Archive for April, 2010

Friday Feature: Zulily

April 30, 2010  |  Friday Feature, PI  |  No Comments

After featuring a lot of retail and ground level shops, I thought it was about time to feature one of our above-ground companies: Zulily

Zulily is an online store that offers crazy discounts (up to 70% off of retail) on items for moms, kids, and babies. Their buyers work hard to find local, organic, non-toxic items and feature 4 items at a time. Like other online sites, however, these sales are limited to 3 business days before they expire and new items are featured.

Zulily recently launched their website and opened their Pioneer Square office in late January of this year. Founded by two veterans of Blue Nile, they started with only 6 employees and have already expanded to a team of over 30. Because of their rapid growth, they just moved offices from 1st & Jackson to 3rd & Jackson.

Apparently on their 1st street location, they had caused a commotion by removing a huge stuffed animal giraffe from their window that people often took photos of. The building across the street missed it so much, they put signs up in their own windows requesting that the giraffe come back! (and as you can see, he is now joined by a dog at their new location).

When we talked about why they chose to open in Pioneer Square, they said that the neighborhood had a history of great start-ups and now that they’ve been around for a few months, there is definitely an energy that encourages them to get out of the office and explore food options during the day. What’s more exciting for them, however, is that they’re a self-described “transit-riding, bicycle-loving kind of a group” which is the perfect fit for Pioneer Square, one of the easiest neighborhoods to get to with transit.

To show their love for the rest of the neighborhood, they are offering a deal to the New Pioneer Square blog readers by offering a coupon code good for $10 off any purchase of $30 or more. Try it out this week before it expires! PSQ10 (code expires 5/7 and is only good for one per customer).

You can also check them out on Facebook, or get status updates on Twitter.

Each Person Counts: Help Fight Homelessness

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

Every January, volunteers throughout Seattle and King County come together in a combined effort to determine the number of homeless people who are either sleeping in the streets or in shelters. This effort is called the “One Night Count” (see posts here and here). The number of people counted for 2010 was a staggering 8,559.

In an effort to reduce the number of homeless people in Seattle, the Bread of Life Mission has started a campaign called “Each Person Counts” to help draw attention to the cause and to bring people together to change the trajectory of homelessness in Seattle.

The Each Person Counts campaign offers t-shirts for sale that have a number on the front – every shirt that you purchase will represent one homeless person in King County. The number on the shirt will continue to count up until they reach 8,559 shirts; at that point, every homeless person that was counted will be represented by someone who cared enough to contribute to the campaign. 100% of the profits will be used towards the cost of providing food and shelter to one of their overnight homeless guests at the Mission.

While they are at the Mission, they will be presented with options and opportunities to end their personal battle with homelessness.
To see a video promoting this campaign, click here. To make your donation and get your t-shirt, click here (and check out their t-shirt counter that shows how many more they need to reach their goal).

Switch / Seattle Event

April 28, 2010  |  Announcement, Event, PI  |  No Comments

Save the Date: Thursday, May 20th
Team Diva believes that you cannot have a great city and ignore your urban, historic core. Pioneer Square is one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods and has been hit hard by the economic downturn. Many retailers and residents have started to leave the ‘hood’ for other gentrified areas. We believe that Pioneer Square is more than a sports destination and a stopping spot for tourists. The neighborhood’s historic brick buildings also house artists, get it done folks, architects and urbanites who love Seattle.

Join Team Diva as we partner with Occidental Square’s Artemide, and architects from around the region to shine a new urban light on Pioneer Square. Mix over drinks and music, and join in the conversation on how you envision the next stage in Pioneer Square’s history.

This event will fill up quick, so be sure to RSVP with Team Diva ASAP!


Date: Thursday, May 20th
Time: 6:00-8:00 PM
Location: Artemide @ 310 Occidental Avenue South / Right in Occidental Mall
You can also RSVP on their Facebook page.

