Archive for December, 2009

Where to ring in 2010

December 31, 2009  |  Event, Fun  |  No Comments
DECEMBER 31:
  1. The Last Supper Club — “Guaranteed to be the party of the year!!!” (or your money back??)
    1. $30 General Admission, $75 VIP dinner, 6:30pm – 2am
  2. Heaven Nightclub – “Classic Hollywood Cabaret variety show, complimentary hor d’ouevres and party favors”
    1. $40, 7pm – 2am
  3. Contour Nightclub – “a sexy white themed evening featuring the biggest lineup in Seattle this NYE and more…”
    1. $35, 9pm – 2am
  4. Trinity Nightclub – “Seattle’s #1 place to party on New Years Eve”
    1. $50, 9pm – 2am
  5. 88 Keys Dueling Piano & Sports Bar – World Famous Dueling Piano show, including a sing a long and “clap along”
  6. Blues Orbiters – New Orleans Creole Restaurant
    1. 9pm – 1am
  7. Central Saloon – Vultures 2012, Neon Nights, Badlands, Sickamore
    1. $15, 8pm
  8. NYE 2010 @ Starbar, Aura
    1. 8pm – 2am
  9. Fuel – NYE Bash – “Ultimate New Year’s Party”
    1. $10 cover w/ free appetizers and snacks ($15 joint cover), 9pm
Not in Pioneer Square:
  1. Experience Music Project – “largest New Years Eve party in Seattle”
    1. $60 General Admission, VIP $189 – $350, 8pm – 2am
  2. Bonza Bash 2010 at Seattle Aquarium – “promises to bring sophistication and elegance back to Seattle with a night of dancing, glitz, glamour and celebration!”
    1. $75 General Admission, $228 VIP, 8:30pm – 2am
  3. New Year’s at the Needle
    1. $125 Observation Deck, $250 6-course dinner, dancing, and observation deck
    2. Need a sitter? The Pacific Science Center is having a New Year’s Eve Sleepover Party for grades 2-6. Drop off the kids and pick them up in the morning!
Other New Years Eve events in:
  1. West Seattle
  2. Queen Anne (opening of a new lounge)
  3. Belltown
  4. Ring in 2010 in Capitol Hill

How to recycle your Christmas Tree

December 28, 2009  |  Announcement  |  No Comments

Seattle Public Utilities is offering free tree recycling from December 26 – January 10.

Seattle residents can also drop off their holiday trees and greens for free at Seattle Public Utilities’ North and South Recycling and Disposal stations between the above dates. The South Recycling and Disposal Station is located at 8105 Fifth Ave. S. The stations are open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

To be accepted at the transfer stations, tree sections must be cut to eight feet or less in length and the trunk must be four inches or smaller in diameter. The limit is three trees per vehicle. Only trees without flocking or decoration may be disposed of free of charge. For more information, see www.seattle.gov/util/services or call 206-684-8400.

The City offers curbside pick up, but only if you already subscribe to curbside food and yard waste collection. I called Makensay (our property management), and they said that we don’t subscribe to food and yard waste collection (as we don’t have yards…), and that residents will be responsible for disposing their own Christmas Trees.

Changes to SR99 Tunnel placement in Pioneer Square

December 23, 2009  |  Announcement, News, Politics  |  No Comments

According to WSDOT’s website, the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement team is discussing “new north and south portal locations and a potential new route for the proposed bored tunnel.”

At the south end (in Pioneer Square),  the entrance to the tunnel could be moved a block west to Alaskan Way, reducing the impact on our historic neighborhood. The original plan called for a portal entrance on 1st Avenue; moving the location will also change the route for the tunnel.

According to the DJC, “the revised alignment would begin on Alaskan Way South and move toward First Avenue near Yesler Way. The tunnel would turn north near Stewart Street and end at Sixth Avenue North near Harrison Street.”

This is a really great thing, but according to PSCA, our neighborhood still needs to be aware of any progress and stand up for itself to avoid 1st Ave becoming a big freeway. I’ll post any updates as I hear about them.

For more information and graphics, visit WSDOT’s website.

Passionate about Pioneer Square: the debate rages on

December 22, 2009  |  Politics  |  No Comments

There has been a lot of press about Pioneer Square every since Elliott Bay Book Co’s announcement that they’re leaving the square. Just scroll through this blog and you’ll find links to articles like “Can Pioneer Square be saved?” and “New boutiques buck recession with ‘Fashion Row’ in Pioneer Square,” among others.

