So, about those boarded up houses at 15th and 65th…

With Tuesday’s Ravenna-Bryant Community Association spring community meeting roster including City Attorney Pete Holmes, we thought we’d take the opportunity to assemble some reading material about one Hugh Sisley.

We don’t know how much Holmes will be able to say about the city’s plans for collecting the three million dollars in fines owed by Roosevelt’s most well-known landlord. But we do know that there are strong feelings running very deep about Mr. Hugh Sisley, and providing a more focused review of the situation (in terms of current, property-related events) wouldn’t hurt.

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Graffiti on one of Hugh Sisley’s properties. The words on the right read. “I [heart] urban decay.”

The following information focuses on Sisley’s properties in and vision for his corner of the Roosevelt neighborhood, his position as a landlord in the area, and his relationship with the City of Seattle.

Map

We’ve spent a few weeks over at the King County Parcel Viewer, looking up publicly-available property information for the map you see below. The cool-colored markers (and accompanying brown shapes) are properties where the primary taxpayer is listed as either Hugh Sisley, Hugh and Martha Sisley, or the Roosevelt Development Group.


View Properties around Roosevelt High School in a larger map

For more information about the map, including the description of the all symbols used, please open the map in a new window.

We will continue to add to it as we find more owners of multiple properties in the area.

 

Seattle Weekly articles

Earlier this year, the Seattle Weekly published a duo of articles on Mr. Sisley and his dealings (or non-dealings) with the city in terms of his housing-code violation cases and fines:

Seattle Weekly (January 10, 2014) “The Reign of Seattle’s Most Notorious Landlord Could Be Coming to an End

The 86-year-old is facing a record $2 million fine that continues to increase at the rate of $1,600 a day, plus 12 percent interest. And now, after years of foot-dragging of its own, City Hall is finally moving to collect the debt. As officials launch a new initiative approved by the City Council to inspect every rental unit in town, City Attorney Pete Holmes is planning to recover what the stubborn rental king owes by confiscating prized Roosevelt properties held by the penny-pinching millionaire.

And then, a follow-up, just 10 days later: “Hugh Sisley’s Slumlord Tab Now $3 Million, City Says After Recalculation.”

Sisley, whose property is concentrated in the Roosevelt neighborhood, has amassed close to 200 code-enforcement cases dating to the 1980s, according to city records. Among them are violations for faulty wiring, unsafe conditions, insect infestation, junk storage, emergency situations, and unfit vacant buildings subject to demolition.

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RR Hardware, on 15th Avenue NE. “Total chaos envelopes the customer who bravely ventures into this 1940′s holdover,” says one reviewer on Yelp.

 

hughsisley.com

For a glimpse at Hugh Sisley’s vision for Roosevelt, we need only get on the internet and time travel a bit.

Although hughsisley.com is no longer up and running, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has some snapshots stored from the days when it was. Here is the full archived selection, but we’ll point out a couple links to the two different forms the website took while it was live:

View of the progress (and the lack thereof) along NE 65th Street. Taken at 15th Avenue NE looking west.

View of the progress (and the lack thereof) along NE 65th Street. Taken at 15th Avenue NE looking west.

As the Sisleys’ attorney Jeff Grant says in the first Seattle Weekly article mentioned above, “That’s really the story of Hugh and the Roosevelt Neighborhood today. Progress.” This sentiment is echoed strongly on the pages of the old hughsisley.com.

 

Old Fruit Stand block project

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Roosevelt High School standing in the background between two of Sisley’s properties on the NW corner of 15th Avenue NE and NE 65th Street.

The Roosevelt Development Group, which has long-term leases with the Sisleys on many of their properties, is currently working with architectural firm GGLO on a project on one of the three small blocks just south of Roosevelt High School (in orange on the map below).


View NE Seattle Large Development Tracker in a larger map

Project #3013244 at 6505 15th Ave NE is described as a “seven story, 220 unit residential building with 8,000 sq. ft. of retail use at ground level. Parking for 267 vehicles will be located below grade. All existing structures to be demolished.”

