Grand Re-Opening of Washington Hall

washington-hall-grab-then1

To celebrate the completion of its ambitious five-year renovation, Washington Hall is holding a grand re-opening on Wednesday, June 1st from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Hosted by Historic Seattle, 206 Zulu, Hidmo, and Voices Rising, the Voices Rising, the event will feature music and lite refreshments provided by Madres Kitchen and Panera.

Washington Hall was commissioned by the Danish Brotherhood and opened its doors in 1908.  Designed by Victor Voorhees, Washington Hall was built to provide boarding facilities for newly arrived Danish immigrants and also as a community center, fraternal lodge, and dance hall. Most notably, however, Washington Hall has served as a popular performing arts venue, hosting musicians and speakers such as Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimi Hendrix, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Joe Louis.

Despite being in constant use since its construction, Washington Hall faced demolition due to its deteriorating condition.  In 2009, Historic Seattle, with the aid of 4Culture, purchased the building with the intention to restore it.  The restoration and stabilization work to Washington Hall included seismic upgrades, a new roof, and securing the south wall.  An elevator was added, making the building fully ADA accessible. Refinished floors, stage enhancements, new lighting, and a complete re-working of the back space of the building, all helped to restore this Historic Landmark building in a way that honors its storied past.

 

For more information about his event, visit Washington Hall’s Facebook page.

Former Value Village Could Become an Open Public Market

 

Cap Hill MArket 5-18

Legacy Commercial and architecture firm Ankrom Moisan released their plans for the redevelopment of the Kelly Springfield Building (formally a Value Village) to the Pike / Pine Neighborhood Council on Monday.

The project aims to create 65,000 square feet of new office space, which will be split between a proposed three-story addition atop the Kelly Springfield Building, and a new, narrow, five-story building.  This new building will be built directly south of the Kelly Springfield Building on what is now a sunken parking lot.

Due to the Kelly Springfield Building status as a Seattle City Landmarks, Legacy Commercial, and Ankrom Moisan must have all of their plans approved by the city’s Architectural Review Committee.  The committee is instant upon the preservation of the building’s brick façade and also committed maintaining a public, retail ruse on the building’s ground floor.  Taking this into consideration, developers from Legacy Commercial are exploring the possibility of transforming the 12,000-square-foot ground floor into an open, food and retail destination, similar to Melrose Market.

Ankrom Moisan and Legacy will be providing its latest design proposal to the Early Design Guidance Review Board (EDG) on Wednesday, June 8, in the Student Center 210 Multipurpose Room of Seattle University, 1000 E. James Way.

Charette to Draw Public Input for Big Lid

 Marchers against I-5 construction, downtown Seattle, June 1, 1961 Museum of History & Industry


Marchers against I-5 construction, downtown Seattle, June 1, 1961
Museum of History & Industry

In 1967, the last phase of Interstate 5 opened. The freeway, which was designed to link Vancouver, Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, Everett, and Bellingham, demolished anything that fell within its path and nowhere was this more destructive than in Seattle. Rather than cut through downtown, or climb through the hills and ridges directly surrounding the city, planners selected a course of least resistance for 1-5 in Seattle. In 1957, more than seven blocks of residences and retail businesses on the east side of Eastlake were razed to make way for the Interstate. The freeway eliminated the bottom portion of the Republican Street Hillclimb, a stairway leading from Cascade to Capitol Hill built in 1910. South of the Ship Canal Bridge Interstate 5 separates the Eastlake and Cascade neighborhoods from the Capitol Hill neighborhood and separates Downtown Seattle from the Capitol Hill and First Hill neighborhoods. Its construction necessitated the demolition of significantly developed areas and cut off walking commutes to downtown for many First Hill and Capitol Hill residents.
Since its completion, there has been significant interest in placing a lid over the portion of I-5 that cuts through Seattle. An early attempt at this can be seen in Lawrence Halprin‘s Freeway Park, which opened in 1976. This Saturday, May 7th, a design charrette (a collaborative session where designers and stakeholders work to draft proposals to solve a design problem) is being held by the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council to gather ideas that could materialize into an actual lid.
The charrette will take place at 12th Ave Arts this Saturday, May 7th, from 8 AM to 1 PM (coffee and High 5 Pie provided). Attendees will be armed with markers and tracing paper over a blown up image of the I-5 corridor to draw up their best ideas for a lid. Organizers have also compiled packets of materials reviewing existing lids in Seattle and around the U.S.
Pine Street Group developers will next go before the Seattle Design Commission on June 7th, where public benefits for the WSCC addition will be discussed. Commissioners are not expected to take any action. However, the commission will consider materials submitted by the community ahead of the meeting, creating an ideal opportunity to present the results of Saturday’s charrette.

