A new petition was submitted Wednesday by Chris Hansen to the Seattle Department of Transportation seeking a vacation of Occidental Avenue for his Sodo arena project that includes an improved public benefits package of nearly $27 million, according to a story posted on the project website Wednesday.
Hansen promised a revised plan since shortly after a 5-4 council vote in May denied the street vacation needed to green-light the project. The new bid includes the promised elimination of the 2012 request for up to $200 million in a construction bonds from the city and King County.
“If approved by the City Council, this conditional street vacation will finally put us in position to work with the NBA and NHL to acquire teams for Seattle,” said the post, signed by Hansen, brothers Pete and Erik Nordstrom and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. “The years-long Environmental Impact Statement for the arena proved that this little-used section of Occidental will have minimal effect on the flow of traffic through the stadium district.
“Just like the vacation of Occidental that was approved for Safeco Field two blocks north of the Arena site, the public benefits of the new venue will far outweigh the minimal effect.”
Besides 100 percent private financing, the changes include an additional $1.3 million for several SDOT projects in its freight master plan, which brings the total improvements recommended by SDOT and the Seattle Design Commission to almost $27 million. The value does not include the proceeds of the sale of the street to the city, estimated to be up to $20 million.
The post also re-emphasized that after a vacation is granted, no construction will take place until an NBA or NHL team is secured, a point previously poorly understood by some council members.
But since the council turned away Hansen’s first bid, competitors have emerged to explore Mayor Ed Murray’s desire to see if KeyArena can be remodeled to accommodate NBA/NHL. The city last month issued a request for proposals for bids to remodel privately the Sonics’ previous home, an option Hansen rejected in 2011 before purchasing for $125 million more than 12 acres of Sodo real estate.
Two experienced Los Angeles-based arena developers, Anschutz Entertainment Group and Oak View Group, are putting together proposals to meet a mid-April deadline. Hansen’s group agreed to let the city take a look. Hansen’s group responded in the post.
“As we’ve said before, approving the street vacation will not interfere with the City’s RFP process for Key Arena,” the post said. “Any Key Arena renovation plan will take 5-7 years to complete. Our plan, on the other hand, can be ready to go quickly with the street vacation. This puts the city in the best position to take advantage of any franchise opportunities.”
After Key proposals are submitted, the city imposed a June 30 deadline for a decision. If neither submits a suitable bid, Hansen’s memorandum of understanding between him, the city and King County has until Dec. 1 before it expires.
City officials previously expected that if Hansen submitted a revised plan, it won’t be considered until after a decision is made about the Key. So if SDOT advances Hansen’s plan to the council for consideration, that vote likely would happen in summer or early fall.
Hansen’s camp is hoping that the most significant issues facing the Key, traffic and parking, will stall the bid, even if a way is found to fit a premium-sports-venue seating configuration under the Key’s roof. The city has requested from the city’s landmarks commission a ruling on whether the 55-year-old roof qualifies for landmark protection.
If it does, the developers will work within the footprint. If not, the bidders were asked to submit an option that included a teardown.
The statement concluded: “At the end of the day, our #1 goal is bringing the NBA and NHL back to Seattle, and we look forward to working with the Mayor and the City Council as they consider the revised petition.”