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By Megan Hill

Dexter Brewhouse is closed until Friday, November 24 for a “relaunch,” the latest in a string of rebranding efforts.
 Dexter Brewhouse/FB

Beset with challenges from early on, the South Lake Union brewpub Dexter Brewhouse, formerly known as Mollusk, continues to reinvent itself: As of last night, the restaurant has closed temporarily for unspecified rejiggering. Anyone following along at home may recall that the brewery aspect of the business has retained the Mollusk moniker since its inception, but the restaurant portion — having already lost its adventurous chef and co-owner, Travis Kukull, in a previous shakeup — rebranded in July as Dexter Brewhouse, attempting to please crowds with more standard pub fare.

Dexter Brewhouse will reopen at 5 p.m. on Friday, November 24, and at the very least there will be a new chef at the helm, according to a Facebook post. A note on the doors of the restaurant also hints at the relaunch and the new chef with the lines “You love our beer, now love our new chef.” The restaurant hasn’t released any other details.

The embattled venture was originally born as Gastropod, a tiny yet adventurous kitchen in Sodo, alongside the off-beat nanobrewery Epic Ales. Brewer Cody Morris and chef Travis Kukull relocated to bigger digs in South Lake Union and rebranded as Mollusk in October 2015.

It’s been a tough road since for Mollusk, which has struggled to get customers in the door despite a largely positive critical reception for both the inventive initial food menu and the exciting beer program. Early in 2016, the restaurant dropped its lunch service and cut staff, saying the neighborhood wasn’t dense enough to support the midday meal program. A few months later, the business went to a standard tipping model, doing away with an automatic service charge. Then in summer 2016, Kukull departed the kitchen, and Morris oversaw an overhaul of the menu that took it from avant garde to comfort food. Dexter Brewhouse was born this past July. Meanwhile, Kukull has quietly resurfaced and is cooking at White Swan Public House.

The one obvious through-line in the sordid saga is the creative beer produced by Morris under the Mollusk label, which remains top-notch, but the restaurant is clearly struggling. Will this latest iteration finally be the one that sticks?

Syndicated from Seattle Eater.

By Svenja Gudell

Seattle has one of the strongest housing markets in the country, with home value and rent growth consistently topping nationwide rankings in recent years. A strong local labor market has been an important driver of this growth, with the area being home to some of the country’s most dynamic companies, including Amazon and Microsoft (and, ahem, Zillow). Companies based elsewhere, such as Facebook and Google, have been increasingly drawn to establish satellite offices in the region.

Shutterstock

South Lake Union

The neighborhood of South Lake Union – home to Amazon’s headquarters – has been the epicenter of this jobs boom. Over the past decade, the area has transformed from a low-rise, post-industrial district to a cluster of high rises and amenities catering to service sector workers (e.g., coffee shops, kale salads, and yoga studios).

South Lake Union and adjacent areas are home to the highest concentrations of people who work in South Lake Union, and they have seen the largest growth in numbers of residents who work in South Lake Union – an area where the employment landscape is dominated by Amazon.

As of 2015, three out of every 200 employed adults who live in South Lake Union also work in South Lake Union, the highest density of such employees across the Seattle metro. In parts of Belltown, Capitol Hill, Lower Queen Anne, Interbay, Fremont and Ballard, one to two out of every 200 employed adults works in South Lake Union.

Seattle metro census tracts with larger increases in the number of South Lake Union workers between 2011 and 2015 saw larger rent increases (on a per square foot basis) over the same period.

For the average census tract in the Seattle metro, the South Lake Union jobs boom has been associated with faster annual rent increases between 2011 and 2015 of around $0.01 per square foot (or about $5 per month on a typical 650 square foot 1-bedroom apartment). Rents per square foot increased by about $0.05 per year on average over the same period metro-wide. So for the average Seattle metro census tract, the South Lake Union jobs boom only explains a small portion of rising rents in recent years.

The relationship is stronger looking only at census tracts within the city of Seattle. For the average census tract inside the city of Seattle, the South Lake Union jobs boom has been associated with faster annual rent increases between 2011 and 2015 of around $0.07 per square foot (or about $44 per month on a typical 650 square foot 1-bedroom apartment). Rents per square foot increased by about $0.11 per year on average over the same period city wide.

