While Seattle churns on earthquake retrofit plans, Capitol Hill school set for seismic upgrades

E Mercer’s Lowell Elementary is lined up for summer seismic work

Saturday afternoon around 3:35 PM, a magnitude 2.7 earthquake sent a little jolt of reminder rippling out of South Seattle. The city has some seismic work to do.

On Capitol Hill, the next round of work begins this summer as Lowell Elementary School is scheduled for major seismic updates this summer while the city tries to figure out what to do about other brick buildings around town. Continue reading

As full-Hill expansion efforts push forward, PrideFest head tabbed to lead Broadway ‘Business Improvement’

As it works to convince property owners to expand its presence and services across Capitol Hill, the Broadway Business Improvement Area and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce are turning to the organizer credited with rescuing last year’s Pride street festival to manage the day to day effort around clean streets, public safety, and business growth services.

Egan Orion of One Degree Events and PrideFest has been hired as the new administrator of the Broadway BIA, the chamber announced Tuesday.

The move comes as chamber leaders, business owners, and landlords across the Hill are considering a major expansion of the BIA to encompass areas including Broadway, Pike/Pine, Melrose, as well as 15th and 19th Avenues.  Continue reading

Investigation of alleged $5.6M Tacos Guaymas tax scheme began in 2014 on Broadway

Some of the customers ordering at Broadway’s Tacos Guaymas on September 30th, 2014 weren’t there for the affordable Mexican food served inside a bustling but tiny Capitol Hill restaurant space. Eight times, according to the office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson, investigators from the Department of Revenue visited the restaurant that Tuesday.

Last week, founder and owner of the Tacos Guaymas chain Salvador Sahagun was charged with six counts of first-degree theft and three counts of possessing and using sales suppression software in what the AG says was a multi-year scheme to pocket more than $5.6 million in sales tax from cash transactions. Continue reading

Asian flavored H Mart in talks to fill key retail space at Capitol Hill Station

With PCC announcing its plans to open a new downtown Seattle store in 2020, another potential player appears to be off the board to fill the key anchor tenant space in the Capitol Hill Station “transit oriented development” project slated to finally break ground this spring after a decade of planning. After a series of names attached to the project have either backed out or moved on, CHS has learned that talks have centered on a new, growing part of the region’s grocery and retail economy.

Capitol Hill Station master developer Gerding Edlen is finalizing talks with Han Ah Reum Mart, Inc. to fill the key retail space in the massively important housing, commercial, and community development set to fill a block of Broadway surrounding the light rail station, a person familiar with negotiations tells CHS.

The company’s H Mart stores are known for their Asian foods and home goods. The U.S.-based chain featuring fresh produce, meats, seafood, snacks and more opened in the University District last summer even as a long anticipated downtown Seattle project has remained on hold. Continue reading

To combat Seattle cost issues, Broadway pizzeria makes meaty change as Boca Restobar and Grill

“To combat Seattle’s rising cost of doing business,” a Broadway wood-fired pizza restaurant has retooled and reinvented itself as Boca Restobar and Grill.

The changes have been underway and the signs are now up at the former Pizzeria 88 which will now feature “contemporary Argentine” cuisine and “eclectic traditional foods from Argentina” in an “informal setting” when it reopens after the shore remodeling and rebranding.

Last month, Seattle restaurateur Corino Bonjrada‘s pizza joint posted a message about the planned changes and short closure: Continue reading

Suspect eludes owner, police after hold-up at Broadway’s Rom Mai Thai — UPDATE

A man claiming to have a gun robbed Broadway restaurant Rom Mai Thai Wednesday night before escaping on foot.

According to East Precinct radio dispatches, the suspect held up the restaurant in the 600 block of Broadway E just after 7 PM and fled with a person identified as Rom Mai Thai’s owner in pursuit. UPDATE 3/1/18 10:15 AM: Police say the suspect reached behind the counter and grabbed zippered bank cash bags and fled where he was confronted as he left the restaurant and threatened that he had a gun before running from the area. It doesn’t sound like he got away with much cash — staff said there was probably around $30 in one of the pouches.

