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Seattle’s Civic Square is the development that just won’t die

The city remains in legal limbo, preventing it from moving forward with new investors

Civic Square. We had such high hopes for you.

Going on nine years ago, Triad Development proposed a 43-story tower on a block along Fourth and James in Downtown Seattle that the city wanted to sell. Though numbers fluctuated, the plan called for approximately 125 condos, 600,000 sf. of office space and 40,000 sf of retail space. After an eight-year hiatus due to financial issues, the deal seemed to be back on in 2015 until a shakedown scandal by a Triad employee caused the city to lose faith in them. A few months later in early 2016 there was word that the project would be transferred to Seattle developer Touchstone but a lack of financial interest seemed to officially kill Civic Square once and for all.

Except...it never actually died.

Seattle mayor Ed Murray told reporters Thursday that the project is still on the books because the city and Triad remain locked in legal limbo.

“The challenge here is there have been a lot of individuals who’ve expressed interest in the Civic Square block,” the mayor told reporters. “Chinese investors, other investors. And what I’ve said to them is, I can’t engage in those discussions, given that I’ve inherited an agreement that is still in place. Otherwise, the city would be sued.”

“We’re working under an agreement designed a long time ago,” Murray said. “I can’t just stop it. The city would be sued and the city would probably end up being liable for a significant amount of money. We’re working through the appropriate processes to how we move forward … so that we can entertain other ideas about how an entire block in one of the hottest real-estate markets in the country can be utilized. But I simply cannot cut it off. I would expose this city to millions of dollars in potential liability.”

Murray wouldn’t go into details about the legal stranglehold Triad has in the contract and Triad didn’t comment. However, assuming neither party wants there to be a hold in the ground in the middle of Downtown Seattle forever, we remain hopeful that cooler heads will prevail.