Vulcan is Preparing for 23rd and Jackosn’s First Design Review Session

central

a preliminary study for Vulcan’s redevelopment of 23rd and Jackson.

Vulcan has released preliminary redevelopment plans for the Central District shopping center at 23rd and Jackson it purchased for $30.9 million in February. While some community members see Vulcan’s entry into the Central District as yet another sign of increasing gentrification, the real estate giant is working affordable housing into the development.

Vulcan plans to replace the shopping center and its expansive parking lot with two mid-rise buildings which would hold 566 apartments. The two buildings will be built over three to four levels of underground parking, allowing the development to center around a public plaza and retail shops. Vulcan is proposing to utilize Seattle’s Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE), an affordable housing incentive program which alleviates certain property taxes from participating developers, to make twenty percent of the units at 23rd and Jackson affordable. This would mean that the redevelopment of 23rd and Jackson would produce 113 affordable units including 49 units affordable to households earning 65% of Area Median Income ($41,145 for a single person, $58,695 for a family of 4).

While Vulcan has stated that the design of 23rd and Jackson was derived from recommendations it received from Central Area stakeholders, some community members do not see the affordable units as enough to counteract the increased gentrification the neighborhood has faced recently. Evelyn Thomas Alan, the founder of the Black Community Impact Alliance, argues that while MFTE does provide affordable housing for middle-class workers, the income range does not go low enough to provide affordable housing for significant numbers of African Americans.

Despite some push back from community members, the Vulcan development team is getting ready for the project’s first design review session, scheduled for May 10th.

Central Co-op Announces Interest in Upcoming Capitol Hill Station development

A preliminary rendering of the future Broadway development flanking the new Sound Transit stop.

A preliminary rendering of the future Broadway development flanking the new Sound Transit stop.

During its annual owner meeting Sunday evening, Central Co-op announced that is pursuing the anchor tenant space in the Capitol Hill Station’s four-site, mixed-use project that will surround the recently opened transit station. Dan Arnett, the cooperative’s president and CEO believes that Central Co-op is “not only the best option for the site but [that] there’s a cultural link.”

Central Co-op’s upcoming formal proposal for the site pits the co-op against New Seasons, a Portland-based grocer that announced its interest in the location earlier this year. While both stores emphasize regional and organic food, Central Co-op’s workforce is unionized while New Season’s is not.

New Seasons’ interest in the Capitol Hill Site sparked dissent from labor advocacy groups earlier this year. Several groups sent a letter to the Sound Transit board, opposing New Seasons as the anchor tenant for the development. The groups argued that “access to jobs for low-income communities and opportunities for locally serving businesses” should be high priorities for the development project. Sound transit, however, does not involve itself in tenant selection which is being left to Gerding Edlen, the developer of the project.  Gerding Edlen, the developer of the property, confirmed that, in addition to New Seasons, “we have received interest from other potential anchor tenants. We have not determined our anchor tenant yet.”

A potential grocery store is far from the only tenant going into retail spaces. Along with more traditional shops, Gerding Edlen envisions a large “bazar” called “The Market House”, which will include a mix of retailers housed in booths of varying sizes to accommodate start-ups as well as more established retailers.

