Archive for June, 2010

First Thursday + Meet the ArtSparks artists

June 30, 2010  |  Announcement, Event, PI  |  No Comments

First Thursday is coming up tomorrow! Although I’m going to be out of town (again) — tomorrow promises to hold quite a few events that aren’t part of the typical First Thursday.

4Culture is organizing a brief artist talk/tour of the three current works on display at the park for this First Thursday Art Walk, July 1st at 5PM, meeting by the bocce court.

Artist Christopher Reitmaier; Jennifer Milliron and Edward Lalonde of MiLa; and Greg Lewis, Julia Khorsand and Caroline Davis of Room4Assembly will be on hand to give a short talk about the work that neighborhood residents and passerby have been so curious about.

New Art Walk maps have been also been printed to help you navigate your way through the neighborhood — they can be picked up from the concierge booth on the south side of Occidental Park.

I’ve also heard rumors that a new business in the area is planning a technological/artistic performance during the art walk, but they are secretive with the details so make sure you hit Occidental Square Park sometime during the evening.

And lastly, don’t forget about Parking For Peanuts — you can park for free in the Merrill Place Garage (between the hours of 5pm – 10pm) and all you have to do is show a receipt or a business card to show that you were there for the Art Walk/Art in the Park.

Out to Lunch + Dancing Til Dusk

June 29, 2010  |  Event, PI  |  No Comments

Both Out to Lunch + Dancing Til Dusk kick off this week in Occidental Square Park. Last year had great turnouts and did a great job of activated the neighborhood. Check out the details:

Seattle’s favorite summer tradition returns in 2010!  Come down to Occidental Square to enjoy a lunchtime concert.  More information available at

Wednesday, June 30th
Occidental Square, 12pm – 1:30pm
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Funk / Rock

Wednesday, July 21st
Occidental Square, 12pm – 1:30pm
Ian McFeron
Roots / Americana

Each night will feature a different style of live music and dancing on a newly expanded dance floor. Pre-dance lessons (beginner level) are available from 6 – 7 p.m. followed by the dance from 7 – 9 p.m.

Info: 206-264-5646 or visit

“Fire on the Bricks”: Hot Dancing in the Cool Plaza

Thursday, July 1
Occidental Square, 6pm – 9pm
Cambalache, salsa

Thursday, July 8
Occidental Square, 6pm – 9pm
Tangabrazo, tango

Thursday, July 15
Occidental Square, 6pm – 9pm
Louisiana Night with DJ Sean “Gatorboy” Donovan

Alaskan Way viaduct south end replacement groundbreaking

June 28, 2010  |  Event, PI, Politics  |  No Comments

Governor Chris Gregoire and other elected officials are participating in a groundbreaking tomorrow (Tuesday, June 29th) from 2pm – 3pm to kick off major construction for the S. Holgate Street to S. King Street viaduct replacement. The goal of this project is to remove half of the “seismically vulnerable” viaduct.

Alaskan Way Viaduct south end replacement groundbreaking
2 to 3 p.m.
Tuesday, June 29
Just north of 1051 First Avenue S., Seattle

Project information is available at For more about the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program, visit

Pioneer Square in the News

June 28, 2010  |  News, PI  |  No Comments

Pioneer Square riding on new hotel’s success (King5 News)
A brand-new hotel opened its doors in Seattle, just in time for the summer tourist season. But unlike other new hotels, there is an entire neighborhood riding on its success.

Marriott hotel opens in Pioneer Square (DJC – subscription only)
Marriott has opened the Courtyard by Marriott Seattle Downtown/Pioneer Square. The 262-room hotel is in the 106-year-old Alaska Building at 612 Second Ave. The hotel also has a restaurant and bar called The Bistro, a pool/fitness center, 4,600 square feet of meeting space in nine rooms, a business library and lobby. Guests can use a 52-inch touchscreen in the lobby to find maps, weather, news and local information.

More Round-the-World Places to Watch the World Cup (The Lobby)
Seattle: This West Coast city is offering what is undoubtedly one of the neatest and most unusual ways to watch the World Cup: in an alley. The International Sustainability Institute, which has worked with Seattle to green up its alleys, is hosting a live screening of one match each day at 11:30am – on a 100-inch screen.

