Archive for November, 2009

Elliott Bay Bookstore: Please Stay

November 30, 2009  |  Business, Call to Action, Complaining, News  |  No Comments
Update

To see an update to this post, as well as a clarification to the rumors, click here.

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(disclaimer: rumors are contained in this post. Some parts may be truth. What is truth and what is rumor, however, you will have to figure out for yourself as I have not been able to clarify any details.)

The one truth I can state here: Elliott Bay may or may not be leaving.

The Rumors:

1. A principal at Jones + Jones (owns the building) is raising rents, effectively “pushing” the bookstore out.

2. An investor in the bookstore is pushing for the move to a different neighborhood

3. EBBC doesn’t care about the neighborhood and all efforts by others to help the bookstore have been ignored. A little bird told me that a former mayor and other influential Pioneer Square residents set up a meeting with the owner to talk about possible options and to offer support, but that he didn’t show up.

4. EBBC just has a bad business model. Unwilling to go online or use an online medium to promote the store, they don’t have much of a chance. Not sure how moving to Capitol Hill will help (see report of a local CH bookstore that just closed). The rumor is that staffing levels have not changed, even in this economic downturn, making it difficult to stay in the black.

5. The Office of Economic Development (OED) has offered their help to keep Elliott Bay in the neighborhood.

According to an article that just came out in the LA times, the owner feels that it’s the store’s location in Pioneer Square that is hurting his sales, and that he could do better in Downtown or in Capitol Hill.

The article implies, however, that Aaron is waiting for a decision from 11 banks, regarding the potential of receiving a loan.

When the banners were unveiled at the ING meeting, the possible exit of the bookstore was one of the main topics. Speakers urged employees thinking about moving, to move to Pioneer Square, or to shop down here, or to party down here. At first, I was a little annoyed that Elliott Bay was being talked about at an event celebrating the neighborhood, as the topic kept coming up. But then, a member of the board pointed out that we should maximize the negativity of the situation to show the city how much help we need down here.

I originally planned on organizing a “buy a book” week for the bookstore to show them how much they mean to the neighborhood and to encourage sales. The summation of the article, however, just points to the “it’s not personal, it’s business” motto, when Aaron says that if he could lure an buyer into taking the store on as “a hobby,” the future of book retailing would no longer be his problem.

To me, that just shows a general lack of empathy for this bookstore that has been around for so long and that means a lot to so many people.

What would it take for the bookstore to stay? Is it really as simple as one of the 11 banks giving them a loan?

Whatever it is, it needs to happen soon, or our neighborhood is going to need even more help than it needs now. I’m going to follow up with the Office of Economic Development to see what incentives are offered to businesses that are willing to open up shop in Pioneer Square. If they do decide to leave (which I hope they don’t), let’s get another incredible “destination” shop in there, and prevent another rug store, bar, or homeless shelter from moving in.

UPDATE

Just had a brief conversation with the owner and it looks like we’ll be able to clear up some rumors and maybe figure out how to help the bookstore. Be on the lookout for an update this Saturday. Christmas is a good time for a bookstore-buy push, don’t you think?

Woman robbed in P2

November 30, 2009  |  News, Violence  |  No Comments

The police reported that on Saturday morning, a woman was walking around Pioneer Square at 12:15 am with a wad of cash in her hand. Can you guess what happened next? (If you’re about to say that she was trying to buy a kilt, you would be wrong.) She was approached by five – six male ‘suspects’ and robbed.

Anyways, although I’m definitely not saying that it was her fault (it was obviously the fault of the people who decided to rob her), sometimes you really need to think about not providing temptation to potential wrongdoers.

Here is the actual SPD report:

On November 28th at approximately 12:15 a.m. the female victim contacted officers on foot patrol near Occidental Avenue South and South Washington Street. She stated that a few minutes prior, five to six male suspects approached her and her friend and greeted them (the victim was holding cash in her hand).

The suspect who had greeted them suddenly pushed the victim back, grabbed her upper chest area and knocked the money out of her hand. The suspect then picked up the money and fled the scene on foot. The victim sustained minor abrasions. Officers conducted an extensive area search however, the suspect remains at large.

If you have any information about this robbery, please contact the police.

Black Friday – aka Car Break in Day

November 27, 2009  |  Announcement  |  No Comments

As a day known for crazy deals and even crazier crowds, there is another thing to be aware of: Car prowls.

