Archive for March, 2010

First Thursday!

March 31, 2010  |  Uncategorized  |  3 comments

It seems like March’s First Thursday just happened, but time flies when you’re having fun, I guess. Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day and First Thursday and there are a lot of different things happening around the Square.

For maps, news, or more info, you can always go to First Thursday’s website.

  1. April Fool’s Day & The Feast of Fools!
    6:30 – 8:30 pm, free
    Teatro ZinZanni will perform at Caffe Umbria (320 Occidental Ave S). “With a nod to an ancient tradition of reversing roles for one day a year, the Feast of Fools puts a zany twist into the Art Walk this April Fools’ Day as Teatro ZinZanni artists converge at Caffe Umbria.”
  2. Caffe Vita + Pizzeria Napoletana All Day Fundraiser
    “All food and beverages are free but they’re happily accepting donations – ALL the money goes to 4culture so don’t be stingy!” (source)
    6am – 11am
    *Free drip coffee.
    11am – 4pm
    *Free small pizzas from Pizzeria Napoletana
    6pm – 8pm
    4Culture Hosts a free performance by the TARANTELLAS
    8pm – 10pm
    A series of performances by some of Seattle’s favorites Tretn (Head Like a Kite / Fresh Espresso) and New Guarders Thomas Hunter (Kay Kay / Wild Orchid Children) and Fatal Lucciauno (love that guy!). Free food, drinks and music for the 21+ crowd
  3. Seattle Art Museum – Toy Box Trio
    5:30pm – 7:30pm, free
    Toy Box Trio combines concertina, toy piano and tuba to create sounds evocative of dusty music boxes and haunted carnivals.
    SAM invites the entire family to explore art and experience a variety of cultures on the first Thursday of the month, when the museum comes alive with music and activities tied to our diverse collections.
  4. Elliott Bay Cafe Wine Tasting
    5pm – 8pm
    Come out to The Elliott Bay Cafe (101 South Main St.) in Pioneer Square this Thursday, to meet some of the personalities behind 509 Wines.

You can also check out Joey Veltkamp’s Guide to First Thursday Art Walk, Regina Hackett’s First Thursday Suggestions, or if you’re bold, you can go and print off the First Thursday Walking Map and explore all of your options.

The view better be worth it…

March 31, 2010  |  Event, PI  |  No Comments

Is what I kept thinking to myself as we walked up what felt like thousands of stairs in King Street Station. Well, really only 326 (yes I counted).

Even with the stair climbing, I was fortunate to attend the tour of King Street Station last Thursday that was organized by the Seattle Architecture Foundation.

“Come see the work underway to restore the building’s historic character and grandeur.  The building’s tour will include an opportunity to go up into the clock tower.  [did you see that? called an “opportunity” instead of a thigh-burning climb]

King Street Station’s completion in 1906 marked an important era of growth for the city that helped establish Seattle as the primary shipping port of the Pacific Northwest.  Its architects, Reed & Stem, designed many train stations throughout the United States, including Grand Central Station in New York City.  The interior spaces were altered in the 1950s and 60s, resulting in the removal of the decorative plaster wall panels and addition of a suspended acoustic tile ceiling.  Restoration is underway to return the station to its original appearance.”

Due to the huge attendance (~65 – 70 people) and the nature of King Street Station, it was hard to hear the tour guide at many of the areas. But that wasn’t too important as I was there to see a side of King Street station that I normally wouldn’t be able to see.

This is the original ceiling with the drop down ceiling that they added when they tried to “modernize” the station. I’m really glad that they’re getting rid of it and restoring the original ceiling.

These are the very last steps in the clock tower to be able to walk around the outside. They only allowed 2 people on at a time as it is still a little wobbly. It will be interesting if they will allow people up here for tours once the renovation is complete.

I even included a shot of the International District — as we stood there, I was thinking this would have been a good place to stand when the Mayor was doing his tour. The procession that followed him everywhere would have been amusing from a bird’s eye view.

Intersection at 2nd Ave Ext S & Jackson St:

Old train tunnel that BNSF, Amtrak and Sounder Commuter trains use:

Roof of King Street Station:

My favorite neighborhood in the city (including the newly renovated Pacific Commercial Building by Conover Bond):

Awesome King Street Center office park adjacent to the station:

I’ll leave you with this final picture (no explanation necessary, right?):

My conclusion is that yes — the view was worth the climb. And the view was to be expected: clouds and rain and the chants of the Sounder game in the background.

