Community groups pushing for public benefits package have $80M agreement with Convention Center — UPDATE

With reporting by Kelsey Hamlin

The Community Package Coalition has reached an agreement on an $80 million slate of public infrastructure investments surrounding the planned expansion of the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle.

Details of the agreement were set to be unveiled in a Monday afternoon press conference:

On Monday, October 16th at 1:30 PM, the Community Package Coalition, an alliance of community organizations adjacent to the planned the three-block, $1.6B Washington State Convention Center Addition (WSCCA), will announce results of their months-long negotiations with the developers of the WSCCA to secure a fair public benefits package for the people of Seattle.

The coalition represents community groups and nonprofits including the First Hill Improvement Association, Lid I-5, Capitol Hill Housing, Cascade Bicycle Club, Central Seattle Greenways, Housing Development Consortium, Freeway Park Association, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

UPDATE: Here is the announced roster of projects that made the benefits package cut:

Summary of WSCC Addition Public Benefits and Investments
Item$ MM
Community Package Projects
Freeway Park Improvements$10.0
Lid I-5 Study$1.5
Pike-Pine Bicycle Improvements$10.0
Olive Way Pedestrian Improvements$0.5
8th Ave Bicycle Improvements$6.0
Terry Ave Promenade$4.0
Affordable Housing$29.0
Subtotal$61.0
Other Public Benefits (current estimate)
Pike-Pine Renaissance Pedestrian Improvements$10.0
9th Avenue Pedestrian Improvements$0.6
Public Art$1.9
Historic Building Lighting$1.0
On-Site Features$8.1
Improvements to Olive Way$0.2
Subtotal                                                                             $82.8

The coalition has been pushing Convention Center and public officials to create a broader — and more expensive — package of public benefits package required to justify the vacation of three alleys for the $1.6 billion downtown project.

UPDATE: In the afternoon announcement, the coalition touts a “$82M in investments” — “four times the amount initially proposed” by the convention center expansion’s developer, the Pine Street Group.

“The Coalition advocated for approximately $61 million of improvements and experienced success beyond that with a total of over $82 million, which includes other projects independently proposed by Pine Street Group,” the announcement reads. “A $5 million affordable housing payment required by King County and a $4.3 incentive zoning payment to the City of Seattle are above and beyond the $82 million total.”

“This is a great example of what can happen when builders and developers come together with the support of city and county government,” Mayor Tim Burgess said.

The package includes nearly $30 million in affordable housing investments — six times what was originally proposed by the developer, the coalition says.

Much of the affordable housing developed in conjunction with the project would likely be located in a residential co-development site being planned for the 900 block of Olive Way on land acquired during the expansion process. Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program could add more affordable housing to the projects.

“From the beginning, our coalition has been clear: we want to see our downtown businesses and hospitality industry succeed. We also want to ensure the Convention Center provides a package of public investments in our community commensurate with the impact this project will have on our city,” Alex Hudson, Executive Director of the First Hill Improvement Association said in the announcement. “Today, we are proud to announce a historic package of public investments that demonstrates what is possible when development and community groups work together to realize a shared vision to build a well-connected, accessible, people-centered city with transportation options, quality public open space, and housing opportunities that benefit all.”

“This is what making the most of our public investments looks like,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said.

The groups have been calling for a package including a wide array of public space and street projects totaling nearly $80 million in investments:

  • Improvements to Freeway Park. Improve Freeway Park, the largest urban park in Seattle. to be more safe, accessible, and enjoyable for local residents, employees, and Convention Center visitors.
  • Interstate 5 Lid Feasibility Study. Fund a City-led technical study of extending Freeway park and lidding Interstate 5 in the Center city and beyond for parks, affordable housing, new streets, and other civic uses. 
  • Melrose Promenade. Implement walk and bicycling improvements, public spaces, and public art along Melrose Avenue in Capitol Hill.
  • Pine-Boren Lid Park. Expand Plymouth Pillars Park by building a 14,000 square foot lid park over Interstate 5 at the east corner of Pine Street and Boren Avenue.
  • Terry Avenue Woonerf. Build a pedestrian-oriented woonerf on Terry Avenue between Cherry Street and Marion Street on First Hill.
  • Virginia Street Woonerf. Build a pedestrian-oriented woonerf on Virginia Street between Boren Avenue and Minor Avenue.
  • 8th Avenue Bicycling Improvements. Build a northbound protected bike lane between Pike Street and Bell Street. 
  • Interstate 5 Overpasses. Implement a suite of pedestrian improvements for Interstate 5 overpasses, such as landscaping and sound buffers, between Olive Way and Madison Street.
  • Olive Way Overpasses. implement a roadway reconfiguration on the Olive Way Interstate 5 overpass and interchange to increase pedestrian safety and reduce traffic conflicts. 
  • Pike/Pine Corridor Bicycling Improvements. Build protected bike lanes along Pike/Pine connecting the existing bike lanes on Broadway and 2nd, and forming the spine of an all ages and abilities bicycle network. 
  • Build More Homes. Contribute funding to create 300 affordable homes for workers earning hospitality industry wages (50-60% of area median income) within one mile of the Convention Center Addition. 

Construction of the estimated $1.6 billion Convention Center addition and development project could begin in 2018 and had been slated to be finished by 2020. The proposal calls for adding five stories above ground and two stories below ground totaling a little more than 1.2 million square feet of space, in addition to a 200,000 square foot loading dock and 500-800 parking spaces. Bringing thousands of truck trips to the area, most of the construction will rise above the land currently home to King County Metro Convention Place Station, roughly bounded by Pine and Howell streets and 9th and Boren.

You can learn more about the coalition at communitypackage.org.

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One thought on “Community groups pushing for public benefits package have $80M agreement with Convention Center — UPDATE

  1. I’d prefer they just not build more ugly, monolithic convention center. But hey if we get some pet projects that are unrelated, it’s better than nothing. Can I get a pony too?

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