The fun thing about reading all of the different articles and blogs about the neighborhood is reading all of the comments. There are so many opinions out there about what our neighborhood needs, what the city is (or isn’t) doing, if homelessness is good for the neighborhood, if the stadium is even part of Pioneer Square, and on and on.

For those of you who read the blog, you should remember back to the beginning of the month, when I first posted about McGinn’s Ideas for Seattle site. In 3 weeks, “Revitalize Pioneer Square” has gone from 7 votes to #3 with 454 votes. The site has its own conversation happening for what P2 needs.

Here’s one comment:

note: “that being said” refers to a suggestion to increase policing to create a feeling of safety.

I’d like to point out, however, that this commenter only gave 1 vote to Revitalize Pioneer Square, while the rest of us who gave 3 votes obviously care more about it (she also voted for legalizing Marijuana, our arch-nemesis).

Here’s another comment:

But his opinion doesn’t matter that much, also with only 1 vote. Besides, he was promptly reprimanded by another commenter:

I have a coworker who absolutely loves this person’s comment on the “Can Pioneer Square be saved” post. It’s long, so I’m not posting it in its entirety — go to the article if you want it to read it and the 50-odd other comments there. But here’s the piece that I find fantastically written (and totally controversial):

This seems to be an opinion that people keep coming back to this week. If you listened to the discussion of Pioneer Square on KUOW on Monday, you heard it there, too. One of our new, prominent residents (also on the Revitalization Committee) made the comment that “those social services shouldn’t go anywhere. We want them. The community wants them in Pioneer Square.” Basically that the neighborhood is protective the homeless community, and that we should work on attracting more residents that share that same values.

On the “Seven Steps for ‘saving’ Pioneer Square,” Knute Berger wrote the following:

I have to say, if that’s the case, the husband and I are no longer welcome in this neighborhood. Please don’t get me wrong — if you read through previous posts, I have nothing against the homeless in this neighborhood, have tried to make friends with them, and did a short series on what it’s like and why they’re homeless. It’s just a fact that there is such a high concentration in this neighborhood, and not a high enough concentration of residents to outnumber the homeless. I really don’t think that “urban appeal” = “lots of homeless on the street.”

This is the first time I have heard “let’s just embrace this and make it work,” instead of the more common “feed them in your own neighborhood,” and “kick out the services who refuse to follow the rules.” I’d like to put a question out to those who share the above opinions: how can we get more residents if this is known as a homeless and drug district? We came down here because we found a huge loft apartment for cheaper than where we lived downtown, and that made it worth it, even with the homeless and drug problem. To me, it seems a lot easier (all relative) to get the city to withdraw funding for services (like the Lazarus Day Center) who break the rules and bring more drug business down to the square.

Danny Mitchell, the owner of Mitchelli’s (soon to close its doors), said it well when he said that “everyone has their heart in the same place in terms of the mixed population of the square, but the balance needs to be in place, and right now it seems to be a bit out of balance.” He continued to say that “some of the facilities are past their point of being able to serve the population properly.” According to Mitchell (oh.. I just got the Mitchelli’s name. ha), they are closing for many reasons, but within the neighborhood, because of “the perception that it is not a safe place to go.”

If you also see on the KUOW webpage, I was supposed to go on, but instead sat on hold for 40 minutes. I was so ready to share in the controversial discussions! Oh well.. I guess I’ll just have to start a blog where I can share my opinions unfettered.

To sum up the homeless question and the fact that it’s just karma, I’ll share this comment that I happen to agree with:

The KUOW call came to an end with Steve Sher taking a call from Art Skolnik, architect and Pioneer Square historic manager from ’71 – ’75, who said “this is all very good, but this show has pretty much been a waste of time, because when it’s over, nothing will be done.” Sher interrupted to tell him he didn’t know that he was supposed to be solving Pioneer Square’s problems on the show, but please continue. Skolnik proceeded to let us know who our enemies are (which is always a good thing). They include: the City of Seattle and government in general (surprise, surprise). It’s a good thing he came on, because with his suggestions, fixing our neighborhood will be easy.