Roosevelt High School stands in the background between the two buildings proposed for the Old Fruit Stand block. This view is looking north from NE 65th Street through the half public, half private plaza area. Taken from page 30 of the February 3, 2014 design proposal (click to download; 17 MB PDF).

Roosevelt High School stands in the background between the two buildings proposed for the Old Fruit Stand block. This view is looking north from NE 65th Street through the half-public, half-private plaza area. Taken from page 30 of the February 3, 2014 design proposal (click to download; 17 MB PDF).

The project is currently in the Review phase, and has been presented twice at Northeast Design Review meetings (Early Design Guidance meeting on August 6, 2012, and a Recommendation meeting on February 3, 2014).

You can view the project’s current permit activity and associated documents here. The design proposal presented at the February 3, 2014 meeting can be downloaded here (17 MB PDF).

At this time, initial information has been collected for a new construction permit, but not a demolition permit.

Sisleyville_April_20141

A graffito adorns a previously graffitied spot on the recently officially shuttered Funtiques (1512 NE 65th Street). We believe it is missing a question mark.

Seattle Fire to conduct “live fire” training at old CHSW site on May 13-16 (UPDATE)

We’ve learned from our friends at the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association that the new owner of the old Children’s Home Society of Washington site (3300 NE 65th Street) has offered the use of some of the old structures on the grounds to the Seattle Fire Department for “live fire” exercises.

Three single-family homes on the site will become the training grounds for Seattle Fire recruits who are in their last weeks of training. These training exercises, which include “practice such as cutting holes in roofs, dragging fire hose lines inside,” and, in the case of the house at 6556 32nd Ave NE, actual fire, are scheduled for May 13-16.

6556 32nd Avenue NE, one of three single-family homes on the north side of the old CHSW property.

6556 32nd Avenue NE, one of three single-family homes on the north side of the old CHSW property.

Before homes are selected for training exercises, they must be evaluated and tested for household hazardous materials (ex. asbestos). From an email provided by the RBCA from Eric Evans with Polygon Northwest (the new owners of of the old CHSW site):

SFD_Training_Notice

Notice of Fire Department Training (click to enlarge)

This environmental investigation has been completed and a certificate from a professional hazardous material contractor has been provided to the Seattle Fire Department evidencing that the homes are free of any such materials. With these certificates in hand, the homes are now being disconnected from the existing overhead and underground utilities consistent with the underlying demolition permits that the City has issued for these single family homes. The homes are scheduled to be disconnected on Monday, 4/28 with the work being completed by Seattle City Light, Garner Electric and BDZ Construction.

After homes are selected and deemed safe for training exercise purposes, the neighborhood is notified and Seattle Fire Department staff begin preparing the buildings for the drills.

During the first week of May, Captain Brian Maier will be making the rounds in the neighborhood around the site, informing residents of the upcoming training exercises. On Tuesday, May 6, Seattle Fire Department staff will begin the training preparations, which include delivering port-a-potties and prepping the training homes. Then, on the morning of the following Tuesday, May 13, the recruits arrive and drills begin.

Neighbors with questions about the training exercises are asked to contact Captain Maier at 386-1771, or via email at allen.maier@seattle.gov.

For more information on vacant buildings and the training opportunities they provide for Seattle Fire staff, visit the Seattle Fire Department’s Vacant Buildings Wanted! page.

Page 29 from the Early Design Review #2 presentation of Bryant Heights (click to enlarge)

Page 29 from the Early Design Review #2 presentation of Bryant Heights (click to enlarge)

For more information on what is going up once the old CHSW buildings go down, the RBCA has a small update on Bryant Heights in their post about the SFD training exercises. You can download the latest design plans for Bryant Heights here (35 MB PDF).

And for more information on the Children’s Home Society of Washington’s long tenure at 3300 NE 65th Street, head over here to HistoryLink.org.

 

UPDATE (Tuesday, May 13): Sue Stangl of the SFD tells us the recruits will be doing room fires on Tuesday through Thursday (two fires, lunch, two more fires), starting around 7 AM each day. And then, on Friday, “they will strip the roof and then start the house on fire for a complete burn down.”

