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Columbia City Construction and Development Roundup

The Columbia City Facebook page has been blowing up lately with reports of new condos, apartments, and mixed-use spaces planned for the neighborhood.

Thanks to Scott A. (the neighbor behind a lot of these posts), Columbia City Source has a well-maintained development map that allows readers to get a birds-eye view of what’s potentially coming to our pocket of Rainier Valley. Click here to check it out.

Although a number of these designs are certainly in the “proposal” stage, it’s important for neighbors to stay in know. While there’s certainly more to explore than what’s listed below, here’s a quick roundup of some of the latest development buzz:

37th and Hudson: Located across from the Greenhouse Apartments, next to the Super Six parking lot. 4-Story. 35 Units. Microhousing with limited live/work and possible retail. No parking. hudson

Columbia City Post Office: This could be a major change to the neighborhood.  The proposal is for 240 units (that’s on the scale of the PCC/Angeline project) and would replace the current post office building with a 7-story project that spreads from the post office location all the way up to Rainier. There’s been lots of concern about the future of the post office. Here’s one reply from the city that a neighbor received.


39th and Ferdinand Church Conversion:This project has been in the works for years, stalling out a number of times. Recent permits and proposals suggest that it’s back on. The plan is to convert the existing, empty church building into apartments and condos (looks like eight units) and to demolish a portion of the structure for single family homes. Church

Alaska and MLK: 200+ units and retail planned to fill the empty lot directly adjacent to the light rail station. MLK39th and Rainier: 120+ Units between Columbia City and Hillman City. Includes retail. Currently the home of an auto lot.39th

The Rainier/MLK Bowtie: A bit of a different kind of proposal and a bit north of Columbia City, but important to be aware of. The pic below is the proposed redesign for the complicated intersection near Franklin High School and the Mount Baker Light Rail Station. Here’s the Seattle Bike Blog’s review of the plan.Bowtie

In addition, be sure to keep an eye on the LEM’s bookstore/Busy Bee area (just south of Columbia City’s main business district). The whole block is essentially for sale–some rumors are trickling up that there are deals in the works.

What’d I miss? Be sure to use the comments to chime in and let us know…

South Seattle Emerald on Columbia City Changes

angeline-4The South Seattle Emerald has a new piece highlighting the increased rate of change that’s been hitting the neighborhood. In the article, Nicole Einbinder, checks in with a number of neighbors (ranging from recent transplants to those who have been here for quite a while) on the reaction to new development and new additions to the neighborhood. To read the whole piece, click here. Here’s a highlight:

As Columbia City continues to undergo large-scale development, public reaction to new projects like the Angeline has been mixed. According to some long-term neighbors, the rapid construction projects and new shops introduced over the past few years not only signal gentrification and changing demographics, but an altered culture from what originally drew them to the south side.

“When rents go up and when people come in paying a higher rent they tend to have different priorities than cultural,” said Angeline resident Paul Nelson, who has lived in King County since 1988 and came to Columbia City around six years ago. “The neighborhood has lost a lot of its soul.”

Phase Two Interiors Opening Soon

About UsPCC. Vino Verite (now open). Super Six. Salted Sea. All the Best Petcare (coming soon). Pagliacci (coming soon).

It’s been a crazy year…and the additions to Columbia City’s business district just keep coming. Here’s an update on another:

Walking by today (and doing a little sleuthing on the web) suggests that the next new business to open its doors will be Phase Two Interiors–a furniture consignment shop just East of Rainier on Edmunds. Peeking through the windows, the remodel to the space appears to be nearly finished and there’s already a large selection of furniture ready to be displayed.

Phase Two already has a website up and running  (although limited at this point) that provides some hints as to what we can expect. No exact date on when the doors will open, but all signs point to it being very soon.

