New Capitol Hill story ready to begin at Hugo House

A rendering of the soon to open new Hugo House

Construction of the new 9,600-square-foot Hugo House writing center at 11th and E Olive St. is fully imbued with the creative process — right down to the burning spirit that drives any author, poet, or journalist: a deadline.

“Construction always take longer than they think it will and there have been some unavoidable delays,” Hugo House executive director Tree Swenson tells CHS. “They say they’ll be ready.”

Like a publisher awaiting that final draft, Swenson is planning for Saturday, September 22nd — the planned official grand opening of the new Hugo House inside the six-story mixed-use apartment building that stands at the site the old Hugo House previously called home.

Opening Celebration: New Hugo House

“The celebration will be a chance for everybody to explore the whole space in a design that invites creativity,” Swenson said.

Designed by the architects at NBBJ, the new Hugo House is centered around a 150-seat auditorium but Swenson said the first thing any visitor will see from the 11th Ave entrance is the front salon with built-in writing nooks, seating areas, and a small stage. Continue reading

CHS Pics | 11th Avenue Street Fair


An effort to highlight Capitol Hill’s creative spaces got started Sunday with the first-ever 11th Avenue Street Fair where painters, clothing designers, and all other types of artists came to display and sell their work.

Sponsored by the Capitol Hill Community Council, and street representative’s Vermillion, Blue Cone Studios, Imminent Mode, and John Criscitello Studios, the festival closed the street to traffic and let the artists mostly do their thing. Continue reading

11th Avenue Street Fair part of celebration of Capitol Hill’s creative spaces (and the creative people making them)

(Image: Sellen Construction)

Following the Capitol Hill Block Party by a week, it’s easy to draw comparisons with this weekend’s first ever 11th Avenue Street Fair but the focus should be on the diverse artistic community the street fosters, organizers say.

“[Capitol Hill] has its unique parts of being free and open, being able to create whatever type of art you want to create,” said Natalie Curtis, president of the Capitol Hill Community Council, one of the sponsor’s of the event. “We’re just hoping that people living in the area, working in the area, will come on a Sunday and hang out.”

11th Ave Street Fair

The fair will take place on 11th Ave between Pike and Pine from 1 to 9 PM Sunday, July 29. Curtis said you can expect a “nice, artsy flow of creatives” and “beautiful spaces with beautiful people.” Continue reading

Crybaby musician’s grant carves out space for artists on Capitol Hill

Since 1999, Leigh Stone has witnessed the transformation of Capitol Hill as owner of Crybaby Studios, a subterranean warren of rehearsal spaces below 11th Ave between Pike and Pine. She has had a front row seat — or, more accurately, a view from the orchestra pit — to the accelerating gentrification of the surrounding neighborhood. Now she is carving out space for working class artists with the Crybaby Musician’s Grant, a program that will award three months’ access to a private studio and recording equipment for musicians who could not otherwise afford it.

“It’s important that spaces like this are centrally located and available to every demographic, not just people who have extra money.” Stone said. “We want to be known for having a music scene, but it’s gotten increasingly more difficult. Seattle is called ‘the City of Music’ — it’s been trademarked — and I’m fighting tooth and nail to keep facilities in the actual city.”

Continue reading

Pivot: Gardened terraces out, mixed-use and offices in at the base of Capitol Hill

The future gaze from downtown highrises will reveal Pivot, gateway to Capitol Hill

There aren’t many of the elements left that won so much attention for the project when CHS first reported on it in the summer of 2016. The rooftop restaurant? Poof. The garden-like terraces rising above I-5? Gone with the wind. But after a long and circuitous route through the Seattle process, the appropriately named Pivot project set to rise at the base of Capitol Hill at Pine and Melrose has changed enough to make it to Wednesday night’s possible last design review.

Design review: 1208 Pine St

The review board will see a much more streamlined design focused for an eight-story, 70-unit apartment and office mixed-use building that is also planned for street-level retail. Neighborhood guidelines prefer those 5,200 square feet of restaurant or shop space to be on the ground floor — not the rooftop. Some 14,000 square feet will be dedicated to office space while 16 spaces are planned in the underground parking garage. Continue reading

State budget deal brings more than $200M to power Capitol Hill projects including new Hugo House, County Doctor dental clinic

Coming soon: the Hugo House Writers Center on 11th Ave (Image: Weinstein A+U)

While Washington D.C. struggles to keep the government open, our Washington has sorted things out enough to agree on a new $4.2 billion capital budget including nearly $1 billion for schools, and $205 million in funding for projects in our own 43rd District.