Instead of vacant lots, how about dodge ball, gardens, film fests? (Seattle PI)
One idea includes a public event space at Occidental Avenue South and South Washington Street in Pioneer Square.

Celebrate in Seattle! (Running Competitor)
What to do after running the Rock n’ Roll Marathon (which was awesome, by the way!) — suggestions include a driving tour in a mercedes SUV that starts in Pioneer Square.

The Alleyway (Thrillist)
“A Theatrically Dingy Shopping Spot” – After moving their food-service-inspired gear store into a new spot downtown, the dudes from Deli have turned its old space into an accessories shop/art gallery done up to look like a downtown alley by staging hats, shoes, watches etc. on wood pallets, in LED lit garbage cans, and in dumpsters; topping it off is a cardboard-box-wrapped dressing room, and walls decked with old window frames and screen doors, all of which you’re free to tag, though you may want to come up with something better than “Property of Bobby Whelan”.


Neodandi Leaves Seattle for New York (Seattle Weekly)
An announcement on Neodandi’s Facebook fan page confirms it, the original Pioneer Square location will be closing at end of this week.

Pioneer Square Fire Festival 2010 (Affordable Seattle)

Caffe Umbria (Follow Your Heart)

Become a fan of Pioneer Square on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

And don’t forget to check out the calendar to see upcoming events this week, including Out to Lunch, First Thursday, and Dancing til’ Dusk

Walk, Bike, Ride

June 25, 2010  |  Announcement, Event, PI  |  No Comments

The following is regarding an event that the City is hosting (with numerous other groups):

Hey Downtown & Center City Residents and Workers– We Want to Know:

“How Do You Walk, Bike, Ride?”

Can you leave your car at home for day-to-day errands?
Do safety concerns make you think twice about bicycling or walking Downtown?
Are transit options working for your commute?
What would make it easier for you to get around car-free more days of the week?

When it comes to getting around easily without a car, the City wants to know what is – and what isn’t – working for you. The Bicycle (2007) and Pedestrian (2009) Master Plans help guide the City’s improvements for biking and walking, and Mayor Mike McGinn is currently updating the Transit Master Plan.

Join us to learn more about these plans and talk with representatives from the Department of Transportation about where you think there is the most trouble – and the most potential – for transit, pedestrian and bicycle enhancements.

DATE: Tuesday, June 29th

TIME: 4-6pm

PLACE: REI (222 Yale Avenue North – served by Metro buses 8, 25, 66)

For more information, please contact Dan McGrady at

Sponsored By: South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Committee, Alliance for Pioneer Square, Belltown Community Council, BOMA, Capitol Hill Community Council, Chinatown-International District BIA, Denny Triangle Neighborhood Association, Downtown Seattle Association, Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Uptown Alliance, South Lake Union Community Council

Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon: Road Closures

June 23, 2010  |  Announcement, Event, News  |  No Comments

I have been training for about 6 months for this year’s Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon. Although I was waylayed for over a month because of a stress fracture (replace your running shoes often!), I am excited to be running in it for the second time in a row. I’m even more excited that after I run through the finish line, I only have a 3 block walk to make it home.

If you haven’t heard of the Rock n’ Roll Marathon + 1/2 before, this is only their second year in Seattle. There are close to 30,000 runners that will participate this Saturday, June 26th, which is close to 5,000 more than participated last year. It is an absolutely beautiful course, and covers many different neighborhood areas in South Seattle/South Downtown.

All neighborhoods that are a part of the course, however, should be aware of the difficulties in getting to or leaving your home on Saturday:

Beginning at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 26th, police and event personnel will implement a soft closure along the entire race course, with roads closing at 6:00 a.m. unless otherwise noted. The races begin at 7:00 a.m. and streets will reopen on a rolling basis as soon as the last participant has passed and all the course support materials have been removed. Most road closures and detours will be in effect between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m, with roads near the start line opening earlier than roads near the finish line.

