The doubling of the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle is nearing its planning phase, and the project developer, Pine Street Group LLC is assembling a number of benefit packages that it hopes it can put in front of the city’s planning commission for review. The development, which will bring a massive 150,000 square foot single level exhibition hall to Seattle is looking at vacating three alleys and streets in order to create the exhibition space below grade. On December 7, 2016, the developer held an open houses to solicit input and feedback from the community and interested parties that will help it determine which ideas should be advanced for further consideration.

“The doubling of the Convention Center is really caused by the fact that Seattle turns away more convention business than it books. So, we’re missing this opportunity to bring in this revenue and the jobs to the city,” said Matt Griffin, managing partner of Seattle-based Pine Street Group, who led the discussion and helped orchestrate the session.

The doubling of the Convention Center is really caused by the fact that Seattle turns away more convention business than it books

According to his estimates, the Convention Center, which became its own public facilities district in 2010, is able to collect annual taxes from hotels in the county to the order of $240 million each year. In Seattle, a room tax of 7 percent is assessed for this and across the county, 2.8 percent is added to the cost of hotel rooms. The money is used primarily to fund Visit Seattle, a private, nonprofit marketing organization serving as Seattle and King County’s official destination marketing organization, as well as expanding the Convention Center itself.

The expansion pays for the fair market value of the land the Convention Center acquires, as well as providing public benefits, which it sees as additional amenities to the city and the people who live, work and visit the region.

A comprehensive list of these fourteen benefits can be found on the Convention Center’s Web site, where the public is invited to join in the voting and feedback gathering. The final analysis will be accumulated in a report, which the developers plan to share with the city and the public.

The cost for each initiative is estimated through the following table:

$ ($200K to $500K)
$$ ($500K to $1.5MM)
$$$ ($1.5MM to $5MM)
$$$$ ($5MM to $15MM)
$$$$$ ($15MM +)

The proposed benefits are:

Virginia Woonerf—Create a new public space on Virginia Street between Minor and Boren Avenues, providing a green respite for neighbors. Estimated Construction Costs: $$

Olive Square—Create a new public space at the pedestrian median between Olive and Howell streets, providing an amenity for neighbors and visitors. Estimated Construction Costs: $$

Olive Way Overpass—Enhance the pedestrian crossing experience at Olive and I-5 by reconfiguring traffic to create a pedestrian median. Estimated Construction Costs: $

Comprehensive Lid I-5 Study—Provide funding for a comprehensive technical analysis of where lidding I-5 is most cost effective and how the new land should be used. Estimated Costs: $$

Melrose Promenade Safety Improvements—Implement Safety Improvements from the Melrose Promenade plan at Melrose and E. Olive Place. Estimated Construction Costs: $$$

Bridging the Pine Street Gap: Improvements between Downtown and Capitol Hill—Knit together Capitol Hill and Downtown by implementing pedestrian landscaping, lighting and streetscape improvements on Pine Street. Estimated Construction Costs: $$$

Green Street Destination: Enhancing the 9th Avenue Urban Room—Improvements along a two-block stretch of the 9th Avenue Green Street from Howell to Pike will bring to life an under-appreciated “urban room.” Estimated Construction Costs: $$$

Relocate “Entry Marquees” Artworks—Relocate the signature public art piece installed at the corner of 9th and Pine at Convention Place Station. Estimated Construction Costs: $

Pine/Boren Lid Park—Design and build a 17,000-square-foot park and two fenced dog runs on either end of the space, totaling an additional 6,000 square feet. Estimated Construction Costs: $$$$$

Bicycle Facilities—Build a protected bike lane on Eighth Avenue, completing a portion of the Seventh Avenue—Eighth Avenue couplet in the Pike/Pine corridor. Estimated Construction Costs: $$

Overpass Improvements Kit-of-Parts—Explore elements such as weather protection, sound barriers and plantings to improve and enhance the pedestrian overpass experience on streets that stretch across I-5. Estimated Construction Cost for Two Overpasses: $$$

Freeway Park Lighting/Wayfinding/Entryway Improvements—Implement a variety of physical improvements to Freeway Park, including entrance enhancements, lighting and signage within the park. Estimated Construction Costs: $$$

Terry Avenue Pedestrian Improvements—Marion to Cherry—Implement portions of the Public Realm Action Plan to improve pedestrian access and infrastructure from Marion to Cherry along Terry Avenue. Estimated Construction Costs: $$

Affordable Housing—Leverage public benefits funds to create new affordable housing. Estimated Construction Costs: $$$