UPDATE: The training has definitely started!

Funtiques officially calls it quits; “BIG sale” to come

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Funtiques, one of two long-time vintage and antique stores just east of where 15th Avenue NE and NE 65th Street meet, has been vacant for quite some time. And this week, orange notes taped to the business’s windows finally made it official:

Hello FUNTIQUES Clientele and Neighbors,

After 20 years, Funtiques is officially closing its doors. It has been a wonderful adventure! Many friendships have been built and are cherished. Knowledge that has been freely shared is greatly appreciated. Thank you fall for your support. Thank you so much Tom for the many years of dedication, it is upon your talents that much of Funtiques was built. Thanks to Silhouette for watching over us. Much gratitiude CEO for the care of my entire family for so many years!

My family has spent many hours supporting so many shops in the Roosevelt area and thank you all for taking such great care of us!

We are posting this notice for 30 days in hopes that the few consignors that have product left will leave contact information. After 30 days all items will be considered abandoned and become the sole property of Funtiques and will be disposed of at our discretion. After 30 days all contracts are Null and Void.

20140418-145955.jpgThis notice was posted on [handwritten] 4/16/2014

If you have any items left and would like to collect them, please follow these instructions:

  • Make a copy of your original receipt
  • Place in a sealed envelope and include a current address, phone number or email where you can be contacted.
  • Drop in the mail slot in the front door of FUNTIQUES

You will be contacted and arrangements will be made for pick-up of items prior to the liquidation sale. A donation to the Teen Center will be made from the sale of the leftover consignment items.

The entire building has been entered into a long termed lease agreement at this time and will not be place on the market.

Thank you so much

FUNTIQUES [initials]

PS: Keep an eye out for further posting of the BIG sale! This one will be great fun!

Three of the four buildings along the north side of the 1500 block of NE 65th Street now sit unoccupied: Vacant Funtiques joins empty Espresso Express (which closed on July 15, 2013) and the boarded up craftsman in between them. The other building, home of Silhouettes, is still open for business.

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The King County Parcel Viewer names the taxpayer of the property at 6502 15th Ave NE (Espresso Express) as “SISLEY HUGH K.” Both the house at 1508 NE 65th Street and the Funtiques property are listed under “SISLEY HUGH K+MARTHA E.” The building that houses Silhouette (1516 NE 65th St) is listed under “MROCZEK LUCILLE B.”

New, ongoing feature: The NE Seattle Development Tracker page

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“Crane and Land,” water color by Kathleen Coyle. Photo taken in Grateful Bread (7001 35th Ave NE).

There’s SO MUCH happening in Northeast Seattle in terms of large developments, we’ve decided to stop writing individual posts about them and give them their own PAGE.

We hereby introduce you to: The NE Seattle Development Tracker page, accessible from anywhere on the Ravenna Blog via a new tab (just to the left of our Search box).

For each development project listed on the map, you can find the following information:

  • Address
  • Main project number and link
  • Current permit activity link
  • Department of Planning and Development (DPD) documents page link
  • Description of the project in its final form (# of stories, apartments, retail square-footage, etc.)
  • Northeast Design Review Board link (to past and future meetings)
  • Design proposal PDF link
  • Website of the new project

Not all of the above information will be available for every project — some are far newer than others — but we’ll add new info and links as the projects progress.


View NE Seattle large development tracker in a larger map

Curious about a project you don’t see on the map yet? Leave a comment below with the address of the project (or contact us here, via web form). We’ll do our best to find more information to add to the map.

NE Seattle YARNPOLCALYPSE is nigh (UPDATES)

Knit one, purl two, REPENT: For Northeast Seattle may be losing two independent yarn stores.

Acorn Street Shop, 2818 NE 55th St

Current Acorn Street Shop owner Karen Aho is retiring, and selling the shop. They’ve had some nibbles, says the shop on twitter, but as of this writing, there are no official takers. May might be the store’s last month if no buyers come forward.

Interested in owning your very own yarn store?* Contact Karen at acornstreet@msn.com.

Acorn Street Shop in early 2012.