City Recommends Community Meetings to Discuss Further Pike/Pine Street Closures

East Pike

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) released its comprehensive report this week detailing last August’s experimental closure of East Pike Street to car traffic. Ultimately remaining reticent, the city is recommending more community discussions before moving forward with the project.
While SDOT is far from abandoning the project, which attempted to address issues of pedestrian congestion, aggressive crowd behavior, and LGBTQ visibility and inclusivity in the nightlife core of Capitol Hill, the city is approaching the concept of pedestrian-only streets very carefully. Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Sierra Hansen approves of the city’s decision to adding, “That’s exactly what we had been calling for…[to] get all the diverse perspectives at the same table. We want to foster a conversation between critics and supports.”
A further conversation between supporters and critics is likely a good idea, as the project is controversial. SDOT’s survey of the neighborhood’s residents and businesses found 66 percent were in favor of continuing pedestrian-only weekend nights on East Pike street, with 57 percent in favor of expanding the pedestrian-only zones to other times. However within those numbers, there is a split between how residents view the project and how local business owners view the project. 70 percent of residents surveyed approved the project while only 48 percent of businesses did. Additionally, just 44 percent of businesses wanted to expand it, while 66 percent of residents did. Comments regarding the street closure SDOT collected via a survey reflect this divide. One support for the project stated, “I felt safer and more connected to the community.” While a critic argued, “The space created felt like a big dark void. The police presence made it feel like a pen. And the side streets were abused as Parking lots by limo vans, etc.”
According to the report, SDOT will soon announce the date and time of an upcoming stakeholder community meetings on the street closure project. While the project remains controversial, the issues on Capitol Hill that inspired its implementation still need to be addressed. EcoDistrict director Alex Brennan argues that the “Issues [on Pike/Pine] with sexual harassment, gay-bashing, a lack of visibility for the queer community and the arts community, those issues aren’t going away.”

Legal Battle Over Convention Center Expansion Continues

 

A rendering of the proposed convention center expansion.

A rendering of the proposed convention center expansion.

The massive expansion being undertaken at Washington State Convention Center remains in limbo as a heated legal battle between the convention center and Skanska-Hunt continues. The conflict between the two parties originated in March, when Skanska-Hunt, the construction company the Washington State Convention Center Public Facilities District hired in 2015 for the $1.4 billion expansion, was dropped from the expansion project. In response, Skanska-Hunt filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court, which aims to stop convention center officials from beginning another contractor selection process.

On Wednesday King County Judge Beth Andrus denied Skanska-Hunt’s appeal to be reinstated as the contractor. The larger issue of whether the convention center authority wrongly terminated Skanska-Hunt, will be decided in a trial to take place within the next four months. During the trial, Judge Andrus has granted Skanska-Hunt’s request to stop the convention center officials from finding a new contractor.

The grounds of Skanska-Hunt’s termination are at the center of this case.  The construction company called the dismissal “shocking and tremendously disappointing.” Arguing further that:

“We have operated in a professional manner consistent with our corporate values and in the best interest of the Washington State Taxpayers who will ultimately fund this $1.4B project, the statement said. The services, which we have provided WSCC, are consistent with the manner in which we have delivered similar projects for the cities of San Francisco, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Jose, Seattle and others over the past decade.”

Pine Street Group, which is serving as the expansion’s project manager, believes that Skanska-Hint is perhaps “not the right fit for the project.”

Despite the common process for publically funded projects to select contractors based on price, the convention center chose Skanska-Hunt for a variety reasons.  According to Judge Andrus’ ruling, the convention center dropped Skanska-Hunt in order to peruse a cheaper option.

The Washington State Convention Center expansion is expected will increase the center’s exhibition and meeting space to 1.2 million square-feet.  A 30-story residential tower, a 16-story office building, and new retail and public spaces are also part of the project. Despite the legal issues currently playing out, the project is still slotted to break ground in 2017.

Local Artist Adds Whimsy To The Neighborhood With New Park


12th Ave 2  You may have noticed a new addition to the corner of 12th Avenue and East James Court in the last few months.

What was once a vacant lot, filled with patchy grass and not much else, has been transformed into a beautiful work of art, thanks to Local artist Ellen Sollod.

Sollod is noted for her imaginative and whimsical artistic contributions all over the city, including a sculpture entitled “Origami Tessellation” prominently located on Mercer Street, and “Lost in Thought”, consisting of three seven-foot diameter mosaic insets placed in the sidewalk at Valley Street and Westlake Avenue, and at Valley Street and Fairview Avenue in South Lake Union.

Her latest contribution to the city’s aesthetic is this thought provoking 7,332-square-foot hardscape park, right here in Capitol Hill. The park, which the artist calls more of a “plaza” than a park in many ways, took about eight months to construct and is a bit more personal to the artist, as it’s located close to her home. “I’ve never lived quite as close to something I’ve done, I feel like I’m more of a guardian than I ever have before.”, she is quoted as saying.

