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Archive for August, 2009

12th Avenue Neighborhood Meeting on Tuesday, September 8th!

Monday, August 31st, 2009

UPDATE: Meeting Minutes can be found here. Letter sent to Park Department prior to meeting summarizing questions and ideas of the 12th Avenue Parks Sub-Committee can be found here.

Please join us at the next 12th Avenue Neighborhood Plan Stewardship Meeting on Tuesday, September 8th at 5:30pm at the new Seattle University Alumni and Admissions building at 824 12th Avenue (at Marion Street).

We have a great agenda for the evening:

  • Update on the James Court Park from Susanne Friedman, Parks Project Manager
  • What’s happening with the First Hill-Capitol Hill Streetcar?
  • 12th Avenue Street Furniture Project Update
  • Capitol Hill Housing 12th & Jefferson Project Update
  • Seattle University 12th & Cherry Project Update

There will be drinks and snacks provided at this meeting .  Please join us! If you have questions or agenda suggestions, please contact Bill Zosel, Neighborhood Plan Steward, at wmzosel@aol.com.

future james court park
future james court park
view of future james court park just north of watertown coffee

view of future james court park just north of watertown coffee

First Hill-Capitol Hill Streetcar Bicycle Audit

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Last weekend a group of cyclists gathered together early on Sunday morning to bike the various proposed alignments for the First Hill-Capitol Hill Streetcar. More information on these alignments can be found here.

As you may have heard, the South Lake Union Trolley (SLUT) tracks have been dangerous for cyclists; both in where they were built on the roadway and in how perfectly a bike tire fits into them. More information on this can be found here and here. Many riders have been seriously injured on these tracks and we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes with the First Hill-Capitol Hill Streetcar. This audit was the first attempt (that we know of) to investigate where there may be bike/streetcar conflicts on this newly funded line. We hope to produce a report for the Seattle Department of Transportation soon, so that it can help guide their alignment decisions.  Join the 12th Avenue Streetcar Facebook Group here.

Some pictures from the ride below. We began the day at the future Capitol Hill Link Light Rail Station, on Broadway and Denny. How will the streetcar meet the station here?


The group discussing the merits of a LOOP stop on E Pine Street

The group discussing the merits of a LOOP stop on E Pine Street - stops here could cause problems because Pine is such a main route downtown for bicyclists

looking northwest up Boren Avenue

looking northwest up Boren Avenue, a steep hill climb - bikes come down this hill at fast speeds and could get caught in tracks at the intersection

looking west across the Boren & Yesler intersection - possibly the most dangerous one for bikes and streetcars

looking east across the Boren & Yesler intersection, possibly the most dangerous alignment location for bikes and streetcars

Where it’s at.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

12th Avenue, that is where. In the last several weeks the 12th Avenue business district, especially in Pike/Pine, has literally taken off. This is remarkable when you consider that we are in the midst of a national recession. I have a lot of theories about why this is happening, chief among them is that many people are choosing to dine and shop local to ensure the livelihood of their micro-neighborhood. Please keep this is mind when you are looking to spend you money these days…local businesses need you! Here is a brief report of some of the exciting new things happening on 12th…

The Pony rides again! Word on the street is that Pony will be open for business by early September. For those of you that remember the old Pony bar (at 500 Pine) the new version is sure to become a neighborhood favorite. Owner Mark Stoner has created an engaging exterior deck, adding to the square footage inside, using old street signs turned backwards.

CHS reports that Georgetown’s Revival Home and Garden will be making a move up to 12th soon, between Pike and Pine. We are waiting on confirmation, but our guess (and hope) is that they will be moving into the vacant commercial space in the COHO building, next to the NW Film Forum. We will keep you posted.

Plum is also getting some great press since opening about a month ago in the former Cafe Stellina space. They are getting consistently high ratings on Yelp and have quickly become a new neighborhood favorite. Stop in for yummy vegan food (yes, it is amazing!) Owner Makini Howell was recently interviewed on KUOW here .


Lastly, further down the south end of 12th, we are finally beginning to see movement on the huge parcel that Seattle University owns at 12th & Cherry . You are probably wondering why we are reporting on a vacant lot with all this other exciting business news…

First, this vacant lot is a big hole in the 12th Avenue business district, literally cutting off Watertown Coffee and everything south from the pedestrian "friendlier" district to the north.  Second, this project will deliver a first floor of retail space, adding vitality and energy (hopefully) to the corridor.  Lastly, there is great potential for this project to develop alongside the pocket park planned for James Court , between it and Watertown, making for a coordinated "neighborhood positive" space. Seneca, the firm SU is partnering with here, plans to begin soil work this fall and start construction next spring. We hope to meet with them soon to find out what kind of businesses they will be targeting for the retail space.

How is your urban village doing?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009


Did you know that the 12th Avenue Urban Village is part of the Central Area Action Plan ? This plan, adopted in 1999, calls for very specific improvements to 12th Avenue in a variety of areas – housing, retail, streetscape, parks, transit – to name just a few.  North of Madison Street, 12th falls within the Pike/Pine Neighborhood Plan and the Capitol Hill Neighborhood Plan.