Read more — and check out the charts — at Zillow Research.

Syndicated from Forbes.com

By Mike Rosenberg

Less than a month after opening up a hunt for a second headquarters, Amazon has agreed to expand in Seattle in a big way.

The company confirmed Tuesday it has signed a lease for the entire office portion of a planned downtown skyscraper called Rainier Square that will become the second-tallest building in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Even by Amazon’s standards, the expansion is substantial: Rainier Square will be among the company’s biggest office buildings when it opens in three years, with room for more than 3,500 additional employees. It’s one of the biggest leases in Seattle history.

Amazon will occupy about 722,000 square feet in the development, which is in the early stages of construction. No other company in the city has a space that large in a single building.

Amazon has been scooping up offices on a regular basis for years. It already takes up nearly 20 percent of all prime office space in Seattle, the most of any company in any major U.S. city.

But the latest lease comes amid question marks over the company’s plans for its hometown city.

Amazon said last month it would build a second headquarters somewhere in North America, which fueled speculation that the company might be slowing down or halting its growth here.

The company’s job postings in Seattle have been dropping, from about 9,000 in June to under 6,000 now. Amazon billed the second headquarters as being a “full equal” to its Seattle hub and has been signing leases to open up more large satellite offices in places like Manhattan, Silicon Valley and San Diego.

Previously, the e-commerce giant had planned to grow from its current footprint of 8.1 million square feet in Seattle to 12 million in the next five years — enough to surge from about 40,000 employees now to 60,000 later. But it hasn’t publicly talked about its local expansion plans since the HQ2 announcement.

“I’ve walked away from this with a belief that they are still growing in Seattle now, clearly, and I think they are going to continue to grow,” said Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad & Company, which is developing the Rainier Square project.

Even though Amazon is expanding elsewhere, “I don’t think that correlates exactly to a pullback or anything in Seattle,” he said.

Amazon declined to comment Tuesday beyond confirmation of the lease.

Brokerage Kidder Mathews reported Tuesday that Amazon is also “rumored to be looking at 300,000 square feet in another planned project” locally.

“I think this signifies Amazon’s long-term commitment to their hometown,” said Jake Bos, a Kidder Mathews vice president. He thinks Rainier Square could be the second-biggest lease in the city’s history, behind another Amazon lease.

Johnson said Rainier Square attracted “a lot of interest” by Seattle area-based companies, as well as outside firms that already have a satellite presence here. At least one other unnamed company wanted to take the entire office portion, he said.

The lease marks Amazon’s first move into the downtown core, after taking up about three dozen buildings in South Lake Union and the Denny Triangle. Rainier Square — at Fourth Avenue and Union Street — is about a half-mile south of any of Amazon’s existing offices.

Office brokers have noted that while smaller businesses have been priced out of South Lake Union because of the growing tech scene there, central downtown had been somewhat isolated from the Amazon effect. That could change with Amazon now expanding into the downtown core.

When Wright Runstad began planning Rainier Square three years ago, “the folks at Amazon really didn’t want to hear anything about it,” Johnson said. But then the company kept growing, and inching slightly farther south.

“They’re already so large and they’re still growing at a great pace,” Johnson said.

Rainier Square will stand out with its bootlike frame, featuring a wide base tapering to skinnier floors higher up. It will sit next to the existing Rainier Tower, known for its narrow, curved pedestal.

The $570 million project, approved in 2015, is being built on University of Washington property.

Demolition on the site has begun as crews knock down the existing Rainier Square shopping mall. Construction will continue through 2018 and 2019, and the office space is expected to open in summer 2020.

The 58-story tower, which will also include 200 luxury apartments, retail and an adjacent luxury hotel, will be the region’s second-tallest building when it opens, after 76-story Columbia Center.

Downtown Seattle is undergoing a record construction boom, with 74 major projects active as of July. Rainier Square is the biggest of those developments.

It’s the second time in the last several months that a developer has leased out a new Seattle skyscraper before it even opened, showing how strong demand has become for job space in the fast-growing city. In May, tech company F5 agreed to take all 516,000 square feet of office space in a new building at Fifth and Columbia that will be called F5 Tower.

Syndicated from The Seattle Times

By Michael King

Lake Union Charters and Adventures offers guests with the opportunity to hop aboard one of their many sailboats for lessons or sightseeing.

