A Capitol Hill developer has sued a homeowner for breaking a property lease agreement and stalling construction of a new 15th and Mercer mixed-use project, according to court documents obtained by CHS.
Stream Real Estate, developers of the Stream 15 project at the former Chutney’s Grille on the Hill site, filed a lawsuit in June against Chris Rugh, claiming the landowner prevented construction crews from rightfully accessing his property adjacent to the project site and bringing to a halt the construction of the four-story, mixed-use apartment building with 33 units, 3,400 square feet of retail or restaurant space and underground parking spaces.
Though it’s a battle over a laurel hedge and a temporary utility pole, the situation is causing a rare pause in the somewhat relentless pace of development around Capitol Hill.
Stream has a $4,000 a month lease to use Rugh’s property for office space and parking, but Rugh told CHS that bad conduct from Stream allowed him to rightfully end the deal. According to Rugh, before the lease went into effect, Stream performed work further into his property to construct a temporary utility pole than was permitted under a different agreement he signed with the developer last year.
Stream managing member Marc Angelillo said the dispute could cause headaches for the neighborhood.
“Now we’re forced into position to rent a trailer and will sit there on the street. We’ll have to take out sidewalks, too,” he said.
After the pole went up, Rugh’s attorney posted a cease and desist letter, saying crews did not have a right to cut into Rugh’s side of the hedge. Since the letter was posted, Seattle City Light crews have refused to hook up power to the pole thus halting construction, according to the lawsuit.
“It’s important for developers to realize that while they’re doing good for the city, they’re causing a huge inconvenience for everybody that works and lives here,” he said.
Despite the legal fight, the issue isn’t likely to delay the Stream developers long. Even without the court’s help, crews could find a new location for the pole and get work started soon. But, in the meantime, things are quiet and the lot nothing but empty dirt at 15th and Mercer.