Bread of Life Mission Voucher Program

March 29, 2010  |  Announcement, Homeless, PI  |  No Comments

The Bread of Life is an incredible mission in Pioneer Square (see a post regarding their Drive by Fooding Program here, or a post introducing 5 bread of life residents). When talking to Leah Swindon, the Marketing + Communications Director, about their Drive-by-Fooding program, she also mentioned this great voucher program that they have.

What it is / How it works:
If someone on the street stops and asks you for money or food, you can hand them a voucher for a free night’s stay (+ two meals) at the Bread of Life Mission in Pioneer Square. When you request the vouchers, BOLM notes your specific ticket numbers so that they can track what happens to them. If someone uses a voucher you gave them for shelter, BOLM will send an email to you that thanks you, and that because of you, someone had a place to sleep that night.

They also get the opportunity while they are there to learn more about their programs and to possible enroll or continue to get help.

What the voucher includes:
The individual would need to be there by 5:30pm where they get the following:

  • A shower
  • A bed (not a mat)
  • 2 meals – dinner + breakfast

* BOLM is for men only, although they do offer food and clothing services for women

How to get the vouchers:
Email Leah or Katie – you can request them by mail or if you’re in the area (they’re located on 1st & Main), feel free to stop by and pick them up, and possibly take a tour of the facilities. If you have more questions, call 206-682-3579.

Other information:
In the next week or two, I have a post coming that will talk about more of the programs that they offer, but here are a few details. For a person to stay at the shelter, they pay $5/night and have to be in line by 5:30pm (and don’t leave until 6 the next morning). Every single individual is breathalized and has to attend ½ hr of an inter-denominational chapel before eating. The BOLM doesn’t consider their mission to be secondary housing, but works to get individuals the help they need to get back on their feet.

They utilize around 60 volunteers a month and their costs for an individual per night is $15.14. To learn more about their program or to get involved, check out their website.

Pioneer Square in the News

March 29, 2010  |  News, PI  |  No Comments

Caffe Vita celebrates new Pioneer Square location with free coffee, pizza, music on April 1 (Seattle Times)

April Fool’s Day & The Feast of Fools! (First Thursday)
Teattro Zinzanni coming to Caffe Umbria on First Thursday (also free!) from 6:30 – 8:30

Review: At Satori’s ‘Winky,’ you’ll shift seats and perspectives (Seattle Times)
I went to this play and I’d say that this review is right on — It runs until April 5th so take some time soon to support this local theater group!

The Satori Group’s Winky Asks Hard Questions Amid the Laughs (SunBreak)

Soccer fans golden in Emerald City (The Province)
A fun review of the Sounders vs. Philadelphia Union

Spice up April Fools’ Day for $20 or less at local toy stores (NW Source)
…including Magic Mouse Toys in Pioneer Square

Elliott Bay Book Co’s last day: March 31st (EBBC)
They will reopen on Capitol Hill ~April 16th. Don’t forget that the Elliott Bay Cafe is staying in Pioneer Square.

Who Will Pick Up Seattle’s Garbage If the Collectors Go On Strike? (Seattle Weekly)
Pioneer Square would be happy to have Cleanscapes back to manage our neighborhood

Japanese mini-series to film on Palouse (The Daily Evergreen)
A Los Angeles-based production company will begin shooting a television series about Japanese immigrant farmers on Palouse sites this April. The production crew will transform all of Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle into a 1940s scene.


Studio SC: A photo from the clock tower (during tour of King Street Station)

Cherry Street Coffee video: Pioneer Square Art Show – The Lilliputian Eye

Chef Q&A with Tamara Murphy (Foodista Blog)
Q&A with Elliott Bay Cafe (+ Brasa) owner Tamara Murphy. Did I mention they’re staying in Pioneer Square?

Shadow Shot Sunday: Worn Bricks

Seattle: Free coffee, pizza, music on April 1 at Caffe Vita in Pioneer Square
Better timeline of events at Caffe Vita this Thursday

4Culture funding deadlines, art and heritage opportunities, free events – read about it in our April newsletter


Easter Services at Seattle Area Churches (Seattle Times)
Lutheran Compass Center – Sunrise service, 7 a.m., Occidental Park, Pioneer Square. 461-7837

Easter Dinner Serving, April 4th (Bread of Life Mission)
Volunteers needed to help serve dinner (starting at 2pm)

Sat, 4/3 Sounders vs. Red Bulls

Thurs, 4/1 First Thursday!

