Believe it or not, Summer is almost at an end, though we hope the sunshine decides to stay a while! But, it ain’t over till it’s over, as they say, and there’s still lots of fun to be had, especially at the 4th annual Belltown Crush Block Party!
Belltown’s favorite summertime bash is going on this year at Bell Street Park and promises to be a blast!
Sip and savor your way through the festival while enjoying live tunes and don’t miss out on the grape stomping competition, to really get you into the spirit of the event and the summer. It’s a local favorite!
This year’s event will take place on Saturday, August 26th from 2-5PM. Advanced tickets are $25 with proceeds going to benefit Plymouth Housing Group.
Want to peruse local artwork and also give your input on what you’d like our community to look like in the future? Stop by Thursday evening, April 27th from 6-9 pm at Makers’ space (92 Lenora St.) in Belltown. The meeting is held by Project Belltown, a community-driven group, who would show maps, plans, and would like your ideas for how this neighborhood can thrive in days to come. Local art and imagery will be on display, and there will be food and drink as well.
Project Belltownhas six areas of focus for improvements: Creative Placemaking: Preserve and promote an art and entertainment district as a neighborhood center for Belltown; as a heart of Belltown. Invest in our public realm: our historic buildings, parks, alleyways, sidewalks, and open spaces.
Economic Development: Develop strategies to market and promote Belltown businesses, both as a destination for tourists and as a walkable community. Look at strategies to preserve affordable commercial rents, and align development with desired uses.
Environment: Implement the Growing Vine Street public art and water-reclamation project, build more green street projects. Promote sustainable development and explore the implementation of an EcoDistrict throughout Belltown.
Health & Safety: Advocate for increased community policing, while pursuing additional neighborhood strategies to address homelessness. Expand on community workforce development programs and increase access to services for those in need.
Mobility & Connectivity: Improve connections to the Waterfront, Pike Place, and the Seattle Center. Promote mobility through a Belltown Connector, pedestrian, and bike connections. Build out east/west connections to Denny Triangle.
Workforce Housing: Develop a Belltown-based strategy for affordable and workforce housing. Consider a district to preserve existing housing, in alignment with HALA recommendations, and using an expanded TDR program to fund new workforce housing. Consider incentive programs tied to up-zoning.
Makers, where the meeting will be held, is a co-working space for entrepreneurial spirits who see the benefit of a shared working environment, camaraderie, and resources.
Mid-last month, we heard that Tia Lou was losing their liquor license due to repeated and ongoing problems. A Komo News report stated that the Belltown nightclub was being ordered by the city to stop serving alcohol at the end of 2016. “This one nightclub has been monopolizing public safety resources,” said Seattle police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb.
As of today, Tia Lou is listed as permanently closed.
SPD has recorded problems at Tia Lou back to 2007, with numerous thefts, assaults, and even the rape of a woman who was passed out in a restroom at the club. “We’ve had hundreds of police calls for service at this nightclub, calls where people have been assaulted, calls with gun violence, robbery, sexual assault, all generated from this one nightclub,” Whitcomb said.
Last October, Tia Lou was denied renewal on their existing license, and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board revoked their liquor license on November 30th, with an effective date and time of 5 p.m. on December 30th.
Numerous Belltown residents around the club have also complained to the city and police about noise, drugs and other illegal activity. For example, a neighbor told Komo News that he had to call the SPD’s non-emergency line 45 times in just 17 weeks to complain during the summer of 2013.
While there was an application to transfer Tia Lou’s liquor license before the end of the year, it seems to have been denied, since the club’s website says that it is closed until further notice. Yelp and Google also list the club as closed.
For 30 years, Queen City Grill has been a neighborhood staple and important feature of the Belltown community. Tragically, the restaurant may have to close at the end of this month, unless we can influence the grill’s landlord to allow them to stay!
Plymouth Housing Group, Queen City’s landlord, is refusing to honor the five-year extension option in their lease and insisting that the restaurant vacate by January 2nd, 2017. Although Queen City Grill has paid their rent for the 30 years that they’ve been in business at the Belltown location, Plymouth Housing Group is evicting the restaurant due to a water billing issue. While Queen City doesn’t agree that they owe for the charges, they have offered to pay the amount (plus the allegedly excessive late fees and penalties that PHG is charging) in full in order to stay and avoid the time and cost of litigating them.
According to the Queen City Grill’s announcement, “Please respectfully let Plymouth Housing Group and City of Seattle officials know how you feel about this plan to dispose of the Queen City Grill and its amazing employees, while wiping away 30 years of history and leadership in the Belltown community.”
As part of a statement from Plymouth Housing Group, they state that “Since 2010, QCG has also suffered from financial problems. Plymouth has worked closely with QCG to help alleviate the situation. Rent has been reduced and leases have been restructured. QCG now is thousands of dollars behind in its obligations. Plymouth regrets the difficulties being suffered by this long time Seattle institution but cannot offer a new lease term to this commercial tenant without risking the financial stability of Plymouth’s mission. Our intent is that this would continue as a restaurant location, but no specific plans have been made.”
Queen City Grill’s General Manager and Partner Robert Eickhof responded in a statement to King 5 News: ““There was a discrepancy of a water bill two or three years ago. $5,800. We disputed it. We thought it was outrageous. It’s accrued to the point of $14,800. We have said we will pay that if you will grant us our five-year option.”
Belltown, get ready for an extended carmageddon. Starting tonight, the Alaskan Way Viaduct/Highway 99 will be closed for the next two weeks or more, resulting in certain traffic mayhem. The closure, which commenced early Friday morning (at midnight), is between the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel and South Spokane Street.
This is part of WSDOT’s Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, which requires the time for the tunneling machine, Bertha, to dig safely underneath the structure. Close to 100,000 cars use the Viaduct every day, and the closure will certainly put traffic pressure on other routes throughout the city, such as Alaskan Way, the surface street underneath the Viaduct, which is expected to remain open during the next two weeks.
The extreme traffic congestion resulting from this closure is precedented by an infamous accident from last year in March, when a fish truck overturned on 99. The highway was shut down for more than nine hours and affected traffic throughout the city in a bad way. New traffic response plans were initiated, but won’t notably alleviate the effect of a planned shutdown of the Viaduct for Bertha’s tunnelling efforts.
WSDOT recommends that commuters who normally use the route plan ahead for extended congestion, take alternate routes, travel at non-peak times, and stay informed on the progress of the closure to respond accordingly. “WSDOT is coordinating with partner agencies to keep people moving during the closure, which is a necessary part of a vital transportation safety project that will transform the SR 99 corridor.”
In response to the closure, several Downtown businesses are attempting to make the workday more flexible, by running building HVAC two hours longer. Other companies are doing what they can to relieve the traffic as much as possible.