Let’s be real: change isn’t easy! If it were, it would have already happened. And although I make fun of other people’s comments and opinions, I think it’s fabulous that our neighborhood is being talked about and that people are passionate about their opinions. Please, share them, get involved, write the city council, protest (non-violently), come to safety meetings, help run an initiative, do something. Don’t just write random comments and feel like you’ve done your job. Oh yeah, go vote for Revitalize Pioneer Square (someday, just someday, we’ll beat Marijuana… it’s sold down here, they should go hand in hand anyways, right?).

So to sum up this discussion, here are the 7 steps from Berger’s article (with some specialized commentary):

  1. Stop whining (seriously)
  2. Hire a czar, or maybe a CEO
  3. A loft of one’s own (we love our loft — please, more of these, not affordable housing.. we have enough!)
  4. Settling the civil (or uncivil) war
  5. What would leavenworth do?
  6. Get our heritage act together
  7. Forget Elliott Bay Book company (I would say, forgive, but not forget, right? Still shop there, because it’s great to support local business, but let’s stop talking about it and get to solving P2’s problems)

And… when you read those by themselves, they don’t mean much. Go read the article, it’ll warm you up for when we start discussions here with some video clips from Rykpema’s recommendations.

Pioneer Square Christmas Tree Competition

December 21, 2009  |  Fun  |  No Comments
Update:

Christmas Tree 1 is the winner! Congratulations to everyone for participating.

Poll

[polldaddy poll=2420934]

Winner receives a coupon for 8 Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory apples of their choice (under $6.75/apple).

Voting closes midnight Christmas Eve. Click here to see the original competition announcement.

Christmas1

Christmas2(p.s. there are people in this pic to show you how tall the tree is. Don’t be drawn in by their good looks — it is their tree we’re voting for here)

Christmas3

Christmas4

Christmas5

I just want to put it out there that I realize that 8 whole apples is really a lot to handle for one person/family — if the winner decides they need a little help with their winnings, and wants to take their favorite neighborhood blogger with them, I of course see no problem with that.

How we’re going to “change” Pioneer Square

December 18, 2009  |  Announcement, Business, Event  |  No Comments

On Wednesday afternoon, many stakeholders and Pioneer Square interest groups gathered together to listen to Donovan Rypkema’s revaluation of the neighborhood. (to read more about the background of the Mayor’s “Revitalization Committee,” click here).

He started out the presentation by stating that his recommendations for 2009…. are basically the same as back in 2002. And that something drastic better happen this time to avoid him coming back in 2016 with the same report. And then he ended the presentation and ran to catch his plane. Just kidding. But he could have — he could have just put his old presentation on auto-play and left, and hoped that the city would pay attention this time.

The (hopefully) good news is that Deputy Mayor-elect Darryl Smith showed up to the meeting. He gave some background (including thanking anyone that might have been part of the 15,000 who voted for him when he ran for office in 2003 [insert chuckle]), and proceeded to talk about why he’s interested in what the Revitalization Committee is doing. He said that McGinn is definitely interested in suggestions that come out of these meetings, and he himself feels vested in the future of the neighborhood. Of course, as a cynical Political Science student, sometimes what politicians say isn’t quite what they mean, but I’m holding out hope this time around.

On approval from the committee, I videotaped the entire presentation, and most of the Q&A. Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to post clips from his presentation and get some discussion going regarding what needs to happen in our neighborhood.

One of the interesting things that Rypkema said is that people seem to be conflicted about the neighborhood — most everyone he talked to said that the neighborhood needs to see some major changes, but also that they love it just the way it is and don’t want things to really change.

He shared some great insights, and I’m looking forward to the conversations that can happen surrounding different suggestions for “change.”

p.s. “Revitalize Pioneer Square” just made it to the #3 spot on McGinn’s Ideas For Change website. Thank you thank you thank you to all who have voted. Although this may just be a tool to make people feel like they’re actually influencing what McGinn will do, at least it will get his attention when it hits the #2 spot. I’m confident that we’ll overtake legalizing marijuana this weekend. Please let us beat legalizing marijuana. It’s all I want for Christmas Santa.

p.p.s. Check out this article. Looks like the Pioneer Square Antique Mall is closing, and blames the city. It would be inappropriate to make a joke here (although I really want to). So I’ll just let you know that I really want to. We’ll miss you Antique Mall.

p.p.p.s. I’ve gotten a few Christmas tree pictures in, but don’t more of you want to send in pictures of yours? Isn’t 8 yummy caramelly, nutty apples from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory good enough of an incentive? Even if you have a Charlie Brown tree, I want to see it. I just know that if I get pictures of 10 Pioneer Square Christmas Trees, that our neighborhood can be saved. Isn’t neighborhood love and the love of chocolate all that it takes?

p.p.p.p.s. (I had to do it this way so that I didn’t write a bunch of mini posts). I went to the Streetcar Open House (which wasn’t the most amazing thing I’ve ever been to, I’ll be honest), but the real reason to do it is to fill out their comment sheets about why it should come down into Pioneer Square.