Real Change moving from Belltown to Pioneer Square

March 26, 2010  |  Announcement, Business, Complaining, Homeless, PI  |  No Comments

I have contacted Real Change and we have a meeting + tour planned. After talking with friends and coworkers, I realize that when I posted this a week or so ago, that I framed the conversation in the wrong way. I think Real Change is an incredible organization and they do great things for the region’s homeless. Pioneer Square is also a model community for how they deal with homelessness and the low income population. Even though we have under 2,500 residents, we have a history of great relationships with the shelters and human services located here. What it really comes down to is that homelessness is a city-wide issue, not a neighborhood issue, and there are a few factors that lead many of the services to locate in Pioneer Square (history, the free ride zone, etc.) What I’m doing now is working on a dialogue with Real Change, with the Homeless Intervention Director for the City’s Human Services Dept, and other organizations to talk about broadening the support for the homeless community and not sending the message to the homeless/low income that they should only feel comfortable in one or two neighborhoods. This is a long update, but I wanted to add it to this post in case anyone comes back to read it, but I’m not quite ready for a new post yet.


Every now and then, I do a search for “Pioneer Square” on twitter to see what people are talking about and if there’s something new going on that I may not have heard about. A few weeks ago, I came across this announcement on Real Change’s twitter page:

To be honest – I was shocked. I know some people feel like they have a few too many human services in their neighborhood, but there’s no doubt that Pioneer Square has the highest concentration. When the Pioneer Square neighborhood plan was being worked on, one of the issues that was stressed was that there should be a moratorium on new human services moving in or current human services expanding.

Just to be very clear — I am supportive of many of the human services in our neighborhood. This isn’t about whether a human service is good or bad or if you love them or hate them — it’s about the fact that if you have a concentration of services in one neighborhood, it sends the message that that’s the only place they should feel comfortable being. Not in other “nicer” neighborhoods, but yes, you are welcome in Pioneer Square.

I called Real Change to find out more information about the move because I couldn’t find anything on their blog or website or twitter. Real Change was very open and willing to talk about it. Apparently they are supposed to open May 24th in their new location on Main between 1st + Western. When I asked them if they were worried about potential objections from the neighborhood, they said that the Landlord was satisfied with the measures and precautions they take.

Which isn’t really an answer.

In an email, however, they gave the reasons for their move:

“In my conversations with donors, businesses and community leaders, people are excited for our move to the area.

Not sure what people they’ve been talking to — no one seems to have known about it until it showed up on twitter. That means that they haven’t even reached out to the Pioneer Square Board, or other leaders in the community.

“Our relocation to Pioneer Square serves several objectives to us, to the community as a whole and to our vendors.  Moving outside of the Downtown area, as many non-profits have done, is not practical for our vendors or our community.  Pioneer Square is affordable and in need of vibrant businesses and organizations like ours.  We aim to be good neighbors, as we have been for 15 years in Belltown.”

I understand why they want to stay downtown, however, we are very aware and open regarding the problems that we’re having with homelessness and drug dealing down here — similar to Belltown, but we have it more concentrated. Bringing their vendors down here is going to expose them to the drug dealers that target the population of people who utilize the existing services in the area. One Real Change vendor even recently said that she was nervous about coming to Pioneer Square to pick up her papers and wasn’t sure if she would continue with the program.

Continuing in the email, they then stated how they would help the neighborhood:

What we bring to Pioneer Square is a staff of 12 employees and 4 full-time interns, as well as many volunteers and donors, who will be in the area daily- buying lunch, buying parking, shopping on their lunch breaks and bringing their families and friends into the area.

Not to be overly cynical, but 16 staffers don’t really outweigh the queuing of 400 vendors that is going to take place [as I mentioned above — setting up yet another target for the drug dealers], or the fact that it’s contributing to Pioneer Square becoming a one stop shop for most of Seattle’s homeless.

Morning queue at Lazarus Day Center + known location of heavy drug and alcohol usage and fighting

Because of the decision of Elliott Bay Book Co to move at the end of this month, our neighborhood has received a lot of attention. We have a revitalization committee led by OED, and a lot of people working on activating the neighborhood, as well as articles and TV features.

There are a lot of people working really hard on this neighborhood right now and no matter how good Real Change is for homelessness, it just feels like taking a step in the wrong direction.

If Real Change really wants to be a good neighbor and to be a part of the neighborhood, it would have been nice if they had done some outreach and met with PSCA and other Pioneer Square business owners and residents to talk about how their move would affect Pioneer Square, and even how being located in our neighborhood could affect the vendors in their program.

I’m very supportive of what they’re doing for homelessness and I would just hope they would be equally supportive of what we’re trying to do for our neighborhood. I would also hope that the landlords who are leasing out spaces would be mindful of how each tenant can help/hurt Pioneer Square.

