SEATTLE – Nov. 18, 2015 – King County Executive Dow Constantine and Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) Public Facilities District Board of Directors chairman Frank Finneran today announced agreement on terms for WSCC to acquire Convention Place Station (CPS) from King County, in exchange for $283 million in principal and interest payments to King County Metro over the next 30 years. The agreement moves the Convention Center Addition – the creation of much-needed conference and convention space – closer to reality.
“This agreement achieves three goals of mine for Convention Center expansion: economic development and jobs, funding for transit mobility, and good urban design,” said Executive Constantine. “This enables one of our most important regional projects to proceed, while creating an ongoing revenue stream that will help support delivery of Metro services now and for the next 30 years”
As part of the agreement, WSCC will also contribute $5 million to affordable housing, either through developing units adjacent to the new convention facility or by payment to a King County housing program. It will also improve sidewalks and connections that will make the neighboring streetscape and pedestrian environment more inviting.
The sale enables WSCC to continue progressing its plans for the Addition, which is scheduled to open in 2020.
“On behalf of the Convention Center, we are thrilled to be moving forward with King County on this purchase,” said Finneran. “Acquiring this parcel is critical to keeping the Addition project on track. WSCC and Executive Constantine’s office worked closely throughout the process, and we are proud that the project will attract more conventioneers and create jobs in the community.”
“The Addition project is a key strategic priority for downtown, and really the entire region,” said Downtown Seattle Association President and CEO Jon Scholes. “Conventions are an important aspect of our economy, both in the money that’s generated for our local businesses, as well as the reputational equity that is earned. A new facility would further strengthen year-round demand for downtown’s hotels, restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues.”
The eventual closure of Convention Place Station was determined nearly a decade ago, when the Sound Transit Board of Directors approved a light rail extension to Northgate that bypassed CPS; at the same time, the increasing frequency of light rail trains to Northgate would mean that buses could no longer use the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, starting in 2021.
WSCC will provide adequate off-site layover space for Metro Transit during construction of the Addition. Buses will continue to use the site and operate in the Transit Tunnel until 2019, when additional light rail service is added.
In the long term, regional service now connecting at Convention Place will be reorganized, in phases, to serve the growing ridership at Seattle Center, Belltown, Denny Regrade and South Lake Union. King County, Sound Transit, WSCC, and the City of Seattle will work closely to efficiently manage transit and transportation through the just-announced Center City Mobility Plan.
The Addition is expected to generate about $240 million per year in visitor spending, creating 2,300 new direct and 1,600 indirect jobs in hospitality, hotels, restaurants, and retail, and up to 6,000 family-wage jobs during the three years of construction.
The purchase and sale agreement is subject to approval by the Metropolitan King County Council and by the WSCC Board of Directors. Permits are also required from the City Seattle. If approved, construction would be slated to begin in 2017, with the Addition set to open in 2020.
“We are delighted to share this news,” said Deryl Brown-Archie, vice chair of the WSCC board of directors. “While the Addition project’s design and permitting processes have been moving full steam ahead during this time, it has been a clear priority to select a new GC/CM as expeditiously as possible.”
“Our team is thrilled to be on board with this transformative project,” said Steve Dell’Orto, senior vice president, Clark Construction. “We are working quickly to integrate into the project team and are excited to get to work.”
The Addition project is expected to break ground in 2017 and reach completion in 2020.
King County provides regional services to 2-million residents including 250,000 people living in unincorporated areas. Services include Metro transit, public health, wastewater treatment, courts, jails, prosecutors, public defenders, community and social services, the King County International Airport, and local services such as police protection, roads service, and solid waste transfer station and landfill services, plus more than 26,000 acres of parks and natural lands, and 175 miles of regional trails. King County is the 13th largest county in the nation by population, and covers 2,134 square miles, 39 cities, 760 lakes and reservoirs, and six major river systems with 3,000 miles of streams.
Located in the heart of Seattle and walking distance to world-class hotels, restaurants, entertainment and attractions, the Washington State Convention Center has been the Northwest’s premier meetings and events facility for 26 years. WSCC welcomes thousands of visitors from around the globe each year, offering industry-leading service, award-winning catering and a comprehensive range of services for event planners, exhibitors and guests. With a longstanding commitment to sustainability, public art and modern technology, WSCC serves its surrounding community and provides visitors with a truly unique Northwest experience.
Established in 1958, the Downtown Seattle Association is a nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to create a healthy, vibrant downtown. DSA advocates on behalf of business, nonprofit, arts and residential interests to create a downtown for everyone. DSA plays a key role in activating and maintaining public spaces in downtown. Since 2015, DSA has managed Westlake Park and Occidental Square. The organization is also currently working with the City of Seattle on a plan to revitalize Pike and Pine streets in downtown. For more information visit: downtownseattle.org.