Mayor Ed Murray announced today that local developer Touchstone has joined the conversation to help the City determine the future of the Civic Square project. Though Triad Development, the firm under contract to complete the project, was under deadline to transfer the contract to a third party by February 29, the City has agreed to continue the discussion with Touchstone at the table until March 11.
“As I said last year, the Civic Square contract was one I inherited and as such, I would honor it as legally required, but I would look to find a way to develop the project with a new partner,” said Mayor Murray. “While we do not have a final transfer agreement in place today, promising discussions with Touchstone last week give us reason to allow further dialogue to determine a path forward. We are in the midst of one of the largest building booms in Seattle’s history and I am hopeful that we will find the right partner to transform what is currently a hole in the heart of our city into an important public asset.”
The City first entered into an agreement with Triad Development in 2007 to develop the project at the site of the former Public Safety Building to the west of Seattle City Hall. The project was to include a mixed-use office, residential tower with a public plaza, and retail space. Triad would have owned the land and tower, while the City would have owned and maintained the plaza.
Market conditions initially hindered financing, but the project seemed to be gaining traction over the last few years. Triad submitted a building permit application in June 2015, but did not meet all the requirements by Dec. 31, 2015, the agreement’s deadline. At that point, the City agreed to engage in discussions for an additional 60 days, during which Triad would look to assign its rights in the project to a new development team, subject to the City’s approval.
“We’re happy to lend our expertise to the City,” said A-P Hurd, Touchstone president and chief development officer. “With this project neighboring City Hall and providing public space, its future is important to us as both a local company and as members of the Seattle community.”
“We very much welcome having Touchstone join us in looking for a path to move this project forward,” said Fred Podesta, Finance and Administrative Services Director. “Allowing this conversation to continue until March 11 could lead to a positive resolution.”
City Hall, the Seattle Municipal Tower, the Justice Center and the former Public Safety Building site are all components of the City’s 1999 Civic Center Master Plan. The plan envisioned a new building for public and/or private use on the north side of the old Public Safety Building site (aka Civic Square), balanced by a major open space element on the south side of the block, linking to public spaces at City Hall and the Justice Center.