New Clues About Third Place Book’s Upcoming Restaurant, Raconteur

third_books_march_2013Ever since it was confirmed that Third Place Books is coming to the former Seward Park PCC site, many have been wondering what restaurant bookstore owner, Ron Sher, will be planning for the space. For those not familiar with Third Place, food is definitely part of the equation. The Ravenna location (also a former PCC) houses the popular Vios (which also has a branch of its Greek cafe on Capitol Hill) and The Pub at Third Place. Further north, the Lake Forest Park bookstore has a mini-food court of sorts with the Honey Bear Bakery, Kitto, and Burney Brotthers BBQ. Additionally, both Third Place Locations have plenty of space to find a spot to spread out, grab a coffee, and study, work, or read.

As reported earlier, the initial permits for the new Seward Park Third Place also include plans for at least one restaurant (it also seems the basement will possibly be used as a pub). Poking around a bit, it appears that the name for the restaurant will be Raconteur. To make things just a bit more interesting, Coury Restaurants seem to be the group behind Racounteur. Who are they? I have no idea…except that they share an address with Genessee’s own Flying Squirrel Pizza.


Columbia City Gateway Official Opening: Wednesday 9/16

Although the neighborhood has been enjoying it for a few weeks now, the good people behind the Columbia City Gateway project are hosting an official grand opening on Wednesday 9/16 at 4pm. As you head down to hit up the farmer’s market, be sure to swing by. Here’s the official info:

gatewayPlease join us on Wednesday, September 16th, to celebrate the opening of The Gateway located on the site of the historic Columbia School, now home to the Interagency Academy.

It’s time to celebrate the transformation of this corner from a locked and littered field of broken asphalt into a beautiful open space with trees, sitting areas, landscaping, sidewalk benches and lighting for community enjoyment.

The Gateway Opening festivities start at 4pm and will feature:

  • Live music and parade with Jazz Night School
  • Ribbon cutting and crisp speeches
  • Free Gateway balloons for kids (first 100)
  • Performance by Interagency Academy vocalist
  • Free Gateway frisbees (limit 200)
  • Group commemorative sing-a-long
  • Cupcakes compliments of PCC
  • Free Market Bucks with your “I helped open the Gateway” handstamp at the Farmers’ Market after the event (limit 250)
  • Garden Tours

We are grateful to all the Columbia City businesses and residents who donated time, money and effort to create our Gateway, as well as the following organizations:

Our Partners: Seattle School District, The Interagency Academy Students and Staff, City of Seattle, Department of Neighborhoods & Office of Economic Development, Columbia City Business Association and BIA

Our Major Donors: The Wolff Company, Rainier Pacific, Security Properties, PCC Natural Markets, Shirley Marvin Hotel, LR Isabella, Scott Amick, READ WRITE LEARN, Columbia City Pilates, Bank of America

With recognition to: Seattle Parks Foundation, Johnson+Southerland, GMD Custom, Jordan T. Adams, Maher Landscaping and Iris Antman                                                                           .

Please come celebrate with us Wed. Sept 16th at 4pm!


Your Friends of the Gateway

Another 6 Story Building in Columbia City? Design Review Meeting TONIGHT

Sorry for the lack of posts the past few weeks…I’ve been out of town. Here’s an important one:

UntitledRecently, proposals have emerged for a new project at 5201 Rainier Ave–the site of a current car lot. The project is a big one–proposing 128 apartments, 2000+ square feet of retail, and would most likely require a change in zoning due to height restrictions.

The Design Review Board meeting for the project is tonight at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center at 6:30. 

Active Columbia City neighbor, Scott A., has this long write-up on the project the Columbia City Facebook page:

This is relatively long post so here’s the quick recap – 6 story apartment building proposed where the car mechanic lot is at 39th and Rainier. If you want to influence the Design Review Board’s opinion of the project in any way you need to write noting the project number and/or address OR show up at the Tuesday meeting to speak about the project. If you think of the new PCC/Angeline Apartment building as the north “bookend” of Columbia City then this project would be (for better or worse) the south “bookend” as it would be the same height if rezoning is approved.

