Thanks, Mayor Pete: E Madison bus rapid transit project gets $60M in federal funding — Here’s a block by block look at the planned changes to the street

Mayor Pete has come through. Monday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced $187 million in federal funding for four bus rapid transit projects — San Bernardino, California, Ogden, Utah, Everett, Washington, and right here on E Madison in Seattle:

The City of Seattle Department of Transportation will receive a $59.9 million allocation for the Madison Street BRT project, a 2.3-mile east-west BRT line operating diesel-electric buses along Madison Street spanning from downtown Seattle in the west to the Madison Valley neighborhood in the east, with connections in First Hill, Capitol Hill, and the Central Area. It will connect people to hospitals, schools, businesses, and other destinations as well as to dozens of bus routes, the First Hill Streetcar, and ferry service at the Colman Dock Ferry Terminal.

The federal money helps put the $134 million Madison bus rapid transit project on path for its planned 2024 start of service of the Metro RapidRide G line, a 2.3-mile, 10-station route connecting the waterfront through First Hill and Capitol Hill to Madison Valley.

The final designs for the BRT route’s major overhaul to the Madison corridor’s streetscape were finalized last year. You can check out a block by block look at the changes below.

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URL Coffee introduces a design-savvy café on First Hill

Over a year in the making, URL Coffee features a specialty coffee menu, plans for a future in-house food program, and an eye for design. URL’s shelves and table are by Italian designer Enzo Mari (Image: URL Coffee)

The playful, design-forward URL Coffee at 524 Broadway just opened in mid-March, and despite being sandwiched between a couple other cafe options at Sharetea and QED Coffee, URL is already carving out a unique space on First Hill. Launched by wife and husband duo Zoey Jung and Ethan Choi, URL aims to provide a “healthy pleasure,” that begins with coffee, and expands beyond just caffeination alone.

Jung studied art in South Korea, running an art studio there, and Choi worked as a vintage designer furniture collector, but both had shared interests in coffee and food. After they moved to Seattle, they started searching for a café location in November 2019. After three months, they decided on the roughly 1400 square foot space on Broadway, signed the lease, and shortly after that, the pandemic hit. Jung said they endured “endless delays, in every single step” of the buildout.

Now open for business over a year later, either for takeout or limited seating at 25% capacity, the café boasts a stylish interior of eclectic tastes.

“We wanted to create a unique mood at URL by gathering the beauty that we have imagined, all in one place,” Jung said. “We mixed mid century modern designer furniture with contemporary furniture . . . URL presents new beauty by bringing together old, established things, Eastern and Western things, and things from different times and spaces.” Continue reading

Delayed by pandemic and red tape, Museum of Museums now open on First Hill

“Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your support. Thank you for believing in us,” the folks behind First Hill’s Museum of Museums write. The new arts and events venue on Boylston just above Broadway created out of a converted medical building can finally open to the masked, socially distanced public after being delayed by red tape related to the change in the building’s permitted use.

CHS visited the project from First Hill entrepreneur Greg Lundgren in November as the venue’s hoped-for debut approached. Now that the city says it is cool for MoM to be a museum, Lundgren can move ahead on his mission to build a better Seattle by increasing the artist population and creating spaces for exhibition, while fostering the creative scene. Continue reading

Di Fiora, one we missed in 2020, providing stylish comfort on First Hill in 2021

(Image: CHS)

Here’s something new and tasty we missed last year growing in the space where First Hill and Capitol Hill meet.

Di Fiora opened last year in new construction where First Hill’s University, Union, and Boylston meet just up from the bustle of E Pike but didn’t make CHS’s roster of new 2020 openings. Error!

Owner and chef Thidaphat “Chimme” Ariyahirantrakul’s cafe has thrived through pandemic thanks to what the Seattle Time calls “a new kind of comfort food” —

The food at Di Fiora — new on the Pike/Pine edge of First Hill — gets such care in presentation that even in a to-go box, it begs for admiration, then documentation, prior to consumption. Colors pop, as in the vibrant saffron curry in which four big scallops bathe; each one of them ferries a half cherry tomato, too, plus a tiny green sprig of dill. It’s so nice to have extra care lavished on your takeout.

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COVID-19 closures and a few hopes of new locations: Little Neon Taco, By Tae, Drizzle and Shine, and more

With word of a sad closing on First Hill — and some good news about some return visits planned for Capitol Hill — here are a few area COVID-19 crisis closures to catch up on.

