BY Art Thiel 11:50PM 04/19/2016

Hansen’s Sodo plan gets first political boost

For the Sodo arena, the city council’s transportation subcommittee voted 4-1 to advance the proposed vacation of a portion of Occidental Street to a vote May 2 from the full council..

Cover slide of the Sodo arena presentation by Chris Hansen’s team to the city council Tuesday.

Nearly four years after after he made a five-year commitment with the city to build an arena in Sodo and find a team to occupy it, developer Chris Hansen finally scored. He won a city council subcommittee vote 4-1 Tuesday afternoon to advance his project to a full council vote May 2.

Enhanced by a PowerPoint presentation from Hansen’s team with a dazzling array of previously undisclosed public amenities as well as capital improvements such as a parking garage and a pedestrian overpass, all funded by Hansen, the decision to advance the vacation of a one-block stretch of Occidental Street was supported by transportation committee chair Mike O’Brien, along with members Tim Burgess, Bruce Harrell and Rob Johnson.

">Hansen’s PP presentation can be found here.

Sally Bagshaw was the lone dissenter, saying vacating Occidental was “a seriously bad idea.” She needs all of the remaining council members — Lisa Herbold, Kshama Sawant, Debora Juarez and Lorena Gonzalez — to agree with her May 2 to stop the process.

Perhaps the most unexpected bit of information came from Burgess, who was a signatory to the 2012 memorandum of understanding among Hansen, the city and King County that provided the framework of the arena deal.

Burgess explained the council regularly considers street vacations from developers whose proposals claim a public good that requires council verification and approval. Then he flashed a slide of the Seattle map.

The Port of Seattle, which has been the most vigorous opponent of the Occidental vacation, claiming that a third sports venue in Sodo would seriously bind freight traffic and cost many jobs, had 32 approved requests from the council for street vacations.

The drop-the-mic moment passed quietly in the chamber, because many of the pro-and-con speakers in the earlier public-comment period had departed. But there was no mistaking that some wind escaped the port’s sails.

The 32 requests granted don’t reflect on the arguments about Occidental, but they do suggest that the port’s long-held belief that the city has been dismissive of port positions was a tad overwrought.

Another primary opponent, the Mariners, were similarly granted a vacation in 1996 for the same street, Occidental, a little farther north, to make room for Safeco Field.

Nearly as much a milestone in the process was a vote on nine amendments to the Seattle Department of Transportation’s conditions for approving the vacation. Council members and staff, hearing from opponents recently as the vote approached, tightened and clarified language and responsibilities in the documents. Bagshaw abstained, while the other four council members voted to pass on the amendments to the full council.

Perhaps the most important among them was an amendment to strengthen the event-scheduling requirements to reduce the number of days with multiple large crowds. The Mariners, as well as the Seahawks, wrote lengthy, detailed complaints to the council saying that they had no substantive meetings with Hansen’s company, ArenaCo, prior to the Tuesday vote to advance the vacation.

Apparently some heavy, hasty negotiations among all parties, including the Sounders, took place in the last several days, because Burgess remarked that the meetings “were the first in a long while.”

One item that will draw further scrutiny leading up to the May 2 vote is this stipulation:

No arena event on a non-holiday weekday or weeknight may be scheduled to begin or end within one hour of the scheduled start or end time of any scheduled event at Safeco Field, or CenturyLink Field, or both, if 1) the reasonably anticipated attendance at the arena and one or more of those fields is more than 45,000 attendees, or 2) there would otherwise be three scheduled events starting or ending within an hour of each other at the Arena, Safeco or Century Link.

Harrell said that one-hour rule was a “non-starter” with the Seahawks, who called him and apparently insisted on more time between events. The amendment passed, with the understanding that the next two weeks would provide time for further changes.

Before the vote, O’Brien signaled some optimism, saying, “I believe there’s a path where this arena could be built. We get significant benefits and would continue to make the other investments where we continue to make our port and maritime industrial sector a thriving sector.”

