Seattle downtown Convention Center expansion developers say won’t need loans from city, county, and state

A model of the Washington State Convention Center expansion (Image: WSCC Addition)

Developers of the downtown Washington State Convention Center expansion will turn to the muni bond market to raise much needed cash to continue construction on the project after a year of economic uncertainty.

The Pine Street Group announced a deal Wednesday for the sale of $342 million in 10-year bonds with an interest yield of 2.801%. PFM Financial Advisors of Seattle managed the bond offering.

The financing plan required state approval.

The group had been asking the City of Seattle, King County, and the state to help patch a $300 million financing hole to keep construction on the $1.9 billion project moving forward.

The Pine Street Group said “roll out of COVID-19 vaccines and significant stimulus support from the Federal government” have led to “changing financing markets” allowing the private deal to move forward. Continue reading

Why this retailer’s path to find a new home on Capitol Hill will take it through downtown’s overhauled Pacific Place

A rendering of the overhauled Pacific Place’s second floor (Image: Pacific Place)

A rendering of Pacific Place’s new four-stories of glass (Image: Pacific Place)

The path for one longtime Capitol Hill independent retailer hoping to weather the choppy waters of Seattle’s reopening after a year of COVID-19 restrictions will take the shop on a journey downtown and into a space where you might not expect to find a boutique focused on the creations of local designers and artists.

Ghost Gallery is leaving 11th Ave’s Chophouse Row and will join an unusual mix of retail being conjured as downtown’s massive Pacific Place mall gears up — again — after a major overhaul that has mostly yet to welcome back the flow of Seattle shoppers its multimillion dollar redesign was undertaken to attract.

“The space is about 1,200 square feet with tall ceilings, dark wood fixtures and a very antique vibe, so we’ll feel right at home,” Ghost owner Laurie Kearney tells CHS. This won’t be your typical “mall vibe” in any way, and Pacific Place has been so amazing with inviting local businesses to come down and create some unique spaces.” Continue reading

Vain rehomes its freak-flagship salon on Capitol Hill

Some recent Vain color (Image: Vain)

A Seattle institution for adventurous and colorful hairstyles, and some truly legendary parties, boutique salon Vain has moved its downtown flagship location to new Capitol Hill digs on 1121 Pike Street. Cozied down between Black Sparrow Tattoo and Club Z, Vain opened for business earlier this month. The move signals the company’s rebirth of sorts from the pandemic, and a new chapter in Seattle’s coiffed counterculture.

Growing in the Belltown building left behind by the move of legendary Seattle club The Vogue to Capitol Hill, Vain was born into the city’s changing punk ethos. Vain owner Victoria Gentry remembered that neighboring businesses didn’t exactly appreciate The Vogue’s noisy shows, but with a salon, “You still get all the freaks without the noise.”

The move to Capitol Hill has been in the works for a while, Gentry said. The former location — in downtown, or Belltown, depending on who you ask — is part of 1st Ave Seattle history, an area now unrecognizable from when Vain first set up shop in the late 1990s, Gentry said.

They already had many clients from Capitol Hill, and the fact that downtown business had significantly slowed during the pandemic all factored into the decision to move. The new location is just on the other side of Boren, still within a mile of the old space for dedicated downtown and Belltown clients.

“I had already been planning on [moving] for quite a while. I had been waiting for the lease to run out to make a move. It got delayed a little bit because of COVID,” Gentry said. “Our connection to the Capitol Hill community has always been really strong. In a way it does feel like [coming home]. I’m excited to reconnect with arts groups and artists.” Continue reading

Seattle forgoes federal homelessness funding in smaller than planned hotel ‘shelter surge’

The Executive Hotel Pacific at 4th and Spring (Image: Executive Hotel Pacific)

As evidence builds that hotel shelters can help and increased funding becomes available to create new shelter opportunities in the city, there is a crisis within a crisis for Seattle’s mission to help the thousands of homeless and underhoused people who live here.

The Seattle Times reports that Mayor Jenny Durkan’s plan to secure apartment units for 24-hour shelter and provide more rental assistance is coming in with fewer spaces and help for fewer people than expected.

The crux, the Times reports, is how the city decides to divide its millions of dollars in potential resources earmarked for the problem as it splits its effort across people who cost less to support and have lower needs around issues like addiction and mental health and people with the most challenging, expensive support needs who are regularly entangled with the city’s law enforcement resources.

Seattle’s “shelter surge” will now launch months late and will not be using as much federal funding as first expected to create the 125 units and provide rental assistance.

The smaller approach is especially frustrating for advocates after revelations Durkan’s office has decided to forgo available FEMA funding. Continue reading

Developer: City of Seattle will consider loan to help patch $300M convention center expansion financing gap

The City of Seattle is exploring providing a loan to help the Washington State Convention Center “overcome a coronavirus-induced financing gap,” the developer of the $1.9 billion project says.

The announcement follows December’s efforts from King County officials to shape a possible $100 million loan to help patch a $300 million financing hole in the “4/5ths” complete project to expand the downtown convention center along Pine between downtown and Capitol Hill.

“The City believes that completion of the WSSC Summit Addition project is critical for the long-term future of Seattle’s economy. In addition, continued work on the Addition will provide hundreds of family-wage construction jobs right now, which will help the community more quickly recover from the current recession,” City of Seattle Senior Deputy Mayor Michael Fong said in a letter committing to the proposal, according to expansion project officials.

