Archive for the ‘real estate’ Category

Greening the Emerald City

The Sustainable Sites initiative (SITES™) has selected four Seattle projects for the SITES two-year Pilot Project to promote sustainable land development and management practices. Projects include over 150 sites with and without buildings, in 34 US States, and Canada, Iceland, and Spain.

The four Seattle sites are:

9th Ave NW Park
Project Type: Open space – Park
Project Team: Site Workshop; WR Consulting; Advanced Electrical Services
Description: This project will transform a greyfield site in a residential neighborhood once home to a church, into a small local park which will include a community garden, a gathering plaza for community events, a skate-spot woven into seatwalls, and spaces for quiet introspection and children’s play. Community support for sustainability, articulated in several neighborhood workshops, will be implemented through material reuse and reclamation of road paving for rain gardens along the site’s street edge.

Bradner Gardens Park Development
Project Type: Open space – Park
Project Team: City of Seattle Parks and Recreation and Department of Neighborhoods; Barker Landscape Architects; Friends of Bradner Gardens Park; King County Master Gardeners; Seattle Tilth
Description: This park was designed and developed in collaboration with community volunteers. The result is a multi-functional, sustainable, accessible neighborhood park that includes community food gardens, organic gardening and ornamental, water-wise demonstration gardens, compost demonstration, a children’s A to Z garden, a seasonal wildlife pond and vegetated swale for on-site drainage, tractor play area, basketball court, native plant areas and a community gathering pavilion.

Project Type: Commercial
Project Team: KCTS 9; Mithün; Chris Webb Associates, Inc; WSP Flack + Kurtz; Swenson Say Fagét; Roen Associates
Description: This greyfield project envisions sustainable site design in conjunction with the redevelopment of the PBS station’s existing 60,000-square foot building to Platinum level LEED–EB performance. Focus will be given to the building’s 32,000-square foot roof, half of which will be transformed into a food garden to exhibit urban horticulture. On-site energy generation and water collection will occur on the roof’s other half, all of which will be visible from the nearby Space Needle.

Theater Commons and Donnelly Gardens
Project Type: Open space – Park
Project Team: Seattle Center, City of Seattle, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, Weinstein AU, Magnusson Klemencic Associates,Pivotal/AEI
Description: Theater Commons, a 1.6-acre site within a major urban park and cultural center, revitalizes an existing campus vehicle entry into a pedestrian-friendly, multi-functional, tree-lined street overlooking new gardens, terraces and seating areas between two professional theaters. The site integrates sustainable design and highlights ecological features, such as Cascadia native plants and innovative stormwater infiltration, as a prototype for future campus projects.

There are seven additional projects in Washington state, including sites in Tacoma, Olympia, Fort Lewis, and Bremerton, among others.

The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an joint effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices.


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Fire Rings by xinapray. From our Flickr pool.

Fire Rings by xinapray. From our Flickr pool.

Tomorrow morning at 9:00 am (Wednesday, July 8th, to be precise), there will be a special meeting of the Seattle City Council Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee. On the agenda is land use and zoning for the Qwest Field North Parking Lot, which might be of interest to the sporty among us. Also on the agenda, besides the usual boring amendments, corrections, and updates, is a report from the Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee (and others) on the process of updating Seattle’s neighborhood plans. We all live in a neighborhood, yes? Yes!

The NPAC briefing and discussion is item six, slotted for about 45 minutes of the 2.5-3 hours that the committee will be sitting. You can attend in person to comment, or you can call or email:

Phone: 206-684-8888
Agenda PDF:

This is your chance to bitch and moan about sidewalks, speeders, crosswalks, street lighting, et cetera.


On Friday, July 10th, the Seattle City Council Special Committee on Open Government will hold a special meeting, at 2:00 pm. Way back in January, the Seattle City Council made creating an online Citizen Engagement Portal one of its 2009 goals. Towards that end, they have improved the online Council calendar (Press Release)(Calendar).

Friday’s meeting is part of the process to make City government more open and accessible. On the agenda (PDF) are discussions about on recording executive sessions, the creation of ombudsman positions, and the Citizen Engagement Draft Plan.

I have previously pointed out that council and committee meetings are incredibly inconvenient for the average working stiff, but if you can get Friday afternoon off, you might as well spend two hours being alternately bored and outraged for a good cause.


On the national front, our legislators are pretty much keeping their heads down. Senator Cantwell had been pretty mum about a public option for health care insurance, but she seems to be responding to an intense letter writing campaign. Cantwell was the sole Seattle-ish hold-out waffling on the issue, until last week; although she still hasn’t come out with a firm position, she’s at least mentioned the public option, publically, in a nominally supportive fasion.

