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SEATTLE, WA-Touchstone Corp. President Douglas Howe is rarely, if ever, willing to discuss his company’s projects during the permitting phase. He reasons that final designs and timing can be a moving target-specially in a city with a permitting process he says has left some developers with “bloody noses.”

Nonetheless, Howe took a few minutes this week to speak with GlobeSt.com about the status of Stewart Place, 660,000-sf office building proposed for the block surrounded by Terry and Boren avenues and Virginia and Stewart streets in Downtown’s Denny Triangle district.

Despite several media reports that refer to the project as mixed-use, Howe describes the project as “primarily an office project with ancillary retail and a day care.” There will be “at least” 15,000 of ground-floor retail space, he says.

The latest iteration of Stewart Place, designed by Bellevue architect Collins Woerman, calls for three buildings of varying height. One building is five stories tall, another is 12 stories and the third is a 15-story building. The original plans were for buildings of seven, 12 and 14 floors. Below-grade parking is expected to provide 1,200 stalls.

Another element of the project still up in the air is whether the developer will receive a permit from the city to close an alley now connecting Virginia to Stewart Streets. The closure would allow for the inclusion of an open-space plaza Howe says would run 30,000 sf. The issue of the alley met with early opposition last November when Michael Jenkins, a city land use planner, expressed the commission’s concern that only the complex’s tenants, and not the public at large, would benefit from the open space.

As to a target date for ground-breaking, Howe says, “Tentatively late ’02.” However, he cautions, “We can’t finalize costs or schedules until we’ve completed the permit process.” Touchstone’s general contractor for Stewart Place is Lease Crutcher Lewis.

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