Acorn Street Shop in early 2012.

More about the store from the Acorn Street Shop “About Us” page:

Acorn Street Shop was established in 1979 and began as a New England country store in nearby University Village Shopping Center. Soon the needlework department took over and Acorn Street became a full-fledged needlework shop. The shop has been under current ownership since 1986. In 1992, the business moved to its present location, just north of the U-Village, and the needlework merchandise has expanded to fill the old building up to its 15 foot ceilings!

Weaving Works, 4717 Brooklyn Ave NE

“Oh, if Acorn Street Shop closes, it will be sad. But there’s always Weaving Works down in the University District.” BUT FOR HOW LONG. The Weaving Works building is to be torn down and redeveloped into “a seven-story, 56 unit apartment building with 3,600 sq. ft. of retail commercial space at grade.”

There is no date set yet for the demolition, but the permit was filed on January 30, 2014.

weaving_works_future

Rendering of the proposed development at 4717 Brooklyn Ave NE. Click the image to download the entire proposal (8.2 MB PDF).

The most recent design proposal for the site (available above) was presented to the Northeast Design Review Board on July 15, 2013. It was passed unanimously. You can read the board’s full report from the meeting here (249 KB PDF).

We’ve contacted The Weaving Works for more information about the store’s future, and will post a reply here if/when we know more.

UPDATE (Wednesday, 7 PM): Good news about the future of The Weaving Works, via their twitter account:

UPDATE (Monday, March 17): In the latest Weaving Works newsletter (PDF), the store announces that their annual Mother’s Day sale will be more of a Moving sale (to help make the move easier); however, they’re still keeping the new location under wraps.

Acorn Street Shop also holds an annual Mother’s Day sale.

____________

*Best possible place to work, in the event of an earthquake.

Design Review Board meeting on the old Fruit Stand blocks (LIVE COVERAGE)

Tonight, Monday, February 3, the Northeast Design Review Board will meet to decide the next steps for the development of the “old Fruit Stand block” just south of Roosevelt High School.

The meeting takes place at 6:30 PM at the University Heights Community Center (5031 University Way NE, Room 209). There is a public comment period during the meeting, but it is only 20 minutes in length and not for Q&A-style discussions.

Ravenna Blog will be in attendance and providing LIVE COVERAGE below, starting around 6:30 PM.

Page 12 from the Roosevelt Development Group's Design Review Recommendation presentation. Click the image to download the entire presentation (17 MB PDF)

Page 12 from the Roosevelt Development Group’s Design Review Recommendation presentation. Click the image to download the entire presentation (17 MB PDF)

The Roosevelt Development Group will be presenting their preferred project design (by Seattle architecture firm GGLO) for 6505 15th Avenue NE (Project #3013244) to the Northeast Design Review Board at tonight’s meeting.

Three different design schemes were presented during the early design guidance meeting on August 6, 2012. (You can find the notes from that meeting here.) Tonight’s recommendation phase design is the third of those three designs and features:

    • Approximately 221 dwelling units, in a mix of multi- and groun- level configurations;
    • 7,500-square-feet of ground-level commercial space;
    • 175 parking stalls, accessed from 14th Avenue NE;
    • Overall height of 7-stories (building heights ranging from 55 to 75 feet, depending on the slope of the property)

Jim O’Halloran, past Roosevelt Neighborhood Association Land Use Chair, had this to say about tonight’s meeting and the current design plans:

“Now that a zoning decision for the high school blocks has been made, and that a reasonably attractive building has been designed for the site with some engagement from the Community, let’s get on with it; build the building.  If for any reason the project will be further delayed, then it is important that the existing decrepit building structures be removed without further delay.  Allowing this sore spot to fester without near term improvement would surely undermine RDG’s relationship with the Community.”

Upcoming Design Review Board meetings of note (LIVE COVERAGE)

Two large development projects on NE 65th Street may before the Northeast Design Review Board in the next three weeks: The old Children’s Home Society of Washington land up at 33rd Avenue NE (recently sold to Polygon Northwest), and the old Fruit Stand block at 15th Avenue NE (owned by Hugh Sisley and leased to the Roosevelt Development Group).

