As the Quadrant Corp. pursues development of more buildings in its massive

office/commercial project adjacent to the Fremont Bridge, the company finds itself in court.

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Development bedfellows?

As the Quadrant Corp. pursues development of more buildings in its massive

office/commercial project adjacent to the Fremont Bridge, the company finds itself in court.

The Fremont Neighborhood Council is suing the company and the city in an attempt to rescind building permits for two proposed structures in Quadrant's Lake Union Center. The company received permits for three buildings in April 1992, but to date has built only one. (Two other structures, which now house software-maker Adobe Systems, have been constructed under a separate building permit.) Although permits are supposed to expire after five years, the city has the authority to stop the clock on the expiration period if the project is delayed by litigation. The city's Department of Construction and Land Use obligingly did just this in regard to a three-year-long legal dispute between Quadrant and the Burlington Northern Railroad over environmental contamination of the former industrial site.

So what's the problem? While the permit was supposedly "suspended," Quadrant went and built one of the three buildings, a facility for the Sound Mind and Body health club. At a public meeting last week, officials of the neighborhood council claimed that a lack of anchor tenants—not the environmental litigation—kept Quadrant from constructing the other two buildings. A second portion of the FNC lawsuit asks the city to suspend Quadrant's 1991 environmental impact statement, also based on the five-year limit.

Quadrant is currently seeking permits for the final three Lake Union Center buildings. It also intends to construct the two unbuilt structures already permitted.

Ethics review progress report

That task force set up by Mayor Schell to review the city's ethics and elections regulations held its first meeting on October 13. All the controversial establishment types appointed to the task force didn't bother to show up, so the few community activists appointed to balance the group sat around saying things like, "Why are we here?" and "What's the purpose of this group?" Then they voted to drop the first part of the panel's charge—investigating ways to streamline the elections regulations. Then members of the audience criticized the group, the process, and the absent mayor. Other than that, this PAUL SCHELL BIG IDEA(tm) seems to be moving along swimmingly.

Olympics still dead

One thing you can say about those who want to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to Seattle: They're a resilient bunch.

Anyone else would be put off by the sweeping rejection of the concept by local residents, businesses, and politicians. After the threat of deadline pressure failed to convince the Seattle City Council to pass a resolution supporting the Seattle bid committee, US Olympic officials have now retreated to an end-of-the-year cutoff. It seems that, among the nine potential bid cities, only Los Angeles and B-listers Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, and Tampa have come through with resolutions. The sticking point for the reluctant cities is probably the requirement that they agree to make up any deficit of the Games, plus assume all liability for suits arising from the event.

Olympics supporters no doubt see the deadline extension as a positive sign—an understandable sentiment given their current losing streak. It might actually help to move the deadline back a bit further, to the year 2005 or so. By then, the football and baseball stadiums will be valued community assets, everybody will have forgotten about the Nordstrom deal, the Mariners will be in the Series, and 4th & James will be on its third Pulitzer. Hey, when you dream, dream big.

(New) track and (grass) field

Speaking of those Olympics we don't want, the organizers seem convinced of the value of Husky Stadium as the Games' track and field venue. Not so fast, says Charles Shaffer, a Seattle resident and former track and field official. Although an adequate collegiate facility, Husky Stadium doesn't cut it as an Olympic venue. Shaffer ticks off the inadequacies: narrow lanes (46 inches, instead of the Olympic/World Championship standard of 48), tighter curves than allowed for world-class 200-meter and 400-meter races, AstroTurf field, and football-based sight lines that obstruct the view of the full track from upper-deck seats. To make the Olympic grade, the field would have to be raised significantly, a new track and natural-grass field installed, and some permanent seats removed to allow for wider turns. "A couple of years ago, I contacted [bid committee organizer] Bob Walsh's office to ask questions about these matters," writes Shaffer. "I was curtly dismissed; they did not wish to hear about this." Subsequent calls to bid committee officials were also deflected by hear-no-evil staffers, he adds.

PC on parade

Most folks don't even know that we have a National Coalition Building Institute, much less that it is spreading enlightenment among city employees. Workers in the Executive Services Department got a free Prejudice Reduction Workshop the other day. According to a memo, the program is "an experiential, participatory workshop that empowers individuals of all ages and backgrounds to take leadership to build inclusive environments that welcome diversity." What's more, the workshop is designed to "celebrate similarities and differences, identify and work through stereotypes and misinformation learned about other groups, reclaim pride in one's own background, and build bridges with other groups." And all this in an hour and a half.

 
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