giddy abandon that only a sunstarved-cum-sundrunk Seattleite can truly appreciate.

Anybody know who the artist is?

The Taco Gringos return from Mexico

From the photostream of Flickr user Jonkern comes this reminder that Taco Gringos (1510 E. Olive Way) re-opens tomorrow, perhaps freshly inspired from travels abroad.

Haven’t been? Here’s my imitation of a Zagat-style review, culled from comments from Yelpers:

“Yum” say late night revelers who “stumble” into this “hole-in-the-wall” taco shop from nearby watering holes including The Saint and The Elite. Come for the “small,” “tiny” “snack-sized” soft tacos (a touch pricey at $2 each) stuffed with “Chorizo! Duck! Lengua! Rabbit! Menudo!”, (there’s always a vegetarian option on the “limited” menu) stay for the “taco hombres” one of whom is described as “beautiful” and both of whom are described as “a little on the strange side.” Simply put: “you cannot go wrong with fresh grilled meat, cilantro, pico de gallo and fresh limes.”

Cash only. 8pm until late.


Jody Hall loves Capitol Hill [updated]

Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale, when asked by Seattle P-I restaurant critic Rebekah Denn why she chose Capitol Hill for Cupcake Royale’s fourth store (at 1111 E. Pike) responded:

“I really believe that Capitol Hill is the heartbeat of the city in terms of culture, activism, arts, community, great restaurants, great coffeehouses, etc.,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I’ve lived on Capitol Hill for the last 12 years — so I’ve been waiting a long time for this chance.”

No surprise that a cupcake maven and Starbucks marketing alum knows how to butter her target market up before the big launch, but a compliment’s a compliment. We’ll take it.

One interesting side note that hasn’t yet been discussed on this topic: the launch of Cupcake Royale in Capitol Hill should also mean the introduction of Caffe Umbria’s fine, fine coffee to the Hill (via Hall’s Verite Coffee). That’ll mean access to Caffe Vita, Stumptown, and Umbria within a 3-block radius. The “heartbeat of the city” just sped up a little.

[Update: Cupcake Royale let me know via email that they use Stumptown Coffee, not Umbria Coffee. They were actually the first in Seattle to serve Stumptown. I was working off of an old Seattle PI article from February 2004. Evidently some of the details of coffee procurement have changed in the five years since that article.]

Average CapHill condo sale price fell in 2008

Ben Kakimoto takes a look at 2008 condo appreciation (or depreciation) rates and finds that “condo values for most neighborhoods declined in 2008 from the prior year” except Alki, Admiral, Junction, Downtown, Fauntleroy and Leschi, which saw average sale prices rise.

Capitol Hill condo sale prices declined 1.2% from $315,000 to $311,250 on average. The problem with the way this measure was calculated is that it doesn’t actually represent declining (or rising) values — it merely represents averages of transactions. A single development of smaller-than-average condos, for instance, is enough to skew a neighborhood’s results. The December auction of 15 Press Condos probably single-handedly dragged down the average.

1111 East Pike (artist’s rendering)

That said, sellers are having to price much more aggressively, sales volume fell as loans became harder to obtain and as potential buyers were spooked by economic turmoil, and we’re in a recession and stuff, so it’s probably still a fair statement to suggest that property values (not just average sale prices) fell last year.

Question is, will they continue to fall? There appears to be a fair amount of new condo and apartment inventory coming online in Capitol Hill this year. There’s 1111 East Pike and the Broadway Building, just to name a couple, plus unabsorbed inventory from Trace North, Brix, and even Press Condos (whoever won those Press units in the auction will likely be looking to sell or lease them out this year. Is Capitol Hill growing fast enough to absorb this inventory? Will sidelined buyers jump on these low interest rates? Any predictions for Capitol Hill?

It’ll be a tunnel!

In a win for the Seattle downtown, the Viaduct’s replacement is going to be a tunnel, various news organizations reported. Sure, it’ll take until 2017 (according to early estimates), but this is a major win for Seattle’s walkability and pedestrian orientation that should have knock-on effects in surrounding neighborhoods (including Capitol Hill). The more people come to expect walkability in the downtown core, the easier it’ll be to make decisions in support of those expectations. Non-obvious benefits for Capitol Hill could include more (or better) sharrows, investments in crosswalk safety, and an overall tilt in the balance between cars vs. people and bicycles.

Good comment by cheesecake, who asked: “How will building a new highway tilt the balance between cars vs. people and bicycles?”

My response: this project recovers land for pedestrian and bicycle use. The amount of walkable, bikable land in the heart of the city center will grow tremendously (80-114 feet by 1.6 miles, roughly). I’m not saying that this alone will flip the balance between walking and driving, only that pedestrians and bikers will be gaining much while cars merely get a *replacement* for what they had before (two lanes less, in fact).

Furthermore, if the project is ultimately successful (comes in without huge budget overages and creates new economic opportunity for the downtown core) then it creates new momentum behind other projects to revitalize significant tracts of core infrastructure and land. What if this early success cascades and eventually has us burying I-5 itself? Unlikely, but let’s dream a little about how awesome that could be.

This is bold. Seattle’s moving towards a less car-centric future.

A Pike-Pine Proposal: Katrina, will you marry me?

I spotted this graffiti on the side of Tyvek-clad 1111 E. Pike earlier this summer (July 4, 2008). It was up for less than 24 hours before it was painted over. I’m guessing that this was done by a downtown resident who set up a telescope pointed at the West-facing side of 1111 E Pike, but I’d love to hear the real story, if anybody knows it.


Walk Score: Capitol Hill 12th, Pioneer Square 1st

Thanks to the way that website Walk Score defines neighborhoods, Capitol Hill ranks a lowly 12th place in this list of Seattle’s most walkable neighborhoods. It’s not completely fair. Pioneer Square ranks 1st, thanks to a very tight definition, while Capitol Hill (according to Walk Score) is bounded by Madison to the south, Lake Washington Blvd E to the East, and E Interlaken/SR-520 to the north. That’s just too much territory for a single ‘hood.

Now, I know it’s somewhat silly to get riled up by Capitol Hill’s low rankings on Walk Score, but I know we’re a more walkable hood than we’re being given credit for. Also, because Walk Score put these rankings together in order to “help people find more walkable places to live,” I’d hate to think that people who appreciate density are being steered away from the hill thanks to a poorly drawn map.

I’d like to send a note to Walk Score asking them to redraw the bounding box. What should the boundaries for Capitol Hill be?

Caffe Vita now a top Seattle export?

Of course the folks at Caffe Vita are no strangers to fine pizza — Vita owner Michael McConnell also owns Capitol Hill establishment (and Seattle’s very best pizza) Via Tribunali. And yet it’s still a wonderful surprise to discover that a much-anticipated NYC pizza restaurant will be serving Caffe Vita coffee when it opens next month. I had no idea it was the sort of coffee that could make that leap.

This marks the third time I’ve been surprised to see a Capitol Hill export pop up outside of Seattle. The Sound’s most famous exports might still be Nirvana, Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks, but it seems like a raft of newer brands and products are also making headway. Top Pot donuts (also founded in Capitol Hill) have achieved nationwide distribution on the back of their recent Starbucks deal. Then there’s Savage Love, a column I’d been enjoying for years, unaware of its provenance until I moved — purely by coincidence — to the very same block of Capitol Hill that The Stranger calls home.

So if Seattle has a cultural center, it certainly feels like it’s up here on Capitol Hill, proud home of Seattle’s most decadent donuts, most buzz-inducing coffee, and gayest advice columnists.