One of the boats available is the Schooner Lavengro which was built in 1926.

It was the luxury yacht of its day. The Lavengro was built in Mississippi and 91 years later, finds itself in Seattle’s waters. You can take her for a sunset sail, a family sail, or even date night sail!

“I moved out to Seattle about 10 years ago and wanted to share that experience with other people,” said Marine Service Center’s Geoff Gamsby.

If you’re looking to learn the ropes of boating, Captain Geoff can show you how. And he’ll do it with patience, so you can stay relaxed.

But the beauty of Lake Union Charters and Adventures is that you can do all or nothing.

“We take care of handling the boats,” said Gamsby. “And it’s really low stress. If you want to actually drive the boat, we welcome that. So, you can get an experience of what it’s like driving a 27-ton boat.”

Your experienced captain will be standing by if needed, but you can man, or woman, the helm!

And you never know what you’re going to see.  The lake is teeming with rich history.

“One of the reasons we like sailing Lake Union a lot, there are so many stories with shipwrecks, the floating homes, prohibition, the rum runners,” said Gamsby.

The Lavengro is just one of Lake Union Charters and Adventures’ 14 boats. You can also hop aboard a racing yacht, adventure ferry, floating atrium, and more!

The adventures range from short day trips to multi-day trips to the San Juan Islands, and they also accommodate groups and corporate outings. Learn more about the adventures here.

Lake Union Charters and Adventures
(360) 399-6490
2420 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

Syndicated from King5.com

By Megan Hill

Hoping to capitalize on the still-booming South Lake Union scene, The Grilled Cheese Experience food truck has opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant to complement its melty mobile operations.

Photo source

The restaurant landed last month at 434A Yale Ave N, near REI and the frenzied Amazonia construction zone. Owner Mark Amatangelo says he’s long looked to set down roots for his business born on wheels, and South Lake Union was a natural fit given its explosive growth, workday lunch crowd, and the success of other truck-to-restaurant concepts in the area, like Skillet and Marination.

The Grilled Cheese Experience serves — you guessed it — tricked-out grilled cheese sandwiches with additions like house-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, and sunny side up eggs. The truck will continue to operate; on any given day, it offers just a handful of sandwiches from a master menu of about 12 to 14. The restaurant provides Amatangelo the opportunity to sell almost his entire repertoire at once, save for the seasonal creations. You may see some specials rotate through, too.

Amatangelo is waiting on a liquor license, so he’ll soon be able to serve beer and wine alongside the sandwiches. At that point he’ll also extend his hours, which currently run only Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Syndicated from Seattle Eater

By Daniel Person

In September, we profiled Row House Cafe as part of a series on “hold outs” in South Lake Union, the once-blue-collar hood that is now ground zero for the Amazon takeover.

“Sitting in the heart of South Lake Union at 1170 Republican Street, the scruffy restaurant sits in deep contrast to the glittering newness around it, its oldness a form of defiance. And therein lies its beauty, say its fans,” we wrote then.

Well, not for long.

The Seattle Times is reporting that the three old homes that were fused together to create the bar and restaurant have a date with a wrecking ball “some time in 2018.” There was a push to get the 1911 homes designated historic landmarks, but to no avail.

Photo credit: Jose Trujillo

“By one vote, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Board did not muster enough votes to designate the site a landmark. A majority of the 11-member board was needed to approve the designation, and the vote was 5 to 4,” the Times reports today.

In place of the small homes will be a 91-unit apartment complex with a gym and an “indoor pet relief area,” the Times writes. This lends credence to the contention that a lot of Seattle development is dog shit.

When we wrote our story, Row House’s general manager Erin Maher was philosophical about the changing neighborhood around here, saying that the growth was a blessing and a curse.

“We opened because we knew this area was undergoing dynamic growth; we just had no idea that it would happen literally on every block in this neighborhood,” she said. “I don’t think anyone anticipated there would be so much construction all at once.”

However, she added, “You’re not going to stop growth. Physics just won’t allow it.”

No, it seems, it won’t.

Syndicated from the Seattle Weekly

By Monica Nickelsburg

The Seattle City Council voted to increase building heights in the South Lake Union and downtown neighborhoods Monday (April 10th). It’s the second upzone that South Lake Union has seen in the past five years.

