Archive for January, 2011

Pioneer Square in the News

January 31, 2011  |  News, PI  |  No Comments

Beautiful Photo of our Pioneer Square coffee house by Rain City Girl (Twitter: CherryStreet)


City backs away from $4-an-hour parking in Pioneer Sq. (Seattle PI)
Pioneer Square and several other neighborhoods got a reprieve of sorts from higher parking rates as Seattle officials on Thursday announced changes to previously-announced increases.

City of Seattle gives in on some parking rates, but not in downtown core (Seattle Times)
Pioneer Square got a small break. Instead of $4 an hour, the rate was reset to $3.50. But that may not satisfy some merchants who worry the neighborhood, already suffering from the sour economy, will lose customers.

No Take-Backs!: Downtown Parking Still Increasing to $4 an Hour, Other Neighborhoods Spared (Seattlest)
[repeat of what we all know]

State to revisit whether tunnel project needs to oust artists colony (Seattle Times)
Reacting to public outcry, the state Department of Transportation said Wednesday it will look for a “Plan C” that might spare a Pioneer Square artists’ colony from being evicted by the Highway 99 tunnel project.

How 619 Western escaped tunnel planners’ wrecking ball (Crosscut)
The state Department of Transportation was all set to tear down the historic Pioneer Square building to make way for the waterfront tunnel.

National Trust Alarmed at Deep-Bore Tunnel’s Impact On Pioneer Square, 619 Western (PubliCola)
WSDOT, western National Trust director Anthea Hartig writes, has “refused to acknowledge that the loss of this building and other [tunnel] impacts would cause an adverse impact on… the [Pioneer Square-Skid Road National Historic] District as a whole.”

A trail not a tunnel (Crosscut)
While Pioneer Square is being buffeted by big projects and tough economic times, work is proceeding on an urban trail network to make the historic district more connected and foot-friendly.

First Hill streetcar project gets under way (King5 News)
SDOT is building a light rail that will run from Pioneer Square to Broadway via First Hill. The streetcar will make stops in the International District, Central District, First Hill and Capitol Hill.

Life: Gritty history is Seattle cop’s other beat (HeraldNet)
Snohomish murder-mystery writer Neil Low and Tigress Publishing recently began offering walking tours through the crooked streets of Seattle’s oldest district, Pioneer Square. During the hour-long walk, Low shares interesting tidbits of what he’s unearthed about the city’s colorful and gruesome past.

Sip Sake in Seattle (iStopOver Magazine)
When you’ve had enough of Seattle’s coffee, beer, and wine offerings, head to Sake Nomi in Pioneer Square to learn about and taste premium Japanese sake.


Council Consultant: Tunnel Tolls Will Cause “Significant Diversion of Traffic” and Risk to “Vulnerable Roadway Users” (SLOG)
“The issues, left unaddressed, will impact accessibility to and the character of the Center City, particularly in the vicinity of Pioneer Square and the Seattle Center/South Lake Union areas,” says a briefing paper that will be presented to council members this afternoon.

Is there a Seattle police museum? (Seattle PI – 911)
The Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum is located at 317 Third Ave. S. in Pioneer Square. It’s open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and costs $3 for adults and $1 for children under 12.

Pioneer Square (Self Portrait Friday) (Priscilla Rathbone)

Pioneer Square Fun (Priscilla Rathbone)

Bride Groom in Pioneer Square (Red Box Pictures)
The bride and groom, Tom & Michele, sit on a bench in Pioneer Square prior to their wedding at the King County Courthouse in Seattle.

From James Fike Photography

Can you measure happiness?

January 28, 2011  |  Business, PI  |  No Comments

Sustainable Seattle thinks so.  In association with Take Back Your Time and the Compassionate Action Network, it is releasing the first comprehensive survey of happiness in this region, as part of the Seattle Area Happiness Initiative (SAHI).   The survey is now online at: for anyone to take.

“You get what you measure,” says Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien.  “For too long we’ve measured the wrong things—Gross Domestic Product doesn’t tell us whether we have a good quality of life or a sustainable society.  This survey, which includes nine domains of well-being, not just income, is a good way to start measuring the important things we care about, so we can actually achieve them.

Anyone who takes the survey will receive an immediate evaluation of personal well-being for each of the nine domains of happiness identified by international researchers:

  1. psychological well-being
  2. physical health
  3. time balance
  4. education
  5. cultural vitality and access
  6. social connection
  7. good government
  8. environmental quality and access to nature
  9. and material well-being.
  10. [Editor’s sarcastic add-in: parking rates and availability, perhaps?]