Hansen agreed to pay for a pedestrian bridge ($15 million to $18 million) along Holgate Street to keep fans away from the nine railroad tracks near the proposed arena in Sodo.


YourThoughts

  • Tom G.

    Herbold is going to be a “NO” (she said as much the other day), but I can’t help but wonder what the 3 other votes in question (Juarez, Gonzalez and Sawant) are ultimately looking for before they’re sold on voting “YES”. Because none of them have really shown any cards yet.

    Probably just need 1 of them to be Hansen’s friend at this point though if O’Brien, Burgess, Harrell and Johnson are “YES” votes after the process has played out.

    • Topcatone

      Seems like real progress is being made on ironing out all the little details. It will be worth it. In Hansen we appear to have a first class citizen who is going to pay a huge cost. Cities everywhere would leap at such an opportunity Seattle has right now. We need NBA and NHL!

      • art thiel

        “Need” is too strong. Seattle seems to have gotten along nicely without either. “Want” is the verb.

    • art thiel

      The public benefits portion of the presentation may be influential among fence-sitters.

      • Tom G.

        Hope so.

    • 1coolguy

      NO WAY Sawant votes “yes”, the Socialist who is a sure “no” vote if it blocks
      a business’ going forward.

      • Tom G.

        Mike McGinn said on SOFTY’s show the other day that Sawant was actually a “supporter” of the deal, as hard as that is to believe.

        So I wouldn’t automatically put her as a “NO” just yet.

      • Playhouse

        Don’t be so certain.

      • Jamo57

        I would imagine there will be some horse-trading going on behind the council doors. IOWs agreement to vote yes on council member pet projects perhaps. All they need to do is swing one council member. Sawant can get cover with the “service related” jobs coming out of the arena being at $15 per hour and maybe she will get support for something that’s important to her.

        • 1coolguy

          You make a good point on the $15 service jobs it will provide. Many more than what are presently there.

          • Jamo57

            I guess by extension it would provided data that $15 minimum wage isn’t a “job killer” that opponents try and argue.

            Not that FOX News ever pays attention to actual data. ;-)

        • art thiel

          Always there’s horse-trading.

      • Get ‘em dawgies

        Yep, no way socialist Sawant votes yes for a sports arena. Way too much of a bleeding heart to understand the value of an arena. BTW – who the hell votes for less freedom and bigger government?? C’mon liberal Seattleites – you think gov’t knows how to spend your money better than you?

  • Jeff Shope

    bagshaw is a tool

    • art thiel

      That’s helpful.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    Divisions among gender lines?

    • art thiel

      Think that will be a talker if it’s 5-4 no?

  • Count to 10

    Great article! I am glad someone pointed out some of the things the city has done for the port. The city has a long history of supporting the port and the pending Lander Streer project is another one. Really hoping people look at the facts and focus more on how we can make the Arena happen and keep the port and industrial complex strong.

    • art thiel

      The long-term threats to the port are beyond the reach of the city council and a building project.

      • Count to 10

        I completely agree with you there.

      • 1coolguy

        Yep, as in the Panama canal expansion, which will handle ships 3 times as large as presently and will be completed in May, 2016 (next month!).
        The falloff in shipping to ALL West Coast ports is expected to be significant.

        • art thiel

          That’s part of why the ports of Seattle and Tacoma formed an alliance. They had to quit cutting each other’s throats if they were to survive the changed global marketplace,

  • MrPrimeMinister

    I have always found the line “Hansen wants to bring back the Sonics” quite disingenuous. He actually wants to steal a team from another city or wait for expansion. The proponents come across as somewhat intellectually dishonest.

    • 1coolguy

      I don’t see how he can bring in an NBA team for come time, yet if there is no arena, that ensures there will not be an NBA team. This venue will be very, very busy with other events, as it is a world class arena, not a 1962 remodel in a very small footprint. If there is an entrepreneur who is willing to risk his fortune, then why not back him?