Update on 5201 Rainier Ave S. – possible upzone and 128 unit apartment building with 55 parking spaces and 2,057 sf of retail space.
This afternoon the Early Design Guidance packet of plans was posted by DPD that will be reviewed by the Southeast Design Review Board next Tuesday at 6:30 pm at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center.
Link to meeting details:…/…/DesignReview/Detail/default.aspx…

Direct link to early design proposal:…/…/DRProposal3018378AgendaID5502.pdf

Images included with this post are snapshots of the pdf linked above. All three concepts are currently not allowed by the 40′ zoning of this land. Concept C is the preferred concept by the applicant. The developer has only submitted designs that assume 65′ zoning will be approved someday by the city. The project may require more than one Early Design Guidance review, then it has at least one “Recommendation” meeting where the Board signs off on the design.

The 55 parking spaces represent a less than 0.5 spaces per apartment ratio. Page 14 of the pdf mentions “frequent transit” when referring to required parking counts. Opinions vary greatly as seen here on the CC group page about whether parking should be abundant or scarce, but what is really interesting is the City Hearing Examiner ruled on a West Seattle case some months ago that the definition of “frequent transit” service was being misinterpreted by DPD. Just across Rainier Avenue from this site is a Pearl Street remodel proposal where a DPD reviewer recently cited this Hearing Examiner ruling when telling that applicant Rainier Ave bus service doesn’t currently meet the new interpretation of frequent transit. Therefore, as I understand the details, one parking space per unit is the basic requirement when not in a Station Overlay District (which for Columbia City is very close to the Link light rail station).

West Seattle Blog story on the Hearing Examiner ruling from December:…/citys-no-parking-necessary-if…/

Seattle Transit Blog coverage in March of an updated Director’s Rule:…/action-alert-write-in-supp…/

DPD review comments about a small remodel at 3916 S. Pearl Street that would replace 6 carport parking stalls with 3 apartments may be denied in part because “frequent transit service” definition isn’t met by Rainier Ave S. bus schedule.…

This property had a 4-story (zoning compliant) project approved back in the 2007/2008 era. Its description was: “four live/work units and 1,729 sq. ft. of retail at ground level with 59 apartments above. Parking for 60 vehicles to be provided.”

To make the biggest impact with your comments to DPD staff or the Design Review Board reference design guidelines mentioned in this document:…/doc…/web_informational/p2083771.pdf

Also note that the design of the Angeline Apartments was reviewed and approved by the Columbia City Landmarks Board, not the Southeast Design Review Board. Totally different entities due to the geographic boundaries of each.

See you at the meeting! I’m looking forward to making this project as good as it can be if it happens at all.

Scott Amick's photo.
UPDATE: According to one who was in attendance: “The result of tonight’s meeting was that the Design Review Board did not approve the project to proceed to the next permitting step. The applicant will be coming back to the Board for another Early Design Guidance meeting. Great comments from neighbors were heard that will make for a better project on a very prominent site.”

Seattle Globalist on Columbia City + Gentrification

Seattle Globalist’s Sharon H. Chang has the following article up on the varying opinions regarding the gentrification of Columbia City. The whole piece is worth a read hereColumbia-City-2-700x467

The Angeline went up fast with constructionBEGINNING mid-2013, but doors on its 193 living units and 30,000 square fee of street level retail alreadyOPENING this summer. Many expressed shock at the newly advertised apartment rental rates, ranging from $1,755 per month for a studio to $3,265 per month for a 2-bedroom. The building boasts a private theater room, rooftop terrace, fitness center, and anchor commercial tenant PCC Natural Markets — aGROCERY STORE with a price point that keeps even middle income families from being able to shop there on a regular basis.

The building’s rapid rise has amplified those awkward conversations about gentrification in Columbia City.

For Randolph Cross, proud member of The Royal Esquire Club, just a few blocks up Rainier Ave, it may not be such a bad thing. The Esquire Club was founded in 1948 by five young Seattle Black men “to promote social and civic betterment in the community, city, state and country.” It moved to Columbia City in 1986. Cross said the club is glad to be part of revitalizing the neighborhood.

“Revitalization brings families and children out into public,” he explained. “People now find this a viable community like the Ballards and Magnolias.”

A Seattle native, Cross grew up in the Madison Valley area, which he loved.

