New concept in court fight over The Hole: How about talking it out?

(WSB photo of ‘The Hole,’ taken in February)
How much time, how much money, and how much work do you put into court fights over a complicated (as most parties describe it) case, before just saying, “Can we sit down and talk this out?” This afternoon — after the end of yet another court hearing in the ongoing legal fight over issues related to the stalled project that has left The Hole in the heart of West Seattle instead of the once-envisioned apartments/Whole Foods/Hancock Fabrics project — King County Superior Court Judge Susan Craighead asked the question: “Have you (lawyers) started talking about mediation yet?” Not really, they said, but it might not be a bad idea, several of them allowed – unofficially, of course, since they have to consult their clients. (And the parties who were not represented in court today, since the afternoon’s proceedings didn’t involve everyone in the case.)

Officially, right now the case is between trials – one trial ended last November with a ruling about whose lien would get paid off first if there’s ever money for it; the next one is scheduled to start in June, and the lawyers here today say they are not sure they’re ready for that, which one described as ‘starting (the case) all over.” Not to mention, the November verdict is being challenged in the Court of Appeals, and there was a mention this afternoon that there is a federal case related to all this. There’s another hearing, on another motion, in two weeks and we’re likely to hear then whether mediation is a possibility.

As for what this hearing was intended to do in the first place – we wrote about the motion almost a month ago. One side claimed there really never was a deed of trust because there never really was a loan. After spirited arguments from both sides, Judge Craighead denied the motion, saying that at this point in the proceedings, it’s really difficult to rule on a claim of fraud, since there will be a different “tryer of fact” in the second trial than at the first. If, that is, there is a second trial – even if the suggestion of seeking mediation doesn’t work out, at least one lawyer suggested he wants a delay, because they’re nowhere near ready to go to trial in June. As for The Hole itself, it was at one point scheduled for a foreclosure sale in late February, but that was put on hold when a big bond was put up – and the judge suggested a speedy appeal proceeding might be the best hope of getting something going with the site, though when she asked the lawyers today if they’d made any headway on THAT front, the answer boiled down to no.

Bottom line: The Hole remains The Hole TFN. But for those interested in the minutiae along the way, we’re continuing to cover it.

20 Replies to "New concept in court fight over The Hole: How about talking it out?"

  • JanS April 1, 2011 (3:44 pm)

    Here’s a concept..require all parties involved to be present for all court appearances..or they lose. Something needs to be done, and not two years from now. This past week an unfortunate person took out a corner of The long will it be before something like that happens at the Hole…yes, an accident..but it could be deadly. It is ceasing to be a joke.

  • Delridge Denizen April 1, 2011 (4:17 pm)

    In the meantime, it would make an excellent home for all the wayward mattresses and sofas that keep taking up residence in our alleys, greenbelts, and front yards. If anyone falls in, there would be something soft to land on.

  • miws April 1, 2011 (4:25 pm)

    Maybe all parties involved should be sequestered until they settle this.



  • NotMe April 1, 2011 (5:00 pm)

    People have been saying someone is going to die falling into that hole, or from driving into that hole. It hasn’t happened.
    I said a long time ago, and I will say it again: that hole will be there for a very long time. Just go to Stone Way to see the original. This one is only a copy-cat. :-(

  • ad April 1, 2011 (5:57 pm)

    Everyone always seems to be complaining about parking….Park & Ride?!

  • ScottA April 1, 2011 (6:04 pm)

    @NotMe if you’re referring to the long time hole on Stoneway at 40th it’s being filled in. The Vitamilk site near Green Lake might be a better example now.

  • Junebug April 1, 2011 (7:46 pm)

    I love the headline! How about it? Seems so obvious.

  • dd April 1, 2011 (7:58 pm)

    i am one of the few who actually care about this. yes because i live near there, but thank you WSB for covering it.

  • miws April 1, 2011 (10:04 pm)

    Just had a thought occur, to modify my previous post; sequester all of those involved, in The Hole, saltines and water for nourishment/refreshment, until they come to a resolution.



  • timeslid April 1, 2011 (10:34 pm)

    Not only is the hole a danger to the community, but the litigation is costing the tax payers. When as a community can we step in and say enough is enough? Can’t eminent domain be used to make this beneficial to the neighborhood? Kelo vs. New London is the Supreme Court case that sets precedent.

  • redblack April 2, 2011 (4:07 am)

    even if the suggestion of seeking mediation doesn’t work out, at least one lawyer suggested he wants a delay, because they’re nowhere near ready to go to trial in June.

    these people have no shame.

  • w.s. maverick April 2, 2011 (6:02 am)

    i think its great way to catch water

  • bb. April 2, 2011 (6:33 am)

    Just fill it up. Fill up the hole. Put some dirt in the hole. Then grow some grass. Watch the grass grow. Done.

  • Yardvark April 2, 2011 (8:45 am)

    miws: Great idea to have them live in the hole along with their lawyers. Then we can all observe the zoo from above and show our kids what greed and shame look like.

  • christie April 2, 2011 (10:13 am)


    That’s how I feel about that freakin hole!!!!!I suggest everyone move away for 10 years and hope that when you come back the hole problem is solved!!! Things take soooooooooo long in this state! sHAME SHAME SHAME ON THE IDIOTS WHO CREATED THIS MESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • foy boy April 2, 2011 (6:04 pm)

    Hey Ad, You got it right. A underground park an ride with maybe a park on top would be great. Or just more parking on top. With rapid ride comming this would be great. Hey if you have been in burein lately you will see there new park and ride going up. Now theres a town ahead of the curve.

  • WS commuter April 2, 2011 (7:08 pm)

    Do people here even understand what the lawsuit is about, or who the villian is? Developer stiffed companies who provided work at the site. Why vilify them for trying to collect what they’re owed? Don’t get me wrong – I hate the hole too, and if something doesn’t happen before too long, those “temporary” soil nail walls are going to collapse. So something has to happen. But don’t ignorantly rant about people without being truthful.

  • Peter on Fauntleroy April 4, 2011 (4:50 pm)

    As I understand it, the city requires (or itself does) inspections on open temporary retaining walls common in construction projects like this. Does anyone have info on this? I wouldn’t mind seeing some update on the safety evaluations of the project, if available to the public, just for reassurance.

    • WSB April 4, 2011 (4:55 pm)

      That was discussed extensively in one of the various court episodes we’ve covered. I’ll dig up the link when I get a few spare minutes. – TR

  • wad spicer April 4, 2011 (9:35 pm)

    I think the sofas and mattresses from alleys and street corners would look great in there. I know of a few toilets, tires, Christmas trees, and cars, too. Maybe we can just start…

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