Mayor Murray Announces Plan for Seattle's Civic Square Project

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has announced plans to redevelop the Civic Square site downtown. (KOMO Photo)

SEATTLE - An empty pit next to Seattle City Hall is finally on track for development.

The pit, between Third and Fourth avenues and James and Cherry streets, has been fenced off for more than 10 years. The site is the former home of Seattle’s Public Safety Building.

Mayor Ed Murray released very few details about the building plan during a news conference Friday. He announced the development of the Civic Square site while discussing the city’s comprehensive 2035 initiative.

“That square will no longer be an empty block,” Murray said.

Murray said the vacant lot, which is dirt and a few trees visible from City Hall, has long been a spot the city has wanted to develop. He blamed the recession for the project with a previous developer falling through; published reports say political controversy also played a part.

According to The Seattle Times, a top official with Triad Capital Partners tried to shake down a former City Council candidate.

“We’re now happy this project with the new developer will be able to add an additional building in our downtown core,” Murray said. “Again the vision is that as we grow, we grow equitably.”

Fred Podesta, Director of the city’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services, said Triad has assigned 100 percent of the interest it pays to Bosa Development. He said the proposal will be submitted to the Seattle City Council by the end of the year.

“The tower will be redesigned. The previous agreement called for commercial and residential tower, this tower will only be residential,” Podesta said after the Mayor’s news conference.

Podesta said Bosa will pay the city $16 million for the property and an additional $5.7 million that will go in the city’s new Housing and Livability Agenda (HALA).

“What we expect is a $5 to $6 million check to fund affordable housing,” Councilmember Mike O’Brien said after the news conference.

While O’Brien said that the new condo tower won’t have any units that qualify as affordable housing he said the city can use the $5.7 million “to invest in affordable housing nearby.”

O’Brien said the $16 million will be invested in the city’s new equitable development implementation fund. The fund is designed to help communities where people are at a high risk for being displaced because of affordable housing issues.

Podesta said Bosa will work with the city in creating a plaza, featuring retail and active space, for public use. City officials said that if the project is approved construction could start as early as 2018.

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