“I remember what [Columbia City] used to be like,” he said, “shady establishments, shady people.”

He’s pleased with the neighborhood changes, and thinks the Angeline is needed development. He says he looks forward to improvements extending further south where he now lives in Rainier Beach.

“They just keep pushing us out”

But other longtime locals disagree. I spoke to one Black woman who went to Rainier Beach high school in the ‘70s and has worked in Columbia City for 20 years. She asked not to be identified for fear of blowback in the neighborhood.

“Suddenly in 2002 they started calling it ‘gentrification,’” she recalled bemusedly, thenCONTINUED seriously, “All it means to me is pushing Blacks out of one area into another area. They just keep pushing us out…

Music Under the Stars Coming to Columbia Park

Although the promo campaign for this series has essentially been nonexistent (has anyone seen or heard anything about this?), SEEDArts and Seattle Chamber Music Society is putting together a number of great music events in Columbia City this summer.

Through July, a number of free, classical concerts will be hosted in Columbia Park (next to the new PCC, behind library) every Monday evening. Here are the link to the Facebook event page (help spread the word), and here are the official details:10733797_10152918251456127_2708781464485949531_o

Music Under The StarsFree

Bring a picnic, stretch out on the lawn, and enjoy a live audio broadcast of each of our Summer Festival concerts, provided directly to neighborhood parks by KING-FM. Each evening begins at 7:15pm with live chamber music performed by an outstanding student ensemble, and continues at 8:00pm with KING-FMs live broadcast, direct from Benaroya.

• Mondays: Columbia Park, 4701 Rainier Ave. S. in Columbia City

  •  07/06: Daana Quartet performs Haydn
  •  07/13: Bellevue Virtuoso Strings perform Bach, Mozart and Boccherini
  • 07/20: Daana Quartet performs Haydn
  •  07/27: Möbius Quartet, KING-FM Young Artist Awards finalists, perform Dvorak

Grab a blanket, pack a picnic and enjoy an evening of great music in Columbia Park for…. for free!

These “Music Under the Stars” events have been a beloved Seattle tradition for over twenty years. And with the support of SEEDArts, we’ll now be in Columbia City for the first time!

Columbia Park is located at the corner of Rainier Ave S. and S. Alaska, between the Columbia City Library and the Rainier Valley Cultural Center.

Rumor: Pet Store Coming to the Angeline

P-RAINIER-NORTH-CORNERI try to hold off on posting rumors without any evidence to back them up (permits, land use proposals, etc.), but enough neighbors have asked me if I know anything about the pet store coming to The Angeline (PCC’s new home) that I figured it was worth a post. To be clear, this is in no way confirmed.

So, who knows the details? I’ve heard everything from big-box chains (like a PetCo), to Mud Bay, to something much more local. I’ve also heard there’s a possibility that this store will not be taking the full, Rainier-facing storefront and that the space might be divided for an additional business to come in.

If you are in the know, be sure to use the comments to chime in.

Crosscut Interview with Ron Sher of Third Place Books

Crosscut’s Valerie Easton has a new interview up with Ron Sher, the owner of Third Place Books. In the interview, Sher comments on the store’s philosophy as well as the plans to convert the soon-to-be former PCC home to Third Place’s newest location (opening in November):

Photo: Crosscut

Photo: Crosscut

Why and when did you start your first bookstore?

It’s been about 15 years now since Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park opened. It is the first bookstore I’ve owned, although I’ve had several as tenants. I felt that locating a new and used bookstore, a coffee shop, and the restaurants and cafes along with other services and amenities would attract customers and enrich a community. I figured if I could bring all these elements together and open simultaneously, it would greatly improve the store’s chance of success.

Why the new/used books model of bookstore?

I like to see books passed on. It’s recycling, and it makes books more affordable. And I think it makes a bookstore even more interesting.

Any more Third Place Books in the works?

We are planning to open a new Third Place Books along with a restaurant at the site of the Seward Park PCC. They’re moving to Columbia City in July, and we hope to open in November.

Read the whole interview here.