Capitol Hill developer sues homeowner for stalling 15th and Mercer project

The future Stream 15th

The future Stream 15th

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.

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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.

IMG_2090Rugh told CHS that he supports the rapid development taking place on Capitol Hill but thinks developers are not taking enough precautions to protect existing residents.

“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.

13 thoughts on “Capitol Hill developer sues homeowner for stalling 15th and Mercer project

  1. It seems to me that Chris Rugh is shooting himself in the foot over a relatively trivial manner, because he is giving up $4000 a month in rent.

    On a related note, what is happening with the new development at Harvard and Thomas? The work there seems to have come to a standstill. Is there litigation going on there too?

  2. Hmm. There have been a lot of ridiculous fights over laurel (and camella) hedges at the north end of the Hill over the years, but this is the first one that I smiled over instead of snorting, It’s just a damned laurel/camellia hedge!

    Good for Mr. Rugh for defending his privacy barrier from the ugly, too-big box to be built on the old Chutney’s lot, no matter the cost to him (which is substantial). Money is not the only value in play here, and not the ultimate value in any play.

    (A prejudice against the robotic boxes infecting the Hill is in play here, yes. I will defend even a damned laurel hedge when threatened by that which supports the construction of such humorless housing.)

    • Good for Mr. Rugh for defending his property rights. These greedy developers don’t care about neighbors or the neighborhood and will do anything to make a quick buck.

    • There is nothing in the report to indicate that the laurel hedge was or would be significantly damaged. Laurel is a very vigorous plant and it grows rapidly to replace any parts that have been pruned or damaged.

  3. Love how the developer (allegedly) did something different than was permitted and is now painting as the neighbor causing massive problems for the neighborhood. if only all the developers were held to the terms of their permits (I’m looking at you, Viva).

  4. As an immediate neighbor to this site I feel that this building, like so very many others, is absolutely ruining the character of beautiful Capitol Hill. Another mixed glass and cement box made of the cheapest ugliest materials they can find?! Great. That being said, the lot and former Chutney’s site has been an eyesore for way too long now, and I really hope the parties resolve their differences so we can move on, sometime, maybe eventually because something finished would still be better than the absolute mess that’s there now.

    The impact of construction on this neighborhood is over the top, unusable sidewalks and horrible noise and mess everywhere. I really wish the city would take a more responsible (and less impactful) tact in managing the growth of the city, looking at the impact that so many projects happening at once has on a neighborhood. Right now things feel aimless and like a lot of greedy developers who don’t live here are just swooping in to make a lot of money without giving a rat’s ass about the immediate or long term effects of their projects.

    • I agree with you about the mess caused by the multiple construction projects, and would add the frequent street closures and traffic backups while equipment is moved here and there. But at some point all this will come to an end when the “boom” relents. Unfortunately, at that point, we will look around and see all the ugly, character-less new buildings that the boom has wrought, and we will ask: “Was it worth it?”

    • Its rich NIMBY homeowners calling developers greedy for providing needed housing. Developers arent as greedy as homeowners who block new construction to drive up their home values.

      • Not all homeowners are “rich.” Many of us are of modest means, and simply care about preserving the character and scale of our neighborhood. And I’m not at all sure how opposing some types of new development drives up property values.

        Also, I would like to point out that many homeowners bought their places quite a few years ago, when prices were much more affordable. Yes, our property values have risen significantly over time, so that (speaking for myself anyway) it’s not all that important for the value of our homes to go up more at this point.

  5. I wonder if that work also includes environmental remediation for the underground storage tanks that must certainly be there from when the site was occupied by a gas station.

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