Columbia City Source: Officially on Hiatus

10390191_1415198682095121_2482179603034188827_nAs you can probably see from the lack of new posts over the last few months, I’ve been winding down the regular updates on Columbia City Source. I still believe Columbia City could benefit from a dedicated site–it’s just not something that can be done singlehandedly. If anyone is interested in getting involved,  be sure to let me know.

For now, the site will stay online and all posts are archived below.

The Columbia City Project and Development Map is still being actively updated (thanks Scott!) and can be accessed by clicking here.

Third Place Books + Raconteur Officially Open

This weekend marks the official opening of the long-awaited Third Place Books in the former PCC Seward Park location. The bookstore has events planned all weekend with a number of very well-known, local,  and respected authors reading (on Saturday, Seattle’s best-known restauranteur, Tom Douglas, reads at 11…2006 Pulitzer Prize winner, Tim Egan, reads at 1). Here’s the official release:

Located in the former Seward Park PCC, Third Place Seward Park is a general interest bookstore featuring new & used books with a used book buy back counter open seven days a week.  Third Place Seward Park continues the Third Place mission of providing a gathering space for its new community.

Third Place is also proud to present our partner at the new location – Raconteur.  A new restaurant concept brought to you by the owners of Flying Squirrel Pizza.  Raconteur will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week.  Featuring a full coffee bar with locally roasted espresso, a dining room and a full bar, Raconteur aims to be the neighborhood destination, not only for the Seward Park area, but for all of Seattle.  Raconteur’s menu focuses on food from our corner of the world and dishes from around the globe – a truly upscale, international dining experience.

To celebrate our grand opening we have planned a weekend of book signings with a dynamic group of local authors.  Join us to meet your favorite authors and introduce yourself to the beautiful new addition to the Third Place Books family.

The new location, which also shares a space with a new restaurant and bar, Raconteur (which is being run by the folks behind Flying Squirrel) has been getting a lot of hype in the press. Here’s a Seattle Times write-up, another from Seattle Met, and this one from Eater.



Poke To The Max: Officially Open

Sam Choy’s Poke To The Max is officially open and celebrating the opening with music, dancers, and of course–the full menu of poke, tacos, salads, masubi, etc…

Head on down…open ’till 6pm opening weekend.

Young & Young Smoked Fish Coming to Hillman City

10632102_863752313733291_874160328_nAfter months of really quiet rumors, a sign in the window next to Eyman’s Pizza confirms that Hillman City is about to get a new addition. While there’s not a ton known about Young & Young Smoked Fish Shoppe, here’s what I’ve been able to track down:

The business is run by Zac and Jesse Young. From this post on Cupcake Royale’s blog, it sounds like they’ve been in the smoked fish game for a few years.

Also (at least partially) confirmed, is that the business has some connection to Capitol Hill’s beloved Wandering Goose (update: one of the owners is married to Wandering Goose owner and chef, Heather Earnhardt)

Young & Young’s instagram account provides the most clues clues as to what we can expect.

PicMonkey Collage


Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max Coming to Columbia/Hillman City

Eater Seattle confirmed today that Sam Choy’s popular food truck, Poke to the Max, will be taking over the former La Isla de Mojito space between Columbia and Hillman City (5300 Rainier Ave S).

As many know, this is a tricky spot for restaurants. La Isla de Mojito, Grecian Delight, Kawayan, and Kawalli grill have all made a go in the location over the last few years only to eventually close the doors. For many neighbors, the space is cursed…the location where restaurants go to die. However, Sam Choy himself may be the key to making the space work. Choy’s a celebrity chef with a slew of restaurants, trucks, cooking shows, etc. From Choy’s wikipedia page:

Sam Choy is a chef, restaurateur, and television personality known as a founding contributor of “Pacific rim cuisine“.Choy is an alumnus of the Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts program. One of his first jobs as a chef was at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. He would then return to Hawaii, where he eventually opened a chain of restaurants.Choy helped develop and popularize Hawaii regional cuisine. In 1991, Choy founded the Poke Festival and Recipe Contest.

In 2004, Choy was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award America’s Classics Award for Sam Choy’s Kaloko in Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. The award recognizes “beloved regional restaurants” that reflect the character of their communities.

