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Metro has $161 million deal to sell downtown bus center for convention center expansion

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

Screen-Shot-2015-03-02-at-10.49.16-AM-400x337King County has agreed on a price for the Washington State Convention Center to acquire the Convention Place Station bus facility, part of the $1.6 billion project to expand the center and a harbinger of the end of Metro’s use of the downtown transit tunnel.

The WSCC will pay $161 million for the land over the next 30 or so years — $275 million with interest.

“This proposed sale will help support Metro’s service and reliability improvements for the next three decades,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in the announcement of the agreement. “Meanwhile, the expansion of the Convention Center will generate thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic growth for the region. This agreement is good for taxpayers, transit riders, and workers.”

In addition to the $161 million price tag, the WSCC has agreed to contribute to an affordable housing fund and provide $4.6 million in public art spending in its massive budget for the expansion:

  • Contribute $5 million to a King County affordable housing fund
  • Ensure bus access to the tunnel for as long as possible during construction
  • Provide $4.5 million for public art, with another $100,000 to offset decommissioning of art currently at the site

The agreement must still be approved by the County Council and by the Convention Center Board of Directors.

Planners are working on the Once Center City plan to coordinate changes to downtown-area streets to prepare for the eventual decommissioning of the bus center and the end of Metro’s usage of the downtown tunnel.

The project that will eventually rise above the Convention Place site will be a major addition to the WSCC:

5 stories above grade / 2 stories below grade

  • 250,000 SF of Exhibition Space*
  • 120,000 SF of Meeting Space *
  • 70,000 SF of Ballroom Space*
  • 280,000 SF of Lobby & Circulation*
  • 510,000 SF of Support Spaces*
  • 500-800 Parking Stalls*
  • 200,000 SF of Loading Area*
  • Street-Level Retail & Restaurants

WSCC developers implemented a “codevelopment” process to design “a 30-story building with 428 housing units and a 16-story building with 595,000 square feet of office space” planned to rise just north of the project as part of the expansion. 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 was previously home to a Honda dealership.

A coalition of community groups is making a push for more public benefits from WSCC including funding for a study of a possible new I-5 lid to be part of the project.

According to the latest updates, construction on the WSCC project could begin later this year, with the new expansion set to open in 2020.

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