      • MrPrimeMinister

        Seen too much of this over the years, both from owners inside this city and in other cities, to think that he is any kind of a cut above them all. Other than “he’s just an all around good guy”, would love to hear anybody’s points on why he is different. These new stadiums are like new cars, the owners get sick of them right quick, and then they ask for a new one.

        • Bruce McDermott

          Haven’t heard Paul Allen ask for one since the Clink has been built, and it’s well past “right quick”….

          • MrPrimeMinister

            I’m guessing you’ve heard of Stan Kroenke..

          • Taylor

            Don’t forget pieces of the Kingdome’s ceiling were falling off.

          • MrPrimeMinister

            You’re missing the point. Remember those glory days when smulyan, behring, allen, they all piled on held the taxpayers hostages with the usual threats of moving away if we didn’t pay for their toys. It happened in St Loius last year, it’s happening in Sand diego right now, and on and so forth. So once again my question, is Hansen any different from these others?

          • Jamo57

            Because he’s the developer of the project and surrounding neighborhood? You’re siting teams that were tenants of publicly built stadiums who move on to greener pastures. The LA Rams will be the owners and developers of the stadium and neighborhood. Or probably more accurately, Kroenke will form an LLC or corporation of some sort and then lease the stadium to his other property, the LA Rams. Each situation is different and must be considered on their own merit. The recent LA and SF stadium projects have been privately funded. Not sure about Santa Clara, but within LA and SF they’ve been privately developed.

          • art thiel

            Kroenke was a Missouri native who lied about his intentions, and I don’t blame any St. Louis fan for feeling outraged and betrayed. Just as I have no time for the fraudulent Schultz. But if the character of owners is a big issue for you, then you’re in for a heartache following pro team sports.

            I’d recommend college FB and BKB except it’s more corrupt.

          • Jamo57

            CFB has been my haven but each year my son and I evaluate whether the sleeze factor has become too much. It hasn’t yet but I feel like we can see it from here.

            Years ago a friend asked me why we spend our money on college sports instead of major league sports (and the greatest athletes in the world in the given sport). This was during the Smulyan years and my response was “you can’t move the University of Washington to Tampa”. Since then we’ve added Anaheim, OKC, etc over the years.

          • art thiel

            I can’t believe the sleaze factor in CFB doesn’t have you coughing and wincing.

          • Jamo57

            Constant exposure over the years has built up the immune system. Plus my quilting skills are quite elementary so I haven’t been able to fill the void yet.

          • Jamo57

            Then again, perhaps I should move on to HS football with it’s innocence and purity of sport……..Oh wait…..

          • 1coolguy

            Most of these older stadiums were dual-use FB and BB, so they didn’t work well. They also did not have the amenities stadiums do today – just look at the difference between the overall projects that are Safeco and the Clink compared to the Kingdome: Not even in the same universe.

          • MrPrimeMinister

            The kingdome was a perfectly serviceable building which would have stood for 200 years or more if they would have let it(Same for the Viaduct, I might add). Granted, it wasn’t a corvette stingray convertible. Someday–probably very soon, Safe and Clink will be obsolete, and the owns will visit the public trough again.

          • Get ‘em dawgies

            Kingdome would’ve stood for 200+ year just like the Viaduct? You’re delusional MPM

          • art thiel

            I advocated for the Kingdome’s retention. We still don’t have a place to hold another Final Four or a national political convention.

          • art thiel

            Franchise relocation has been a part of pro sports for more than 100 years. Those that don’t understand it’s part of the experience are naive. That doesn’t mean the franchises have no meaningful value wherever they exist.

            I think Hansen means what he says, and that’s all. He’s neither angel nor devil. Just a businessman with a project loaded with his private cash. You’re free to accept or reject both.

          • Kirkland

            The NY Yankees originally started in Baltimore, for example.

          • MrPrimeMinister

            His demonstrated willingness to scheme and illegally interfere with another municipality’s electoral processes, and then, upon being found out, subsequently attempt to cover it up should be all the info anyone needs to form a judgment about integrity.