“It’s a beautiful course that really showcases what Seattle has to offer,” said Elizabeth O’Brien, Event Director. “However, it’s critical that our neighbors plan ahead, anticipate delays, and be aware of alternate routes that are available. Once the roads are closed, vehicles may not be able to cross the route.”

Both the full and half marathon start together at Gateway Corporate Center on Interurban Ave in Tukwila, south of downtown Seattle. The course runs through Tukwila and makes its way to the scenic shores of Lake Washington for miles 4 through 9. Full marathoners split off for 2 miles on the floating Lake Washington Bridge. After 2 miles, both courses meet again and run next to each other on the Interstate 90 Express Lanes.  All participants head into downtown Seattle, where the half marathon splits off and finishes downtown outside Qwest Field.

The full marathon continues north onto the Alaskan Way Viaduct/Hwy 99, with views of Elliott Bay, passing the Space Needle and Lake Union as the Alaskan Way Viaduct/Hwy 99 becomes Aurora. Runners will u-turn and head back toward downtown on the highway before finishing outside Qwest Stadium in downtown Seattle.

In addition to a number of road closures, several freeway ramps will also be affected, including:

•     Highway 599 Northbound & Southbound off-ramp to Interurban Avenue

•     Highway 599 Northbound on-ramp from Interurban Avenue & S. 133rd Street

•     Interstate 5 Northbound off-ramp and on-ramp to and from Martin Luther King Way

•     Interstate 5 off-ramps to Interurban Avenue/S. 133rd Street

The I-90 Express Lanes will be completely closed during the event. Regular traffic on I-90 will be allowed. For a complete list of road closures, visit

The race will finish outside Qwest Event Center in Pioneer Square, where participants and spectators can enjoy a finish line festival and free headliner concert featuring “Tonic.” Live bands will also play nearly every mile of the course. A complete list of bands is available online.

Downloadable Course Map:

Specific Road Closure Grid:

The Waterlines Project: Pioneer Square

June 22, 2010  |  Fun, PI  |  No Comments

The Waterlines Project examines “the history of Seattle through a focus on its shorelines: the natural and human forces that have shaped them, the ways they have been used and thought about by the people who have lived here, and how this historic understanding might influence urban-development decisions being made today.”

One of the areas that they focus on is Pioneer Square.

“By the end of the twentieth century, Pioneer Square was perhaps the most desnely-layered historical landscape in the city, both because of the things that had existed there (Duwamish village, Yesler’s sawmill, the business district and Lava Beds, and even the prototypical Skid Road) and because of the kinds of stories told there about the city’s history.”

As “an ethnically and socially diverse slum” that “gentrified into a tourism and entertainment district,” you can check out the changes that have happened in the neighborhood, starting around 150 years ago.

DELI creates a theatrical shopping experience in Pioneer Square

June 21, 2010  |  Announcement, Event, PI  |  No Comments

After creating a space that both locals and tourists have come to love for over one year in business, (including the success of the 3 month Beta Unit X DELI pop up store The Butcher Shop) DELI is dedicated to not only supplying Seattle with great clothing and art, but also providing a unique shopping experience.

DELI is proud to announce its latest project named “DELI presents” which opened June 16th, 2010 in its Pioneer Square location.

“DELI presents” is an ongoing project that will consist of a mystery series of short films with its first scene created as a transition to “The Butcher Shop.” Each scene is a piece to the puzzle as to how the store space will be themed. Scene two will be an introduction to “The Alleyway.”

“Fashion, art, and theatre go hand in hand, I’ve always wanted to create a space that would be memorable and unforgettable. We’re not stopping what we’re known for, which is the “Deli” themed space, because ultimately that’s who we are. Instead, we’re moving the original DELI boutique concept to 1307 First Avenue in downtown Seattle. The Deli themed space is our original idea, but its just the beginning. “DELI presents” will be an ongoing series which will give our fans something to keep guessing and having fun with while doing it,” says owner and founder Max Heigh.

DELI presents “The Alleyway” will be a contemporary take on a typical downtown
alleyway, by staging clothing on crates, wood pallets, and dumpsters, the only twist is we’ll actually be selling clothing and art! You’ll have to see it to truly appreciate it.