Choy has appeared in several Food TV programs, including Ready.. Set… Cook! and Iron Chef America. He is good friends with Emeril Lagasse,who has appeared on Choy’s TV show Sam Choy’s Kitchen on KHNL. Lagasse has also mentioned Choy by name several times in his TV shows; one of those times he was making Poke on his live TV show, and added peanut butter to the Poke – Choy’s “secret ingredient”. In 2015, Choy broadcast a series on YouTube, Sam Choy In The Kitchen.

Choy has designed special Hawaiian inspired dishes for American Airlines first class passengers to and from Hawaii.

In addition, Choy’s truck is very popular, often with long lines at its roving locations around the city and plenty of positive reviews on Yelp.

As many know, this stretch of Rainier between Hillman and Columbia City is about to see incredible change. There’s a major, 4-6 story, 120+ unit development planned for the auto yard directly across the street from this location. With it, the divide (if there is one) between the two neighborhoods will continue to blur.

Interestingly, with Marination’s Super Six opening last year on Hudson, Choy’s new addition will mark the neighborhood’s second Hawaiian food truck-to-brick and mortar business to move in.

Currently, there are no permits filed for the location that provide any clues as to how extensive the renovation to the site will be.

Columbia City Bakery’s Evan Andres Nominated for James Beard Award…again

2003999973Once again, Columbia City Bakery’s own Evan Andres has been nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award–the country’s top food award (often referred to as the “Food Oscars”).  The full list of chefs, bakers, restaurants, and bars that have been nominated can be found here.  JBF_AWARDS_MEDALLION-BLOG

Seattle Times on Seward Park’s New 3rd Place Books

Robert Sindelar, managing partner of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, is overseeing construction of Third Place's new bookstore in Seward Park, Mon., Feb. 8, 2016, in Seattle.

Robert Sindelar, managing partner of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, is overseeing construction of Third Place’s new bookstore in Seward Park, Mon., Feb. 8, 2016, in Seattle. Photo: Ken Lambert, Seattle Times

The Seattle Times has a new piece by Mary Ann Gwinn on the new Third Place Books coming to Seward Park. The piece outlines the details for the store , provides new info about the food offerings (restaurant, coffee, and a downstairs bar), and even has a number of photos of the construction and the extensive work being done to remodel the former PCC. According to the article, Third Place is hoping to open in April.

Below’s an excerpt, the full piece can be read here:

For months now the Seward Park/Columbia City neighborhood has buzzed with the question — when will the new Third Place Books-Seward Park bookstore open? In search of answers, I went to the new location at 5401 Wilson Ave. S. to take a look.

Robert Sindelar, managing partner at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, met me there and gave me a quick tour. We had a hard time making ourselves heard above the buzz of saws and the pounding of hammers, but never mind — it’s looking good, and could open its doors in April.

This store, taking shape inside the shell of the former Puget Consumers Co-op building in Seward Park, will be the third in the Third Place Books chain.

Owned by business visionary Ron Sher, the existing two stores, Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and Third Place Books in Ravenna, showcase Sher’s concept that the best bookstores combine good business and good community building. Not just a bookstore, but a place to get coffee, work, socialize, gather, eat and last but not least, discuss and browse books — a sort of community commons, a meeting and gathering place for multiple age levels.

This concept has ensured success for the first two stores. The Seward Park store will be all that and then some, because the store’s managers and owners are creating an all-new store inside the old PCC.

The store’s 7,000 square feet will feature an espresso bar, a full restaurant called Raconteur (breakfast, lunch and dinner), a full bar downstairs, an event/reading space capable of accommodating up to 100 people, and books. Sindelar estimates it will stock 15,000 to 20,000 titles and 50,000 units (individual books). There will be a separate children’s department.

As with the other stores, the stock will consist of both used and new books — approximately 50 percent new, 50 percent used.

The renovation budget is about $1.4 million, Sindelar said.

The store’s most distinctive architectural feature is its arched roof, uncovered when the renovators knocked down the dropped ceiling and found both the ceiling and the original wood trusses. Now the interior ceiling is clad in beautiful overlapping wood, like a warm wood floor. Skylights let the light in.

Sindelar and Sher had scouted locations in the South End and in West Seattle (disappointed groan from this West Seattleite). Then they learned that the PCC was planning to move from its Wilson Avenue location to Columbia City.

 The co-op wanted a good price for the building (it was purchased from the co-op for $1.25 million, according to county property records), “but they were equally concerned with being a good neighbor,” Sindelar says, passing the property on to someone who would enhance the neighborhood.

Ka-ching. The Ravenna store is in a former PCC location, and that building was purchased from the co-op. Feelings were cordial between both parties.

