Seattle Central will make new home for Intiman Theater on Capitol Hill — and new opportunities for diverse crews to work behind the scenes

(Image: Broadway Performance Hall)

Someday, actors will again put Seattle Central’s Capitol Hill theater spaces back to work. When the lights come up, the spotlight will fall on a new partnership for the Broadway school that will shine light on social justice — and equity in the vital theater roles behind the scenes.

Last week, the college announced it is making a new home for longtime Seattle arts group the Intiman Theater that will create a new associate degree program emphasis in Technical Theatre for Social Justice at the school — and help to provide training and roles for diverse designers, lighting techs, and theater crews.

“We look forward to working with Intiman to provide students with a pathway into the world of technical theater. This partnership is a vivid model of how to better serve our students and how to close the opportunity gaps in our community,” college president Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange said in a statement. Continue reading

Back to school, remotely, on Capitol Hill — Seattle Central College ready to start new year amid COVID-19 challenges

By Ben Adlin

Seattle Central College will remain on lockdown as the fall quarter kicks off on Tuesday, with limited access to the school’s Capitol Hill campus and nearly all coursework conducted remotely. Stations will be set up outside building entrances to screen visitors for COVID symptoms, and an updated ventilation system is designed to swap out indoor air every three minutes.

With no end in sight to the pandemic, college administrators expect the precautions to stretch at least into early next year. The school’s operations are limited by the Gov. Jay Inslee’s phased reopening plan.

“Until we get there in terms of public health, the number of cases, testing, everything, we’re not going to be able to bring back more people onto campus,” said SCC President Sheila Edwards Lange. “Initially we thought that we’d be in Phase 3 right now, to be honest, but we’re still in Phase 2.”

The concerns about the virus go beyond health. Last week a small group of demonstrators gathered in a parking garage on campus to demand that Seattle Colleges, which includes Seattle Central, establish a worker-led decision-making process, make cuts to the administrative budget to pay for programs and staff, provide free tuition for students and enact progressive taxes to fully fund colleges as the pandemic seems likely to bring budget cuts to the system.

Already the back-to-school season has brought fears—and growing evidence—of new coronavirus outbreaks. One recent study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, estimated that an extra 3,200 cases a day may have been caused in recent weeks by face-to-face instruction at U.S. colleges and universities.

To combat that spread, only a handful of Seattle Central’s course offerings this quarter will include in-person instruction. Most of those programs, such as nursing, carpentry and culinary arts, require in-class evaluation for accreditation or practical reasons.

And students in those programs, administrators said, will still see a number of pandemic-related changes, including an increased emphasis on remote learning. Nursing students, for example, will rely more on computer simulations instead of hands-on practice.

Most other programs, meanwhile, will be entirely remote, relying on video presentations, the online learning management tool Canvas and even, on occasion, good old-fashioned snail mail. Continue reading

City clears tents and Seattle Central fences-off plaza lawn where post-CHOP camp formed — UPDATE

The south lawn of Seattle Central is fenced off and cleared of tents after the city moved in Tuesday morning to clear the camp that formed in the wake of the July 1st raid and sweep of the CHOP occupied protest.

The college announced the clearance in an email to the campus. “After two weeks of working with homeless support services, speaking with organizers, and hearing from employees and neighbors, the college received assistance from the city of Seattle this morning to clear the illegal encampment at the South Plaza without incident,” SCC president Sheila Edwards Lange writes. The full email is below.

CHS is not aware of any arrests in the clearance.

UPDATE 5:40 PM: A city Human Services Department spokesperson tells CHS that the school was mistaken in reporting that the Navigation Team executed Tuesday morning’s clearance. “The operation today was SPD and not the Navigation Team,” the spokesperson said. “There may be some confusion around Navigation Team SPD officers being involved but they would be operating under their SPD chain of command and not in their roles as members of the Navigation Team.”

Continue reading

As the Capitol Hill protest zone is reopened and repaired, CHOP 2.0 still in place at Seattle Central College

CHOP 2.0 is proving to be as tenacious as its predecessor.

School officials say they continue to work with camp organizers and the city for a voluntary clearance of the collection of tents and tables that has grown on the south plaza lawn of Seattle Central following the raid and sweep of the occupied protest from Cal Anderson and around the East Precinct.

The school says the camp has included an “open display of weapons on campus” and must be voluntarily cleared in days or the college will turn the matter over to Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle City Hall, and SPD.

“Seattle Central College supports the exercise of free speech, and we stand in solidarity with the protests against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter,” school president Sheila Edwards Lange writes in a letter to staff and students sent Wednesday morning. “Our South Plaza is, in fact, officially a protest area. But it is not a designated camping ground or a shelter space.”

In the letter, the school official describes a “settlement of tents and awnings on that site is growing and it’s taking on an aggressive and intimidating posture.” Continue reading

School says no CHOP 2 at Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central

Remnants of CHOP at Seattle Cenral (Image: CHS)

There will be no rebirth of the CHOP occupied protest camp on Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central College campus.

School officials say they will not allow a small camp of tents to grow on the college’s south lawn.

