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October 31, 2016

City to sell Civic Square to Bosa Development

  • Under the terms of a new agreement, Bosa will develop a residential tower, retail space and a public plaza.
    Journal staff reporter

    Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said last Friday that the city will negotiate the sale of the long-stalled Civic Square project to Bosa Development, and said the deal will generate nearly $22 million for equitable development and affordable housing.

    “Civic Square will no longer be empty,” Murray tweeted.

    In a press release, Murray said $16 million in proceeds from the sale would go to a new Equitable Development Fund for affordable housing. Bosa will also make a $5.7 million contribution to that fund.

    Under the terms of the new agreement, Bosa will develop a residential tower, retail space and a public plaza. The release said the city will maintain the rights to approve the design.

    Murray stated in the release, “Seattle is growing, and we are working to ensure that it happens in a way that is equitable, benefitting everyone who lives and works here. The sale of the Civic Square property allows us to leverage our resources to invest in communities most at-risk for displacement and to make a major investment in affordable housing. While we continue to revitalize our downtown core, we are strategically investing around the city to strengthen our communities for the future.”

    The mayor said Triad, Bosa and the city have signed an agreement to sell Civic Square. He said the $22 million would meet or exceed HALA goals for affordable housing, though HALA is not yet law.

    Civic Square will be developed on the vacant site of the old Public Safety Building, which is bounded by Third and Fourth avenues, and Cherry and James streets.

    Referring to the 1999 master plan for the site, Murray said, “because of the Great Recession and changing economic circumstances … that project came to a halt. We're happy that a developer will be able to add a new building to our downtown. That square will no longer be an empty block.”

    The Bosa agreement would replace an earlier agreement with Triad Development. If approved by Seattle City Council next year, construction could start in 2018.

    Bosa Development is the Canadian company that built Insignia condominiums in Belltown. It has become active in this region, and this month bought a 1.5-acre parcel in Bellevue for $35 million.

    In 2007, the city and Triad Development planned to develop Civic Square. The city would sell the land, and Triad would build a $25 million public plaza on the site, along with a 43-story tower designed by GGLO and British firm Foster + Partners that would have office, housing and retail space. Skanska was to build the tower.

    Triad's financing fell through during the recession.

    A spokesman for Murray couldn't confirm at press time if Bosa would keep the original Foster-GGLO design for the tower and square.

    In the fall of 2015, allegations were made that a Triad executive tried to bribe Jon Grant, who was at the time running for Seattle City Council, and Murray declared the city would seek a new development partner for Civic Square.

    Earlier this year, Triad unsuccessfully sought to transfer its interest in the project to Touchstone. Since then the city has been seeking to extricate itself from the original Triad agreement.

    Built in 1951, the 14-story Public Safety Building was demolished in 2005.


    Brian Miller can be reached by email at brian.miller@djc.com or by phone at (206) 219-6517.

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