Today, Mayor Ed Murray transmitted to City Council legislation authorizing the sale of the Civic Square project to Bosa Development to build a residential tower with street-level retail space and a 25,000 square-foot public plaza. The agreement requires Bosa pay at least $5.7 million toward affordable housing through the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program and directs $16 million to equitable development through the City’s Equitable Development Initiative (EDI), which helps ensure Seattle’s existing residents and businesses also enjoy the benefits of development around the city, rather than being displaced by it.
“As Seattle grows, we are working to ensure that happens in a way that is equitable, benefiting everyone who lives and works here,” said Mayor Murray. “This new Civic Square project agreement retains the public plaza envisioned nearly a decade ago, and more importantly provides significant funding that the previous agreement did not. While we continue to revitalize our downtown core, adding open space and housing, the funding will support additional affordable housing and investments in communities most at risk for displacement.”
The agreement with Bosa Development replaces a 2007 agreement with Triad Civic Center LLC, which had been hindered by the economic recession and lack of capital partners. Under the terms of the new agreement, Triad will assign all of its interest in the existing purchase, sale and development agreement to Bosa Development; Triad and the City will release one another from liability.
The Bosa deal provides much more in return than the agreement with Triad, where the City would have transferred the land in exchange for public benefits in the form of the plaza, its improvements and associated easements. That deal was valued at $25 million, but there would have been no money changing hands at closing and when it came to the plaza, the City would have owned, operated and maintained it at a projected loss. Under the new agreement, the City is transferring the land to Bosa, which is constructing essentially the same public access improvements, and paying the City $16 million in addition to the required MHA payment. An easement will provide for public use as previously intended, yet the City will no longer be responsible for ongoing operating and maintenance costs.
“Bosa Development is excited to have an opportunity to contribute a signature development on a keystone site in downtown Seattle,” said Ryan Bosa, President of Bosa Development. “We believe Bosa Development is the right group to design and construct a dynamic mixed-use project that will energize Seattle’s commercial core and change the way pedestrians experience this area. The public plaza will become a destination for workers and residents from all the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Whereas Triad’s project included office space, Bosa’s will consist of a single residential tower with street-level retail and a public plaza. The City retains the right to approve the final plaza design. The project redesign requires Bosa apply for a new Master Use Permit (MUP); assuming a timely MUP approval process, construction is scheduled to commence by Jan. 1, 2019.
Funding for the City’s Equitable Development Initiative will be established with the $16 million in proceeds from the sale to help ensure Seattle’s existing residents and businesses also enjoy the benefits of development. These funds will go to projects such as a Multicultural Community Center for longtime residents that builds on local cultural assets, or a job-training program focused on good-paying jobs in the community. The EDI is led by the Office of Planning and Community Development.
The additional $5.7 million MHA payment will go to the Office of Housing to leverage for building affordable housing.