The upzone allows for buildings with an additional one to five stories. In exchange for taller buildings, developers will be required to build at least 2.1 percent affordable, income-restricted units or pay fees to the city that will go toward nonprofits that focus on affordable housing. If developers take the fee option, there’s no guarantee that the housing it funds will be built in South Lake Union or downtown.

The program is an extension of Mayor Ed Murray’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) plan to all of South Lake Union and a significant portion of downtown. It was a point of some contention during the City Council meeting Monday. Councilmember Lisa Herbold proposed an amendment that would increase the mandatory affordable housing to 5 percent, but it was voted down by the council.

South Lake Union has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past decade driven by the growth of Amazon, which is headquartered there. But it’s not just Amazon — Seattle’s booming technology industry is drawing record numbers of newcomers to the region, creating traffic and affordability issues around downtown.

The City hopes this legislation will reduce congestion by encouraging more people to live near their offices and alleviate some of the housing affordability issues longtime residents are facing.

“This legislation that we’re about to pass today really does set the city on a new path and a new course of requiring all construction in the city, whether it’s commercial or residential, to contribute to affordable housing,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess during the meeting. “We’ve never had a mandatory program like this.”

The upzone stems from the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), a plan aimed at adding 50,000 new homes in Seattle over the next decade, 20,000 of which would be reserved for low- and middle-income residents.

Syndicated from GeekWire.com

Bertha has broken into daylight.

The giant tunnel machine chewed through the side of the disassembly vault at South Lake Union about 11:25 a.m. Tuesday, after an overnight stoppage at the concrete head wall.

Bertha arrived at the tunnel’s north portal 29 months late and four years after launching in Sodo to dig the highway tube that will replace the earthquake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The 57-foot, 4-inch wide rotating cutter, moving north on a slight upward slope, gradually pushed concrete chunks forward as it nosed through the lower part of the concrete wall.

Bertha breaks through

Despite sprinklers raining water into in the vault, thick dust filled the area and drove media and officials witnessing the event into an enclosed area.

On Monday, Joe Hedges, project administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation, couldn’t stop smiling as he complimented the contractors, WSDOT’s oversight team, and said Washington residents should be proud the long dig was accomplished.

“To remind everybody what’s been done in the last 11 months, (they’ve) tunneled over 1.5 miles, with just amazing results, underneath the heart of the city, tunneling a five-story tunnel,” Hedges said.

Though the state and Seattle Tunnel Partners are fighting in court over a half-billion dollars in repair and delay costs, STP has also created goodwill by cruising at 40 or even 50 feet a day since passing beneath the old Alaskan Way Viaduct last April 29.

Hedges noted that much work is left to be done before the tunnel opens to traffic in early 2019.

“We’re not at the fourth quarter, we’re only at about halftime,” he said.

Crews must complete the underground double-decker highway, with two lanes going north and two going south.

There was no public access to the site, just west of Aurora Avenue. WSDOT has installed an online vault cam and is tweeting under the hashtag #Berthabreakthrough.

STP manager Chris Dixon and state officials kept saying there won’t be much spectacle. Public interest has grown anyway. Banners of Tutor-Perini and Dragados USA, the major tunneling partners, have been hung over the wall for infrastructure sponsors worldwide to notice.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Mayor Ed Murray, along with other elected officials and WSDOT leaders, were on hand for the breakthrough.

The governor acknowledges his tunnel frustrations from the 29-month delay. During a long repair stoppage in 2015, he told KIRO radio host Dori Monson that a homeowner in similar straits would whip a late contractor “like a cheap mule.”

But Inslee said last week the technology is equally memorable, and he looks forward to watching the breakthrough.

He recalled a visit early in the project, feeling like he was in a Star Wars film.

“When you stand in the tunnel, it’s five to six stories tall. It’s mind-boggling. When you go into the control room, you feel like you’re in the Millennium Falcon control room.”

Inslee also warned the state has far to go. “We’re still in a race against the next earthquake, to take the viaduct down,” he said.

Murray sponsored the 2009 tunnel legislation when he was a state senator, shortly after Gov. Chris Gregoire chose to build a single-bore, deep highway to replace the earthquake-damaged viaduct.

