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Community groups reach $82M agreement with Convention Center developer

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The agreement includes more money for affordable housing


The $1.6 billion Washington State Convention Center Addition project is set to transform the Downtown Seattle area, and not just because of the 1.4-million-square-foot center itself.

The project requires use of land owned by the public through a street vacation. Specifically, the project seeks 7,665 square feet of alley space, and 47,985 square feet below ground. Typically with projects like this, the public gets something in exchange—and in this case, the developer, Pine Street Group, and a collection of community groups called the Community Package Coalition had been at odds about just how big that benefit should be.

Monday, the coalition, joined by Mayor Tim Burgess, announced they’d reached a development with Pine Street Group for a benefits package worth $82 million, even more than they’d been demanding. They estimate it’s worth about four times the original public benefits package offered by the developer.

The coalition includes Capitol Hill Housing, Cascade Bicycle Club, Central Seattle Greenways, First Hill Improvement Association, Housing Development Consortium, Freeway Park Association, Lid I-5, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, many of whom submitted public benefits for consideration during the public comment period for the process.

The coalition had advocated for $61 million in public benefits, including increased pedestrian and bicycle improvements and more affordable housing.

The deal announced today includes everything Pine Street Group originally proposed, including nearly six times the initial affordable housing contribution—$29 million, before anything required by city zoning. The city estimates the project’s incentive zoning contribution will bring in another $4.3 million, plus another $5 million from county requirements.

It also includes $10 million for Freeway Park; $16 million for bike improvements, both on Pike and Pine and on Eighth Avenue; $4 million for a Terry Avenue promenade; $1.5 million for a study on lidding Interstate 5; and $500,000 for pedestrian improvements on Olive Way.

Held over from the original public benefits proposal is $10.6 million for pedestrian improvements in both the Pike/Pine corridor and on Olive Way, $1 million for lighting historic buildings, $2 million for public art, $8 million for “on-site features”—publicly accessible parts of the Convention Center—and $200,000 for Olive Way improvements.

The project still needs to go through the Seattle Design Commission and the Seattle City Council before it can move forward. Mayor Burgess said legislation will likely be sent to council in January.

If those processes go smoothly, construction is expected to start in 2018, with an opening date in 2021. When completed, the project will double the capacity of the existing convention center.

This article has been updated to correct the Convention Center Addition’s anticipated construction start date in 2018.

Washington State Convention Center

800 Convention Pl, Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 694-5000 Visit Website