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Originally published July 30, 2013 at 12:48 PM | Page modified July 31, 2013 at 10:57 AM

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Both options to fill PacMed tower still on table

The public authority that owns the historic Beacon Hill landmark popularly known as the PacMed Center decided Tuesday to continue discussions with both the state and a national homebuilder on their interest in a long-term lease.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Non-profit before for-profit. MORE
I sure hope the governor and the state read the fine print on that lease. MORE
To those "uninformed" participants below. Substantial City and County efforts... MORE

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The public authority that owns the historic Beacon Hill landmark popularly known as the PacMed Center decided Tuesday to continue discussions with both the state and a national homebuilder on their interest in a long-term lease.

The state Department of Commerce informed the Pacific Hospital Preservation and Development Authority on Monday that it couldn’t legally sign a 30-year lease the authority had sent it last week.

As a result, the authority’s governing council met Tuesday morning to discuss an alternative deal offered by Miami-based Lennar to convert the tower to market-rate apartments under a 75-year lease.

After holding an executive session on Tuesday morning, the council voted to have the authority’s representatives meet promptly with the state, including House Speaker Frank Chopp, to determine whether the two sides can resolve outstanding issues in their lease negotiations.

The council also voted to continue discussions with Lennar.

“We keep talking and the building is still empty,” said Theresa Rambosek, the council’s chairwoman.

The two options being considered by the council are starkly different: One envisions a hub of health-care training and social-services providers; the other, market-rate apartments.

Seattle Central Community College — which is seeking 85,000 square feet to expand its nursing, dentistry, respiratory, surgical technical and optician programs — would share the tower with an “innovation center” made up of a slew of nonprofits focused on social services.

The Commerce Department would sublease the PacMed Center to the college and those other groups, and it would be responsible for maintaining the property.

Chopp, who was instrumental last session in earmarking millions of dollars in legislative appropriations for the project, told the council he’d cleared his calendar to do whatever he can to help the authority and the state reach an agreement.

There are fewer points of disagreement than six weeks ago, he said, and the remaining issues are simply “differences of wording.”

Steve Orser, who heads up Lennar’s multifamily projects in the Pacific Northwest, told the council the homebuilder offered “certainty” with a lease that’s already fully negotiated.

People on Beacon Hill are excited about the possibility of living in the tower, Orser said, even if “our stakeholder group isn’t as loud.”

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com On Twitter @sbhatt

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