“We are currently working with the City of Seattle Police Department and navigation team to relocate the people camping on our property,” a spokesperson for the public community college told CHS Thursday. Continue reading

Seattle Central’s Capitol Hill growth plan includes new tech building on Broadway, student housing replacing parking garage

Student housing rendering

The longterm plan? Replace SCC’s massive parking garage with student housing

A proposed set of updates to Seattle Central’s growth plan could mean some big changes for the school and the neighborhood over the next 20 years including a new technology building on Broadway and new student housing replacing the school’s massive E Pine parking garage. In more normal times, the master plan update would be chugging along right now, holding meetings, gathering public comment, revising drafts of the proposed changes. Typically, this sort of update would take two years.

But like everything else, the update is on a kind of pause while we wait for the COVID-19 crisis to shake out.

Seattle Central, like all large institutions (mostly colleges and hospitals) across the city, has its own land use master plan separate from the surrounding neighborhood. The current plan for Seattle Central was developed in 2002, with the idea that it would last for 10 years. So, in true Seattle style, here we are 18 years later doing the update.

But even that will take longer than it usually would. Brittney Moraski, a member of the advisory committee studying the update, noted there is a moratorium on meetings for their committee and others like it, owing to virus concerns. Meetings through June have been canceled. July isn’t looking good, either.

“Our work has been paused,” she said.

Some of the process has moved online. Continue reading

How you can help shape the future of Broadway by helping shape the future of Seattle Central’s buildings

The view from SCC (Image: Seattle Central College)

The City of Seattle is looking for Capitol Hill community members to serve on a Citizen Advisory Committee to help develop a new Master Plan for Broadway’s Seattle Central to guide the school’s future development.

“Volunteers would serve on a Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) which is made up of neighborhood residents with experience in neighborhood organizations and issues, land use and zoning, architecture, landscaping, economic development, building development or educational services who will work with the City and SCC,” the city announcement reads. Continue reading

Save the Broadway Performance Hall? You have a few years but Seattle Central planning major overhaul

(Image: Broadway Performance Hall)

If Kshama Sawant wants to save a Seattle performance venue, we’ve found one closer to Capitol Hill than the Showbox to work on. Time is gradually running out for the Broadway Performance Hall at Seattle Central College. College officials hope to overhaul the building and end its days as a venue for local plays and performances, but state budgeting priorities mean construction isn’t likely to start for at least five or six years.

The building is more than 100 years old though it was “modernized” in 1979 and rates the lowest on the campus in terms of facilities, said Barbara Childs, spokesperson for Seattle Central. While it met standards when it was built, it is no longer up to code in terms of energy efficiency or seismic standards. Additionally, the sandstone keeps absorbing water, causing more problems, Childs said.

Beyond the need for physical upgrades, the school is in need of more library space, and more space for open studying, in order to meet accreditation standards. The school hopes to meet all of those goals with one large project. Continue reading

More parking? How you can help answer Seattle Central’s next big development question

SCC also has hopes of expanding north (Image: CHS)

Anyone who wants a say in what will happen to the built environment along Broadway around Seattle Central College now has their chance. The community oversight committee which reviews proposed changes to the college is looking for a new member — or two. The school’s reach extends farther into the neighborhood than you might think. And there’s a massive decision on parking on the horizon.

Seattle has a master plan which governs land use on a large scale all around the city. Some places, generally hospitals and colleges, have their own separate plan which fits into the larger plan. Typically, these institutions are in what would otherwise be a residential area, and so need a degree of special treatment.

“We kind of give them a bubble,” said Maureen Sheehan, of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

Each of these institutions has a corresponding advisory committee, made up of people who live or work in the neighborhood. When the institution wants to make a change, for example, to build or demolish a building, the plan is presented to the committee. Continue reading

Two big items on Sound Transit’s agenda for lots of affordable housing on Broadway, First Hill — UPDATE

UPDATE 3:35 PM: The Sound Transit board approved both motions Thursday afternoon paving the way for a “no cost” transfer of two First Hill properties to nonprofit developers Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing and, in the second vote, putting in place a memorandum of understanding between the transit agency, Seattle Central, and Capitol Hill Housing for a swap of Capitol Hill properties. Details on the plans are below.

In public comments, Bellwether’s CEO Susan Boyd called the joint proposal with Plymouth “a bold plan” that will create much needed affordable housing on First Hill.

Board member and Seattle City Council member Rob Johnson called the First Hill proposal “very consistent with what the community asked for” and said the neighborhood’s “YIMBY” spirit was reflected in the plan.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said affordable housing is now central to Sound Transit’s mission as it also works to provide transit to the region’s growing population. Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, meanwhile, voted against the motion saying he was troubled by the “no cost” aspect of the plan as a “dangerous precedent.”

Additionally, the board also approved a motion on a plan for “Central Transit-Oriented Development” near the Roosevelt light rail station that will involve Bellwether and Mercy Housing Northwest.

Original report: Sound Transit’s board is scheduled to make two key decisions on property it owns across First Hill and Capitol Hill that will potentially open the way for big deals around affordable housing and and expanded Seattle Central.

The Sound Transit Board will vote Thursday whether to move forward with two land deals.

One motion paves the way negotiate with Plymouth Housing and Bellwether Housing in a purchase of Sound Transit land at 1014 Boylston Ave and 1400 Madison meant for high-rise affordable housing, up to 160 feet.

“We thought in viewing their proposal that their numbers were reasonable,” said Sarah Lovell from Sound Transit. “It is an expensive project. It’s expensive to build a high-rise. But stacking two housing project increases their ability to get subsidies. They’re trying to be really efficient with their design.” Continue reading