The survey takes a holistic approach to well-being and asks poignant questions that allow reflection and insight.   “It takes a while to complete (20-30 minutes) because it’s comprehensive,” says John de Graaf, Executive Director of Take Back Your Time (  “But you’ll find it’s worth the time because it really makes you think about your life and how to improve it. ”

More information on the entire project, which will provide a model for other cities around the country and the world, can be found at

Newsletter at

Chinatown/ID Restaurants to Feature $2 Tasting Menu this Saturday

January 27, 2011  |  Event, Food, PI  |  No Comments

Help support our neighbors! :

The Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area invites all local food lovers to enjoy an afternoon of international cuisine designed to accommodate all budgets. This Saturday, January 29th, ten of Chinatown-ID’s premier restaurants will celebrate Lunar New Year by featuring an unprecedented $2 tasting menu from 11 am to 4 pm.

This amazing culinary event coincides with the return of Seattle’s annual Lunar New Year Celebration in the heart of Historic Chinatown. Lunar New Year is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar and will be celebrated with a wide range of traditional cultural foods and activities from fireworks and dragon dances to dumplings. Diners who sample more than three participating restaurants will be eligible to enter a drawing for a grand prize.

“The Chinatown-ID is a regional destination for those seeking the best in international cuisine,” says Chinatown-ID BIA Executive Director Don Blakeney. “And this event allows everyone, from residents, to employees and visitors, to experience several in one afternoon without putting a dent in the wallet.”

Participating restaurants include newcomers Thai Curry Simple and Liana Café, as well as Chinatown-ID staples like Jade Garden, Oasis Tea Zone, Fu-Lin Ramen House, Fortuna Café, Phnom Penh Noodle House, Sub-Sand, A Piece of Cake Bakery, and Dim Sum King.

To stay on top of the latest restaurant promotions and neighborhood happenings, follow Chinatown-ID on Twitter @iheartID or become a fan on Facebook.

Community Leaders Call for Reevalution of Parking Rates

January 26, 2011  |  Call to Action, PI, Politics  |  No Comments

On Monday, the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) and more than a dozen businesses and neighborhood organizations issued a letter to the Mayor and City Council urging a delay in the implementation of parking meter rate increases around the Seattle area. Concerned by the use of peak-period occupancy to set rates, the group – made up of 15 area businesses and organizations – has requested the City take a second look at the data collected in SDOT’s 2010 study and reevaluate the proposed rate increases.

“Ensuring parking availability is critical,” said Louise Chernin, executive director of the Greater Seattle Business Association. “However, a huge jump in parking fees coupled with extending hours until 8 p.m. for parking meter usage could have a serious adverse impact on our retail and hospitality businesses. Instead of spending the extra money within our shops or at happy hour, they’ll be putting it toward parking. We also run the risk of those much sought after 6 – 8 p.m. customers simply going home and doing their shopping elsewhere.

In its letter, the coalition notes the impact increased parking rates have had on City-owned Pacific Place Garage in Downtown Seattle. Parking occupancy in the structure has declined following two double-digit rate increases in 2008 and 2009. While the coalition does applaud the City for taking a data-driven look at parking occupancy, it’s such examples that have coalition members saying they are not convinced the solution should include prices as high as $4 an hour in some of the City’s most highly trafficked neighborhoods.

“For many Downtown-area neighborhoods, finding on-street parking has always been a challenge,” said Tony Fuoco, president of the First Hill Improvement Association. “With that said, I am not convinced raising rates will solve our difficult parking dilemma, and moreover, am concerned that setting parking prices at the highest possible amount for 12 hours a day will have a very negative impact on the residents of our neighborhoods.

The group is instead suggesting the City delay the implementation of new rates – scheduled to begin in February – until further analysis is done and a more appropriate pricing strategy is found. The letter is signed by Downtown Seattle Association, First Hill Improvement Association, Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, Pioneer Square Residential Council and nearly a dozen others. A copy of the letter, as well as a full list of contributing businesses and neighborhood groups, can be found online here.

Those wishing to voice their own concerns and opinions about Downtown Seattle’s parking situation can attend a free open forum Today, January 26 from 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. in the Bertha Knight Landes Room of City Hall. Find more details about this lunchtime parking forum examining the best practices in Downtown parking here.

Trail to Treasure meeting today at 11:30

January 25, 2011  |  Event, PI  |  No Comments

The meeting will be an opportunity to learn about ideas for the trail and to gather feedback from you. Open to the general public.

Please contact Liz Stenning ( for more information

Tuesday, January 25
Klondike Gold Rush Museum (319 2nd Avenue South)

Pioneer Square in the News

January 24, 2011  |  News, PI  |  No Comments

(image credit: travel blog)


Family finds Pioneer Square to be the fine life (Seattle Times)
The homeowner describes Pioneer Square as “the most invigorating, the most intellectually stimulating, the most fun place to live in the whole city.” She’s noticed that the people who are drawn to live in the area are very independent-minded, “and they tend not to be influenced by buzz.”

