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Pictures from the Belltown Pet Parade

Another successful Belltown Community Council event, the Belltown Pet Parade at the Olympic Sculpture Park brought in dozens and dozens dogs in all shapes and sizes, along with a few ferrets and a very talkative bird. Pets were judged on cuteness, ugliness, size, and talent, with winners receiving gifts from local pet shops. You can decide for yourself who won each category by looking through our gallery of pictures from the event.



 

 

Bell St. construction uncovers Wasabi’s mail-working past

Hat tip to Belltowngeek for this one…

Over the last several weeks, the corner of 2nd and Bell has been torn down, cleaned up and is now already being built up. A clue from the twittersphere lead us to check out the bare side of Wasabi Bistro, where removed concrete has revealed a piece of Belltown history in the form of a logo from “Elliott Addressing Machine Co.” Here’s what Seattle Department of Neighorhoods had to say about it…

This modest building was built in 1950, when construction was recovering after World War II. It is of concrete construction with very large display windows and Roman brick trim, typical of the 1950s. It originally housed office and showrooms for two business machine companies, Diebold and Elliott Addressing Machine. These were typical of the types of businesses that located in Belltown at the time so that they could be close to their customers in downtown office buildings. Much of the facade has been covered with brightly-painted plywood.

Privately owned public spaces: privately kept, publicly unused

Council member Nick Lacata’s recent tour of the privately owned public open spaces (POPOS) around downtown prompted Belltownpeople to explore our own POPOS in Belltown. Downtown’s spaces are mostly easy to find, including The Wells Fargo plaza, and the many hill climbs adjacent to some of the tallest buildings. But in Belltown, despite following the (link)map of public spaces(link) I had a hard time figuring out what was public space, why it was public space, and why some were shooing people away with “no trespassing” signs and even gates.

(To be clear, POPOS are spaces, anything from sidewalk widening to huge open plazas, created by developers that allow buildings to be, to put it simply, taller.)

Belltown has few public parks, so finding a place to sit after walking up the inclines from Elliot Ave. can be hard. As such, most of the of the POPOS found in Belltown consist of open areas with chairs, benches or raised planters that are easy to rest on. Despite their functionality, they are not so easy to find, and even some spaces like the large brick laden plaza in front of the Grange Insurance group building at 2nd and Cedar (designated as a “major private open space”) have signs saying “criminal trespass prohibited” and “no loitering”. The same goes for the art space/gutter drain at Vine and Western, and the large plaza outside of Tully’s at Westerna and Lenora…

more after the jump

 


 

While signs reminding people of laws are obviously allowed, Lisa Herbold from Councilmember Nick Lacata’s office says they should also have a sign designating and encouraging use of the space. Lacata’s office has been diligently pressing for better recognition and use of these spaces, as well as awareness of public rights to them. But even Licata has had trouble with misunderstandings of the spaces, as Herbold said his touring party was confronted by a building security guard asking them to leave a POPOS.

The blame does not rest solely on the private businesses. After an audit of the nearly 50 year old law, the city discovered in 2000 that the law required them to design a logo for signage at the POPOS. This hindered their ability to regulate, and enforce any penalty on businesses that did not comply. Now, armed with the new logo, the Department of Planning and Development has started notifying businesses and ordering compliance. 

Even with the proper signs and awareness, will the spaces be used? During my sunny afternoon tour of the POPOS around Belltown, the spaces were well kept and attractive, but without people. Belltown’s most talked about new space, the Bell St. Boulevard project, could raise the same question. Will it just be another vapid cosmetic feature that is fun to look at but passed up by the people it was created to serve? Is there anything about Bell St. that needs to be different, or are Belltowners just private space people? 

 

New store takes a shot at the Belltown coffee scene

Posted on August 19, 2009

The latest local coffee shop, Bang Bang cafe, opened last Thursday on the corner of Western Ave. and Wall St. Supporting local roaster Lighthouse, as well as decorating with local artist and musician Steve King, Bang Bang has a clean and open feel strung with a hometown charm. While they are still fine tuning the menu, coffee seems like just a drink along side the soup, salad, sandwiches, cookies, pastries and breakfast burritos that they offer. A little on the outskirts, but head over and check them out sometime.


The future of our community: the Alaskan Way viaduct

Posted on August 11, 2009
The Alaskan Way viaduct replacement project has been a hot topic for this campaign cycle, and for the people most affected by the construction — Belltown residents. The new SR-99 tunnel that will begin around the stadiums and come up between Harrison and Republican will travel underneath Belltown, changing the landscape and the flow of traffic around the area. Belltownpeople contacted KaDeena Lenz, a representative for the project from the Washington Department of Transportation, and consulted the WSDOT website to get more information about the specific impact it will have on Belltown.

  • The current structure that runs over Bell St. will be removed. Once the deep bore tunnel is operational, the Battery street tunnel is likely to be decommissioned, but there was no information on what that may entail.
  • Lenz explained that traffic would not be overwhelming at the exit point just north of Belltown because of the addition of a 4-lane Alaskan way service street that will run into downtown.
  • The eventual traffic noise will not be heard through the 200 ft of earth that separates city life and the tunnel, but Lenz did not rule out the possibility of noise being heard from construction during the quiet night times.
  • Pollution is expected to passively exit the tunnel during normal traffic, but in times of heavy traffic, a ventilation system (seen as vent building on the draft drawing) will activate to remove emissions from the tunnel.
  • According to WSDOT, a tunnel is actually safer and more structurally prepared in the event of an earthquake; good news since that is what prompted this entire project. From the WSDOT website: “Seismic waves are amplified as they reach the surface of the earth, which causes a whiplash effect and subjects above-ground structures to stronger motions than a tunnel.”