Any loan from the city would require City Council approval. Expansion project developer the Pine Street Group says both the county and the city loans would “depends on participation by the State.” Continue reading

‘4/5ths’ — County proposal would make big loan to help patch part of $300M financing hole in Seattle’s massive, nearly complete convention center expansion

Crews pouring the roof deck at the Summit Addition last week at the Washington State Convention Center (Image: Lease Crutcher Lewis)

The developer of the massive convention center expansion under construction downtown says the project is seeking help from the the city, the state, and the county in patching a $300 million hole in its finances from the COVID-19 crisis. Thursday, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced he will step forward first with a proposed $100 million loan for the project from cash part of the county’s $3.4 billion investment pool.

But the city, and the state will have to follow suit, apparently.

“No, this is not enough,” Matt Griffin of developer Pine Street Group said in a press conference Thursday to discuss the proposed $100 million loan.

Constantine called the loan proposal on the “4/5ths” completed Washington State Convention Center expansion project “a safe investment.” Continue reading

Weigh in on $10M in upgrades to improve Freeway Park’s connection between First Hill, Capitol Hill, and downtown

(Image: City of Seattle)

With a new initiative underway to add new features to Cal Anderson Park recognizing the power of the occupied protest camp and Black Lives Matter movement of the summer of 2020, another central city park is also in the middle of a public design process to upgrade the important public space.

Freeway Park, a public space connection to downtown through the convention center, is lined up for $10 million in upgrades — minus some consulting and design fees — thanks to the $80 million community benefits package formed to cover the value of public right of way being dedicated to the convention center’s expansion. Continue reading

Flames, tear gas, and gunfire as crowds and police clash in second day of George Floyd protests in Seattle — UPDATE: CURFEW

UPDATE 5/31/2020 6:45 PM — ‘Thousands’ march across Capitol Hill blocked from downtown in third night of Seattle protests

UPDATE 5/31/2020 7:20 AM — Capitol Hill and the Central District suffered multiple break-ins and thefts overnight with the city under curfew after a day of protests against police, downtown clashes, and outbreaks of vandalism and looting. Booms and pops could be heard through the night echoing up from the downtown core where police continued to use crowd control tactics to clear people from streets and break-ins at commercial buildings.

Sounds like the Ponder burglary was at least partly thwarted by a strong security gate. Thanks to reader Alex for the picture.

Saturday night and into Sunday morning, there were multiple unconfirmed reports of commercial break-ins across Capitol Hill and the CD starting around 8 PM with a report of broken glass and looting from the Scotch and Soda fashion store at Pine and Melrose. UPDATE: Turns out, someone busted the glass at the neighboring Rapha store — not Scotch and Soda — and it did not appear anybody was able to enter the building.

Just before 10 PM, police responded to a report of people stealing inside the QFC at Broadway and Pike in the Harvard Market which would be the center of another police response an hour later with a break-in and looting reported at the shopping center’s Bartell Drugs. Later in the morning, police were called to 24th and Union where a smash and grab break-in was reported, one of multiple pot shop burglaries reportedly attempted in the city overnight. The Green Door pot shop on Rainier was also reportedly hit. Meanwhile, police were called to multiple other addresses through the night after security alarms were tripped or suspicious activity was reported.

A house fire in a derelict building Saturday around 9 PM does not appear to be related to the day’s violence. Seattle Fire says its crews were able to quickly extinguish the small fire in a boarded-up house slated for demolition on 13th Ave E just south of Volunteer Park.

CHS is aware of at least four people taken into custody in the overnight looting including one juvenile.

In a statement issued just before 1 AM, SPD Chief Carmen Best described the overnight policing efforts. “Currently, we are still addressing a number of groups of offenders who continue to assault officers and loot the downtown core, indiscriminately,” she wrote. “The National Guard is assisting in controlling the situation downtown.”

“We will continue to respond swiftly to all acts of violence and destruction,” the statement reads.

Seattle will again be under a 5 PM to 5 AM curfew overnight Sunday under Mayor Jenny Durkan’s emergency orders in the wake of Saturday’s clashes.


(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Protests, vandalism, and police and rioter clashes flared again Saturday across downtown Seattle in a battle over police brutality after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Large crowds numbering between 300 to 500 people formed across the area as a rally and protest in Westlake Center carried on with songs and speeches. Continue reading

COVID-19 has wiped out Seattle’s hotel tax revenue putting $1.8B convention center expansion ‘at risk’

Lying across I-5 from Capitol Hill, the massive hole filing quickly with steel girders where the state’s downtown convention center expansion is rising might also need to suck up new financing and federal assistance.

Saying the project is now “at risk,” officials are scheduled to hold a Friday morning press conference about the COVID-19 crisis snuffing out key funding for the massive project and new efforts “fighting for critical federal support to find new financing to keep the $1.8 billion WSCC Addition project under construction.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in plummeting lodging tax revenues, which support the bond funding that pays for the project,” an announcement of the Friday conference reads. “A long-planned second round of bond financing is required but is lacking sufficient tax revenue to support it.” Continue reading

Downtown safety at core of Durkan’s 2020 ‘State of the City’ address

The major focus of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s third annual State of the City address delivered Tuesday? Safety in the city’s downtown neighborhoods.

“As Chief (Carmen) Best and the city continues to increase public safety downtown and everywhere in our city, we also have to be willing to try new things,” Durkan said. “Today, I can announce that as part of our comprehensive approach to public safety, we are investing in a new community response program. While the police investigate a scene, and police and fire keep people safe and arrest offenders, we will also have a new parallel community response. This new program will dispatch trained, trusted community members to respond immediately after a shooting, to hospitals, to neighborhoods, or hot-spots.” Continue reading