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NEWS|April 27 2021

April Newsletter: A Project That Lifts the Whole Community


Thanks to about $342 million in private financing to offset a pandemic-induced funding shortfall, construction will continue on the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) Addition. Seattle and the region at large are already benefiting.

As executive director of the First Hill Improvement Association in 2017, Alex Hudson was a leader of the Community Package Coalition that worked with the WSCC to solidify what ultimately became $93 million in community benefits as part of the Addition project.

“I’m a true believer in this project,” Hudson said. “Not just what it means to invest in the community but what it means to belong to the community. I have seen the tremendous impact those dollars have already made in the area adjacent to the buildout and, frankly, to all of Seattle.”

The WSCC supports numerous elements that connect communities and enable them to thrive. Those include active, environmentally friendly mobility options and neighborhood features such as safe, open spaces and access to food and services. It does this both through its plans for its own development and through the community projects it is supporting. Highlights include:

Affordable Housing

In July 2020, the WSCC Addition project completed delivery of nearly $40 million to support affordable housing, including $30 million that was delivered to Seattle’s Office of Housing in 2018. Office of Housing’s pooled resources have funded more than 4,200 affordable housing units since 2018 in projects such as Station House on Capitol Hill and Bob and Marcia Almquist Place in North Rainier.

The project also directed $4.3 million toward affordable housing through the City’s Incentive Zoning program, $5 million to King County for affordable housing and $330,000 to Plymouth Housing Group for additional development rights.

Freeway Park Improvements

The WSCC Addition provided $10 million to Seattle Parks and Recreation for much-needed improvements to Freeway Park. The funds will help repair, restore and enhance the park, with $750,000 set aside for activation within the park, and $9,250,000 for capital improvements. Those include a new wayfinding system, new lighting, renovated restrooms and the potential for a new structure that would transform the event space and further activate the children’s fountain at Seneca Plaza.

“This support will make the park safer and more accessible to everyone,” said Riisa Conklin, executive director of the Freeway Park Association. "The pandemic made it clearer than ever how much we need equitable access to beautiful outdoor spaces. Parks became the places where we could safely come together, get fresh air and exercise and release some of our worries."

Community input was solicited for Freeway Park, generating 1,400 online open house visits and more than 500 survey responses. The next step will be prioritizing improvements as the project moves into the design and review phase. Construction is currently scheduled to start in fall 2022. You can follow progress on the City’s website.

Employment and an Inclusive Recovery

The project is creating 6,000 construction jobs, including 900 apprenticeships. The construction workforce is composed of about 30 percent people of color and 25 percent people from economically distressed ZIP codes. Once the Addition is fully operational, it will generate 3,900 new jobs, many of them in the hospitality sector. These include roles for cleaning staff, cooks, waiters and hotel workers that tend to be filled by people of color, women and immigrants who have sought refuge in our community.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements

The WSCC Addition project provided more than $26 million in funding to support a safe, connected infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists in the Pike/Pine corridor between downtown and Capitol Hill. Riders are already using new bike lanes every day.

This funding is in support of the Pike Pine Streetscape and Bicycle Improvements, led by the Office of the Waterfront & Civic Projects and part of the Downtown Seattle Association’s Pike Pine Renaissance program.

Bike lanes, housing, jobs, parks and other community investments combine to create immense value, Hudson said.

“You can see how it all converges,” she said. “These things tie together to tell the story of how the Convention Center stepped up for the community.”


Yours in Partnership,
The Addition Team

Open for business 2022.


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