Seattle’s Pioneer Square Wants You! (Seattle Times)
The housing boom that brought new condos to Ballard, Belltown and Capitol Hill almost completely overlooked Pioneer Square. Fully 60 percent of apartments and condos are subsidized. The Square is better known for panhandlers, homeless shelters and soup kitchens serving a downtrodden population that has been around since World War II ended.

Viaduct demolition plans: Why one building is safe while its neighbor is at risk (Crosscut)
It all comes down to engineering, specifically the fact that the Polson Building has a basement and deep pilings, while the 619 Western artists’ building does not.

Why do Turkish kebabs star at a restaurant called ‘The Berliner’? (Crosscut)
Eating on the Edge: Love is the answer, of course, with a little politics, immigration, and labor history thrown in.


Tether Gallery to Close (City Arts Magazine)
Pioneer Square’s Tether Design Gallery, which has hosted live musical performances, panel discussions, and various artwork during its two-year run, will be locking its doors for good at the end of the month. According to Tether’s design director Dan R. Smith, the lockup isn’t as sad it seems, however.

Feel happy in your home. (Gingham and Gold)
My friend Bellen Drake is a photographer who lives with her family in a fabulous artist loft in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. Awhile back, I saw a few pictures that she took of her daughter doing a new couch dance.

A quiet friday evening ending with @saketomebaby (Sinister Brain)
Took some pictures in Pioneer Square using my phone and ended my evening at Sake Nomi, an awesome Sake Bar with a great mellow vibe.

Megan and Bob (Kathryn Bradley Photography)
A couple who married at Waterfall Garden Park in Pioneer Square, which is across from the headquarters of the Seattle Fire Department.

Pioneer Square a “hotbed for tech companies”

January 21, 2011  |  Business, News  |  No Comments

According to the DJC, Seattle’s recession ended a week ago.

The reason being that Isilon just rented 180,000 sq ft in Pioneer Square.

A lot of the action has been in Pioneer Square, and this has Kevin Daniels, president of Daniels Development, eager to start what is billed as the largest transit-oriented development in the Northwest: the 1.5 million-square-foot North Lot.”

TechFlash also featured the Isilon move, stating that “Pioneer Square has developed into a hotbed for technology companies over the years, with a number of startups locating in some of the quirky brick office spaces in the historic district. Other companies in the area include Sharebuilder and Nuance Communications.”

The vibe down in Pioneer Square is really building and growing. It is a really vibrant place,” said Blessington, noting that many of the city’s transportation hubs are coming together in the neighborhood. “For us, it was just a perfect fit.”

Storefronts Seattle seeks artists for installations, residencies and creative ventures

January 20, 2011  |  Art, Call to Action, PI  |  No Comments

Storefronts Seattle, in partnership with the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, seeks applicants for temporary art installations, residencies and creative enterprise projects to enliven vacant storefronts in Seattle’s Pioneer Square and Chinatown-International District neighborhoods in addition to other locations. Selected artists will have the opportunity to showcase, create or sell their work to a large and diverse audience for a period of three to six months between March 2011 and January 2012.

Storefronts Seattle is accepting applications in three categories: Installation (two-dimensional, three-dimensional or new-media artworks); Artist Residency (rehearsal or studio space); and Creative Enterprise (retail art gallery, theatre, museum, etc.). Artists selected for the Installation category will receive $500 per installation. Artist Residency and Creative Enterprise participants will receive the use of prime, street-level retail space at no cost for up to six months.

Artists and arts organizations located within 100 miles of Seattle are eligible to apply. A panel of artists and neighborhood representatives will evaluate all submissions and select proposals from artists and arts groups that activate vacant storefronts in a unique way. The deadline for all three categories is 11 p.m., Monday, Jan. 31. For application guidelines and to apply for Storefronts Seattle, visit

Pioneer Square hit hardest by parking changes

January 19, 2011  |  Announcement, Complaining, PI  |  No Comments

SDOT announced citywide changes to parking, but it seems like Pioneer Square is getting the worst of it. Sure, other neighborhoods are facing the same increases in rates and hours, but if we needed to, I’d be willing to pit our neighborhood against any of the others to see who is hurt worse.

Identified as a neighborhood with “peak occupancy” and an “active nightlife and high evening parking demand,” Pioneer Square is faced with on-street parking increases to $4/hour, as well as having our paid parking extended until 8 p.m.

City crews will begin implementing the new rates as of February 1, rolling them out neighborhood by neighborhood through March 30. The evening hours will roll out April and stay in effect through September.

