Next for E Olive Way restaurant space: International Montessori Academy

One of the more rapidly blighted empty spaces on Capitol Hill will spring back to life in 2018. The little ones who will put it to use every day will say more about Capitol Hill Station and the neighborhood’s proximity to downtown than this stretch of Capitol Hill’s nightlife growth or a new highly anticipated industry coming to the street.

The International Montessori Academy, a Bellevue-based provider of Mandarin Chinese, French, or Spanish language immersion and Montessori education for elementary school-age children, is set to begin construction to overhaul the former home of the giant Zhu Dang restaurant on E Olive Way, shuttered since late November 2015. Before its life as a restaurant, the short-lived The Social nightclub venture overhauled the building as a dance club and restaurant.

“It’s close to downtown with very easy access and there are lots of families on North Capitol Hill,” school founder Yimin Chen tells CHS about the next big project coming to E Olive Way. “People live there, people work there.”

In addition to overhauling the building to serve as a school, the academy is a major investment. A company owned by Chen purchased the 1928-built property for $4.8 million over the summer. The seller was the family behind Zhu Dang — they had paid more than $3.3 million for it in 2013. Continue reading

KUOW: District didn’t want us to visit this struggling Seattle school… on Capitol Hill

E Mercer’s Lowell Elementary (Image: CHS)

Everybody — including CHS — focused on the drama around the Lowell Elementary S Path was missing a larger, more pressing need for many students at the Capitol Hill elementary school: a place in the city to call home.

In a moving and frustrating report, KUOW documents the school’s astounding 20% homelessness rate for students and the reportedly shaky educational environment the budget-strapped school district has in place for the kids:

Lowell Elementary School sits across from million-dollar houses on a quiet street in Capitol Hill. But this school serves some of the poorest children in the city.

The percentage of homeless students in Seattle Public Schools has doubled in the past five years. As of spring, 7 percent of the student population lacked a permanent address. That number is much smaller at some schools, and much larger in others.

At Lowell, 20 percent of students were homeless at last count.

Continue reading

Madison Valley’s latest salon specializes in picking bugs out of your hair

Looking for another reason to ban children from Capitol Hill? Here is the slightly geographically challenged announcement of new Seattle “lice salon” Hair Fairies:

Seattle’s upscale Capitol Hill neighborhood, with its swanky shops, parks and cafés, might seem like a strange place for a head lice treatment salon to set up shop. But there’s Hair Fairies, nestled between a Tuscan restaurant and a French bistro on E Madison Ave, and CEO Maria Botham thinks it’s perfect. “We aren’t just any old lice clinic, we pride ourselves on being a destination for parents and kids to feel comfortable, and release some of the stigma associated with lice. Everyone can get lice – it doesn’t discriminate – and we strive to create a space that is accepting and welcoming to everyone.”

Located at 2810 E Madison, the salon gets done pretty much what you’d expect from a lice salon. But the local location for the national chain of around a dozen salons says its methods fit in with “natural” Seattle.

“We understand the importance of ‘natural’ within the Seattle culture. We use our all-natural, plant-based products to eliminate your head lice — 100% guaranteed — with no at-home combing required. Or, if you prefer to DIY, we can teach you to tackle the pesky pests yourself,” the description reads.

Besides, chemicals won’t necessarily rid your kid — and you and your kid’s friends and your friends and grandma — of lice. The bugs are doing what good bugs do — becoming increasingly resistant to the most widely used treatments.

Company founder Maria Botham tells CHS the demand for her service really knows no season — though trends do seem to cleve closely to the school year and things like summer camp season. She says moms and dads vary by market but that her West Coast locations definitely illustrate a DIY trend for parents.

“In San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, they roll up their sleeves,” Botham said of parents fighting the bugs. If that effort can’t get the job done, Botham says, that is where Hair Fairies can help.

The service isn’t cheap. The sometimes hours-long procedures run around $105 per hour.

Got an itch? You can learn more at

Good Citizen to make way for Harvard Avenue School expansion

Good Citizen (Images: CHS)

Good Citizen (Images: CHS)

Another impending business closure on Capitol Hill illustrates the varied ways coincidences of similar events can form together to make you say, hey, what’s going on around here. This time, a loss for lovers of coffee and couches is a win for Capitol Hill’s two-year-olds.

