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March 2, 2016

City says Touchstone has joined the ‘conversation' about Civic Square

Courtesy GGLO and Foster + Partners [enlarge]
Triad's 2007 proposal called for a 43-story tower with office, housing and retail.

The Seattle-based developer Touchstone is getting involved with the long-stalled downtown project called Civic Square.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's office said in a press release that the Seattle-based firm has “joined the conversation to help the city determine the future of the Civic Square project.”

Triad Development was supposed to transfer the rights to develop the full block bounded by Third and Fourth avenues and James and Cherry streets to another developer by Feb. 29, but the city has extended the deadline until March 11.

There is no final transfer agreement yet, but Murray said in a statement that “promising discussions with Touchstone last week give us reason to allow further dialogue to determine a path forward.”

A Touchstone representative said the firm is advising the city on the next steps for the site.

“We're happy to lend our expertise to the city,” A-P Hurd, Touchstone president and chief development officer, said in a statement. “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.”

Representatives from the mayor's office did not return a request for further comment.

In 2007, the city picked Triad to develop the Civic Square site, which is just west of Seattle City Hall and formerly home to the Public Safety Building. Triad proposed to build a 43-story, mixed-use tower with office, housing and retail as well as a public plaza, but the project stalled due to lack of financing during the recession.

Murray announced last fall that the city would shelve the agreement with Triad after allegations surfaced that a Triad employee attempted to coerce a Seattle City Council candidate, Jon Grant, into settling a lawsuit against the developer related to the project.

The Civic Square agreement was set to expire at the end of 2015, but the city gave Triad 60 days to transfer its contract to another developer.

Before allegations against the Triad employee surfaced, the project was moving through the permitting process and Triad officials had said construction would begin in 2016.

Civic Square is the last piece of the city's 1999 Civic Center Master Plan, which led to construction of Seattle City Hall and the Justice Center, as well as remodeling of Seattle Municipal Tower.

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