DELI’s featured brands include Nudie Jeans, Naked and Famous, Shades of Greige,
Creative Recreation, Life After Denim, Brixton, ALife, CXXVI, B:Scott, Beta Unit, G-
Shock, Bench, Deli Art Series, & Deli Collection.


Click the following links to watch The Butcher Shop film, and here to watch The Box.

Pioneer Square in the News

June 21, 2010  |  News, PI  |  No Comments

Globe from Elliott Bay Book Co. is for sale (Seattle Times)
If you’re mourning the loss of Elliott Bay Book Company’s Pioneer Square location, now you can forever own a memento from the old store. This ancient world globe, available at the RE Store, used to frequent the window displays at Elliott Bay. With the store’s recent move to Capitol Hill, staff couldn’t find space for it, says store manager Tracey Taylor.

Water main break leaves some Seattle residents dry (Komo)
A break in a water main in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood left area residents and businesses without any water for a night, and a big, gaping sinkhole in the middle of a busy street.

Q&A with chef Anthony Bourdain (Seattle Times)
Bourdain says Salumi (owned by Mario Batali’s father) in Pioneer Square is one of 13 places folks should eat at before they die.

Why I continue to oppose the deep-bore tunnel (Cary Moon on Crosscut)
It induces and concentrates a high volume of car traffic in Pioneer Square and the central waterfront, because of the location of the on and off ramps, which is not what anyone had in mind. It puts a lot of historic buildings and private property at risk, especially in Pioneer Square, because of the complex challenges of boring a 56′ diameter tunnel in bad soil with a high (and tricky) water table and brittle, rickety underground structural supports.


P-I photo archives: Classic Seattle taverns and bars (Seattle PI – Big Blog)

The entrepreneur behind Cashmere’s Fashion Earrings -N- Thangz (Central District News)
Entrepreneur got his start by selling polaroids to clubbers in Pioneer Square

Mike & Jennifer’s Engagement Session (Amore Studios)
(Sigh) yet another engagement session in Pioneer Square — I just love the photos.

Waterfall Garden in Pioneer Square (Metropolitan Gardens)

Pioneer Square Engagement | Amphone + Nguyen (Red Box Pictures)

Alley Stroll (HDR Photo of the Week)

Pioneer Square pergola (Flickr)

Foto Friday – Pioneer Square (Cam’s Blog)

Let’s look for reasons to help, not reasons to complain

June 18, 2010  |  Homeless, PI  |  No Comments

Two months ago, I did a post about a Great City brownbag, where people came together from around the city to brainstorm ideas for how to revitalize Pioneer Square. Shortly after posting it, someone commented that we hadn’t included any homeless in the discussion. At the time, I was annoyed at the comment because anyone was welcome to attend the brownbag, and I think I drafted like 5 or 6 responses, which I never ended up posting. Instead, I decided to take his/her advice and ask someone from the homeless community what they thought could change in Pioneer Square.

Meet George Hazel.

George is originally from Virginia, and has been in Seattle for almost two years now. His background includes divorce, drugs, alcohol, and a downward spiral that almost destroyed his life.

By the time George made it to Seattle, he was already off of drugs and alcohol, but still needed help to get his life back on track. He was accepted into the Bread of Life’s LifeChange program, and started what he calls “a grueling, 12 month program.”

When I asked him what made the program so difficult, he said that “when you’re coming from an addictive past, whatever that addiction might be, it has you in bondage, and is something that makes you feel defeated. You say to yourself ‘I know I’m better than this — why am I letting this thing hold me down?’ It’s hard to think — what if I had never gotten into drugs or alcohol — I could be in a very different place right now. That’s the most difficult part of being in a program. You’re in the program because you misjudged and dropped the ball and you have to come to terms with that.”

After completing the LifeChange program in March of this year, he continued to live at the Bread of Life Mission (BOLM), but is now part of the staff.

Having lived in Pioneer Square for almost two years now, and having a unique perspective on homelessness, I asked George what his perceptions of the neighborhood were. He said that he sees homeless with cups, hats, gloves, scarves — whatever they can hold out for money — and he thinks to himself– “how can people sit around here and walk past somebody every day that’s going through something and they don’t ask themselves what they can do to help this person out. Someone asks for 50 cents, and people act like they’re asking for their social security number.”