Over the past months, SDOT collected “data” that reveals:

  1. On-street peak occupancy is highest in the neighborhoods of First Hill (100 percent), the Commercial Core (97 percent) and Pioneer Square (91 percent)

I have a call in to SDOT to make sure I’m understanding their numbers correctly, but if you actually look at the parking analysis that they did, the numbers stated don’t support the peak occupancy of 91%. That’s most definitely true [or worse]… during a football game, but the rest of the “unadjusted” occupancy percentages in the report are only between 57% and 66%. Only when they decided to adjust the rates did the 91% figure pop up.

[SDOT has posted maps from their analysis of Pioneer Square with details on occupancy during different hours of the day.]

As a resident, I have a few reactions to this:

  1. There couldn’t be a worse time to make these changes in Pioneer Square. This is going to hurt new residents thinking about moving in, current residents thinking about whether they should stay or not, and street level businesses who are trying their best to make it in a tough economic time. All this does is give more plausibility to everyone who has been saying that the city does nothing for our neighborhood.
  2. SDOT states the following objective: to “support neighborhood business districts by making on-street parking available and by encouraging economic development.” Instead, they are making it so that people will definitely no longer come to Pioneer Square to shop or eat. They’ll wait until after 8pm when parking is free and… oh wait, all of the restaurants and businesses are closed.
  3. In Pioneer Square, average physical occupancy (a car parked in a spot) was listed as 60%. Average paid occupancy for that spot? Only 39%. Do they really think these numbers are going to get better with rate and hour increases?
  4. We do not have an evening crowd. We have a nightlife crowd (which is definitely after 8pm). In fact, if you look at their parking analysis again, it states that Pioneer Square has only 57% occupancy in the hours between 6pm – 8pm.

It seems that the final numbers that they are reporting are not the same as the numbers found during the actual study. [deep breath] I am personally infuriated as I write this that the city didn’t take the struggles of our neighborhood into more consideration before including us in the “highest rates,” “longest hours” category.

Although there is nothing we can do about it now, these rates are supposedly only in effect for 2011, and will be looked at again this summer when determining rates for next year.

Although it doesn’t ameliorate these changes, an alternative action is to request that the city give us residential zoned parking spaces like they do in First Hill and other neighborhoods. The $40 – $50 charge a year can at least counteract some of the negative changes coming in the next month.

A second alternative can be found in this question… so at least for those of us who know our way around the city, we can pay for parking in another neighborhood, like Belltown (whose rates are dropping from $2.50 to $2), before driving to Pioneer Square to park.

Pioneer Square in the News

January 18, 2011  |  News, PI  |  No Comments

image source

and of course, I had to include one of the 619 taken by WSDOT:


Fire damages Pioneer Square building Sunday evening (Seattle Times)
“The fire, which started at about 5:40 p.m. in the 200 block of First Avenue South, was deemed an accident, caused by food on the stove, said Lt. Sue Stangl with Seattle Fire Department.”

Blue Nile looks to sparkle in new Pioneer Square headquarters (TechFlash)
“For some time, Pioneer Square — with its quirky brick office spaces — has been considered a hot area for Seattle startup companies.”

Seattle street parking up to $4 per hour (My Northwest)
“The city of Seattle is adopting what it calls “market rate” pricing for on-street parking. That means you could pay as much as $4 an hour if you park in high demand areas of the city such as downtown, First Hill or Pioneer Square.”

Pioneer Square building to be demolished before tunnel drilling (King5)
“The Washington State Department of Transportation elected to demolish 619 Western instead of retro-fit it before drilling for the downtown tunnel project begins.”

Coat Giveaway at Union Gospel Mission (Seattle Times)
“On the sidewalk in Pioneer Square two dozen members of Living Word Four Square Church in Oak Harbor brought about 300 coats, hats and gloves to Union Gospel Mission to distribute to needy men and women.”

Photographer’s antique camera turns Seattle upside down (Seattle Times)
(Carillo has shown his work at Davidson Gallery in Pioneer Square)

First Call: What About Tiki Bob’s? (Seattle Weekly)
“Tiki Bob’s, which bills itself as “the number-one nightclub beach party in Seattle,” is like what island-themed dances in teen TV dramas look like, only with approximately five bajillion pieces of alcohol-brand decor. ”

Seattle, state play key role in Japanese TV miniseries (Seattle Times)
“Scenes filmed around Pioneer Square last May depicted life in early 20th-century Seattle, while other parts were filmed in Eastern Washington, Idaho and California.”


Can I buy a cheap Seattle parking pass and use that downtown? (Seattle PI – 911)
[answer: yes]

Beginning my new series on the demolition of Western 619. First up, guest writer Julia Hensley, who writes beautifully! (PI – Arts + Culture)
Commentary from another 619 artist about the future of the building and the artists who work there.

Toronto Sun: High-tech toilet a hit with tourists (BIG Blog)
“Seattle’s experiment in high-tech public toilets was a fiasco, but Toronto loves its new loo, according to a story in the Toronto Sun.”