Northeast Design Review Board meetings are held at the University Heights Community Center (5031 University Way NE, Room #209). You can see all upcoming meetings (and the links to their respective project information) at this Design Review Meetings page at seattle.gov.

For more information on these two particular projects (including links to design documents and their respective Department of Planning and Development permit pages), click on the map below.

View Jan/Feb 2014 NE Design Review Board meeting topics in a larger map

Ravenna Blog plans on attending both meetings and providing live coverage at ravennablog.com:

  • LIVE COVERAGE of the Monday, January 13 meeting (CHS of WA/Polygon Northwest) begins below around 6:30 PM.
  • LIVE COVERAGE of the (tentative-at-this-time) Monday, February 3 meeting (old Fruit Stand block/Sisley/Roosevelt Development Group) will be posted to a page-to-be-named-later.

Children’s Home Society land FOR SALE: 3.7 acres on NE 65th St could be yours

The Ravenna-Bryant Community Association (RBCA) posted on their website today information about the sale of the Children’s Home Society of Washington (CHSW) property at 3300 NE 65th St.


View Children’s Home Society of Washington land for sale in a larger map

CHSW owns the entire block of 3300 NE 65th St, which neighbors the private Catholic school Assumption-St. Bridget, the Bryant Corner Cafe, the Northeast Branch of the Seattle Public Library, and lots of single family housing.

Offers on the property are due by Friday, May 17. A source of ours said that CHSW expects to raise $12-15 million dollars from the sale.

From the offering memorandum (PDF):

The Property encompasses the entire city block bounded by NE 65th Street, NE 68th Street, 32nd Avenue NE and 34th Avenue NE in Seattle’s Ravenna-Bryant neighborhood. The Site totals 3.7 acres and has seven existing buildings. The Site has been home to CHSW for over 100 years, receiving its first intake of children in 1908 when the area was still a woodsy exurb of bustling Seattle. Since the closure of the Cobb Center for Youth in 2010, the Site has been used by CHSW solely as administrative office space. CHSW currently operates out of the office building on the south end of the property and one of the cottage buildings. The two remaining cottage buildings are currently unoccupied.

The property carries three different zoning designations across its length: NC 1-30, LR-2, and SF-5000. (More information on what these zoning classifications mean here.)

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At the RBCA’s next board meeting on Tuesday, May 7, the sale of the property will be discussed. All residents are welcome to attend.

According to HistoryLink.org, “[t]he National Children’s Home Society was formed in Illinois in 1883 on the new idea of placing orphaned children for adoption in family foster homes rather than in orphanages.” Reverend Harrison D. Brown and his wife Libbie Beach Brown, who first oversaw the society’s work in Oregon, built a small receiving home in Green Lake in 1899. After it was destroyed in a fire in 1905, a new building was constructed in Ravenna, on donated land. Brown Hall (named for the Reverend) stood from 1907 until it was demolished in the 1970s to make way for more modern facilities.

Jonathan Adler store headed for University Village

Poking around in the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development permits last night, we found a permit from last December for within University Village saying:

Remove existing canopy and storefront to space #24B in bldg D at University Village and install new storefront and conopy [sic] for tenant “Jonathan Adler”, and occupy per plan.

Oh, Jonathan Adler. I wonder if it’s the same guy as the designer, author of four books, judge on Bravo’s Top Design, and who also has his own stores (the nearest of which is in Portland).

Sure enough, listed on the locations page of jonathanadler.com, was the following:

Screen grab from jonathanadler.com's location page (click to check it for yourself).

Screen grab from jonathanadler.com’s location page (click to check it for yourself).

If you are not familiar with Adler’s work, there are, of course, many examples on jonathanadler.com. And here’s a snippet from the About page of his website, speaking to his design aesthetic:

Jonathan’s creativity is fueled by various sources of inspiration: Mid-century modern, art and global pop culture combine to create the signature Adler aesthetic. The company prides itself on its ability to combine a serious design philosophy with a colorful sense of optimism. The guiding motto, “If your heirs won’t fight over it, we won’t make it,” reflects Jonathan’s commitment to impeccable craftsmanship and irreverent luxury.