Pioneer Square in the News

April 26, 2010  |  News, PI  |  No Comments

Pioneer Square tailor serving customers for 3 decades (Seattle Times)
Pioneer Square tailor Be Van Nguyen arrived at Sea-Tac airport almost three decades ago with the clothes he was wearing, a small box containing a book, a pen, socks, a T-shirt and “not one cent in my pocket. No money. Nothing.”

Saving Pioneer Square by teaching it some old tricks (Crosscut)
Pioneer Square needs to get organized to revitalize itself. The Main Street program, which barely survived Olympia budget cuts, offers a tested approach that could bring small-town techniques to Seattle’s historic urban district.

Retail vacancies reach record highs (King5 news)
New numbers show more retail spaces are vacant across the country and Seattle is not exception.

Film being shot in Seattle will only be seen in Japan (NWCN)
The movie will only be shown in Japan, but you may catch a glimpse during the rest of filming in Seattle, which should take a few more weeks. The film crew is in Eastern Washington right now, but will return soon to Seattle to shoot some pivotal scenes in Pioneer Square.


Salumi Artisan Cured Meats – Seattle (Gas-tron-o-my)
A great review of one of Pioneer Square’s (not well kept) secrets: Salumi

Pioneer Square, Seattle (H-Visual)
Cool photographs of someone just “passing by.” My favorite:

Nightclub Owners Want Politicians to Be ‘Urbanist’, Just Without the Panhandling (Seattle Weekly)
Interesting point of view, but the comments might be more interesting.

First Call: Memories of Poor Choices Past at Aura (Seattle Weekly – Voracious)

Bad idea: Getting drunk, then going fist city with a cop (Seattle 911)

Urban Sketchers met up in Pioneer Square last Sunday (4/18). Click here for all of the Pioneer Square sketches. Here are two of my favorites:

And as always, check out the Events Calendar to find out what’s coming up this week.

Friday Feature: Elliott Bay Cafe (yes it’s still here!)

April 23, 2010  |  Business, Friday Feature, PI  |  No Comments

I had the great opportunity this week to sit down with Zephyr, the manager of Elliott Bay Cafe, to talk about their store and what their future is looking like with the departure of Elliott Bay Book Co.

To reach the store, you have to go underground, where you enter a Pioneer Square-esque brick-walled interior that was the inspiration for Café Nervosa in the TV sitcom “Frasier” (apparently Norman Mailer, Barbara Kingsolver and George Saunders have all stopped by to check it out).

Visitors to the cafe still have a funny reaction when they’re visiting specifically to compare it to the Frasier Cafe and don’t think it’s the perfect match. Just talking with Zephyr, you can see the passion that she has for EBC, for the staff that work there, and for the menu.

“I think we probably have the best vegetarian selection in this neighborhood and probably some better vegetarian selections than a lot of places around,” she said. “Our ‘beans and greens’ is ridiculously outstanding. The breakfast risotto, which is a vegan dish, will totally get you going in the day. It’s amazing.”

With a customer mix of office employees and residents, the best news is that EBC is sticking around the neighborhood and we need to help support that decision! With the departure of EBBC, they are temporarily closing at 3pm until another business opens up in that space. They’ve noticed a slight drop in evening customers, and think that part of it may be that people don’t know they’re still around (perhaps due to the papered up windows in EBBC’s old space).

I emailed with owner Tamara Murphy (who also owns the fabulous Brasa) to find out why she chose Pioneer Square and why she’s sticking around.

What made you decide to open a cafe in Pioneer Square?
Tamara: I have had a relationship with the book store for 25 years. I witnessed the cafe’s various incarnations over the years, and always thought that it was a magical historical space that needed constant nurturing and definitely a face lift. Peter Aaron was looking for an operator as he was not a restaurant guy, and he was given my name and we hit it off instantly. The cafe and the book store had great synergy and we were successful together from day one. Such great synergy that we decided to do it again in the new location. Although the bookstore has gone, I still believe in the space and we have different opportunities now.