As mayor, Murray said, he’s had little influence over the tunnel job because it’s not only a state contract but a design-build contract in which STP does final engineering and takes on the financial risks.

He admits there were times he wasn’t sure Bertha would make it.

“Because of the way the design-build contract works, we, the city didn’t have insight into what the issue was,” Murray said. “For a while there it was unclear what was going to happen.”

He said the waterfront revival, after the viaduct is gone, “is going to capture the imagination of the city.”

Responsibility for cost overruns may take years to be settled.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, last week sought to revive the issue with a bill that would withhold state revenue sharing for transportation, liquor and marijuana-related health programs, and municipal courts unless Seattle pays any future cost overruns.

The 2009 legislation said excess state costs would be borne by property owners who benefit, and “a promise is a promise,” Orcutt argues.

Murray said of that concept: “I really don’t think, if you’re a Republican legislator or a Democratic legislator, you want your local city or county to pay for state roads. I think that would be an unbelievable way to go.”

Syndicated from The Seattle Times

A Seattle City Council committee took a step forward Tuesday in rezoning South Lake Union, Lower Queen Anne, and Downtown neighborhoods.

The Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning committee voted 3-0 to forward the legislation, which would allow taller building heights in exchange for affordable housing.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold expressed her concerns on the equation used to determine the heights and suggested she could provide amendments in the future.

As crafted, the legislation would allow buildings up to 40 feet taller than the current code, depending on the amount of affordable market units within the building.

Councilmember Rob Johnson, who chairs the committee and presided over multiple amendments, acknowledged there will likely be changes to the legislation before a full Council vote on April 10.

Syndicated from King5 News.

Downtown Seattle and South Lake Union are the next neighborhoods where Mayor Ed Murray wants to allow taller buildings in exchange for help with affordable housing.

Under the proposed upzone, new projects would be allowed to climb one or several stories higher, depending on location. In some cases, projects would be allowed more floor area.

Photo source: Wikipedia Commons

But the Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square historic districts would be exempted from the changes, which the council’s land-use committee will take up Tuesday.

The upzone would trigger the city’s new Mandatory Housing Affordability program, which requires developers to include rent-controlled units in their projects or pay fees to help create such units elsewhere.

That program already is coming to the University District because the council voted to upzone that neighborhood last month.

Murray will ask the council to upzone more than two dozen additional neighborhoods later this year and next year.

He says the program’s goal is to create 6,000 rent-controlled units over 10 years.

In downtown and South Lake Union, housing developers would need to make about 2 to 5 percent of their units rent-controlled or pay fees of $5.50 to $13 per square foot.

Commercial developers would need to devote about 5 to 11 percent of their gross floor area to rent-controlled units or pay fees of $8 to $16 per square foot.

The affordable-housing requirements proposed for downtown and South Lake Union are lower than those proposed for other neighborhoods.

That’s because high-rise buildings are particularly expensive to construct and because the zoning changes would be more incremental there than in other neighborhoods, Murray administration officials say.

It’s also because some downtown and South Lake Union zones already require developers to provide benefits such as public open space and street improvements, officials say.

Despite the lower affordable-housing requirements, Murray administration officials say downtown and South Lake Union would generate as many as 2,100 rent-controlled units.

Where those would be located is another story. Most developers in downtown and South Lake Union would likely choose to pay fees rather than include units in their buildings.

The city would use the fees to help nonprofit developers build rent-controlled housing. Those projects could be in downtown and South Lake Union or could be in other neighborhoods.

Officials say fees are valuable because they can be combined with other financing to create more affordable housing.

If the council approves the upzone, the developer of a 44-story apartment building might be required to include 25 rent-controlled units or pay $5 million in fees.

The developer of a 35-story commercial building might be required to include 74 rent-controlled units or pay $7.8 million in fees.

Since 2001, the city has operated an incentive-zoning program in parts of downtown and South Lake Union. Under that program, developers can choose to build affordable housing or pay fees in exchange for more floor area.

If the council approves the upzone, Murray’s new, mandatory program would replace the existing, voluntary program.

The downtown and South Lake Union upzone may prove less controversial than those proposed for neighborhoods such as Wallingford, Othello and South Park, which would allow larger apartment buildings and convert some blocks now zoned exclusively for single-family, detached homes.

Syndicated from The Seattle Times.