Category Archives: Development

Big Chickie + La Isla del Mojito

Just a heads-uLA Islap to everyone that the options for eating in the neighborhood have expanded.

La Isla del Mojito, the new Latin place between 42nd and Brandon on Rainier, is up and running and already serving delicious food–it was a full house when we went there last Wednesday and the food was great. The owners of La Isla are also the owners of Grecian Delight, who narrowly made it out of their destroyed restaurant last week when an SUV plowed into it. They seem a bit shaken up, but excited to be focusing their efforts on a new project as the repair process moves forward (they were saying it could be around 6 months).


AlsoBigChickie to consider is Big Chickie, the new Pollo a la Brasa place just up the street from La Isla in Hillman City.  They’ve had a few soft openings this weekend and the rumor is that the doors could be opening to the public as early as Monday today. Initial reports indicate that the food is delicious. Be sure to check out Big Chickie’s Facebook page for updates.

Cross “Walk-In” for Safe Streets Tomorrow

In response to the recent accident on Rainier  and in an effort to bring more attention to the traffic and safety issues in the neighborhood, concerned neighbors have organized a Cross “Walk-In” for Safe Streets tomorrow at 4:30 at Rainier and Ferdinand. The official Facebook page for the event has all the details as well as an ongoing discussion about what steps should be taken:10678515_10152777971943974_9037886947869869228_n

Please join your friends, family, neighbors, customers,business owners, schoolmates, fellow community members of Rainier Ave. South for a lawful, public demonstration.

Our goal: To promote action from Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to slow traffic on Rainier and improve safety for all.

What will we do at 4:30pm on Friday?
Just cross the street together when the pedestrian light turns to the walking signal.
– We will all cross Rainier at the same time and we will continue crossing until everyone is on the other side.
– Then, we will wait for the next walking signal and cross Rainier in the same manner going the other way
– We will continue to cross the street at Rainier and Ferdinand until 5:30pm.

Please invite your friends and neighbors.

Crosscut on Columbia City, Density, and Traffic Risks

Crosscut’s Anthony B. Robinson has new piece up outlining his thoughts on how with greater density, comes greater risk. He uses Columbia City as his model neighborhood and gets into the specifics of last week’s accident at Ferdinand and Rainier (which he witnessed) as proof that Seattle needs to take proactive steps to make neighborhoods like ours safer. Read the whole piece by clicking here:

Columbia City has been one of the great success stories of urban renaissance in Seattle over the last two decades.


Photo from the Seattle PI

Once known for gangs, drugs and violence, things began to change with the Friday Night Columbia City Beat Walks (art and music in various venues) in the early 1990’s and the Farmer’s Market later that decade. Both brought a positive new atmosphere and renewed civic pride.

A Landmark District status provided a important mandate to save historic buildings. This contributed to Columbia City’s character and appeal as new businesses moved into the area along Rainier Ave. south of Alaska Avenue. The nearby light rail station has provided further impetus for additional housing and renovation of existing housing. The historic Carnegie library at the corner of Alaska and Rainier anchors the neighborhood, surrounded by a modest but inviting park and greenspace. The library was one of twelve Seattle branch libraries remodeled in the last decade.

Signs of Columbia City’s success are everywhere today; its sidewalks are crowded with pedestrians and city life. People sit at sidewalk tables in front of Tutta Bella, the Columbia City Bakery, Lottie’s and other restaurants, pubs and coffee houses. There are several new live music venues.

But all of this comes with risk: the risk of being on a busy thoroughfare where cars often move too fast and where police patrols are often few and far between.

The piece goes on to explain how last week’s accident fits with this risk. Again, read the whole piece here.

More Major Housing Developments Planned for Columbia City

Digging into some public records, it looks like there is the possibility of even more major building projects coming to Columbia City.

Screenshot 2014-08-20 at 9.21.35 AMOne is 5201 Rainier Ave South, a triangle-shaped lot currently home to a tire/auto yard at 39th and Rainier, just south of Columbia City’s main business district. While there are some initial plans for this site dating back to 2007 (click here for an old PI article outlining those initial (and abandoned?) plans), it looks like there’s a new proposal that’s getting planned for a mixed use building (with a possible 6-story rezone). Besides this new site plan posted to’s Permit and Property records, there’s not much to report. But, a major development between Columbia City and Hillman City is sure to attract a lot of attention and comment.