A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend: After my recent experience in a local ER, I became one of the foaming, letter-writing, email-sending, phone-call-making masses that contacted Senator Cantwell’s office to urge her to support a public option. During the 4.5 hours that I spent, mostly eavesdropping, in the ER, I was the ONLY person there who had a primary care physician and health insurance. Nothing like a little personal experience to politicize one.

This Old House

On Tuesday, June 23rd at 9:30 AM, the Parks and Seattle Center Committee of the Seattle City Council will meet. On the agenda is the usual boring stuff, like the Chair’s report, authorizing an agreement for Festivals, Inc. to run the Bite of Seattle, and possibly designating a section of Bell Street (between 1st and 5th) as a “park boulevard.” And, of course, the meeting will be open for public comments after the Chair’s report.

This is where the really interesting stuff comes in.

Also, on the agenda for Tuesday is discussion and possible voting on limitations and/or controls on Cooper and Pantages Houses, both designated Historic Landmarks. If you live on Capitol Hill, are interested in old things, architecture, or Seattle history, you will be interested in this meeting. The timing of committee meetings is incredibly inconvenient for most people, but if you can get the time off of work, or are able to comment via email, please do so. Citizen input = responsive government. /soapbox

Cooper House. Photo courtesy of Historic Seattle.

Cooper House. Photo courtesy of Historic Seattle.

Cooper House was built on land acquired by Seattle real estate developer James Moore in 1900; Moore purchased 160 acres, which he subdivided into 800 lots collectively named “Capitol Hill.” John O. Cooper acquired the Cooper House parcel in 1902 and applied for a building permit. Very unusually at the time, the building was designed to be a duplex, with an estimated cost of $5,000. Construction was completed in 1904. In 1914, the Coopers sold the property to John E. Minkler; the Minkler family owned the property until 1958.

In 2005, the building was targeted for demolition, but local resident Paul Slane was inspired to nominate the building for Landmark status. Slane, a retired Boeing employee, spent the summer of 2005 researching and writing his nomination. The result of his efforts was the preservation of Cooper House. Reportedly, Board members burst into spontaneous applause after Slane’s presentation. Slane, who has since passed away, remains something of a hero to the folks at Historic Seattle.

Pantages House. Photo courtesy of Historic Seattle.

Pantages House. Photo courtesy of Historic Seattle.

The Pantages House has an even more colorful history: Alexander Pantages was a Greek immigrant who became an early motion picture mogul, via brothel-keeping, burlesque, and vaudeville. While Pantages theatres were known for elegance, good taste, cleanliness, and efficiency, Pantages personal life met none of those standards. Infamous Madame “Klondike” Kate Rockwell, Alexander Pantages’ former lover and business partner, sued him for breach-of-promise in 1902, and in 1929, Pantages stood trial for the rape of 17-year-old aspiring dancer Eunice Pringle. Pantages was initially convicted and sentenced to 50 years for the rape, but won on appeal. Contemporary rumor had it that Pantages was framed by Joseph Kennedy and RKO Pictures, in order to force Pantages to sell his theatres to RKO, which he, in fact, did after the second trial, and for a far lower price than RKO had originally offered for the chain.

The Committee has the power to determine what cosmetic and structural changes can be made to these lovely and historic buildings. Citizens and residents with an interest should make every effort to comment and/or attend. Also, Historic Seattle is always hoping for another Paul Slane to come to the rescue of some poor, neglected piece of Seattle history: Historic Seattle holds Landmark Nomination Workshops twice a year. Find out more HERE.

Walking the Talk

Walking Green Lake by Seattle Daily Photo - from our Flickr pool

Walking Green Lake by Seattle Daily Photo - from our Flickr pool

The Seattle City Council is reviewing a draft plan to make Seattle a more pedestrian-friendly town. Appropriately enough, the measure is called the Pedestrian Master Plan. Very grand sounding, ain’t it?

I’ve lived in Seattle long enough to remember when Westlake Plaza was closed to traffic, and I’m still outraged that the city opened it. Westlake Center has never regained the vibrancy and foot traffic that it had when the Plaza was closed. And does anyone think that closing Pike Place Market to through traffic would detract from its appeal? There is no bad there.

The new plan, currently in draft and public comment stage, purports to focus on “safety, equity, vibrancy, and health,” through six stated objectives:

1. Complete and maintain the pedestrian system identified in the Pedestrian Master Plan
2. Improve walkability on all streets
3. Increase pedestrian safety
4. Plan, design, and build complete streets to move more people and goods
5. Create vibrant public spaces that encourage walking
6. Get more people walking for transportation, recreation, and health

These are great goals, and the plan (read it HERE or download as a PDF –low res or high res) does an admirable job of outlining strategies and tactics to meet them. The city has a funding levy of $60 million to fund pedestrian improvements over the next six years. Based on current programs, the plan projects that $47 million will go towards new improvements, such as sidewalks, curb ramps, and signals, while $19 million would pay for maintenance. The plan would require other funding to fully support all of the objectives, such as private investment.

