Saturday, November 21, 2015
The Washington State Convention (WSCC) announced today a deal with King County Metro to buy four acres in downtown Seattle for construction of a new, additional convention facility one block north of the existing convention center.
This site, augmented by certain adjacent properties, could yield an additional facility to the existing WSCC – one large enough to successfully attract the size of national conventions that want to come to Seattle and help the city better compete with Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland and Vancouver, B.C., all of which currently have larger convention centers.
Under the deal, King County Metro will sell the site, bounded by Olive Way, Boren Avenue, Pine Street and Ninth Avenue, where its Convention Place Transit Station currently resides. The WSCC will pay $283 million in principal and interest payments to King County Metro over the next 30 years. Plans for decommissioning of the station were already in place as Seattle’s transit and rail systems continue to expand and other new stations come on line beginning next year.
The deal is still contingent on approval by the Metropolitan King County Council and the convention center’s board, and is expected to be finalized next year.
“While there are several more steps necessary before groundbreaking, this is a major milestone toward realization of a much-needed additional convention center facility in the heart of downtown Seattle,” said Tom Norwalk, President & CEO of Visit Seattle.
The overall development of the new convention facility is envisioned with a combined total of up to 250,000 square feet of heavy-load exhibition space, 120,000 square feet of meeting rooms, a full service kitchen and 60,000-70,000 square feet of ballroom, freight loading and support space, as well as certain transit operations, retail, and potential private co-development.
“We’re excited to take such important steps in this process to open the new facility,” said Kelly Saling, Visit Seattle Director of Sales. “Seattle enjoys nearly 70 percent repeat convention center customers, yet we frequently lack availability. This new facility will better accommodate our growing conventions as well as new conventions and provide new opportunity to host multiple shows at the same time.”
Construction could start in early 2017 with projected opening in 2020. The convention center plans to issue about $1.1 billion in bonds for the expansion project. Seattle’s Pine Street Group has been selected as project manager and LMN Architects is working on early concept design for the program spaces. The expansion project is expected to support 6,000 construction jobs and generate 4,200 direct and indirect jobs once the 440,000-square-foot exhibition facility opens.
The deal with King County also requires the convention center to set aside $5 million for affordable housing, which could be built on-site or off-site.