‘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

CHS Pics | #impeachandremove — Seattle rallies for Trump impeachment

Hundreds rallied in downtown Seattle Tuesday night in advance of a day of debate and decision in the House of Representatives on the impeachment — and removal — of President Donald Trump

“This is a day of accountability and defending our democracy,” WA-07 Representative and member of the body’s judiciary committee Pramila Jayapal said during her part of an expected six hours of debate to proceed the House votes Wednesday. Continue reading

Historic Seattle and Seattle Theatre Group step up with bid for The Showbox

Nonprofits Historic Seattle and Seattle Theatre Group, the operator of The Paramount, Moore, and Neptune Theatres, have made their bid to purchase downtown Seattle music venue The Showbox.

The groups announced their bid Tuesday night but did not disclose the dollar amount of the offer.

“We are thrilled to have such a strong partner as STG in our effort to purchase The Showbox,” Eugenia Woo, director of preservation services at Historic Seattle, said in an announcement of the effort. “As we continue our due diligence and look forward to the opportunity to negotiate with the property’s owner, Historic Seattle will not back down in our fight to protect The Showbox.” Continue reading

Seattle Fire knocks down blaze at treed encampment near convention center

Thanks to a CHS reader for this picture from above the fire scene

Seattle Fire and Seattle Police responded to a fire that reportedly broke out at an\ encampment and spread to nearby trees near the downtown convention center above I-5 Friday night.

911 callers reported flames shooting into the sky and multiple explosions at 9th and Pike. According to emergency radio updates, witnesses said a tent set up below the trees on the northeast corner of the intersection above I-5 caught fire, igniting at least one of the large trees.

Arriving police reported the sound of explosions coming from inside the burning encampment.

Seattle Fire arrived within minutes and reported the fire under control.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries. We do not have information on the extent of damage to the camp or the trees.

Temperatures Friday night were in the low 40s and expected to dip into the upper 30s overnight.

A picture showing the full extent of the fire and more details from the scene was posted to Reddit:

Continue reading

Downtown ribbon cutting includes good vibes for new bike projects including Pike protected lanes

Now on 8th Ave (Image: SDOT)

Mayor Jenny Durkan and SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe weren’t out for a ride but they did come out to celebrate Wednesday’s opening of a new 8th Ave protected bike lane with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The redesigned 8th Ave includes a “one-way northbound protected bike lane between Pike St and Bell St, one travel lane, paid parking and load zones, and new bike signals at busy intersection,” SDOT reports. “This project completes a two-way couplet for people biking with the existing one-way southbound 7th Ave protected bike lane.” Continue reading

With engineering and economics study underway, Lid I-5 effort holds open house

A rendering from an early community workshop on ideas for the lid concept including housing, open park space, and more (Image: Lid I-5)

With work underway to study the “engineering and economics of lidding I-5 between Madison Street and Denny Way,” a Lid I-5 Community Open House on Capitol Hill Wednesday night will provide updates from the groups advocating for the project, two city council members, and the people managing the research.

In March, CHS reported on the $1.5 million study process and the lengthy local and national firms contributing work to the project. The Lid I-5 group has been advocating for the lid and helping to push the idea from an urbanist dream into City Hall’s budget. The University of Washington is also conducting a real estate analysis of the economics and value a lid might have for private development that could also consider how funds generated by the new buildings might offset the costs of building the lid.

Council members Sally Bagshaw and Abel Pacheco are scheduled to attend the open house Wednesday at The Summit meeting space at 420 E Pike to remark on the earliest stages of the effort. The session is slated to start at 5:30 PM. You can learn more and register here.