One proposed idea (only a couple million more dollars) is to bring it down Main street and then loop (on that street that the waterfall park is on) back up to Int’l District and First Hill. It would be a really great thing for our neighborhood, so if you have a moment, go add your comments to the comment section on this site, or email Ethan Melone (with City of Seattle) and help get a streetcar in part of our neighborhood!

px5.s. Posts may get more sparse during the Holiday Break.

Reminder: Open House tonight for streetcar

December 16, 2009  |  Call to Action, Event  |  No Comments

When: Wednesday, December 16, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (today!)

Where: Yesler Community Center (917 E Yesler Way)

What: An open house where the city will “educate residents and businesses about potential routes and get feedback.”

To see my previous post on this, click here.

Lisa added this comment on the above post:

comment

This is a great opportunity to add some more transit to the neighborhood and to further the goal of possibly connecting all of the Seattle neighborhoods through a streetcar system. Please come and add another voice for our neighborhood.

Check out these two sites for more information: SeatteStreetcar.org and Seattle Transit Blog (these are also the image credits)

What will the Office of Economic Development do for Pioneer Square?

December 15, 2009  |  News, Politics  |  No Comments

I met with the Office of Economic Development last week to talk about what type of services they offer to neighborhoods, businesses, and residents.

To start with, here is some background on the OED: the Director is appointed by the Mayor (and may or may not be around for the next few years under McGinn), they have around 20 employees, and their three “mottos” are Money, Management, and Markets. To read more about these, click here.

They provide the following services:

  1. Direct Service to Business (primarily small business)
  2. Support health of the downtown districts / neighborhoods
    1. Addressing neighborhood business district needs
    2. Provide small grants to businesses for marketing and promotion
    3. Comprehensive strategy for increasing a neighborhood’s health

Services they don’t provide:

  1. Incentives to retailers to move in to our neighborhood (although they do try to play matchmaker if an opportunity presents itself)
    1. OED says they can’t do that because WA State Constitution prohibits gift of public funds or lending of credit to private business ventures (use this for #2 and #3)
  2. Incentives to landlords to help offer deals to potential residents
  3. Incentives to residents to move to condos/apartments in Pioneer Square
  4. Regulations of human services (no control over making any shelters leave, or whether or not more move in)

So, background, done. Let’s get to Pioneer Square.

OED Communications Director Karin Zaugg, and Strategic Advisor Nancy Yamamoto said that the “city is aware that the economic health of Pioneer Square has been declining over the past few years.”  The Mayor asked OED to do something about it.

As a result, they contacted the following stakeholders and representatives in P2: human services reps, stadium reps, historic preservation members, artists, nightlife owners, retailers, and residents. The goal would be to meet together as a group called the “Revitalization Committee” to discuss the problems facing each different group and talk candidly about what needs to be done for the neighborhood. They had their first meeting in November (that PSCA prepared for by doing a charette at the public safety meeting), where they discussed things like bringing new shoppers in, bringing new retailers in, retaining retailers, and public safety.

The OED has now brought in Donovan Rypkema, who is supposed to be a nationwide expert on commercial revitalization, and “an industry leader in the economics of preserving historic structures.”

The goal out of this month’s meeting is to produce a report on Pioneer Square that points out the neighborhood’s strengths and weaknesses. According to OED, the Revitalization Committee will come up with actionable items and a system for completing these actions. They said that as opposed to just creating a list of holistic, feel-good ideas that will never be completed, they wanted to really be smart about their analysis and action items.

Here’s the kicker (that OED didn’t mention): Rypkema was here waaay back in 2002 when he completed an analysis of Pioneer Square and made recommendations for the neighborhood.

Although I’m not sure how much serious analysis he could make in only 3 days, he provided a list of Business Improvement Recommendations. The benefit from having an “outsider” analyze the neighborhood is it potentially holds more weight when taken to the city for consideration. Although we all yell and scream about the same neighborhood problems over and over again, bringing in an expert and putting it down on paper seems to get more attention.

