A judge has tossed out the main claim in a petition challenging the land-use permit for a huge redevelopment project on vacant property across from Seattle’s City Hall.
An effort to derail a huge redevelopment project across from Seattle City Hall failed this week when a judge tossed out the primary complaint.
A group called Displaced Tenants for Accountability and Transparency filed a petition in January accusing city officials of unfairly helping the Civic Square project’s developer and of violating city law by renewing the developer’s land-use permit two years after it had expired.
Technically, the officials instead should have made the developer apply for a new permit, which would have required a broad re-evaluation of the project, the petition said.
King County Superior Court Judge William Downing dismissed that claim for lack of standing Monday, writing that the group has no unique interest in the project.
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“It does not appear that this petitioner is alleging any concrete harm to it or its members beyond the sacrifices required of all in the general public,” Downing wrote.
The group had argued that its members had standing because they frequently visit the City Hall neighborhood and count on officials to play by the rules.
The judge rejected that reasoning, saying the public interest was adequately served in 2009 when the city initially weighed whether to approve the permit and then did.
By renewing the permit this past December, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) gave Triad Civic Center LLC more time to start building a public plaza and residential, office and retail tower on what is now a city-owned hole in the ground.
Triad, the developer, is supposed to remake the site under an agreement signed with the city in 2007. The project, delayed several times, calls for the city to give part of the block to Triad in exchange for the firm covering the $25 million cost of the public plaza.
The Displaced Tenants for Accountability and Transparency group is affiliated with the Tenants Union of Washington State, which has been critical of Triad’s project because the deal includes no provision for affordable housing. The Tenants Union and one of Triad’s principals have clashed over housing issues elsewhere in the city.
“We are happy that the court ruled in our favor,” Triad project manager Brett Allen said, adding, “This project does not displace tenants — the site is a hole in the ground.”
Knoll Lowney, a lawyer representing the petitioner, said the group will appeal.
“This sets a horrible precedent because it means that someone with the city gets to make an ad hoc decision about when the law applies and when it doesn’t,” he said.
Downing will hold a hearing June 8 on the petition’s one surviving claim: Whether the Triad project conforms with current, basic development regulations.
“In granting a two-year renewal, DPD decided the project still complies,” Assistant City Attorney Roger Wynne said. “We look forward to defending that answer in June.”