 

You can find more information about the Alaskan Way Viaduct or the deep bore tunnel at WSDOT’s website.

Bell Street event draws neighbors of all kinds

Posted on July 17, 2009

Thursday evening’s Great City Summer Scene fostered a positive community event; a hopeful sight for the upcoming remodeling of Bell Street. Family, friends and organizations got together to talk about the future of Belltown, listen to the street sounds of Orkestar Zirkonium, and enjoy the food and drink of Skillet. The Bell St. boulevard plan was a main focus of the event, with Seattle Parks and Rec. in attendance educating citizens on the progress of the plan, and groups supporting “street activation” with free plants and art creation. 

Here are some photos from the event:

SvR Design’s table allowing children to create their own depiction of Bell St. boulevard. (Photo: Lucas Anderson/Neighborlogs.com)

SustainableBelltown.org gave out free plants to attendees to promote container gardening. (Photo: Lucas Anderson/Neighborlogs.com)

Mayoral candidate Mike McGinn meets and greets Belltown neighbors. (Photo: Lucas Anderson/Neighborlogs.com)

Seattle Green Bag campaign’s Bag Monster dances and vote for the Aug. 18th Initiative. (Photo: Lucas Anderson/Neighborlogs.com)

Second Ave. standoff ends in arrest: Man had 17 guns in apartment

Posted on July 17, 2009

Early this morning, Belltownpeople brought you news of a police standoff on 2nd Ave. According to the police report, the brief incident had a peaceful ending, and the white male in his 50s was arrested for unlawful use of weapons then booked into King County Jail. Police found a large amount of weapons in the man’s apartment after his arrest.

The man was yelling and threatening individuals playing loud music across the street from his third floor apartment on the 2200 block of 2nd Ave. around 11:30 p.m., according to the SPD report. After shutting down 2nd Ave. between Bell and Blanchard, police were able locate the correct apartment, and convince the suspect to come down with little resistance, the report stated.

During the standoff, patrons at nearby bars were warned to stay inside and stay off the street.

According to the report, the manager of the apartment building where the event occurred said the man may have a history of mental illness as well as substance abuse. The police report also noted that there were sixteen other pistols in the apartment on top of the one he had brandished and several knives, which were all taken as evidence.

Here is the complete SPD report:

 

Stand-off ends peacefully

At about 11:30 p.m., officers responded to a complaint of a man brandishing a pistol while standing on his balcony near the Bell Street and 2nd Ave. The individual had reportedly pointed the gun across the street toward two individuals playing loud music in their vehicle, which was parked in front of the nightclubs across the street.

Responding officers identified the suspect balcony on the third floor of an apartment building in the 2200 block of 2nd Ave, and set up containment around the building. They also shut down 2nd Ave between Bell Street and Blanchard Street. Initially the suspect went back into his apartment and was not seen again. Officers were able to find a woman at the scene who had seen the incident, but they could not find the individuals the suspect had allegedly pointed his gun at.

As time went on, the officers were able to get information on the suspect from the manager of the building and locate the correct apartment. They also learned that the tenant, a White male in his 50s who lives there alone, might have a history or mental issues and/or substance abuse issues. The suspect also made another appearance on the balcony, yelling at officers, though no handgun was seen this time.

Officers was able to convince the suspect to come out of the apartment. Officers arrested the suspect without incident. While clearing the apartment, they located sixteen pistols not counting the one the suspect had allegedly brandished. Officers recovered all of the pistols and several knives and submitted them as evidence.

The suspect was booked into the King County Jail for a violation of SMC 12.A.14.075, Unlawful Use of Weapons. Officers were not able to locate the individuals the suspect had initially challenged. The suspect stated he was upset that the men were playing loud music, so he started yelling to attract their attention. He admitted using racial slurs, but denied being armed at the time. The female witness stated that she clearly saw the suspect brandishing a black pistol. Officers recovered a loaded black semi-automatic pistol from a table just inside the apartment right next to near the door leading out to the balcony.

 

Response to Bell Street Boulevard optimistic, but questions remain

Posted on July 5, 2009

Last week, Belltownpeople brought you news of the success of the Bell Street boulevard proposal: unanimous approval by the City Council. But response to this news was mixed, with people expressing both joy and dissent over the result.

For a more in-depth look at the impact of the new development, Belltownpeople went down to Bell street to talk to the individuals who are going to feel immediate effects of the changes.


 Just off of Bell lies Bedlam coffee. The shop was already blocked off by construction materials from unrelated roadwork, so one could imagine the owners would be upset about what was going to happen in the next year to Bell street. But to my surprise, co-owners Ben Borgman and Jesse Crawford were excited about the new project. “It will give a center to Bell Town… we need green space,” said Jesse. Both were optimistic about the project’s impact on current businesses and its potential to bring new business, and weren’t too worried about a loss of parking. Bedlam also recently acquired the Bell Town Needle, an artistic model of the Space Needle. While they originally hoped to install the needle in one of the proposed Belltown Parks, Borgman was looking forward to finding a place for the needle in open art space along the Boulevard.

Not everyone is completely satisfied, though. Meredith Storm, an employee at Two Bells Tavern at 4th and Bell, likes the idea of a renovated street in Bell Town, but questions the Council’s selection of Bell St. “A park is a good thing, but the location is off. I would rather see something like that on Vine,” she said. Her main concern was Bell street’s reputation for crime and suspicious behavior, a common concern among people against the project. But Storm seemed hopeful, “If it plays out, and is an attractive addition, it could be good for the community.” Both Meredith and the guys over at Bedlam agreed on the need for an increased police presence in the area, and Jesse was confident that more people in the area would foster that.

The project is using $2.5 million of funds from last years park levy, and is expected to be completed next year.