Is there anything about EBC that people don’t know?
Tamara: It’s a great venue for music, and fine dining. Some of our dinners include linen, candle light and jazz or other music. It is an awesome space for parties, and events. I am now taking over the “reading room” and am going to transform the space into a speakeasy type atmosphere, where chefs dinners, dancing, receptions, wine tastings are on the agenda.

To get on the minute updates on EBC’s menu or special events, follow them on twitter, or become a Facebook fan.

Where to get (local) fruit and vegetables if you live in Pioneer Square

April 23, 2010  |  Announcement, News, PI  |  No Comments

Many of you have probably already heard of Full Circle Farms and their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Up until a month ago, if you lived in Pioneer Square, there was no neighborhood business where you could pick up your local, organic food. As a previous customer, Elliott Bay Café manager Zephyr noticed this lack of service and decided that they would be the perfect business to host the program.

According to their website, Full Circle’s CSA program came about because members wanted “more good food.” The way it works is that after signing up online, you choose an order size (standard or family) and your preferred delivery frequency (once a week, every other week, etc.). They will then send you a “Fresh This Week” email, showing you what’s coming in your box and reminding you to make any changes. For example, if that particular week’s box comes with Kale and you don’t like Kale, you can switch it for something similar.

For more information on the program, check out their website or stop in at EBC and chat with them about it.

You can pick up your order on Tuesdays from 3pm – 7pm (or if you miss that, they’ll keep them for you as long as you stop by during store hours).

For other alternatives, I know some residents shop at Uwajimaya, Pike Place Market or get their goods online from SPUD or Amazon Fresh.

Great City Brownbag produces thoughtful suggestions for Pioneer Square

April 22, 2010  |  Event, PI  |  3 comments

More than 40 people attended the Great City brownbag 2 weeks ago to share ideas for revitalizing Pioneer Square. The brown bag was kicked off by a presentation that shared some of the history of the square, and the future of the square (i.e. revitalization committee results, upcoming events, etc.). The room was broken up into tables of 5 – 7 individuals who were tasked with talking about the neighborhood and brainstorming ideas.

After 45 minutes of robust discussion, we came back together as a group and each table shared what they thought their best ideas were.

How they thought the city could help:

Heavier police presence / more foot patrols

Shelters and Services: Redesign entrances so they look safer, and request that queuing is formed away from the main streets

Connect the streetcar with 1st Ave, the waterfront, first hill, and capitol hill

Get rid of the sinking ship!! Replace with a triangular park opening up vista of Smith Tower from 1st Ave

Bring back the streetcar but in a modernized form (old on outside, new on inside)

More market rate housing (mentioned so many times and in so many different ways)

Internet: Wi-Fi in public parks, get people outside; free internet;

Have a percentage of the stadium money go to the historic district as an impact fee; Get sports fans logically in and out

Waterfront connection — connect with a canal or a natural beach; have a joint marketing + development plan with the International District and waterfront for when viaduct comes down

Streetscaping and activation; add food and music to the more problematic areas where people gather (i.e. corner of 2nd + Yesler)

Street food, mobile vendors, street food, kiosks, street food and more street food! (again, mentioned so many times)

Add an elementary school!

Car-free day – one day to say “no cars in Pioneer Square”

Movable awning so you can utilize arts in the park in bad weather

Have better signage at water taxis and ferries to guide people into the neighborhood; put ads in buses, bus stations, and light rail to tell people what the neighborhood has to offer.

How they thought the neighborhood could help themselves:

Unique alleys: green them up, add music, or add free-wall paint like post alley

More regular programming; Weekday night activation, bring people down midweek

Plan events that will keep day employees in the neighborhood; get them to bring their families down instead of leaving to go to their families

“Out to lunch” (mentioned a lot) – do this more frequently — encourage outdoor seating

Change the perception!!!

