Over the weekend, Capitol Hill was crawling with convention goers thanks to the 2015 Emerald City Comicon. Many of the super hero-costumed attendees were unaware of the evil lurking below — a giant potential blank space between Capitol Hill and downtown after Honda of Seattle emptied its showroom and cleared its lots for a move to SoDo from its longtime Olive and Boren campus.
The former Honda of Seattle dealership and lots are planned to be part of the Washington Convention Center’s $1 billion expansion hoped to begin construction after a lengthy public process by 2017.
But fear not, super heroes and pedestrians, CHS is told the Honda properties will be put to use in the best way its new owners know possible over the next two years.
“We will turn it into temporary parking, trying to harden it as much as we can,” Convention Center CEO Jeff Blosser tells CHS about the plans for keeping the
The WSCC acquired the dealership properties between 9th and Boren and Howell and Olive Way for $56.5 million. King County’s neighboring transit center, which will become unnecessary as buses are transitioned out of the downtown transit tunnel to make way for light rail only use, is also on the WSCC’s acquisition target list.
Blosser said to keep the huge amount of real estate from becoming derelict, the Convention Center plans to create about 200 parking spots across the various dealership lots. The main showroom building won’t be demolished immediately.
“We’re going to hopefully keep the building lit and don’t intend to put it to any use,” Blosser said.
Seattle residents and especially those who frequent the streets of Capitol Hill have likely grown accustomed to fenced-off empty lots as large construction projects move slowly forward. Last week, the old Piecora’s building was leveled in what will probably be at least a year’s wait before construction on the new six-story apartment building that will replace it can begin.
Meanwhile, Honda follows a long line of Capitol Hill dealerships — BMW — Mercedes — Volvo — to leave the footprint of Seattle’s old auto row for enormous new complexes south of downtown. Today, only Ferrari and Maserati of Seattle remains.
The expansion for the WSCC will be extremely ambitious with plans to more than double the square footage of the facility’s buildings to more than 807,000 square feet. As the development works to acquire significant permits, the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council has said it plans to push for Capitol Hill to be well represented in the process as issues like construction mitigation funds, design, and pedestrian connectivity are worked out. You can contact PPUNC for more information and to find out about upcoming meetings.
In the meantime before construction begins, Blosser said he hopes the Honda properties won’t become camp sites for homeless people or magnets for graffiti. “If anybody sees anything, please let us know,” Blosser said (the WSCC contact page is here). “We want to make this transition as easy as possible.”