From a traffic standpoint, the neighborhood already knew the location, and how to find the parking lot (yes! Parking!!!).

The restaurant will be run by Bill Coury and Brian Vescovi, owners of Flying Squirrel Pizza in Seward Park, Maple Leaf and Georgetown. In an email, Couri wrote that the restaurant will feature “upscale pub food with a global flair. … The bar downstairs will have 20 beers on tap with 6 dedicated German beers, private dining rooms, and plenty of flat screens to catch your favorite game.”…

SDOT Looking for Neighborhood Feedback Regarding Parking

If you’ve ever struggled to find a parking spot, been amazed at the speeds and recklessness of some drivers as they navigate Columbia City’s streets, or have some great ideas on how to improve the driving and parking conditions of the neighborhood, SDOT wants to hear from you.

In addition to this survey which I encourage you all to fill out, SDOT is hosting a drop-in session on Columbia City Community Access and Parking later this month. Here are all of the details:

ccmap2Do you work, live, or play in Columbia City? If so, please take our short online survey about neighborhood parking and access by March 19, 2016.


Through the Community Access and Parking Program, SDOT works in neighborhood business districts throughout the city to improve parking and access.  SDOT is beginning work with businesses and residents in the Columbia City neighborhood to better understand current parking and access issues in the neighborhood. The goal of this work is to improve parking and access in the neighborhood for customers, visitors, and loading needs, while maintaining access for local residents. The effort is focused around the Rainier Avenue business district (see existing conditions map).

Upcoming Outreach and Events

  • SDOT will be hosting a parking and access drop-in session at the multipurpose room at PCC (3610 S Edmunds St) on Saturday February 20th from 9:30 to 11:30 AM.  Come join us to share comments and questions in person.  Click here for more information on our outreach.
  • In spring 2016 we will be partnering with a survey firm to conduct intercept surveys of customers and visitors in the neighborhood.  Questions will include how people get to the neighborhood, how long they stay, and what are the main reasons they visit Columbia City.  Results from a similar survey in 2011 are available here.

Design Review for the Proposed Alaska / Rainier Project

For better, for worse, Columbia City is changing.

One of the largest changes on the horizon is the proposal for a new mixed-use, 7 story, 241 unit, 25,000sf of retail project  planned for the current site of the Columbia City Post office (no word on what this means for a future CC post office location). The site has some unique (and steep) topography, wrapping around the Burdick Security building and stretching all the way to the corner of 38th and Alaska at the Genesee ballfields and up to Rainier directly across from the library. Library

Today, the planners posted a new design review packet which helps give a sense of the scale, style, and potentially huge impact of this proposal.

The Full Design Review packet (57 pages) can be downloaded here. I encourage everyone interested to download it and take a look. Here are some highlights:

RetailFacing Library Cross Section Facing BiblioAlaska Alaska and 38th Courtyard

As you can see, this is a big one and will drastically change the feel and offerings of Columbia City. There’s room for an impressive amount of retail (including some large-scale retailers and a mix of smaller shops, restaurants), improved pedestrian access to Genesee and the park/community center, and another 250 apartments + 245 parking spots (86 retail, 159 residential). Of course, there are pros and cons to all of that.

If you have opinions or concerns, an important Design Review meeting is scheduled for all those looking to chime in (click for info):

Review Meeting
January 26, 2016 8:00pm

Rainier Valley Cultural Center

3515 S. Alaska St.

KCTS on “Fixing Rainier”

KCTS has a new piece up on Rainier, its reputation as the most dangerous street in Seattle, and the road diet. Check it out here:

    What is the most dangerous road in Seattle, perhaps in all of Washington State? One might guess Aurora Avenue, especially after last fall’s deadly collision of a Ride the Ducks tour vehicle and a bus. But it’s not. It’s Rainier Avenue South, which runs 8.5 miles through Rainier Valley in South Seattle.
    Rainier Avenue has one-fourth the vehicle volume of Aurora, but twice the accidents per mile — over one a day. Part of the problem is that Rainier used to be part of State Highway 167, and it still acts like a freeway.
     “So, it was very much a state route where people were going excessively fast through the corridor, and the design really encouraged those higher speeds,” says Jim Curtin, a Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) traffic manager.
    “I’ve seen so many car crashes, people coming through speeding, you know,” says Hikeem Stewart, who works in Columbia City. In the last three years, there have been over 1,200 accidents, 600 injuries and two fatalities on Rainier…