More residents with mixed income, need a BALANCE

Do a rebranding campaign — create a focused identity – right now it’s artists, clubbing, football fans, history and lunch crowd

Restaurants stay open later

Discourage panhandling through marketing parking meter program + tie in with the food program (donate at the food kiosks instead of giving money to individuals) [editor’s note: or check out Bread of Life’s incredible voucher program]

Lots of guided tours – art studios, “kick butt” loft tour, historic buildings, etc.

Farmers Market or P-Patch

PSCA offices should become a centralized location; maybe add an Espresso Cart where people will go, connect to the community

Host a Gamers Dating Convention

Make it a destination

Diversity of retail and commercial space so it appeals to: Families, Students & Seniors

Art School or community extension college – draw people in, change the demographics

And one of the most interesting suggestions from the event:

“Streets of Gold” — have lights shine up through glass in the sidewalks that takes people on a specific path/tour through the neighborhood.

I think that the event was a huge success and the group came up with some really great suggestions. What do you think?

A deeper look at the South Downtown Livable Plan

April 21, 2010  |  News, PI  |  No Comments

The Pioneer Square Neighborhood Plan presents a multifaceted vision that is supported by several Livable South Downtown Land Use recommendations.

Key among the neighborhood’s interests are the following:

  1. Preservation of historic character
  2. Growth of a significant residential population
  3. Future development that knits-together the neighborhood and investments in public spaces
  4. Achieving development in the Qwest Field north parking lot

DPD recently presented the South Downtown Livable plan to City Council during their committee of the built environment on April 14th. To see video from the Seattle Channel of the presentation, click here.


  1. Protect and preserve historic buildings and the historic character of the Pioneer Square neighborhood
  2. Support the emergence of a significant residential community in Pioneer Square particularly for market rate and affordable workforce housing
  3. Provide incentives for redevelopment of vacant and under-developed non-historic parcels
  4. Encourage employment density near the transit hub of King Street Station
  5. Facilitate redevelopment of the Qwest Field North Lot
  6. Improve the pedestrian experience and quality of public spaces within and around Pioneer Square

(the image shown is a fictional dev’t just East of Occidental Square Park)

One of the more interesting aspects of this plan is the statement that “126 buildings in Pioneer Square have been identified as contributing to the historic or architectural
character of the National Register Historic District.” Most of those buildings are in fairly good shape and are occupied (although there are a few that are not).

That’s pretty incredible to have that many historic buildings within one neighborhood and is what led Donovan Rypkema (commercial/historic revitalization expert) to say that “Pioneer Square is an amazing historic neighborhood and it needs to be recognized as such.”

Here are the few lots that are not historic properties:

Slide 13

When Donovan was brought to Pioneer Square in 2009, he was asked about the Livable South Downtown Plan and whether it would be enough for what our neighborhood needs right now. He said that it’s the answer to the density concerns, but that it still needs to be approved by the City Council. There were still quite a few on the committee, however, that felt that the South Downtown Plan’s recommendations were pretty timid and not bold enough to provide incentives and create real density.

In the current code, there are building standards that say that buildings are restricted not only by the 100 foot limit, but also by code says that a building can’t be more than 15 feet taller than the tallest building the block or the adjacent block fronts. This is part of the code that people have requested change and become more clear. Here is an image of the current height regulations for Pioneer Square:

And here are the proposed changes for height regulations:

**the number before the slash is for a commercial only structure. The number after the slash refers to residential height limitsThese changes should achieve the following:

  1. Encourage infill development of vacant + non-contributing parcels
  2. Add higher heights to the edges
  3. Ensure that the scale of development complements the historic character of the area
  4. Balance the neighborhood character with incentive for redevelopment
  5. Replace the variable height limit with a more consistent standard
  6. LEED Silver for buildings above base

One of the important programs that they’re proposing is the introduction of the program for the transfer of development rights (TDR) for historic properties. There is a landmark program that applies to the rest of downtown, but historic buildings in PS/ID may not use the program at this time. The way it works is that if there’s a building that is deemed to be “historic-contributing,” they can sell or transfer development rights (up to 3 floor area ratios) to another developer.

