|By Eric Pryne, Seattle
TimesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
October 12, 2009 - The owner of a gaping, half-block hole in downtown Seattle says it will start refilling the crater this week.
The pit, on Second Avenue between Pine and Stewart streets, was excavated in mid-2007 for the 1 Hotel & Residences, a proposed 23-story luxury tower. But work on the $200-million hotel and condo project stopped that fall, and the developer later acknowledged it couldn't get construction financing.
A spokesman for the site's owner, Connecticut-based Starwood Capital Group, said Monday that the hole should take eight to 10 weeks to fill. A Starwood affiliate applied last week for a city permit to develop a temporary parking lot on the property.
The company said in a prepared statement that it remains committed to the project, and is waiting for the capital markets to stabilize.
It said it was working with Seattle officials "to ensure the property remains clean and presentable over the short-term... "
The city did not require Starwood to refill the crater, said Bryan Stevens, a spokesman for the Department of Planning and Development.
Both Stevens and Seatte land-use economist Matthew Gardner said they could not recall any other case in which an empty crater dug for a stalled project has been filled up again.
But Gardner said that if Starwood expects the tower won't be built for awhile, it probably makes sense to restore the site so it can start generating some revenue from parking again. The property was a parking lot before the pit was excavated.
Starwood acquired 100 percent interest in the site last year, buying out its former partner, Portland developer Paul Brenneke.
Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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