  • Little Neon Taco: Even the lower rent from a reduced footprint couldn’t save the Boren favorite from small space master Monica Dimas. The three-year-old fixed-space home for her Neon Tacos is no more. Dimas announced the closure and said to watch for Little Neon Tacos at E Pike natural wine bar turned temporary COVID-19 era natural wine shop La Dive. “We are so grateful for the support of our friends and neighbors during this time,” Dimas writes. “We know that this year has been hard on everyone and while we are sad to be leaving our current location, we’re excited to partner with La Dive to keep doing what we do best: feeding good people good food.” Continue reading

CHS Pics | A visit to First Hill’s overhauled park and the neighborhood’s new bronze bear cubs

Earlier this week, CHS reported on the small steps including clean-ups and new lighting beginning a process of increased community involvement in improving Cal Anderson Park.

Another area park recently completed a different sort of community process. Some five years after the first public meetings to talk about hopes and plans for the project, the overhauled First Hill Park at University and Minor is again open after months of closure and COVID-delayed construction. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Post | Help guide the future of Terry Avenue

From the First Hill Improvement Association

Join the First Hill Improvement Association and your neighbors online via Zoom tonight (Tuesday, October 20th) at 6PM for the second community visioning event to share ideas and priorities for the future of our neighborhood greenway. The meeting link is:
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COVID-19 outbreak reported at First Hill’s Harborview

First Hill’s Harborview Medical Center is working to contain a COVID-19 outbreak that has killed one patient and sickened three others. Ten staff members have also tested positive for the virus and 30 are quarantining after possible exposure, the hospital says.

The Seattle Times reported details Friday of the outbreak in an undisclosed surgical unit including the patient’s October 8th death:

Three patients who contracted the virus had been at Harborview for more than 14 days, which indicates they likely caught it at the hospital. Harborview is working to determine how the virus got into the surgical unit, Lynch said. The surgical unit, which serves patients coming into and out of surgery after trauma, isn’t accepting new patients. Susan Gregg, a Harborview spokesperson, said the hospital would not disclose the specific name of the unit out of concern for patient privacy, but she said the outbreak is contained to that one unit.

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Building a better Seattle with more artists, First Hill’s Museum of Museums set to open in November

Lundgren at MoM

The Museum of Museums is like many spaces we’ve missed during the COVID-19 era — full of interesting things we can’t quite see just yet. But as venues open again across the city, this new First Hill space of art and creation is also ready for visitors as it prepares to officially open next month.

“Everything around here is like 96% done. There’s a lot of things that need to be kind of massaged into place, but we’re done with construction. Just a lot of little details,” Greg Lundgren says.

Museum founder Lundgren recently gave CHS a tour of MoM, as he simultaneously delegated tasks to volunteers and explained works in progress. Part of MoM’s mission, he says, is building a better Seattle by increasing the artist population and creating spaces for exhibition, fostering collectors and artists, and investing in youth programming. MoM’s non-profit partner is Coyote Central, the Central District’s youth arts organization.

Last June, the co-owner of The Hideout and Vito’s set his sights on repurposing another part of the First Hill neighborhood for something better, transforming a vacant medical building on Broadway and Marion and activating it as a contemporary art museum.

He originally hoped to open the space last August, coinciding with the Seattle Art Fair, but challenges and delays quickly piled up. A massive amount of clean up (the restoration team hauled out 120,000 pounds of construction debris), necessary seismic retrofitting, a frustrating back-and-forth with the city over zoning permissions, and of course a pandemic all contributed to the setback. Now, about a year and five months after Lundgren signed the lease, the Museum of Museums is real. Continue reading

One injured in First Hill shooting — UPDATE

Seattle Police searched First Hill and Freeway Park after a victim was found on the sidewalk with a reported gunshot wound to the chest in a shooting near 8th and Spring.

Police and Seattle Fire were called to the shooting Monday night around 10:30 PM. 911 callers reported hearing gunfire and at least two shots in the area near the 700 block of Spring between Hubbell and 8th.

According to police radio updates, witness descriptions provided limited information about the suspect. Police were looking for a Black or Asian/Pacific Islander male around 6’1″, with large Afro-style hair, and wearing track pants at the time of the shooting. There were no immediate arrests.

Seattle Fire was at the scene to treat the victim. We do not have information about the victim’s condition. UPDATE 9/29/20 9:42 AM: SPD reports the man in his 30s suffered life-threatening injuries.

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