Vacant house cited for past issues with squatters burns at 19th and Pine

(Image: CHS)

A house ordered boarded up and left empty for years burned in a smoky fire Wednesday morning at 19th and Pine.

Seattle Fire responded just after 9 AM to reports of smoke and fire coming from the northeast corner home on properties adjacent the Mt. Zion Baptist Church and lined up for eventual redevelopment.

Firefighters opted to take a “defensive” strategy with the blaze given how much of the house was engulfed and its status as a derelict property, according to radio updates. Continue reading

Eight-story ‘annex’ planned to rise above 19th Ave E landmark Littlefield Apartments

Despite uncertainties in the coming months — and maybe years — in the Capitol Hill rental market, developers and property owners are still looking to build in the neighborhood in 2021 as taller projects with more units spread from the neighborhood’s core. A new project ready to move forward on the quieter eastern side of the Hill at 19th and John is an eight-story example.

The longtime property owner and architects from the Neiman Taber firm are moving forward with plans for an eight-story, 50-unit development that will rise nestled around the 1910-built Littlefield Apartments building. The project entered the city’s administrative design review process just before Christmas.

The proposed eight-story annex is hoped to complement the Littlefield with a “3-story podium” that “mimics the 3-story mass of the historic brick podium” of the existing 30-unit apartment building. Continue reading

Central District microhousing development targeted by Sawant ready for next phase in design review

(Image: GGLO Design)

A four-story microhousing development planned to replace a former Section 8 subsidized apartment building on 19th Ave in the Central District will move into the second and final phase of the city’s design review process with a virtual meeting Thursday.

The Cadence Real Estate project was the center of controversy when District 3 representative Kshama Sawant took on the developer over its treatment of tenants living in the The Chateau Apartments under the federal affordable housing program. Sawant claimed victory in the matter saying the movement had forced Cadence to meet with residents and make several concessions including allowing the Section 8 tenants to remain in their units in coming years until the building is eventually demolished and an “unheard of concession” — $5,000 from Cadence to every household living in the building on top of legally required relocation assistance. Continue reading

Capitol Hill cookie creator Hello Robin debuts new U Village shop

(Image: Hello Robin via Instagram)

In this season of closures, a Capitol Hill original is finally able to celebrate a new opening. 19th Ave E-born Hello Robin has debuted its first expansion, a new cookie shop in the University Village, a plan in the works since early last summer.

The new slightly larger shop and “cookie theater” where you can watch and mingle with the bakers in action will debut under ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Cookie fans have continued to line up along the sidewalk of the 19th Ave E original since its socially-distanced reopening. Continue reading

Facing a quiet Pike Place Market, Piroshky Piroshky pops up at Capitol Hill’s Russian Community Center

Seattle’s Piroshky Piroshky, with its centerpiece location in the heart of Pike Place Market quieted by the nearly tourist-less COVID-19 economy, is making a push into the city’s neighborhoods and has found a friendly temporary home on Capitol Hill. The Russian bakery is in its second weekend of a pop-up outside 19th Ave’s Russian Community Center.

Owner Olga Sagan says the move into neighborhoods and outer areas like Magnolia and Bainbridge Island has been imperative to stay afloat, with business in their Pike Place Market shop down by 70% compared to last year and 90% down at their other two locations.

“We try to stay positive and reinvest into business and keep employees and not give up as much,” she said. “But now that it’s been six months, we are really realizing that downtown is not reviving.”

This is where the partnership with the Russian Community Center came into play. Sagan says it had actually been a dream of Piroshky Piroshky to open a location there prior to COVID-19. As the virus took shape, she was able to reach an agreement to support the events-based center and open the pop-up out front. Continue reading

Phase 2: Hopes of Capitol Hill food and drink survival at ‘50%’

Capitol Hill food and drink venues have started telling customers about a new requirement for service. If you want to eat or drink, you first will need to provide a phone number and an email address.

The “contact tracing” data collection — familiar to, say, registering on a new website but not necessarily grabbing a burger for takeout — is part of a new roster of requirements and restrictions for Washington’s restaurant and bar industry as the state prepares for its “Phase 2” loosening of the COVID-19 lockdown that could be in place in June if infection rates continue to fall.

