06 Nov 0
Original article appeared in the Puget Sound Business Journal by: Marc Stiles, Staff Writer
For Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Wednesday’s $5.7 million settlement of the Civic Square lawsuit changes nothing.
Murray said that Triad Capital Partners still won’t be developing the $400 million Civic Square project, which includes a high-rise with condominiums and office space along with a public plaza.
This is in direct contrast to how Triad President Fred Grimm interpreted the settlement. In a statement issued Wednesday, Grimm said, “It’s nice to put (the lawsuit) behind us so we can get started on this great development.”
The settlement and Murray’s reaction are the latest in a scandal over a scar in the heart of downtown Seattle. The block between Cherry and James streets and Third and Fourth avenues has been a fenced-in blight for 10 years, and likely will remain so for several more.
First the city will have to find a new developer, who will then have to come up with a plan and get the city’s approval. Triad has been working on Civic Square for eight years and there’s nothing to show for it other than that fence with work by local artists.
Triad has until Dec. 31 to finalize the deal to acquire the city-owned block where it’s planning a 42-story tower. Faced with that deadline and a lawsuit against the project, Triad Senior Vice President Brett Allen earlier this month approached City Council candidate Jon Grant with this proposition: make the lawsuit go away or Triad would fund an independent expenditure against Grant’s campaign. Grant is the former head of the state’s Tenants Union, which worked on the lawsuit.
Four days after the scandal broke, Murray announced that he was pulling the plug on the development deal with Triad. Once the deal expires on Dec. 31, it won’t be renewed, the mayor said, because of Allen’s “shocking and incredibly disappointing” actions.
Grimm said Murray’s comments were hurtful and do not “reflect who we are.” Grimm added that Triad had not authorized Allen to approach Grant, and that Allen’s action were not in line with the company’s values. Triad has fired Allen.
Murray was unmoved by the settlement, and said he remains “troubled by how Triad operates in our community.”
He added that his administration inherited a contractual relationship with Triad, “and eight years later there has been no visible progress on the project.
“In spite of today’s announcement, significant hurdles remain for Triad to meet their obligations under that contract,” Murray said. “When this contract expires on Dec. 31, I still have no intention of seeking an extension.”