There is a $1 billion plan afoot that will radically transform the connection between Capitol Hill and downtown. Tuesday night, a public process begins to shape the massive expansion of the Washington State Convention Center:
Powered by its bonding authority, the WSCC has already acquired $56.5 million worth of land between 9th and Boren, and Howell and Olive Way that is today home to a Honda dealership. King County’s transit center block is also on the WSCC’s acquisition target list.
The Puget Sound Business Journal reports the total cost of the project is expected to reach $1 billion. The center hopes to begin construction by 2017.
The massive project is currently the early Environmental Impact Statement phase of the state’s public development process. “Preliminary analysis indicates that the proposed WSCC Addition may required permits/approvals from various city, county, and state entities,” reads the state’s understated boiler plate for the EIS.
The process requires the applicant to provide a roster of site alternatives for its planning:
Our money — far less than $1 billion — is on the preferred. Here’s how the “scoping” phase of the process is intended to work:
Scoping is the first step in the EIS process. The purpose of scoping is to narrow the focus of the EIS to significant environmental issues, to eliminate insignificant impacts from detailed study, and to identify alternatives to be analyzed in the EIS. Scoping also provides notice to the public and other agencies that an EIS is being prepared, and initiates their involvement in the process.
“The scoping process not only alerts the lead agency, but also the applicant to areas of concern and controversy early in the process,” the state guide to the process continues. “As a result, it offers more opportunities for the applicant to consider and explore means to address the concerns,” it cheerfully concludes.
Tuesday night, planners will hold an “EIS scoping meeting” open to the public with more information about the proposals and the opportunity to provide public feedback:
You can also submit public comment via email to email@example.com by March 11th.
This is your opportunity to tell planners about your concerns, hopes, and dreams for the radical transformation of the world just across the freeway from the base of Capitol Hill. Maybe it’s time — finally — to cap I-5. Or maybe you just want to make sure your walk to downtown isn’t blocked by massive empty walls. Parking for 1,600 additional vehicles? Gondolas, anyone?
UPDATE 3/4/2015: We asked a representative from a Capitol Hill community group about the organization’s plans for involvement in the WSCC process. While it’s early for a public statement about the project from the Hill’s POV, here are six ideas they’re working on:
- Mitigation $$ for the Hill
- Expansion doesn’t turn its back on us
- Can we leverage the I-5 lid out of this?
- Pedestrian connectivity down Pine – scale of building to relate to Pike/Pine
- Make the convention center hip, and steer conventioneers to Hill businesses
- Simplify the sidewalk/street design compared to what has been built in the past.