12th ave 3Though it’s been open to the public for months now, a grand opening is set for Thursday, April 14, to coincide with the Capitol Hill Art Walk, and will feature live music by the Garfield High School jazz band trio and folk singer Noami Wachira. In addition to live entertainment, the grand opening will also include food and beverages provided by local favorites Starbucks, Ba Bar and Cherry Street Coffee, and will surely prove to be a lovely community gathering and celebration.

 

 

For more information about 12th Avenue Square Park, visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/ProParks/projects/12thAve.htm. To learn more about Sollod and her work, go to www.sollodstudio.com.

Harvard / Belmont Landmark District Walking Tour

Harvard_Belmont HIstoric District

Spend Saturday, April 9th peering into the glamorous history of Capitol Hill’s Harvard / Belmont Landmark District. Designated in 1980, the district boasts an inventory of impressive estates as well as numerous smaller, but nevertheless charming, homes.

By the early twentieth century, Capitol Hill’s central location yet pastoral streets were attracting affluent families away from the increasingly commercial Frist Hill, arguably Seattle’s first fashionable neighborhood.  Horace Chapin Henry, the venerable Seattle businessman and founder of the Henry Art Gallery, is credited with commissioning the neighborhood’s first substantial house.  Designed by Bebb & Gould, a prominent Seattle firm responsible for the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Hotel, the house was completed in 1901 and featured a five-car garage, a novel amenity for a time when automobiles were just appearing on the city’s streets.  The scale of Henry’s home, which unfortunately was demolished in 1936, set an impressive precedent for other affluent Seattleites commissioning homes in the area.

Characteristic of urban development in the early twentieth century, the homes in the Harvard / Belmont district run the gamete in terms of architectural style.  Among the buildings of primary significance, however, are numerous residences undoubtedly influenced by the English architect Richard Norman Shaw.  While Shaw was essentially an eclectic architect, his projects that held the most influence for American designers  were a series of picturesque country houses that derived from a careful study of sixteenth-century English manorial architecture.  The half-timbering, hanging tiles, projecting gables, massive chimney blocks, and asymmetry of Shaw’s work can be felt throughout the Harvard / Belmont District, but especially in the M. H. Young House, the C. H. Bacon House, the J. A. Kerr House, and the W. L. Rhodes House

Whether you go for the early-twentieth century gossip, the plethora of beautiful and architecturally significant houses, or just for the walk, the important thing is to go, as you will not want to miss this glance into the fascinating history of the Harvard / Belmont Landmark District.

Details

Tours are approximately 2 hours and run rain or shine, dress accordingly! Advance registration is strongly encouraged; walk-ups are limited to space available for a cost of $25 (cash only/exact change required). For more information on SAF tours, visit their FAQ page (http://seattlearchitecture.org/tours/tours-faq/) or call 206-667-9184.

 

Capitol Hill Real Estate: February Report

The real estate market in Seattle’s popular Capitol Hill neighborhood was slightly down in February with 26 sales. According to the NWMLS, data shows a decline in sales from previous years of 33 in 2015, 34 in 2014 and 31 in 2013.  This year’s February listings sold for a total of $15 million. Out of these sales, 57% were condos as capitol hill is one of the more densely populated neighborhoods.

Currently, there are 54 active listings in Capitol Hill as well as 51 pending listings. The year to date median sales price for the area was $477,000 and the average sales price was $597,902.

Capitol Hill neighborhood, Seattle

Capitol Hill neighborhood, Seattle

For similar information on Denny BlaineMadison Park, or Madrona real estate please click the previous links to each of these Seattle neighborhoods.

Capitol Hill is a part of “Central Seattle” as defined my Seattle real estate agents. Central Seattle real estate basically includes the area from the Montlake cut to I-90 and from Lake Washington to I-5.  The start of the year shows home prices are up across the city and sales for the first two months are down with 165 sold in 2015 versus 158 in 2016.  Currently, in this central Seattle area, there are 177 active listings.

If you have any questions about the Seattle real estate market, please feel free to reach out to a local Seattle real estate agent.