The vote was 7-1. Councilmember Kshama Sawant voted in opposition, calling the agreement a “sweetheart deal,” while Councilmember Lisa Herbold was absent.
The property between Third and Fourth avenues and James and Cherry streets has been a hole in the ground since 2005, when the city’s old Public Safety Building was demolished.
Several plans for the block have fallen through over the years, including a “Civic Square” project involving Triad Development that died amid accusations of dirty politics.
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Bosa would own both the building and the plaza but would make the plaza available to the public through an easement. The developer would pay the city at least $5.7 million in affordable-housing fees.
For an undisclosed sum, Triad would assign its development rights to Bosa and walk away rather than potentially sue the city over the messy collapse of its agreement.
In voting against the new plan, Sawant said the city might be able to recoup more from the property. By abandoning the plaza idea and allowing a developer to build two high-rises on the site rather than one, the city could collect more in affordable-housing fees, she said.
“This is corporate welfare and I will not support it,” Sawant said, predicting that few members of the public would use the plaza.
The property is worth $45 million to $55 million, Councilmember Tim Burgess said. The Murray administration says the agreement is worth about $50 million, including the value of the plaza easement, the value of not being sued by Triad and other non-cash considerations. Burgess called it “a reasonable deal that’s prudent.”
The deal is set to close when the city issues a master-use permit to Bosa. The Murray administration estimates that construction would begin in early 2019.
The high-rise would be at least 572 feet tall and would be comprised of for-sale condominium units, according to the agreement between Bosa and the city.