With a strong demand for a toddler program, the Harvard Avenue School, which offers early childhood education through pre-kindergarten, is planning to expand into the Good Citizen coffee shop located on the ground floor of the school.

“There is an enormous demand for full day care since Amazon has brought so many new families to Seattle,” Andrea Hackman, founder and director of the school, tells CHS CHS. “The market is pretty saturated with half day preschool, but there are more and more families needing full day childcare (which we currently do not offer). Once we begin offering that I’m confident it will be extremely popular.”

The expansion means the end of one of the more curious experiments in the neighborhood’s recent waves of food and drink investments. Continue reading

11th Children’s Film Festival Seattle to screen beyond Capitol Hill

2016's festival opens with a screening of the 1916 silent film Snow White with a score performed live by Seattle harpist Leslie McMichael and violist Barbara McMichael

2016’s festival opens with a screening of the 1916 silent film Snow White with a score performed live by Seattle harpist Leslie McMichael and violist Barbara McMichael

It’s time again to put on your pajamas and enjoy some pancakes and one-of-a-kind children’s cinema. This week, the 2016 Children’s Film Festival Seattle returns to Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum… and beyond. This 11th edition of the festival will feature a new co-host with screenings in South King County at Renton’s Carco Theatre.

“Now more than ever, it’s a great time to remind our kids that our world is home to many different and beautiful cultures and ways of life,” festival director Elizabeth Shepherd said in the announcement of the 2016 festival. “An international children’s film festival is a perfect place to discover common ground, to build empathy and celebrate our shared humanity.”

This year’s festival will bring together more than 165 international children’s films from 40 countries for a week of screenings on 12th Ave and in Renton before hitting the road for screenings in other cities.

Capitol Hill kids, in the meantime, get to enjoy the festival plus some of its special returning events including Friday night’s DJ/pajama party and Saturday’s pancake and movies breakfast at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption on 13th Ave. As of Tuesday afternoon, tickets were still available for both events. Continue reading

A new use for Capitol Hill parks: preschools

Outdoor preschool? In muddy public parks across rainy Seattle? It seems like that’s going to be a preschool option for local parents in 2016. Tiny Trees, a budding local start-up outdoor preschool, received a letter this fall from the Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre confirming that the department would permit the nonprofit to run six outdoor preschool programs in city parks as a pilot project by September 2016.

Tiny Trees CEO Andrew Jay was, of course, thrilled at the news. After winning a $15,000 grant in 2014 through the Social Venture Partner’s Fast Pitch Competition for Best Non-Profit Start-Up and pitching the concept to superintendent Aguirre back in September, the Scandinavian model of outdoor preschool could soon come to city parks across Seattle. There is already one outdoor preschool operating out of the University of Washington Arboretum called Fiddleheads, which Jay says is one “inspiration” for Tiny Trees.

The touted upsides of outdoor preschool range from its cost savings — not having to pay for a facility saves a chunk of change — allowing for more investment in preschool teachers and discounts for middle and low income families, in addition to benefits of holding play and nature-based classes in stimulating outdoor green space. Continue reading

Giant Pike/Pine child care center opens as Capitol Hill preschooler population swells


The GSBA’s Louise Chernin was on hand Saturday to do the honors as the new center celebrated its grand opening (Image: CHS)

Nope, this isn't Pike/Pine's latest new outdoor bar (Image: Bright Horizons)

Nope, this isn’t Pike/Pine’s latest new outdoor bar (Image: Bright Horizons)

Yes, there are definitely more strollers getting pushed around Capitol Hill and in Central Seattle. That means more parents looking for a place to stash their kids while they work to pay off homes that are rapidly rising in value.

With an eye on this shifting population, Bright Horizons chose the backside of Pike/Pine for its eighth Seattle childcare and preschool center. The 10th and E Seneca for-profit preschool held a grand opening on Saturday, but had already been buzzing for a few weeks with kids who had been on a waiting list for over a year.