1st Sounders game — take light rail, bus, ferry, waterfront streetcar!

March 25, 2010  |  Event, News, PI  |  No Comments

The Sounders are playing their first season home game tonight at 6:30pm versus Philadelphia Union (to see a complete Sounders schedule, click here).

I rode the light rail with family and friends the first day it opened — it just also happened on the same day as a Sounders game. As we walked through Westlake on our way to the light rail, our group attracted the attention of a Seattle Times Photographer and we ended up on the front page.

I remember how packed the area was with people testing out the light rail, and then a sea of green everywhere you looked. We’re excited to live in Pioneer Square this season where we can walk a few blocks and be at the stadium. We’re not the only ones who have such easy access to Pioneer Square and to the stadiums, however — Pioneer Square is one of the richest transit neighborhoods in the State of Washington.

I’ve heard complaints about parking (especially on game days), but why park when you can take light rail, use the extensive bus system, hop on a ferry or a water taxi, take the waterfront “streetcar” (aka bus), take a taxi, or even walk. And did I mention that buses in the city are free?

Although it won’t help for the game tomorrow, the Seattle Transit Blog reports that “Sound Transit is expanding their special sporting event service on Sounder to cover all weekend day games of both the Mariners and the Sounders this year.”

Sound Transit’s website says that “Seattle Mariners and Sounders FC soccer fans can forget about traffic and take Sound Transit’s popular Sounder commuter rail trains to weekend day games this season. The special Sounder service is in addition to regular Link light rail service to and from the stadiums.” To read more, visit their website here.

Also, don’t miss the March to the Match, which starts 60 minutes before game time at Occidental Park. Sounders are partnering with the Parks Dept to provide free hot dogs to ticket holders, free face painting, and a bouncy house for kids (or immature adults).

OED City Business Casual on Thursday

March 24, 2010  |  Event, PI  |  No Comments

This Thursday, March 27th, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, with City Council President Richard Conlin, will be hosting the third monthly City Business Casual after-hours event in downtown Seattle.

This event may be of interest to neighborhood businesses who are interested in discussing business, economic development, finance, and real estate issues with business-friendly local government officials.

More than 150 people came to the January and February events, including appearances by Mayor Mike McGinn; City Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Sally Clark, Sally Bagshaw, and Jean Godden; City Attorney Pete Holmes, and more.

Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin’s interests include economic development, sustainability, energy, technology, civil rights, utilities, neighborhoods, and finance/budget. Anyone who is interested in how these issues impact Seattle will find it worthwhile to talk with Mr. Conlin!

Pioneer Square has the same major crime stats as Fremont + Wallingford

March 23, 2010  |  Drugs, PI, Violence  |  No Comments

According to the Seattle Police Department, the Pioneer Square “west” neighborhood, which includes everything west of 2nd Avenue Extension (not including my side of the street) is on par with North Lake Union (Fremont/Wallingford) in terms of “major crimes” – 630-1718 total incidents per square mile, and is generally lower than the rest of downtown Seattle, which ranges from 1736-7876 total incidents psm.
Major crimes include Murder, Rape, Assault, Robbery, Burglary, Larceny/Auto theft.

This is due to several factors:

  1. Occidental Mall and 1st Avenue are generally very safe public areas
  2. The firehouse and its associated vehicles and activity is a strong deterrent (seen as analogous to a police station)
  3. Higher crime sub-area begins on east side of 2nd Ave Extension (again, my side of the street) and extends into International district area at Jackson St. (from Lazarus then east up Jackson beyond 5th)
  4. Width of 2nd Avenue Extension — 2nd Ave is one of the widest 1-way streets in downtown Seattle- keeps people congregating on one side, and focused on east side.

But let’s take a look at how the crime stats have changed from 2008 – 2009.

Pioneer Square’s Urban Village:

Keep in mind as you check out the stats that we want to see the Dispatch numbers (calls from 911) decrease and the OnView numbers (crimes caught directly by police) to increase. Or best case scenario, all of the numbers decrease (meaning not as much crime is even being committed).

I also wish that more people would be arrested and/or harassed for loitering — I believe it’s what leads to a lot of the other crime on 2nd Ave Ext S. Because when there are people standing in groups, it’s easy to target them to sell them drugs, and it’s also easy to stand there to sell drugs and not look as conspicuous.

Or maybe Utilikilts could offer them a killer deal — even if they continue loitering in a group, there’s no way people can be as intimidated when they’ve all got skirts on (sorry guys, but I really haven’t picked on you in a while).