Back in 2002, here are some of the areas he cited where P2 could improve:

  1. Too small of a residential base
  2. Not enough diversity in retail
  3. No clear focus on who our target customers are
  4. Obvious tension between retail and nighttime businesses.
  5. Counter-cyclical hours should allow a bridge to be built between these constituencies that result in a wonderful 24 hour neighborhood
  6. Real estate community should identify specific initiatives and creative leasing structures, % leases, to fill the empty storefronts and retain our existing business base
  7. City should be responsible for the basics in our neighborhood such as ensuring public safety and maintaining clean/attractive streets and public spaces

One final note from his recommendations:

Pioneer Square should not try to be attractive to the “grandmother from Dubuque.” Urban historic districts should celebrate their character which is often more gritty and organic than suburban shopping districts.  This can be a postive!

(this is my comeback to all of the idiots who post negative comments about Pioneer Square about the atmosphere here — they obviously don’t belong in the city, or at least in this neighborhood)

One of the problems I stated in my Elliott Bay post is that the community doesn’t have one united, strong voice that can tell the city what we need. Instead, if there are public meetings, the bar owners and stadium owners are more likely to show up than the residents, and there are conflicting interests from these groups. This Revitalization Committee is part one — finally bringing everyone together with one common goal: Revitalizing Pioneer Square (here’s my plug for voting this up on ideas for seattle — we’re moving up the list!).

Part two is making sure that these neighborhood stakeholders stay invested and work together to follow up on any action items resulting from the Revitalization Committee.

I’ll have an update tomorrow after his (2nd) presentation of how we can “fix” our neighborhood.

p.s. Just a side note — OED says that they’ve been working with Peter Aaron (Elliott Bay Book Co owner) from the beginning to try and figure out a solution. It’s just that part of the solution didn’t have anything to do with keeping it in Pioneer Square. They said they took the neighborhood into account, of course, but people need to also recognize that a business is going to make its own decisions.

Pioneer Square in the news

December 14, 2009  |  News  |  1 Comment
News:

300 rally in Seattle in support of Obama’s health care proposals by Seattle Times. The rally was organized in part by the national Democratic Party for support of President Obama’s health care agenda.

New deep-bore tunnel alignment proposed for Pioneer Square by Seattle PI. WSDOT is considering changes to the planned Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Tunnel — one that could mean some relief for residents and businesses in the historic Pioneer Square district, according to a project spokeswoman. (huge discussion happening in the comments section)

Can Pioneer Square be saved? by Seattle PI.  Businesses, residents look to new mayor after famed book store says it’s leaving

Elliott Bay is Just Not That Into Me by Publicola. A criticism of EBBC’s decision to move, and their general business model. The author will not be doing her holiday shopping at Elliott Bay this year.

Giving the Gift of College Loans with Seattle’s Vittana by The SunBreak. Local P2 business Vittana microfinance loans for college students.

Pioneer Square Man Who Films Drug Dealers Now Has Big Brother-Like Reach by Seattle Weekly. I think the title says it all.

Blogs:

Travel Trip talks about Seattle + the Underground Tour

Bottomfeeder: Beba’s Is Not Your Average Deli by Seattle Weekly’s Bottomfeeder

Seattle Transit Blog – great discussion in the comments about Seattle transit and bringing back the Waterfront Streetcar, as well as a line into Pioneer Square.

The Old, Weird America: Folk Themes in Contemporary Art -First Thursday blog

Do you have the best Christmas Tree?

December 11, 2009  |  Announcement, Fun  |  No Comments

Announcing a new competition for Pioneer Square residents!

I know that there are a lot of you who have Christmas Trees up — I can see them through your windows. And now that I write that, I should just clarify that I don’t go around looking at people’s windows– the lights just draw my attention.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory has generously agreed to donate eight caramel apples to the winner (good for your choice of any apple priced $6.75 or under) — A value of $54 of pure chocolatey, nutty, appley glee.

To enter: email a picture of your tree to me at info@thenewp2.com by next Sunday, December 20th. Make sure to include your name and address (so I can send you the coupons).

I will post the pictures of the entries and put them up for a vote. The Christmas Tree with the most votes wins the coupons to RMCF.

Good luck!