To dumb it down (because this took me a while to understand), if I am the owner of a historic building in Pioneer Square and I have the option to build up to 100 feet, but my building is only 60 feet, I can sell a certain amount of height limits to another developer and use the money to renovate my building. This could be a really important tool because it would give current historic building owners an incentive (aka money) to make some necessary renovations.

In regards to their goal to increase the number of residents in the neighborhood, a 2007 survey conducted by the Office for Housing found that Pioneer Square had only 1,283 housing units. Susan McLain of DPD stated that “Pioneer Square has not really kept up with the rest of downtown in adding residential units over the past couple of decades. In part because there are not as many parcels that are available for development, for a lot of different issues, including land values.

Of the 1,283 units:

  • 770 or 60% are Government Funded Rental Units
  • 269 or 21% are Market Rate Units
  • 244 or 19% are Homeowner Units

The South Downtown Plan would like to see at least 1,000 more units by 2024 (the proposed North Lot project will provide 668 new units for the neighborhood).  Gary Johnson of DPD added that while Pioneer Square embraces their affordable housing, they would really like to see more work force and market rate housing to balance the neighborhood better. It’s also obvious that North Lot is the main thing right now that will help achieve the goal of 1,000 more (market rate) units.

Slide 13

In the one hundred (100) foot height district, no structure shall exceed by more than fifteen (15) feet the height of the tallest structure on the block or the adjacent block front(s), to a maximum of one hundred (100) feet.

2nd Annual Pioneer Square Spring Clean!

April 21, 2010  |  Call to Action, Event, PI  |  No Comments

Clean & Green Seattle
2nd Annual Pioneer Square Spring Clean

A program of the Pioneer Square Community Association with support from the City of Seattle

DATE: Saturday, April 24, 2010
Time: 9am – 12pm
WHERE: Pioneer Square Park (1st Ave & Yesler Way)

It’s no secret that Pioneer Square’s public spaces could use a little tender loving care. On Saturday, April 24th individual volunteers and volunteer teams from community-oriented companies are going to take action to clean up our neighborhood! Last year, over 104 volunteers showed up to help, and this year we expect an even bigger turnout!

Join us to tackle the following projects:

* Weed, plant and mulch 1st Avenue median strips
* Litter pick-up throughout the neighborhood
* Graffiti removal throughout the neighborhood
* Other beautification projects

This is a great team-building activity and a simple way to give back to your community. We can work with groups that would like to tackle a project together.

Want to volunteer? Have a team of volunteers?

Alaskan Way Viaduct – Pioneer Square edition

April 19, 2010  |  Announcement, Call to Action, PI  |  No Comments

WSDOT has set up a website for Pioneer Square businesses and residents to get information regarding how the Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Programs will affect them over the next decade (or so).

Here’s a basic timeline of the construction that the Pioneer Square area will see this year (events are listed in order, but don’t have a more specific timeline):

July 2010 – December 2010

  1. Build East Frontage Road (which will become part of the SR99 detour)
  2. Rebuild Colorado Avenue S
  3. Begin to build new bike/pedestrian path
  4. Relocate utilities and the railroad track on Alaskan Way S.
  5. Realign S. Atlantic Street Intersection
    1. There will be a two week closure between E. Frontage Rd and Railroad Track Rd in November
    2. And a one week closure on north side of the intersection at S. Atlantic Street and Alaskan Way S. in December 2010
  6. SR99 detour route begins
  7. Begin to build SR99 southbound lane

WSDOT is really working hard to do outreach to the neighborhood. They hosted two community meetings last Thursday at the Klondike museum at 12pm and 5pm (to accommodate both business owners and residents). The website that they have set up has a link to documents that they had on hand, as well as a pdf of their presentation.

They plan on holding these meetings on the third Thursday of every month. Visit public events for time and location details. To receive updates on information presented during these meetings, e-mail and include “Pioneer Square updates” in the subject.

To take a survey to provide feedback on the community outreach process, click here.