And it’s this last part that has me worried: private investment.

The draft Plan includes stated strategies for meeting the objectives. Among the strategies for #5– “Create vibrant public spaces that encourage walking”– the single most important strategy is missing: car-free streets. Instead, “develop guidelines for car-free and shared space streets,” is the last item in the sidebar, under “sample of actions” that could possibly, perhaps, be considered to encourage walking.

Private investment does not like car-free streets. Private investment likes lots of convenient parking, preferably on-site parking. Pedestrians buy only as much as they can conveniently carry home or back to the office. Drivers buy as much as can fill up their SUV for the drive home to the suburbs. Car-free streets favor small businesses that serve local residents and employees. Parking lots favor ‘shopping destinations’ that serve tourists and visitors. National chain stores and big retailers wield the political clout and investment dollars that result in parking lots, narrow sidewalks, and through traffic. Neighborhood business owners, residents, and employees get screwed. Again.

It doesn’t have to be that way. As residents and business owners, we have a say in this process. The public comment period for the draft Pedestrian Master Plan has been extended to Friday, June 26th. You can read it at, or download a PDF from the same site.

Also, the Transportation Committee and the Special Committee on Pedestrian Safety will host a public hearing on the draft plan on Tuesday, July 21st, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall (600 Fourth Ave.). This is your chance to be heard. Don’t blow it!

Other ways to comment:

Online webform:
E mail:
Telephone: 206-733-9970
Mail: Pedestrian Master Plan Comments
Seattle Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 34996
Seattle, WA 98124-4996

RedWest South postponed

Microsoft’s expansion plans on a parcel of land just south of the large-scale RedWest satellite campus in Redmond are on hold, at least until the economic climate improves. The land, recently purchased from neighboring Nintendo of America, exists currently in the form of a semi-wild vacant lot, most often trafficked (in the dry months) by either commuters seeking a shortcut from the bus stop on 148th Ave NE to the office complex, or snack-seekers heading the other way to the nearby 7/11.

Known informally as RedWest South, Microsoft has recently re-dubbed the project RedWest Phase II in planning documents filed with the city of Redmond. Those documents describe a ‘park-like’ setting that will preserve a seasonal stream and a hawk’s nest. The original RedWest complex, in which I once worked for a few months, is much different from the rather flat and undistinguished main Microsoft campus, and has surprisingly varied terrain and water features inside the enclosed courtyard.

QFC Hopes To Build Apts At U-Village

Exit by smohundro

Exit by smohundro

QFC has submitted plans showing intent to build 270 to 338 apartments, a parking garage for 585 cars, and more retail next to the U-Village shopping center.

Have you ever driven by this property at 5pm on a weeknight? How much worse would traffic be if 300 more residents were thrown into the mix? Building more units in this area is all well and good, but they need to also work on the roads too.

More info at the source article (Times)

Nickelsville moves to U-District

Need Housing? courtesy of Wesa [flickr] via our group pool [#]

Nickelsville, the tent city made up of homeless people, moved once more over the weekend to a parking lot owned by University Christian Church in the U-District, where residents hope they’ll be able to remain until year’s end.

Inside the encampment, residents, advocates and organizers gather and scatter, taking care of various tasks. Each resident has to contribute to the running of the camp, doing chores or working a security detail, according to one resident, Kailli.

“All people need is a chance… it makes a difference feeling like you’re part of something,” explained Aaron Colyer, a resident and unofficial spokesman for Nickelsville residents. Colyer himself was busy sorting food donations, cooking, and stabilizing the pavilion being used as a kitchen by the residents as he spoke about the programs offered at Nickelsville. Every Monday night, the residents have a Bible study, and organizers are working on setting up an AA meeting specifically for Nickelsville residents.

Some social service programs have come on site to offer assistance, something Colyer says seems like a wise idea- he believes it would save the city time and money by not sending the homeless to services located in different areas of the city, but instead bringing the services to a large group of homeless. Nickelsville had only 42 residents earlier this month, and is now up to 65. Colyer believes they will hit 100 in their current location, and he would prefer it if they could set up a permanent encampment large enough for 1,000.

Currently over 2,600 people sleep on the streets every night, according to figures from the One Night Count. Those numbers are up 15 percent from last year, and are unlikely to get smaller given the current economic situation. Many shelters only allow men or women, and there are very few shelters that allow families to stay together. Even when those shelters are found, Colyer says, many families will only stay for a few nights, rather than dealing with Child Protective Services. Additionally, the hours some shelters keep disallow residents from getting night-shift jobs.