“Our top priority when we returned to Olympia last week was passing the state capital budget, which funds the construction and renovation of our schools, public health facilities and community projects,” 43rd District Sen. and Capitol Hill resident Jamie Pedersen wrote to constituents about the agreement. “The legislature adjourned in July with no enacted capital budget for the first time in living memory, because the Senate Republicans refused to bring it to a vote due to an unrelated dispute involving rural water wells.”

With the water squabble solvedGovernor Jay Inslee’s new budget includes nearly $2 billion for the construction of new school construction across the state. Pedersen also points out $106 million in the budget earmarked for the Housing Trust Fund, “the second-highest such investment in state history.”

The new budget helps push a handful of Capitol Hill area projects forward. Continue reading

Half price books: Hugo House offered space in new development below market value

(Image: Weinstein A+U)

(Image: Weinstein A+U)

Hoping to continue their long relationship with the literary-focused nonprofit, property owners of the under-construction, mixed-use development on 11th Ave and E Olive have offered to sell the nonprofit Hugo House a 10,000 square-foot ground floor space for about half of its estimated market value.

Hugo House, which is temporarily located at 1021 Columbia, made its home in the 1902-built former mortuary at 11th Ave and E Olive until its demolition last June.

The nonprofit has intended to move into the new development since plans were announced in 2014, but the below market price offer to sell the space to Hugo House is an unexpected opportunity. Continue reading

CHS Pics | A stop at Sundry in Chophouse Row

With the storefronts of one of the largest developments ever in Pike/Pine opening for business, there are also some new ventures underway in the neighborhood in a different type of project. Continue reading

How you can help Hugo House return to Capitol Hill

Hugo House, these days, operates in exile on First Hill as construction continues on the six-story, mixed-use apartment building on the corner the writing center is slated to return to when the project opens in 2018. But state money lined up to help Hugo House return to Capitol Hill and pay for its new home is still a question mark, is an unfinished story er, might go to some other worthy project… here, let’s let somebody better with words handle this. Here is a call for support from Hugo House director Tree Swenson:

Please help Hugo House realize a long-held dream to have a permanent facility of our own! We have been recommended for a grant from Washington State through the Building for the Arts program. This funding is critical. However, the State has many funding needs this year, and this grant is far from assured. As a friend to Hugo House, we know you understand that the arts matter. You can make a big difference by contacting your State legislators to let them know why you think it’s important to have public support for a new and permanent home for Hugo House. Below is an example of a note to legislators with a brief statement about why Hugo House matters. Your own words are even more important, but any contact helps. Please take a minute right now to call or email. Time is short; the budget is in progress. You can find your State legislators and their contact information here.

For those of you in the 43rd, you’ll want to fire up your email machine for jamie.pedersen@leg.wa.gov, frank.chopp@leg.wa.gov, and nicole.macri@leg.wa.gov.

Here is somebody else good with them words at the Seattle Review of Books to help inspire you:

You can find a sample email and a link to a site that will tell you who represents you in the state legislator right here. If you’ve bemoaned the loss of important institutions during the Seattle real estate boom, this is your chance to speak out, to ensure that one piece of Seattle that’s been around for decades continues to have a new life in the decades to come. Go make yourself heard.

In 2018, Hugo House is slated to return to Capitol Hill in a new 10,000 square-foot writing center on the ground floor of the six-story apartment building under construction at the site of its longtime home at 11th and E Olive St. The new new center will include six classrooms, offices, two performance spaces, and space for writers to, um, write.

The interim Hugo House is located at 1021 Columbia. You can learn more at hugohouse.org.

CHS Pics | Soup’s on at Marmite in Chophouse Row

img_7003“The word for pot is… la-mar-meet… now, you try it…”

Chef Bruce Naftaly is already regarded as a brothy genius but he and wife and business partner Sara Naftaly should probably get some credit for their weather forecasting skills. Their soup-centric Marmite — oui, the French word for pot but, non, not that kind of pot — debuted just in time for a cold and icy snap in Seattle that is perfect for their “bone-warming” broths.

Following its Christmas weekend debut, CHS stopped by earlier this week to see Marmite in motion inside the 11th Ave-fronting Chophouse Row restaurant space the Naftalys have nurtured back to health after a rough go for the short-lived former tenant. Starting in “pop-up” mode, a menu of daily soups and sandwiches awaits. Bowls — chicken, leek, buckwheat noodle and roasted root vegetable, when we visited — run $9. The question for the Capitol Hill ventures of $6 pizza and $9 soup is can the experience be special enough to justify the cost of craft and local, ethical ingredients as lunch morphs into what you might call an “affordable luxury.” Continue reading