Special Project of the Washington State Convention Center

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Public Benefits

Public Benefits

To build the Addition project, the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) is requesting that the city vacate three alleys and underground portions of Olive Way and Terry Avenue. The project will pay for these rights of way and also provide a package of public benefits. 
 
You can read a summary of the proposed Public Benefits HERE.
 

Community Benefits

WSCC has conducted an extensive outreach program to connect with stakeholders, including more than one hundred meetings with neighbors and community groups.  In addition, WSCC has come to an agreement with the Community Package Coalition on community benefits.  Members include Capitol Hill Housing, Cascade Bicycle Club, Central Seattle Greenways, First Hill Improvement Association, Housing Development Consortium, Freeway Park Association, Lid I-5, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.  These Community Package Coalition benefits are described in the link provided above. In addition to Public Benefits for the Seattle Design Commission Street and Alley Vacation, the WSCC will provide additional community benefits, including partnering with UNITE HERE to create a hospitality job training program. More information on the jobs training program is available HERE.

Public Benefits Open House

Thank you to those who participated!

You can read our report HERE.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Public Benefits

What are alley and street vacations?

The Convention Center Addition project is seeking Seattle City Council approval for three alley and two street vacations. "Vacated" alleys and streets are components of the City's street grid system that become the property of the entity requesting the vacation and are no longer public property. The Convention Center is requesting vacation of:

  • The partial alley on Site A.
  • The alleys on Sites B and C.
  • Olive Way below-grade vacation between Ninth Avenue and Boren Street.
  • Terry Avenue below-grade vacation between Olive Way and Howell Street.

The vacations are being requested to enable construction of a below-grade loading dock and exhibition hall. Olive Way and Terry Avenue will remain public streets at the surface; the land below grade will become the property of the Convention Center.  

How are street and alley vacations for the Addition different than typical projects?

With typical development projects, proceeds benefit the owner. In this case, the WSCC is a Public Facilities District, a non-profit with a public purpose to bring economic benefits to the community.

The City’s adopted street vacation policies say that the public nature of a project is a factor that will be considered in making vacation decisions, and that the public benefit should balance what the public loses through the vacation with what the public will gain from the project. The project itself gains little development area from the vacations.

The main benefit to the project of the vacations is the ability to locate the exhibit hall and loading dock below grade. This creates a successful convention center in an urban setting without compromising the pedestrian experience with too much bulk at street level, a major benefit to the public, in addition to rebuilt utilities, new surfaces, sidewalks, and landscaping.

Therefore, the Addition’s public benefits do not begin and end with the public benefits package – rather, they will continue on in the form of additional tax revenues, thousands of permanent jobs, millions in annual visitor spending, as well as the utter transformation of four entire city blocks.

What will the Convention Center do in exchange for the vacations?

If the vacations are granted, the project will pay the City a fair market price for the value of the land.  In addition, the project will provide a package of improvements that will be of benefit to the general public in exchange for the loss of the rights of way. The public benefits can take the form of street improvements, open space, public art, park improvements, etc.   

Why is the Convention Center proposing to expand?

The existing Convention Center turns away as many meetings and conventions as it books, due to the lack of available space or dates. The Addition project will have a profound economic impact on the Greater Seattle region by hosting many of the conventions it currently turns away, benefiting our region’s workers, restaurants, shops and hotels by adding an estimated $230 million to $240 million per year in spending to the local economy.  

For more information on the city’s alley and street vacation policy, please visit their website here

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