Pioneer Square (and downtown Seattle) are fairly notorious for car break-ins, but shoppers should be especially wary today. With a tendency to keep gifts in your car as you go from store to store, shoppers should be aware of safety tips for preventing their car from being broken into.

King5 gives some tips for shoppers, which includes:

Keeping gifts in the trunk
If you don’t have a trunk, try to hide them with a blanket or jacket
Keep valuables with you
If you have change or expensive items (such as GPS), hide them…including unhooking the clip that holds the GPS in place. That’s a dead give away for car prowlers.
Be aware of your surroundings — note if someone seems to be paying attention to you as you park or load your car

To see more tips, click here. If you see anything even remotely suspicious, don’t hesitate to call the cops. Even if they’re not able to respond right away, at least they’ll know where the problem areas are.

p.s. there are lots of great black friday deals to be found in Pioneer Square today — one of them listed on the Events Calendar. I haven’t checked with Utilikilt to see if they have deals, but I’m sure many of you have kilts on your lists for Christmas. I know my father-in-law does and I’m doing everything possible to botch his efforts.

Can anyone see what’s wrong with this picture?

November 24, 2009  |  Fun  |  No Comments

I’m so glad that SDOT is doing such a good job taking care of our little neighborhood. Our lights at the intersection of 2nd and Washington were having some problems, so they came and fixed them.

It’s good to know that we’ve been walking across intersections incorrectly all these years. Now, when you cross the street in P2, please make sure that you obey this sign:

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(Editor’s note: No, this photo has not been photoshopped or manipulated to flip the walker upside down. Yes, this really happened.).

UPDATE

Someone using the new walking sign correctly:

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I hope that SDOT leaves this up the way it is. Who knows, it may become something fun for people to stop by and take their picture with. Do you think it poses a legal risk to SDOT? I’m thinking of contacting them and requesting they leave it.

Pioneer Square shooting

November 23, 2009  |  News, Violence  |  No Comments

Shots were fired yesterday morning at 2 am outside of a local P2 bar close to Occidental Park (surprise, surprise).  The SPD blotter makes it sound like police watched it happen (not sure what the language “on-viewed” means), and then formed a “team” to look for the potential shooters and/or victims. Although they didn’t find anyone on the scene at the time, the shooter was apprehended shortly thereafter. Almost 2 hours later, a man (supposedly the victim of this gun battle) went to Valley Medical Center claiming he had been shot outside a bar in Seattle. Once police interviewed him, however, he “became uncooperative” and changed his story.

Bar shootings was one of the reasons that the idea was tossed around that closing the streets surrounding Occidental Park might help with local violence. The notion was supposed to be that if people didn’t have access to their cars (where they may store their guns or have a quick getaway), there would be less chance of violence. When a P2 volunteer worked to close the streets on the weekends, however, she didn’t get much support from the local bar owners. On an article posted on Seattle Times online, someone made the following comment:

commentshooting

First of all, I’d like to ask TSeattle when it is that P2 was one of the “most safe” places for entertainment. But I’d also like to point out that where there are people drinking into the wee hours of the morning, there are bound to be problems. Pioneer Square isn’t the only neighborhood that has this affliction – there are shootings and violence in Belltown, Capital Hill, Downtown Seattle, etc. I’ve decided to discount TSeattle’s comment, however, solely based on the pun used in the comment.

Volunteer Opportunity with PSCA

November 23, 2009  |  Call to Action  |  No Comments

The PSCA is looking for volunteers to help them conduct a street light audit in Pioneer Square. This is one of the small things that can help people feel more safe in the neighborhood.

If you are interested, email lisa@pioneersquare.org or call 206-624-0978 for more information.

The time commit will be 1 – 2 hours on a week night and they are looking for about 20 volunteers.

Where to get breakfast in Pioneer Square?

November 21, 2009  |  Business, Fun  |  2 comments

As with many other areas in downtown, many neighborhood businesses cater to the working crowd, and not to the residents. We’ve run into this problem a few times when going out into Pioneer Square for somewhere good to eat dinner, or a place to find a small dessert. Most of the places that are down here close fairly early in the evening, if not right at 5pm. I’ve heard many things from owners worrying about the safety of their female employees to business being too slow to justify staying open. Both of which I understand.