For the other project, two separate mixed-use apartments on the empty corners of of Alaska and MLK, there’s a bit more info. Nat Levy, at the Daily Journal of Commerce, reports:

200 Apartments Near Columbia City Rail Stop

Another transit-oriented project could be coming to the Rainier Valley.BDR_Sonata_Streetscape_big

Permit records show that Bellevue-based BDR Capital Partners is planning two buildings on either side of Martin Luther King Junior Way South at South Alaska Street. The site is near the Columbia City Link light rail stop.

The four-story buildings would be on the northeast and northwest corners of the intersection, with a total of about 200 apartments. The project also includes 12,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor and about 165 underground parking spaces.

NK Architects is designing the buildings. BDR has not picked a general contractor.

Seattle Housing Authority owns the land and plans to sell it to BDR. Todd Bennett, president of BDR, said the sale will close early next year but he declined to give the price.

BDR wants to start construction in 2015. The eastern building would start in June and the western building in December. Each should take about a year.

Bennett said BDR is planning to have market-rate units only but hasn’t made a final decision.

BDR has done numerous housing projects in Columbia City, Mount Baker and Rainier Vista. Bennett said buyers like living near rail stations and the proximity to downtown Seattle…

Click here for the full article (requires subscription).

As always, consult Scott’s incredibly thorough Project and Development Map to see what’s planned for the greater Columbia City area.

Flying Lion Brewing: Crowdfunding Effort

As many know (and are excited about), the good folks at Flying Lion Brewery (the Williams family) are hard at work on their new space a few doors down from Full Tilt and Watercress. In an effort to pull off the final costs of the build, the Williams have created a crowdfunding site (similar to how Tin Umbrella and Big Chickie reached out) looking for neighborhood support. There are some pretty good rewards as well–stickers, t-shirts, pint-cards, even an unlimited beer for life membersip ($1,000)…which is pretty dang good if you think about it.

The crowdbrewed site can be accessed here, the promo video introducing the guys behind it is below.

Latest Cheasty Bike Park Update

Yesterday, Publicola reported the following:

The council also put off (for one week) legislation that would allo8475634_origcate $100,000 in city money (out of an estimated cost of $750,000) to a new mountain bike park in Southeast Seattle’s Cheasty Greenspace, a long, narrow greenbelt that runs between Columbia City and Beacon Hill. Some neighborhood residents have argued that the greenbelt should be preserved as natural space and wildlife habitat. Proponents say it would provide recreation and education to residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, and provide a new connection between Columbia City and Beacon Hill.

Council member Sally Bagshaw said that even if the council does approve the legislation, “that isn’t a guarantee that it’s going in” to the city budget.

New Rainier Beach Project from Lottie’s Lounge Owners

Beau Herbert, the owner of Lottie’s Lounge, is embarking on a new, additional project in Rainier Beach. While Jude’s will not be a Columbia City restaurant, it definitely has some connections to the neighborhood. As Sara Billups from Eater Seattle reports:

Come fall, Rainier Beach will score Jude’s, a new watering hole from Beau Hebert, who also owns Columbia City’s Lottie’s Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 12.54.44 PMLounge. Jude’s is moving into the former Cafe Vignole space on 57th Ave. S. on a small retail strip near a former trolley line that Hebert calls “old town.” “Every other neighborhood has a ‘cute zone’,” Hebert says.

A 10-year Rainier Beach resident and Vignole regular, Hebert says when the Italian spot closed he was able to “make a deal that was enticing enough” to jump on, signed the lease, and began gutting the interior.

Hebert hopes Jude’s will fill a needed niche for a neighborhood spot that serves fresh food and craft beer where regulars can come…

…Jude’s interior will be modeled after Lottie’s, with a larger kitchen and a dining room that fits about 45. Hebert is using profit from Lottie’s to slowly start the build-out and buy used kitchen equipment. He says he’s been taking the summer easy and next month will start to secure funding. If the schedule keeps and money comes in, Jude’s will open this November.

