Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is ready for the City Council to sign off on a new development deal for the vacant block, once part of plans by Triad Development.
Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday finally sent the City Council legislation that would authorize a new development deal for a vacant block across from Seattle City Hall.
After months of negotiations, the Murray administration put together a final agreement with Bosa Development, according to Fred Podesta, director of the Finance and Administrative Services Department.
Under the proposed agreement, the city would sell the property between Third and Fourth avenues and James and Cherry streets to Bosa for $16 million. Bosa will build both a high-rise and a public plaza there.
The company would own the plaza but make it permanently open to the public, Podesta said. In addition to buying the land, Bosa would pay affordable-housing fees.
Efforts to develop the vacant block stretch back more than a decade and have run into problems over and over again.
The project has been just a hole in the ground since 2005, when the city’s old Public Safety Building was demolished.
Then-Mayor Greg Nickels worked out a plan in 2007 for Triad Development to build a high-rise on the site with office, retail space and housing.
The city was going to give most of the property to Triad, and the company, in lieu of payment, was going to build a $25 million “Civic Square” plaza on the remainder.
But Triad’s plan stalled during the Great Recession and then died in 2015 after the company became embroiled in a strange piece of political intrigue.
Instead, the mayor’s team has been trying to work out a deal allowing Triad to transfer its development rights to a new developer.
Murray initially thought the city had just such a partner in Great Eagle, a company with Hong Kong ties. But that didn’t work out.
Last October, the mayor announced yet another tentative pact — with Bosa.
At the time, Murray said he expected to seek council authorization early this year. He said that would allow construction to begin in 2018.
Negotiations lasted longer than anticipated because Bosa, like the other companies, had trouble trying to make Triad’s development plan pencil out, Podesta said.
Two new office towers are being built right now within blocks of the site, and Triad never had an anchor office tenant, he said.
Bosa now wants to go with a taller, skinnier high-rise and to include only housing — no office space, Podesta said.
If approved by the council, Murray’s legislation would authorize the sale of the property, pending certain conditions, such as Triad releasing the city from liability and Bosa paying $5.7 million in affordable-housing fees.
But the change in design would require Bosa to apply for a new master-use permit, which would mean a 14- to 18-month delay before construction, he said.
That means the project won’t begin until 2019 at the earliest.