This morning, the Husband suggested that we go look for some breakfast in Pioneer Square. I laughed and told him it would be just like when we went to look for some ice cream or a fun dessert place last week — we ended up at Starbucks (2 on every corner, right?).

We walked around a few blocks and decided to see if the Grand Central Bakery would be open. Even though the doors were shut and no chairs were outside yet, they open at 8am. Although they have a small breakfast menu (3 items), they have a fantastic assortment of muffins and other bakery items to satisfy a wide variety of breakfast needs. I’m bummed that I forgot to bring my camera with me because the atmosphere in the building is so wonderful and exactly what I love about Pioneer Square. The historic buildings, the local art on the wall. Even the cashier at the bakery was dancing to the music when we first walked in. After we got our food (which was delicious, by the way), we sat in the most comfortable chairs right next to a fireplace. The only way this could have been any better was if it had started snowing and Christmas music had been playing.

Before we left, I stopped a couple with a child who had just sat down for breakfast. I was hoping that they lived in P2 and that I could talk to them about what it was like to live here in children (and not just in P2, Seattle is notoriously bad at planning the city to be good for people with families). After my initial question, I found that they don’t live down here, but were here because they both work here and love the bakery.

On our way out, we walked through Occidental Park where a group of people were serving meals out of the back of their truck. So, for anyone else who reads this blog that might be in that situation… there is another place you could get breakfast on a crisp Saturday morning.

I’ll put the question out to all of you who live (or work) down here — Where do you go to find breakfast?

Mayor-Elect McGinn Seeking Input from the Community

November 20, 2009  |  Announcement, Call to Action  |  No Comments

Received this notice from the PSCA — and if there is an opportunity to add input on the new administration, everyone who has an opinion should contribute. Unless your opinion is to add more shelters and drug depots to P2. Please keep those to yourselves.

Mayor-Elect McGinn is asking for your input on these questions:

1. How do we build the strongest possible team to achieve the policy objectives and values set forth set forth in the campaign (grass roots community involvement, transparency, and neighborhood focus)?

2. How do we build public trust in the new administration?

3. What do you view as the incoming administration and the city’s greatest challenge — what should we do first out of the gate?

Respond via this website: http://new.seattle.gov/ and click on “Your Input.”

Responses due by 8am Monday November 23.

p.s. I was about to state that I was by no means endorsing McGinn on this post, but then I realized my opinion doesn’t matter anymore. I think that as part of the Great City Initiative, McGinn can make some great planning choices for our community. Hopefully he’ll also be willing to get tougher on some of our laws regarding drug problems.

P2 cop named Officer of the Year

November 20, 2009  |  Announcement  |  No Comments

I’m more than thrilled to be posting this one — it’s nice to get the positive things in there admist the problems our neighborhood has.

Seattle Police Officer Chris Meyers was named Officer of the Year, and it just happens that P2 is part of his beat.

A Seattle PI article says that “Fellow officers and business owners who know Myers from working nights in Pioneer Square have dozens of stories about what they say is his tireless energy and superior tactical intelligence.”

To read more about Officer Meyers, read the rest of the article here.

Image Credit: Joshua Trujillo, Seattle PI

Off the Wall: A Neodandi Fashion Opera

November 19, 2009  |  Event  |  No Comments

What: Neodandi Fashion Opera

Where: Neodandi House of Couture, 617 Western Ave, P2

When: Saturday, December 5, 8 pm – wee hours of the morning

Why: See below, but mostly Michael Jackson + benefiting Seattle Children’s Hospital (please, no jokes in the comment section)

Cost: $50 in advance, $65 at the door

Neodandi House of Couture, which recently opened in August in P2, is hosting their debut fashion event on Saturday, December 5th.

It is entitled “Off The Wall: A Neodandi Fashion Opera,” a tribute to Michael Jackson’s life and unique style and promises “an eclectic evening of Michael Jackson inspired music, dancing and fashion collections for men and women, chronicling the famous entertainer’s career.”

Tickets for the event include an open bar, hors d‘oeuvres, DJ and VJ entertainment, a fashion show of Neodandi’s Michael Jackson-inspired collection, and professional dancers performing to a soundtrack of remixed Jackson classics. The event will also feature a live auction of three original Neodandi designs, direct from the runway. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to Seattle Children’s Hospital.

To see more details about the event, click here

via Seattlest