Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says he’s disappointed with a developer accused of unethical politics and will cut the city’s ties with the company tapped to build on a key property downtown. The executive accused no longer works for the company.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said Wednesday the city will end its relationship with a developer accused of political dirty dealing that officials chose years ago to build across from City Hall.
Triad Capital Partners has parted ways with its executive involved in the matter, CEO Fred Grimm said in a statement shortly after the mayor made his announcement.
“There were accounts this week in the media about Triad … and its recent actions in a City Council race,” Murray said. “I am extremely disappointed by these questionable actions — they do not represent the values of our city.”
City Council candidate Jon Grant is accusing the company of trying to strong-arm him into helping settle a lawsuit against Triad, The Seattle Times reported Monday.
Triad Senior Vice President Brett Allen told Grant he would try to help make a newly registered political campaign committee against the candidate go away.
The independent-expenditure committee was threatening to spend big against Grant, who’s running against Council President Tim Burgess for the citywide Position 8 seat.
Allen, who spelled out the quid-pro-quo in a text message asking former Mayor Mike McGinn to broker a deal, apologized Tuesday. His former boss weighed in Wednesday.
“The mayor’s comments this morning do not reflect who we are. His remarks spring from the recent actions by one of our employees,” Grimm said. “These actions were not authorized nor in line with our values or the long-standing history of this company. We severed ties with that employee yesterday. As for the Position 8 City Council race, we have not contributed to either candidate or to (the anti-Grant campaign).”
Triad has had a contract since 2007 to redevelop the city-owned block between Cherry and James streets and Third and Fourth avenues — the site of Seattle’s old public-safety complex. In the meantime, the block has been a hole in the ground.
The plan has been for the city to transfer the bulk of the property to Triad, mostly in exchange for the company building a $25 million Civic Square public plaza on part of the site, alongside a high-rise residential and office tower with lower-level retail spaces.
But the contract is to expire Dec. 31 unless Triad meets certain conditions.
The developer has failed to line up the financing it needs to keep the project moving forward, Murray said. It lacks necessary permits and has yet to reach an agreement with King County Metro for access to the downtown bus tunnel, the mayor added.
“I have no reason to believe Triad will be able to meet the terms of the contract and close the sale of the property,” Murray said. “These recent actions by the developer are troubling to say the least. I expect more from the city of Seattle’s business partners and I have no desire to develop this property with Triad.”
The deal with Triad was struck under former Mayor Greg Nickels. Triad has received two extensions under an amendment to the contract approved by city officials in 2009.
The mayor said Wednesday he won’t discuss another amendment or extension and has asked City Attorney Pete Holmes to see whether he can cut Triad loose before Dec. 31 “in a responsible way that does not adversely affect the city or taxpayers”
“The people of Seattle will be better served if this current agreement lapses, and we move forward with partners who represent the values of the city of Seattle,” he said.
Murray said other developers have asked about the property. Residential development under new terms would need to include affordable housing, he said.
“We’re in the midst of the largest development boom maybe since the Gold Rush, and the fact that this piece of property remains empty in the heart of the city is a little surprising,” the mayor said, adding, “I believe … we can find a better deal.”
The suit against Triad — brought earlier this year with support from the Tenants Union of Washington when Grant was the organization’s executive director — challenges a permit for the Civic Square project, saying it was renewed illegally.
The Tenants Union has been critical of the project because it includes no affordable housing and because the organization has for years warred with Triad co-founder John Goodman over other issues. Grant left the Tenants Union this spring to run for council.
The suit, in which the city is a defendant along with Triad, was dismissed by a judge earlier this year but is being appealed. The plaintiffs, who are former tenants at buildings bought by Goodman, urged the mayor Wednesday to stop fighting their appeal.
Grant applauded Murray’s move.
A Burgess campaign spokesman said he “read about this in The Seattle Times like everybody else and was appalled.”
The spokesman, Christian Sinderman, said: “As a former chair of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, (Burgess) finds it personally insulting that this kind of behavior would occur and he condemns it outright.”