The City Planning Commission and the Neighborhood Plan Advisory Committee (NPAC) have been hosting a series of "neighborhood plan check-ins" over the summer. The Central Area has successfully scheduled a "redo" of their last meeting due to poor turnout. At this meeting there will also be tables set up to check-in with Pike/Pine and Capitol Hill residents. Please come out and join the dialogue on how your neighborhood is doing!

What: Neighborhood Plan Status Update Meeting
When: Thursday, September 3, 6-8 PM
Where: Miller Community Center, 330 19th Ave. E 98112
Why: Because you care about your neighborhood!

SU Storage Building at 12th & Madison

Monday, August 24th, 2009

A nice summary on the massive storage building at 12th & Madison by Josh Mahar can be found here on the CHS blog. My belief is that this project could single-handedly improve the dreadful pedestrian experience of this intersection. And I think SU is headed in the right direction…

Facadism on Capitol Hill

Monday, August 24th, 2009
Packard Building; July 2009

Packard Building; July 2009

As I’m sure everyone has noticed, the Packard Building at the corner of 12th Avenue and E Pine Street is rising out of the shell of the historic 1911 façade that used to be the Foley Sign building. Facadism, the practice of preserving the exterior wall(s) of a building and constructing a new structure behind it, seems to be a growing trend for the neighborhood. Pryde + Johnson developers are following suit and intend to save the exterior of the building at the corner of 11th Avenue and E Pine Street and construct a 6-story building with ground floor retail behind it. There is more information from the folks over at the CHS blog here on this development.

Building at 11th and E Pine Street

Building at 11th and E Pine Street

Preserving a façade is often thought of as a win-win between developers needing more space to make projects financially feasible and preservationists concerned about neighborhood character. However, this New York Times article brings up an interesting point about how older buildings are mere pawns in the development game and are losing their place as legitimate pieces of our cityscape.

“[Small older buildings] do not have the economic strength to be treated as essential parts of the cityscape, and as a result they are valued mainly as sentimental objects. This attitude may be better than treating small, older buildings with total indifference, but it is still not enough to make a civilized city.”

The article fears that facadism will “manage the neat trick of making both the old and the new sections seem equally out of place.” I think this might be the case with a Belltown project Cristalla that preserved sections of the Crystal pool building and pasted them on the ground floor of the high-rise condo development. However, the scale of the Packard Building is much smaller and perhaps facadism here will be a good blend of old and new.

Cristalla in Belltown

Cristalla in Belltown

Packard Building architectural rendering

Packard Building architectural rendering

On a personal note, I have concerns with facadism since I feel that much of the joy of reusing old buildings comes from experiencing the spaces on the inside. While the Packard Building facade addresses the streetscape and general character of the neighborhood, it does nothing to entice me into the interior of the building.

Top Chef Season 6, Episode 1: The Robin Report

Monday, August 24th, 2009

I finally watched the first episode of Top Chef last night. I was so excited to see Robin Leventhal , former owner and chef of Crave, perform. (I have posted my missing-Crave-on-12th-sadness here recently.)  Sadly for me but lucky for her, she pulled the "immunity chip" in the first group exercise of the episode. When given the opportunity to exchange this chip for a chance to win a 15k vacation package, she passed to preserve her "free ride" through the first episode. To this choice fellow chef/competitor Michael Isabella from Jersey immediately wrote Robin off as not confident enough to compete and exclaimed, "This is one less old lady I have to worry about."  I’m not worried about you Robin.  (Picture thanks to Bravo TV.)


Changes at WaterTown Coffee

Friday, August 21st, 2009


WaterTown Coffee has a little bit of everything. Not only can you get a great cup of coffee and lunch, but they now offer a full bar, an XBox and a ping pong table! If you haven’t been in WaterTown in a while, it is probably time to get on down there, grab a beer and check out the scene.

Do you miss Crave as much as I do?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009


12th Avenue is seriously lacking a good breakfast joint. What’s up with this? I have heard that Plum is starting up a vegan breakfast during the week.  They are new to the old Cafe Stellina space in the Piston and Ring building. I look forward to trying this!  But part of me just cannot stop missing Crave, that used to be in the CHAC building just north of 12th and Pine. When I lived at 13th and Howell I used to stroll over to Crave on the weekend for coffee, eggs and bacon at a reasonable price. It was just great. A true neighborhood joint.

Now that the former owner and chef at Crave (they did a lot more than breakfast) is on this season’s Top Chef, we are hoping she will win and bring her earnings back to 12th for a fabulous new Crave 2.0.  Come on Robin, please?

1222 E Madison Update

Monday, August 17th, 2009


I received this update in my inbox this morning on the project at 1222 E Madison, located just east of the Trace Lofts building at 12th & Madison. Good coverage of this project as it went through design review can be found here , on the CHS blog.  As you can see from this link, the design team previously planned for a concave corner feature, and feedback from both design review and the community pushed them back to a square, strong corner orientation (i.e. a "boxier building").

There is a lot happening at this intersection, as we have documented in a previous post. With the upcoming opening of the new Pony this month, perhaps we are beginning to see a wave things happening here that will make this intersection safer for pedestrians to traverse?