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Messenger Archives - April 2010

front page fodder - by Clark Humphrey

Marijuana Initiative 1068, Real Change moves, Belltown Art Walk, Bruce Lorig

The iCon Grill lost part of its front facade on April 2. Ironically, the former Weathered Wall building two doors down was unharmed.

The Real Change newspaper and its affiliated homeless-empowerment projects plan to move out of Belltown in May. They’ve been at the Rivoli Apartments storefront on Second Avenue since the paper’s 1994 founding, originally sharing the space with a video production company and an anarchist collective.

The organization plans to open a new office at 1st Ave. S. and S. Main St. in Pioneer Square on May 24. It’s already generated NIMBY opposition from the Pioneer Square Community Association. That group sent a letter to Mayor Mike McGinn, asking him to intercede in keeping Real Change (which receives no City funds) out of the Square.

In response, Real Change director Tim Harris insists his office would be a good neighbor to Square merchants, just as it has been in Belltown. He notes Real Change is not a social service organization but a nonprofit business, and that the vendors selling its street newspaper do not line up outside the office to get their product.


The Belltown Art Walk & More is no longer on the second Friday of each month. In order to attract more neighborhood businesses into the promotion, BAWM will now be held on third Thursdays, starting April 16.
Organizers hope to set up an outdoor artists’ bazaar like that in Pioneer Square on First Thursday. As a site for these art sellers, BAWM’s negotiating with the City to get Bell Street mostly closed between Second and Fourth Avenues (leaving one lane of traffic open, and leaving the intersection at Third fully open). Besides promoting the arts and creating a street scene, it would serve as a test run for the Bell Street Park Boulevard project, set to be built later this year. Art vendors need Seattle business licenses; to register to sell, contact Ben Borgman,


There was a bizarre little bake sale in Belltown last month. It takes a little explaining.

Real estate mogul Bruce Lorig fired his only African-American female employee after eleven years on the job. She sued, claiming racial discrimination and harassment. She joined up with the Seattle Solidarity Network, a local activist group, to publicize her cause.

Lorig countersued her, and sued Seattle Solidarity to prevent the group from publicly criticizing him.
In response, Seattle Solidarity put up flyers claiming Lorig had to really be in bad fiscal shape if he has to go around trying to drum up cash from his own ex-worker. Hence, the snarky “Lorig Aid.”

It was held in front of Lorig’s First Avenue offices. Seattle Solidarity members “sold” donuts and cupcakes and sang a little folk ditty:

So won’t you please help
   Bruce Lorig
He has fallen on hard times
He has to sue his former secretary
So won’t you spare a dime


Sponsors of Initiative 1068, which would remove criminal penalties for adult use, possession and cultivation of marijuana in Washington, now have petitions at more than 75 locations statewide. One of these spots is Singles Going Steady Records, on Second south of Bell.


Two new residential projects in Belltown, in this economy, for real? Yes and maybe.
Developers HB Capital plan to start construction this fall on an eight-story apartment building on the former Speakeasy Cafe/211 Billiards site at Second and Bell.

The same firm has also filed preliminary paperwork to build a 17-story apartment tower at the American Lung Association branch-office site, on Third north of Cedar. HB bought the property for $3.35 million last October. That followed the settlement of a dispute between the Lung Association and its former regional director, who had attempted to transfer the building (and the right to sell it) onto a new nonprofit headed by himself.
In other real-estate news, the gargantuan Escala condo tower at Fourth and Virginia has announced vastly lower prices and a revamped business model. Escala’s private club won’t have the vast services originally promised, allowing lower homeowners’ dues. According to local real-estate blogger James Stroupe, Escala monthly dues have been reduced from 79 to 58 cents per square foot.

The Seattle Times, citing King County records, reported in January that only five units in the 269-unit tower had closed, with another 67 buyers under contract.


Christ Our Hope Catholic Church, the former St. Joseph’s Chapel space in the Josephinum on Second and Stewart, was to be open this past Easter. But the usual construction-related delays have delayed its opening to July at the earliest.


Steve Fox used to run Saturn car dealerships, before GM’s Saturn division disappeared. Now he’s the new executive director of the Belltown-based Puget Sound Labor Agency.

Operating out of the Labor Temple (2800 1st Ave.) since 1975, the Labor Agency operates a food bank, a holiday toy program, clothing and furniture drives, and other services to working families in the region.


Antioch University Seattle’s free monthly lecture series continues on April 28 (7 p.m.) with Pat Hughes and Karma Ruder discussing “Creating Gracious Space: Skills for a Global Citizen.” It’s at Antioch’s Center for Creative Change, 2326 6th Ave.

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