Through his own personal experiences, George knows what it’s like to be in that situation, and the feelings of hopelessness that surround it. “I know that feeling of there’s no way out — no one loves me, no one cares about me. To get out of that, you have to get to the point with yourself where you say enough is enough.” But to get out of that situation, he says, you need someone that cares about you — you need people to show more compassion.

In the Bread of Life program, George received the compassion he needed and had people surrounding him that genuinely wanted him to succeed, and that’s one of the things he believes Pioneer Square needs have more of in order to facilitate any type of change.

We talked about the debate surrounding aggressive panhandling and the opinion of many that if people just stop giving money to those who ask for it, it will stop the problem with the people who are overly aggressive about it. Although George agreed that one of the best things someone can do is to give money to the shelters who have the experience and resources to really help people, he also feels that people on the street shouldn’t be shunned.

“I work in the shelter and I still see the same guys out in the streets that get food at the BOLM, and they’re saying ‘George, George… can I have some money?’ And I don’t do it every time, but I do it at least once a week. I’ll give them a dollar or 50 cents. Why? Because even though I know that they might go and get a beer, or whatever — at that point,  it’s their choice. If they have an addiction, they might not be able to get out of it. But we have to sit back and look at the person and discern if they’re sincere about being hungry, thirsty, or trying to catch the bus. If you give something to somebody out of the sincerity of your heart — then it becomes between that person and God what they do with the money. If you don’t give it to them because you assume they’ll spend it on drugs, then you’re judging them.”

I asked him if he felt that’s the main thing that people who live and work in Pioneer Square can do to change, and he responded that it wasn’t only in Pioneer Square — it’s down by the space needle, out in the U District, in Capitol Hill, etc.

“If people stop walking past people because they feel like their life is together, and they went to school, and they got a job and they think that everyone could do the same thing. And for many of those guys, if they could do the same thing, they would be doing the same thing.”

George personally comes from a middle class preacher’s family where both his mother and father have their Bachelor’s degrees. He emphasizes that he didn’t come from the scums, but through the course of his life, ran into problems that ended up with him being homeless.

And when he felt he had hit a low, what took him further down was people who were always criticizing. “You feel like you’re already in a hopeless situation and that people just don’t care — it takes you further down.” But if someone had looked at him and not seen the potential, he knows he wouldn’t be where he is today. There were one or two people that said to him, “George – I think you can do better than this.”

George knows that if there were more people out there, not just in Pioneer Square, not just downtown, but throughout the Greater Seattle area, that showed that they cared that things could change.

“People need to start asking themselves – ‘what can we do to help, not what can we do to complain?’ It’s easy to complain.” It’s not as easy to take action and make a difference, though.

One of those ways is for other neighborhoods to become more aware of the issues surrounding homelessness and see it as a something that they can get involved in. It’s easy to send all of the homeless down to Pioneer Square, or Belltown, where services are set up, but that ghettoizes the homeless population. It send a message that they should only feel comfortable in certain neighborhoods, but that they don’t belong elsewhere. (the Ride Free zone also contributes to this restriction of movement)

According to George, a lot of homeless men don’t feel safe in Pioneer Square where they’re easily preyed on by drug dealers or have a fear of having things stolen or being attacked when sleeping outdoors. There are a lot individuals who utilize services at the Compass Center, Bread of Life, or the Union Gospel Mission that are trying to make their lives better and get out of homelessness. “It’s tough to be homeless in Pioneer Square if you’re trying to get better,” George said. It would be great to have more support for programs that really try to place individuals in affordable housing and integrate them more into all of the neighborhoods throughout King County.

George made a lot of interesting statements throughout our conversation, and I mentioned near the end that I was either going to title the post “It’s a heart condition” (which he stated early on) or his phrase about helping instead of complaining. He asked if I would use the latter and said that if we all started looking at how we could help more, instead of spending time and energy complaining, issues such as homelessness would start to get better, and in turn, Pioneer Square would start to get better.

To see more of George’s story of going through the Bread of Life Program, check out this clip on YouTube.