The Washington State Convention Center is the smallest convention center on the West Coast, and ranks #56 in size in the U.S. In the past five years, more than 350 event proposals were declined due to lack of space or timing constraints at the current facility, costing the region more than $2.13 billion in potential economic benefit.
When finished, the 1.5 million-square-foot Summit building addition is expected to drive more than 400,000 new conventioneers to the city and generate about $260 million in visitor spending and more than $19 million in tax revenue annually. During the three years of construction, nearly 6,000 family-wage jobs will be created in the region, and once open the facility will be supported by 3,900 new, ongoing jobs. Plus, as part of its public benefits package, the Convention Center will fund more than $93 million in community priorities including affordable housing, downtown open spaces, bike lanes and more.
The project also includes two adjacent blocks of mixed-use co-development to the north, planned as a 530,000-gross square foot office tower and a 385-unit residential tower, both rising over street-level podiums with retail opportunities.
Changes to Convention Place Station:
King County agreed to sell the Convention Place Station property in 2017 for $275 million in principal and interest over 32 years. The funds will support Metro operations and capital projects. The property was a critical piece in ensuring the expansion of the convention center in the heart of downtown Seattle, which adds significant economic benefit to hoteliers, restauranteurs and retailers throughout the year.
Overall, these changes will benefit thousands of daily riders who use the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Shifting to rail-only operations will improve transit capacity in the tunnel, resulting in more frequent, reliable light rail service.
Bus stops at Convention Place Station were closed on July 21 and relocated to Ninth Avenue in result of beginning construction at the site of the Washington State Convention Center expansion project.
Buses are expected to continue to operate in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel through March 2019. The seven bus routes serving the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel – routes 41, 74, 101, 102, 150, 255 and Sound Transit Express 550 – will begin to travel on a newly built temporary ramp between Ninth Avenue and the tunnel through March 23, 2019. The change will affect 817 buses each weekday. About 2,800 riders boarded buses daily at Convention Place Station in fall 2017, and about 2,600 exited buses there.
What to expect:
To make sure buses can continue to access the DSTT through March 2019, buses will operate two-way on Ninth Avenue, thanks to efforts to reconfigure the street by the Seattle Department of Transportation. Also, buses will have sole access from the Interstate 5 Express Lanes ramp to Convention Place roadway, the street that travels beneath the convention center at the intersection of Pike Street and Ninth Avenue and quickly connects morning buses and riders from the Interstate 5 Express Lanes with Union Street.
King County Metro and Sound Transit are working with the City of Seattle and the Downtown Seattle Association on street and public realm improvements designed to improve traffic, bus operations, and the pedestrian experience across downtown. A near-term action plan outlines $30 million in improvements to help people continue to move easily through the downtown core even as major public and private construction projects – such as the Convention Center addition – are underway in the coming years.
Some projects are focused on improving bus service, such as expanding the transit-priority hours on Third Avenue in September 2018. Other projects are slated to come online in 2019, including off-board payment kiosks to speed boarding on Third Avenue and a new transit pathway on Fifth and Sixth avenues to maintain transit travel times, both in March 2019. Metro, Sound Transit and the Seattle Department of Transportation are monitoring the progress on these projects with the goal of completing them quickly and effectively to benefit transit riders and other travelers to downtown Seattle.