*A key for what is included in different crime categories is listed at the end of this post

Urban Village 5am – 8pm
[table id=11 /]

Urban Village 8pm – 5am
[table id=12 /]

Pioneer Square’s Stadium Area:

Stadium Area 5am – 8pm
[table id=13 /]

Stadium Area 8pm – 5am
[table id=14 /]

Violent crimes includes – Homicide, Robbery, Rape,Sex Offense, Arson, Weapons and Assault
Property crimes includes – Burglary, Theft, Shoplift, Carprowl, Auto Theft, Fraud, Alarm and Property Damage
Civility includes – Trespass, Liquor, Detox, Prostitution, Mental, Assist Public, Premise, Park Exclusion, Warrant and Suspicous Circumstances

Pioneer Square in the News

March 22, 2010  |  News, PI  |  No Comments

Sidewalk signs in Pioneer Square put businesses, city at odds (Seattle Times)
City cracking down on sidewalk signs (see follow up post below)

Pioneer Square coffee: Cherry Street warned about sidewalk board, Elliott Bay Cafe branches out (Seattle Times)
I understand that this comes from the city — but Pioneer Square needs some help right now, and businesses have reported that this has caused their sales to decrease. Let’s stop with the One Size Fits All rules!

More police headed to downtown Seattle (SPD Blotter)
Adding more police, and changing bike squads to foot patrol. These foot beats will cover Belltown, Pioneer Square and the International District.  “It is my hope to make our police officers more accessible to citizens, businesses and the public at large.” Link to Seattle Times article talking about the change.

A stand-up roundup: Comedy clubs in Seattle and on the Eastside (Seattle Times)
Comedy Underground featured as a place that features “emerging talent,” including comics like Jerry Seinfeld and Ellen Degeneres

How to make urban alleys work (Crosscut)
An imaginative design competition focuses on one alley in Pioneer Square, coming up with ideas we should apply around the city.

Enjoying a cappuccino in an alley might become a reality (News1130 Vancouver, BC)
A design competition in Seattle would see nice little bistros set up in an alley in Pioneer Square and there’s talk of expanding the idea throughout the city.

It takes a village to find a police chief (Seattle Times)
A fake Q&A about potential police chief candidates. First scenario includes how to deal with mardi gras riots in Pioneer Square.

Kirkland racks up DUIs, according to state’s ‘Worst Offender List’ (Seattle PI)
Arterials in Fremont and Northwest Market Street in Ballard and Pioneer Square are hot spots.

Goodbye to grand plan for Seattle Center? (Seattle Times)
Discussion of where a Chihuly Museum should go – Seattle Center? Pioneer Square? I think it should go to Tacoma, who needs a lot of help/support as well and a Chihuly Museum just fits with what they’ve already got down there.

The Satori Group Explores Why We Don’t Ask for What We Want (SunBreak)
New play, called “Winky” opened last Friday in a studio at six19. Satori is called out as “Seattle’s most promising young theatre company.”

An abundance of free Wi-Fi across the Northwest (Seattle Times)
Customers at Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square were some of the first in Seattle to take advantage of free Wi-Fi. Now it’s everywhere.

Bookshop’s exit leaves Pioneer Square looking for hope (PSBJ)


Pioneer Square’s Brand-New Deli Sounds AMAZING (SLOG)
It’s called Delicatus. If you like sandwiches—that is, if you are a human being—prepare to freak out.

Mayor McGinn Walks, Eats Sandwich in Pioneer Square (SLOG)
A review of the Mayor’s walking tour of International District and Pioneer Square. I’ll be writing a post on my take of the walk and my conversation with Mayor McGinn regarding the worst part of P2: 2nd Ave Ext S (aka the block I live on).
p.s. he not only ate a sandwich, he also ate some Pizza from Pizza Pros


King Street Station Walking Tour Thursday, March 25th
Currently, this event is sold out, but you can still request to be put on the waiting list.

Walking Tour of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Saturday, March 27th
Don’t miss your chance to gain an up-close look at the viaduct that is only available when it closes to traffic. There will be a short walking tour of the viaduct while the structure is closed to traffic for inspection.
*update: Also full — to get on the waiting list, call 1-888-298-5463 or email

Check out the Pioneer Square Events Calendar for more events coming up this week.

Take a survey on safety in Pioneer Square

March 18, 2010  |  Call to Action, PI  |  No Comments

If you live or work in the neighborhood, please take 5-10 minutes to take this survey. The results are going to PSCA and to the City to see how people feel about the neighborhood.