‘The pit from hell:’ Construction on the Civic Square delayed over rising costs

Jul 25, 2022, 2:27 PM | Updated: 6:32 pm


Seattle Civic Square site (Sound Bruce via Flickr Creative Commons)

(Sound Bruce via Flickr Creative Commons)

Development of the lot across the street from Seattle City Hall, known by some as the cursed “pit from hell” due to the lot’s longstanding failure to develop any construction projects, has once again halted.

On Friday, July 22, the real estate developer Bosa, which owns the Seattle Civic Square, announced that, due to economic conditions and rising construction costs, they would be putting development on hold. When speaking to The Seattle Times, the developer said it made the decision “after completing additional due diligence and weighing current construction market conditions.”

This is not the first construction pause that the lot has faced. After the city tore down the Public Safety Building in 2005, the Great Recession prevented development on a high rise at the site. Later in 2015, a scandal between the new developers, Triad, and a city council member prompted another shutdown. In 2017, the real estate developer Bosa purchased the lot from the city with the plan to turn the lot into a 57-story apartment complex.

Plan nearly in place for giant eyesore near Seattle City Hall

Nationwide, the construction industry is facing rising material costs, supply chain problems, challenges in hiring workers, and other hangups, according to the Mortenson Cost Index, which tracks the industry. Costs increased 18% nationally and 22% in Seattle over the past year, according to the index.

Construction is expected to resume because, under the current deal with the city, Bosa would be required to pay the city $5,000 a day for every day the project is not completed past the deadline.

Bosa was issued a shoring and excavation permit in March of this year and began shoring and excavation shortly after that; that triggers the “commencement of construction” milestone in the agreement. That means that Bosa now has 48 months to complete construction of the plaza, and 72 months to complete construction of the tower.

Bosa can claim “adverse market conditions” as a reason for delay to avoid paying the penalty but only for a maximum of 12 months.

“Even with the pause, Bosa intends to meet the performance dates outlined in the City agreement,” the company said in a statement.

Construction has closed sidewalks near the project. Those will reopen once the developer installs a safety fence.

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‘The pit from hell:’ Construction on the Civic Square delayed over rising costs