Coalition says Convention Center expansion’s proposed public benefits aren’t enough

At a Thursday Seattle Design Commission meeting, Washington State Convention Center expansion project leaders presented the public benefits package proposed to justify the vacation of three alleys for the $1.6 billion downtown project. An exact value of the vacations hasn’t been determined, but a coalition of community groups has been leading the push to make sure the package benefits the surrounding neighborhoods.

Representatives with the Community Package Coalition, made up of nine community groups, argue that WSCC’s proposed benefits aren’t enough.

“The size of the public benefits package is nowhere near fair,” said Alex Hudson, executive director of the First Hill Improvement Association said Thursday.

The investments are “critical” to make sure the neighborhoods around the Convention Center are “improved and not degraded,” Hudson said.

“We have people that are asking that we do certain things for the neighborhoods, but we don’t have opposition to the project,” said Matt Griffin of the Pine Street Group, the development firm managing the expansion project for the WSCC.

WSCC’s proposed benefits focus on three areas — affordable housing, the city and Downtown Seattle Association’s Pike Pine Renaissance project, and community projects including a Lid I-5 Study, Freeway Park improvements and downtown bicycle improvements. For some of the projects, WSCC proposes proving funding for them, not heading the design and implementation of them. It’s a lengthy, detailed roster of potential neighborhood improvements from downtown up to Capitol Hill. We’ve embedded the full package proposal, below. Continue reading