According to the radio updates, the owner returned to the restaurant after losing the suspect who was last seen fleeing on foot westbound on E Republican.

The suspect was described as a white male, around 5’8″ to 5’10” with a slim to medium build, wearing a black raincoat with white stripes, a hoodie pulled over a ball cap on his head, and a pair of grey sneakers with white soles. No gun was displayed during the hold-up.

A police search of the area was not successful.

There were no reported injuries.

Thanks to reader Sandy for alerting us to the police response.

Finding ‘Seattle’s Shifting Queer Geographies’ in the more recent history of Capitol Hill

The heart of the heart of gay Seattle (Images courtesy David Albright)

It is easier to find 80-year-old photos of auto row-era dealerships on Capitol Hill than images from the 1980s of queer-owned businesses on Broadway. Undaunted, Seattle documentary and video producer David Albright and writer, photographer, and video maker Matt Baume set out to tell the LGBTQ+ story of the neighborhood and to sort out its place as Seattle’s gay center in a new documentary for KCTS.

Seattle’s Shifting Queer Geographies is a short documentary tracing Capitol Hill’s queer-story from the ’70s when bars first started moving here, through the ’80s-90s heyday, and then through the changes in the neighborhood that started around the early 2000s and continue today.

“We initially wanted to answer a couple of questions; Is Capitol Hill still the heart of gay Seattle? And is a gayborhood still necessary in 2017?,” Albright writes. “And I think we found that the answer to both of those questions is yes.”

CHS asked Albright and Baume what they learned and about the challenges of trying to dredge up near history.

The history of Capitol Hill in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s is more of a mystery than the auto row days. Why is that? Where did you find sources that documented it the best?

Albright: Yes absolutely – I almost think we need to steal a phrase from housing policy and say that we have a “missing middle” problem when it comes to Capitol Hill’s history. It’s not even particularly difficult to find photos of Capitol Hill in the auto row days but there’s a big gap from around the 60s-90s where it’s really hard to find anything. Continue reading

Make a ‘special’ visit to Lao Bar, now open in the Broadway Alley

You will have different experiences depending on whether you come in to visit Lao Bar — or decide to order from the comfort of your couch. We recommend taking the real world approach and stopping by the Broadway Alley for a visit.

The new Laotian restaurant and bar debuts Friday night and owner Carrie Bowen tells CHS you are welcome to order the standards for takeout for delivery but the house specialties on the daily fresh sheet are for enjoyment at Lao Bar only.

“We only serve the specials here,” Bowen said Friday.  Continue reading

No Barista Boyz — yet — but a bikini drive-thru Ladybug Espresso has, indeed, opened on Capitol Hill

With Seattle’s cold snap, it might seem like a tough week to get your start as a bikini barista on Broadway but the street’s 80-square-foot drive-thru shack is actually pretty cozy, CHS is told.

“With the heaters, it’s actually hot in there,” a representative for Ladybug Espresso tells CHS. The Puget Sound region chain of 30-something bikini espresso stands has quietly expanded to Capitol Hill, opening on Presidents Day at Broadway and Harrison.

The drive-thru stand offers a full selection of coffee drinks and, yes, a smiling barista in fancy underwear or a skimpy bathing suit to send you on your way. The pay is good, the rep said, telling CHS Ladybug baristas make more than minimum wage. The tips are better. Continue reading

SDOT plans summer ‘Broadway Corridor Streetcar Improvement Project’

The Seattle Department of Transportation has a plan to optimize signals, eliminate turns, and add a “Business Access and Transit” lane to Broadway between Pine and Madison in an effort to make traffic flow more smoothly and to help speed the First Hill Streetcar through the area.

Here’s SDOT on the proposed “spot improvement” project being lined up for summer of 2018: Continue reading