Civic Square agreement sent to Council for approval

As I wrote two weeks ago, the City an Bosa Development finalized their agreement on developing the Civic Square site across the street from City Hall. Today the Mayor sent the agreement to the City Council for its approval.

Here is the full 95-page agreement. It calls for:

  • one residential tower, at least 572 feet tall (about 45 floors), with an average floor plate of 10,700 square feet (think 100×100 feet). The building will have retail space at ground level, and for-sale condos in the floors above. The tower will be in the southeast corner of the property.
  • A 25,000 square foot public plaza in the northwest corner of the property. The plaza will be open to public pedestrian and wheelchair access.
  • A below-grade parking garage.
  • The development is expected to qualify for LEED Gold certification.

This is a significant departure from the previous plan negotiated with Triad. That plan envisioned a substantial amount of commercial office space (Bosa’s has none), and that the city would continue to own the property. The Triad plan also had a large public plaza, but it was owned and maintained by the city; under the new plan, Bosa owns and maintains it, and grants an easement back to the city for public access.

Bosa will pay the city $16 million at closing, along with an additional payment of at least $5,700,000 for incentive zoning/MHA charges to go toward affordable housing. While this is less than the $25 million payment in the Triad agreement, they city will save money because Bosa will be responsible for maintaining the public plaza.

There are a few conditions that must be met for the agreement to go forward, starting with the requirement that the City Council approve the agreement by October 1. Also, it’s expected that Bosa will need to either amend the existing Master Use Permit on the property, or file an entirely new one; in either case that needs to go through the city bureaucracy and eventually be approved by the City Council. If the Council doesn’t approve the M.U.P. by December 31, 2019, the agreement is null and void.

There is a separate sub-agreement just dealing with the arrangements on the public plaza: Notable things it says:

  • The plaza will be available to the public at least from 7am to 10pm every day.
  • Bosa constructs and maintains the whole public access area.
  • Bosa is not required to provide direct access to the Pioneer Square light rail station entrances on 3rd Avenue from the public plaza.
  • Bosa can close the plaza for up to ten days per year for routine maintenance or for special events related to the residents of the tower.
  • The city can schedule use of the public plaza up to ten times per calendar year or a total of 30 hours, whichever comes first. But those scheduled uses can’t be for “social services, political demonstrations, or protests.”
  • The agreement is clear that the public plaza area is not being dedicated as a public street or sidewalk, which means all the city ordinances related to what is allowed and disallowed on streets and sidewalks do not apply to the plaza.
  • There is a list of prohibited uses, including: camping or sleeping, placement or storage of materials, use of amplified sound, loitering, use of drones, and smoking.

These restrictions will prevent the plaza from being used for unsanctioned (or sanctioned) homeless encampments, and the fact that Bosa, not the city, is responsible for the plaza means that any encampment removal will be Bosa’s responsibility.

The plaza can be used for political protests and rallies (and being right across the street from City Hall, it undoubtedly will), but the city can’t schedule them. And those protests can’t use sound amplification. If activities become disruptive to the tower businesses and residents, then Bosa will be responsible for clearing them.

The agreement includes a target schedule for development. It envisions the new Master Use Permit application filed by January 4, 2018, with a decision by August 6 and approval by August 20. The shoring and excavation permit would be issued by February 2019, with construction commencing within 30 days. The public plaza would be complete by March 2023, and the tower by March 2025. Bosa reserves the right to keep some or all of the plaza closed to the public while the tower is still being constructed, though. Given that the site is already cleared and substantial digging has already been completed, Bosa should save some time on the front end of the project.

The agreement should be officially introduced into the City Council’s legislative process next Monday, and will likely be referred to the extremely-busy Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee. They will need to work hard to get it reviewed and approved before the October 1 deadline, which coincides with the start of the 2018 budget development process.


One comment

  1. Do we really NEED more public plaza and public protest space Downtown — as opposed to the stairs in front of City Hall, the plaza in front of the Federal Building, the plaza in the front of the old Federal Courthouse, and Westlake Park?

    Why not an elementary school built into a residential building with a public playground or a homeless shelter/affordable housing?

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