SEATTLE – Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) executives, joined by State, County and City officials, hospitality leaders and members of the community, gathered at the construction site of the WSCC’s additional facility, Summit, for the official groundbreaking ceremony today.
Convention officials also announced the new names for both convention spaces. The existing facility will be called Arch – emulating that of the famous sky bridge and canopy arch that bridges the facility along Pike Street between Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue. The additional facility will be called Summit, an architectural design feature with a nod to Seattle’s geography and dramatic staircase in the design.
Summit seeks to build upon the strong growth and demand for Seattle’s convention business. In the past five years, Seattle has turned down more than 350 event proposals because dates were unavailable due to lack of space or timing constraints at the existing Arch building, costing the region more than $2.13 billion in potential economic benefit. When finished, the Summit building is expected to drive more than 400,000 new conventioneers to the city and generate more than $19 million dollars in tax revenue each year by bringing demand year-round to hotels, attractions, local restaurants and retailers, performing arts centers and cultural sites.
“The WSCC’s Summit building is one of the largest capital projects in downtown Seattle’s history and creates new opportunities to generate more economic impact for the region,” Washington State Convention Center President & CEO Jeff Blosser said. “This additional facility is a game changer for our ability to give meeting planners additional dates and space with the opportunity to book their events in Seattle. We look forward to the opening in 2022.”
“Meetings mean business in Washington and our Convention Center’s Arch and Summit buildings are an economic catalyst for Seattle as we now have the ability to fulfill excess demand for meeting space in our city,” Visit Seattle President & CEO Tom Norwalk said. “Thoughtfully designed and centered in the heart of our downtown, both buildings will provide an atmosphere that foster future innovation.”
The project will be funded without additional city, county or state taxes, with leaders opting to issue a bond and finance the project with existing taxes garnered from hotel room occupancy charges.
“The addition of this convention center represents Washington’s ongoing commitment to international engagement,” Washington State Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender said. “This is a ‘welcome’ sign to the rest of the world. Washington is open for businesses. We want people to come here from every corner of the earth and exchange ideas, work together to conquer challenges, create business relationships and explore all that Washington has to offer.”
“Tourism and business travel are essential, growing components of our regional economy, and this expansion – a long time coming – will create jobs and business activity for decades to come,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said. “It took a lot of work to reach the Summit, but when this new landmark opens its doors, our hospitality industry will reach new heights.”
Construction of the facility will result in as many as 6,000 union positions during the next three years and after its opening, Summit is estimated to create 3,900 new, permanent jobs across the region.
However, the additional facility offers more to Seattle than simply growing its economy. It offers a rare opportunity to knit together and strengthen neighborhoods, like Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, Denny Triangle and Pike and Pine, left divided by past infrastructure projects. Acting in tandem, convention and local officials earmarked $93 million from the project to make drastic improvements in pedestrian and transit infrastructure, refurbish open space sites and create affordable housing opportunities in the region.
Specifically, these plans will enhance pedestrian corridors near the Summit building by widening sidewalks and adding better lighting and landscaping. Streets receiving enhancements for pedestrians include Pike and Pine streets between downtown and Capitol Hill, as well as Boren and Ninth avenues near the additional facility. Intersection connections for pedestrians will also be improved in the Denny Triangle, Capitol Hill and First Hill neighborhoods. The project will help fund protected lanes on Pike and Pine streets and along Eighth Avenue streets for pedestrians and cyclists, while drivers and mass transit riders will benefit from safety improvements on Olive Way and Ninth Avenue.
Freeway Park will receive $10 million in upgrades and improvements under the project. Keeping with the convention center’s 30-year commitment to providing affordable housing opportunities in the area, $39.3 million has been earmarked to the cause. Once opened, WSCC will also continue to partner with organizations like FareStart and Mary’s Place to offer employment and facilities to participants.
With its distinctly Northwest, urban, 21st century design, the Summit building will fit well within the existing neighborhood complementing it in size and shape. The building is anticipated to be LEED Gold Certified, and its vertical structure of steel and glass will allow interaction and integration between interior and exterior activities. The Summit building will also expand the Washington State Convention Center’s public art program, which celebrates Seattle’s cultural history and features Northwest artists.
Seattle’s hotel inventory is growing too — by 20 percent in the next year. By the end of the year, eight new properties will augment an already outstanding brand mix and add almost 2,500 additional rooms, bringing the downtown room count to 14,343.
Visit Seattle has served as the official destination marketing organization (DMO) for Seattle and King County for more than 50 years. A 501(c)(6) organization, Visit Seattle enhances the economic prosperity of the region through global destination branding along with competitive programs and campaigns in leisure travel marketing, convention sales and overseas tourism development. Nearly 40 million annual visitors spend $7.4 billion in the city and county each year. The economic power of travel and tourism generates more than 76,000 Seattle area jobs and contributes $762 million in annual state and local tax revenue. Go to www.visitseattle.org.
The Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) is located in the heart of Seattle and within 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 30 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. Learn more at www.wscc.com.