The camp can still use tents, wooden pallets to put the tents on top of to keep the rain from soaking underneath them, blankets, clothing- particularly men’s clothing, sleeping bags and food donations are always accepted. Colyer said Big Five, the sporting goods store in the U-District would give a discount to those purchasing items for Nickelsville, but that has not been made official yet, so potential buyers may want to verify that information.


"I Liked Their Old Stuff Better"

When a band gets too popular and its hipster fans get a little put out, it always seems that the new music gets denigrated due to its commercial success by its fickle fans. So while the old Vivace on Broadway was special, charming, etc., let’s take some time to judge the new location in the Brix condos on its own merits. I agree with Voracious that they did a good job of retaining the feel and decor of the old place, especially keeping in mind that retail in condo buildings usually means Quiznos.

Yesterday was the first day of business; when I showed up at 10am their was a minor glitch that only permitted them to pour shots, so they offered me a gratis espresso. (Thank you, Vivace.) I came back later for an americano and all was well. So what do you think?

Espresso Vivace
700 Broadway E

Bus Stop 2.0

Seattle Metblogs visits with Gary Zinter, owner of the Bus Stop.

Bus Stop on Closing Night Before the Wrecking Ball

Bus Stop on Closing Night Before the Wrecking Ball

Bus Stop was one of the few real bars left on Capitol Hill. It wasn’t trying to be a club or a restaurant. It was just a bar: a dark, simple, small space where you could have a conversation with a total stranger and not get the heeb vibe from typical scene anxiety or desperation. The joyful combination of the uber-smart, friendly clientele comprised of an unpredictable variety of misfits and a ridiculously strong pour made the Bus Stop a home away from home for a host of regulars.

Gary Zinter was forced to close his bar at the Pine Street location in November 2007 after a hostile takeover by the Empiric Overlords of Seattle real estate.

Bus Stop is back. This fall you’ll find the bar 3 blocks north of its original location at the intersection of East Olive and East Denny Way.

What became of you and your staff after shutting down the original location of Bus Stop?

I went back to work in tech so I could afford to reopen the bar. Most of the staff went to work elsewhere but will be back! My boyfriend, Rodney Shrader, the manager of the bar, has been out of work and is now managing the build-in. Needless to say, he was a little bored till we got the go-ahead to start building in.

So when can we expect to cozy up to your bar again?

We are starting the build-in this week, actually! It should be about two months. Cross your fingers! We’ll probably do an official opening but not with a lot of hoopla. Gratefully, people are always asking when we’re re-opening, so we’ll be excited to see everyone in the place again.

Tell us about the new space? Is it near a bus stop?

We’re at 1552 E. Olive Way at Denny next door to where the Coffee Messiah used to be. Olive is turning into this new neighboorhood-y strip. Lots going on over there and not a lot of new building. The space is a great old store front, which I love. The actual bus stop is around the corner. I wanted to call it “Parking Lot” in honor of the situation with the old space. Hahaha. It was a nail salon. Some people want us to call it “Nails”.

Why was Bus Stop so successful so quickly?

We got folks coming in who weren’t part of the scenes in the other bars in the neighborhood. I think people were comfortable there!

What’s gonna be different with the new location?

Not a lot. Space is almost the same. A few design changes, but we weren’t too heavily designed last time. I hope it feels very much like the old place.

Gary Zinter, Owner

Gary Zinter, Owner

How long have you been in Seattle?

9 and a half years. Jeez!

What have you been doing all these years? Who IS Gary Zinter?

I keep reinventing myself. Like Madonna. Except with better taste later in my career. I do theater. Was an actor, then a producer, and now I’m directing more than anything else. Wish I had more time and money so I could spend more time doing it. The Bus Stop is sort of my retirement plan. Go to work at the bar and get out of the regular 9 to 5, you know?

What’s the best thing about making this bar your own business?

It really turned into a community for the regulars and the folks who helped build it. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to reopen, but the closing was heartwarming, actually, and I really missed it when it was gone. I want it to be there for many, many years.
Photos by: Doug McLaughlin

brix, hope floats?

As nice as it is for the people who bought condos in Brix, the new occupant of the lot formerly known as the abandoned Safeway that would have made a nice roller rink, I’m hoping that the news that buyers are getting their first “TCOs” [urbnlivn] (don’t ask me, I’m a lowly renter) means that the rest of us are closer to seeing ground-level retail finally opening. It’s been a long, hard, two months on Capitol Hill without a sit-down, sheltered from the elements version of Vivace.

Dilettante has also been homeless due to the delayed opening. Hang in there folks, let’s hope that we have a place for chocolate and coffee before winter descends.

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