Click here for the full story.

More on the Cheasty Bike Park

The debate over the Cheasty Bike Park has been dominating the Southend news coverage as of late. The Seattle Times‘ Lynn Thompson has the latest:

Joel DeJong is an enthusiastic advocate for mountain biking. He runs a commuter bike-building company in Fremont, takes his kids out on wooded trails outside of the city on2024180091 weekends and for the past seven years has marshaled hundreds of volunteers to help clean up and restore the overgrown woods near his home.

But his vision for a mountain-bike trail around the 27-acre Cheasty Greenspace on the east slope of Seattle’s Beacon Hill is dividing residents and drawing protests from nature lovers who don’t want one of the city’s few undeveloped parks turned over to active recreation.

The controversy is reminiscent of the fight two years ago when the Seattle Parks Department proposed allowing a private company to operate a zip line in West Seattle’s Lincoln Park, a plan that was shelved after a public outcry.

“Our concern is this will set a precedent, that Parks will take away a natural area of which there are very few left,” said Mark Ahlness, a retired teacher who led the fight against the zip line and is now one of the directors of the Seattle Nature Alliance, which advocates for preserving and protecting the city’s natural areas.

DeJong and other supporters say the mountain-bike trail, which would be the first in a Seattle park, would give youths who aren’t able to get out of the city an opportunity to experience the joy of riding their bikes in the woods. And in the process, they argue, the kids would gain an appreciation of nature and a sense of ownership for the green space.

Read the whole piece here.

Cheasty Bike Park Moving Forward

SeattleMet’s Erica C. Barnett is reporting that the Cheasty Bike Park (click for more details) received the go-ahead vote on Tuesday:

Opponents of a proposal to build a series of trails for mountain bikes in Beacon Hill and Columbia City’s Cheasty Greenspace lost the first round in their battle yesterday, when the city cou8475634_origncil’s neighborhoods committee voted to move forward a bunch of neighborhood matching fund proposals that included $100,000 in city dollars for the mountain-bike plan. (The vote was 1-0-1—ties move legislation forward—with Sally Bagshaw in favor, and Harrell abstaining.)

Some neighbors of the park, which spans 43 acres in Southeast Seattle, oppose the 10-acre trail project (of which about 2 acres would consist of actual trail space) because, they argue, it would result in loss of wildlife habitat and urban tree cover; it will compromise the safety of park users (including cyclists); it will increase parking pressure in the area; and because, in the words of the group Save Cheasty Greenspace, “Passive use park lands should not be converted to active use park lands.”

Additionally, opponents argue that the council is moving forward with funding for the plan (which has a total price tag of $750,000) before proponents have raised their own half-million-dollar contribution and presented a formal plan to the council. “And by that point it is unlikely that there is any turning back,” an email from the Seattle Neighborhood Coalition put it earlier this month.“I’ve seen some videos of these mountain bikes—these kids are doing these twists and all this stuff. I asked the question on this project … [what about] safety concerns and insurance concerns?”—Council Member Bruce Harrell

(Parks director Christopher Williams said today, “We recognize that some of the input and concerns that the community has need to be reflected in the design and the proposal going forward. It’s our hope that we can still get there.”)

Proponents, meanwhile, argue that a series of bike and pedestrian paths will provide “enjoyment, recreation, and education” to residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, and will create a new pedestrian connection between Beacon Hill and Columbia City.

Click here for the whole article.

Columbia City Gateway Project Fundraising

The Columbia City Gateway
Take a neglected corner and transform it into something inviting, with planter beds and seating areas beneath the trees. That’s the goal of a group of Columbia City neighbors who want to create a mini-park and plaza that welcomes light-rail commuters and anchors a growing neighborhood. This part of the neighborhood is already a destination for the many people who frequent the Columbia City farmer’s market. A PCC Natural Market and new residences will soon open across the street.
The project at the corner at 37th Avenue South and South Edmunds will add to the vibrancy and livability of Columbia City. With enough donations, the project can reach its goal of completion in 2015