“We have a good majority of families that live right here on the Hill,” said director Jenica Jones. “So many more families want to live and work around downtown.”

That’s a big change from even a few years ago, Jones said, when Bright Horizon centers downtown mostly catered to families who were commuting into the city. Continue reading

2015 Capitol Hill egg hunts include 3rd annual Spring Bunny visit to Cal Anderson

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

8603137719_c32bd07d53_b-400x599The Capitol Hill Community Council is asking how you help contribute to the culture of the neighborhood. You can include volunteering to help make plastic egg-crazed children happy on your roster. Seattle Parks has put out a call for volunteers to help put on 2015’s third annual Cal Anderson Spring Egg Hunt on April 4th:

Volunteers are needed for the Cal Anderson Park 2015 Spring Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 4! We’re looking for people to help with face painting, to hide candy, to supervise the park, to monitor children in the hunt area, to clean up after the event and to hand out prizes. Volunteers need to arrive at the park at 9:15 a.m. The program ends at noon. To sign up, contact Faizah Osayande at 206-512-5256 or

For the young egg hunters in our audience, below is a roster of the public hunts we know about in Central Seattle this year. Here’s a look at the fun in 2012 and 2013 and 2014 to give you a sense of what you are in for, helpers of young egg hunters. Our only advice is don’t be late. Even the youngest wave of egg hunters, like a colony of swift hares, clear their field in around 60 seconds. Continue reading

City Council Notes | Preschool plan planning, homeless camps approval, Seattle Transit Advisory Board wants you

(Image: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr)

(Image: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr)

Here’s the latest from City Hall:

  • Pre-K plan: Wednesday, the City Council’s education committee will take up legislation from the mayor’s office for implementing Seattle’s new pre-K education plan:
    The implementation plan provides details about how the preschool program will be rolled out, and how it will work toward meeting its goal of closing the achievement gap for Seattle’s youngest learners.“Included in this implementation plan are the key ingredients to creating a successful program that will make a difference in the lives of young children and their families across our city,” said Murray. “With the plan’s focus on quality, we’re working to ensure that the children participating in the Seattle Preschool Program will be ready for school and have the foundation to succeed in school and life.”
  • Homeless encampments: The planning and land use committee and chair Mike O’Brien approved the city’s plan to regulate homeless encampments by permitting three camps in Seattle. Kshama Sawant’s amendment seeking to expand the area where the camps will be allowed to include residential neighborhoods was not adopted but an extension of the bill to allow the University of Washington and other schools to potentially host the facilities was approved. The full council will vote on the legislation March 23rd. Continue reading

Four Capitol Hill schools have vaccination rates below ‘herd immunity’ standard — UPDATE

Four schools on Capitol Hill had a 10% or higher vaccination opt-out rate -- see the full map at

Four schools on Capitol Hill had a 10% or higher vaccination opt-out rate — see the full map at

Four schools on Capitol Hill have student vaccination opt out rates above 10% — breaking the “herd immunity” model — The Seattle Times reports:

At least 86 schools in King and Snohomish counties have a vaccine exemption rate of 10 percent or higher, an analysis of Department of Health data shows. Typically, 90 percent of a population must be vaccinated for highly contagious diseases to achieve “herd immunity” — the point where enough people are immunized to protect those most vulnerable to infection.

The Times report includes a map of the “10%” schools including the Hebrew Academy near Interlaken, Lowell Elementary on E Mercer, and NOVA High School, and the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center on the Meany campus near 19th and Thomas. You can also view school stats by ZIP Code:


With numbers for all grades shaking out with surprisingly high opt out rates, there are signs that things won’t be improving on the vaccination front anytime soon. In November, CHS reported on the “out of compliance” rates found in Capitol Hill’s public kindergartens.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 1.27.17 PMUPDATE: King County has provided an updated look at school vaccination data that includes some private schools left out of the Times analysis. On Capitol Hill, Bertschi weighs in with only 6% of students not fully vaccinated. But nearby private Bright Water School tallies a whopping 45% of students with incomplete vaccinations.

Meanwhile, the county has also posted information for “Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine coverage rates among kindergarteners.”