Page 2 of this design plan for University Village from 2008 (23.3 MB PDF) shows that Building D is the structure which currently houses stores such as Eddie Bauer, The North Face, and the new Room & Board. As for which space is #24, we are unsure at this time.

We’ve sent an email in to the powers-that-be at University Village to see if they can shed more irreverent and luxurious light on the subject.

Hungry for a business opportunity? Three Ravenna restaurants for sale (UPDATE)

As we mentioned in our newly returned Sunday Edition, there were some local restaurant sale mysteries we were puzzling over. Then, on Monday afternoon, we had a break-through: There were not TWO Ravenna restaurants looking to change hands, but THREE.

The first local restaurant for sale is the Pied Piper Ale House (2404 NE 65th St).

The family friendly pub and Geeks Who Drink pub trivia spot has been closed with no explanation since the end of 2012. Then, this week, we learned from a follower on twitter who spoke to the Pied Piper manager on what happened to be their last day of business (the end of December, either the 27th or 28th).

Here is the listing for the location, with the name included in the picture, leaving no mystery:

Commercial Brokers Association listing for the Pied Piper Ale House (click to read the full listing)

Commercial Brokers Association listing for the Pied Piper Ale House (click to read the full listing).

The second closure is a long-time Ravenna neighborhood fixture: Casa D’Italia* (2615 NE 65th St).

We were first alerted to this closure via a Craigslist post just last week, which included the ominous line, “We are no longer able to run the restaurant due to family issues but the restaurant has great potential for the future.”

Since then, three more Craigslist posts have popped up: Two on Saturday, February 16 (one showing the furniture for sale, the other listing other fixtures), and a final one on Monday, February 18, stating that the location is for lease.

We visited the location Monday evening, and found this note on the door:

To all our guests,

On February 16th, we made a family decision to close Casa D’Italia. We would like to thank everyone for your support throughout the last 12 years. We will be keeping our website running so check us out at www.casaditaliaseattle.com to keep up on our next venture and find out where Anthony is cooking next.

Again, thank you for your support.

God bless,

- The Donatone Family

Turns out the closure seems fast because it was.

Casa_DItalia_closes2

We’ve reached out to the family for more information, and will update this post if we hear anything back.

UPDATE (Thursday, February 28): From Angeli Donatone, wife of Chef Anthony (via email):

Yes, it was a sudden closure but one that had been looming for awhile. Like so many others, we have been affected by the changing economy, both personally and professionally. It was a challenge for us to say good-bye to Casa D’Italia, which grew in 11 years to be like family for so many. We trust that when one door closes, many others will open, and it is with this blind faith that we made the decision to close.

Our lease had been month-to-month for many years, and we felt the deferred maintenance on the building was catching up with it, and didn’t want this to become a liability to us, an independant family-run business. We are so proud of the community that was built and all of the fans of “Casa” “Anthony’s” or “the two tomatoes” among other nick-names…Please thank the neighbors for sharing their lives with us. We also have referrals for some great Italian caterers…They may contact us via our website where we will post updates to our whereabouts.

http://casaditaliaseattle.com/default.asp

The third local restaurant sale is more of a mystery.

The listing states a location of the Ravenna neighborhood, but is not any more specific. In fact, interested parties are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement before learning of its location.

Our only clues are in the description, which includes the following:

[E]xposed timber beams and soaring 18′ ceilings. Opened August 2011 after extensive remodel. 1,760 SF (restaurant) plus 220 SF (on site office and storage room). Seats 60 including 18 counter seats in bar area.

Craigslist ad for the mystery restaurant (click to read the full listing).

Craigslist ad for the mystery restaurant (click to read the full listing).

We have our guesses. We’ve been told we’re wrong (by a friend of friends of the owner), but with an NDA on the table, all bets are off.

____________________

*Casa D’Italia was the Ravenna Blog’s very first paying customer, in terms of advertising. We will always have a hyperlocal place in our heart for them, and we wish them the very best in the future.