The opportunity to restart comes with a roster of changes in business practices and resources that must be in place for restaurants, cafes, bars, and taverns around Capitol Hill to reopen. Top of mind for most owners trying to sort out what comes next for the hundreds of venues and thousands of workers across the area is how to make the new math pencil out.

“We’re going to be back where we were in 2008 with the recession,” Capitol Hill food and drink veteran John Sundstrom of Lark says. “Our hope… this is such a big reset moment for the economy and the way we look at people’s lives… there is an opportunity for change.”

State requirements issued for the industry this week include 13 points of new guidelines: Continue reading

Police say Capitol Hill man confesses to girlfriend’s murder five years after her death in 19th Ave stairwell

Wright’s obituary appeared in October 2015 — “Forever Loved” (Image: Legacy.com)

Ruled an accidental drug overdose, 30-year-old Elisabeth Wright’s 2015 death in the stairwell of a 19th Ave apartment building brought only a confusing CHS blotter entry:

A person found in a building stairway near 19th and Madison last Wednesday night was believed to have fallen to their death or died of an overdose. Police said wine bottles and drug needles were found near the base of the stairs where the body was discovered just before 7 PM on March 11th. The King County Medical Examiner was investigating to confirm the official cause of death.

Seattle Police and prosecutors say that story changed this week when Leo Driver came to the lobby of the East Precinct at 12th and Pine and confessed to a terrible crime some five years ago inside the Views at Madison apartment building — strangling his former girlfriend to death: 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

‘De-intensifying’ to fight the outbreak, Capitol Hill and Central District community centers to host temporary homeless shelters

Miller Community Center (Image: Seattle.gov)

An effort to “de-intensify” Seattle’s homeless shelters by giving people more space and greater social distance as part of the city’s COVID-19 response will create a 50-bed temporary shelter at Capitol Hill’s Miller Community Center.

The new facility from Compass Housing Alliance will create a location for the shelter and service provider to offer as it works to help slow the spread of the virus.

“King County and the City of Seattle are working closely with higher capacity shelter providers to create more social distancing between individuals, which can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” a statement on the new temporary facility reads.

A total of 685 expansion spaces are being created as part of the effort.

A 50-bed facility will also open in the Central District at the Garfield Community Center hosted by Catholic Community Services, YWCA, and WHEEL. Continue reading

Capitol Hill community clinic Country Doctor doing its part to fight COVID-19 — on the phone

Staff members greeting patients and checking for symptoms outside the door of Country Doctor on 19th Ave E (Image: Country Doctor)

Last Monday meant all hands on deck for Country Doctor Community Health Centers (CDCHC).

Gov. Jay Inslee had just taken his most drastic measures yet to stem the flow of the novel coronavirus in Washington, ordering the closure of all restaurants and bars. It was yet another step for the state in effectively shutting down personal interaction.

CDCHC, which has two main locations at 19th and Republican as well as 21st and Yesler Way on top of other partnerships, serves about 20,000 people, according to executive director Raleigh Watts. But they had to figure out how to continue to serve their patients while keeping with tight social distancing guidelines.

“Our main goal is that our patients are safe and one of the things that would put patients at great risk is if they came to the clinic while they were sick and they came to the clinic and somebody else was sick,” Watts told CHS Thursday. “So we’re really working hard to keep our patients home.

The solution? Telemedicine.

More than 80% of CDCHC’s visits are now being conducted over the phone, with the remaining space in the clinics reserved for patients that need care that must be done in-person. While they shifted a bit to phone visits about two weeks ago, Inslee’s order pushed them all in.

Part of this was made possible just this week as the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services lifted some rules on telehealth services so that places like Country Doctor can get reimbursed for telephone contacts. About 40% of the clinic’s patients are on Medicaid, according to Watts, while the rest are either on private insurance or uninsured.

Watts thinks other health care organizations could learn to use their telemedicine approach they’re utilizing to avoid mixing people with symptoms for COVID-19 and people without symptoms. Continue reading