          • art thiel

            Do you think it’s possible for a rational adult to learn from mistakes?

          • MrPrimeMinister

            Anything is possible. He may be your knight in shining armor, but I prefer to be realistic.

          • Get ‘em dawgies

            Sounds like you prefer to be pessimistic

          • art thiel

            Too bad you missed what I wrote when Hansen screwed up in Sactown.

          • art thiel

            The Kingdome began to die when the tiles fell in 1994. His plan in 1997 pulled the plug on life support.

          • art thiel

            At least Allen won a statewide vote for his project.

        • art thiel

          He’s from here, and wouldn’t be adding an extra $130M in requested improvements if he was going to be George Argyros, Ken Behring or Howard Schultz.

      • art thiel

        Yes, Hansen’s chances are small to get a team in the five-year window for public funding. But it’s zero without the street vacation, which the port understands well.

    • Playhouse

      This is a total crock.

      He would prefer expansion, but he also has to work with the game that the league gives him.

      And if we’re making sweeping statements, the arena proposal opponents seem to be wilfully negligent in learning the facts about the proposal.

    • art thiel

      The meaning of “Sonics” is symbolic, and understood by most people. Of course it’s technically inaccurate. It’s a shorthand that conveys the essence.

      Do you really think the New York Times motto, “All the news that’s fit to print” is accurate? No. It’s aspirational.

      • Kirkland

        There’s also being granted the history of a departed team, as with the Browns, Charlotte Hornets, and even the MLS San Jose Earthquakes. If the NBA returns, I can see the new team getting the ’67-’08 Sonics history and stats (Payton, Sikma, etc.), and OKC reinvented as an expansion franchise like the Ravens.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        It’s manipulative and plays to the emotions of the Sonics nostalgia. So it prevents rational analyses of these issues.

        • art thiel

          The expression stops no one from thinking. Other things may stop people from thinking. Not that.

          • MrPrimeMinister

            Ever wonder why the signs that they carry around don’t say “Bring Back The NBA!!” ?

          • art thiel

            You are wrapped around the teensiest semantical axle.

  • 1coolguy

    Bagshaw just lost my vote. Talk about a small-minded person who can’t see the forest for the trees. Wow. Here is a proposal to increase the property values of the surrounding area, resulting in MORE property taxes, a venue that will generate a multiple of SALES TAXES compared to the Key AND alleviate the nightmare that is the trip to the Key for ANY event (yes, I was a Sonic season ticket holder and it was a nightmare).
    Presuming the 4 “yes” votes prevail, let’s hope there is one more “yes” vote among the remaining Clowncil members.
    The 32 street vacations APPROVED by the Port is very revealing Art. It would appear the M’s and the Hawks may be the actual motivators behind the Port’s position, doesn’t it?
    Bagshaw should just quit now.

    • art thiel

      The fact that Bagshaw doesn’t know how sports works is not a firable offense. Of all the subjects that cross a council member’s desk, sports might be one percent. Her staff should have prepped her better regarding the fact that granting Hansen the right to vacate doesn’t mean he can begin the project. Team first, then shovels. Made her look foolish..

      • James Jackson

        I think what you mentioned last is the issue a lot of of people (at least myself) have with her. I understand that there are issues that need to be addressed regarding the arena, and I’m doing my best to not be myopic just because I’m a huge sports fan. But for her to stick her chest out and make a statement like that while being so ill informed on the issue is laughable. As you said, sports are about one percent of what probably crosses her desk, but shouldn’t you at least have a clue? I heard you mention to Sandmeyer earlier (correct me if I’m wrong) that you believe her initial “yes” to the project was a courtesy vote, which amazingly makes her look even worse.

        • art thiel

          No doubt she whiffed. But I’ve never liked condemning a politician for a single inadequacy. Part of our political crisis in this country is due to one-issue voters.

          • James Jackson

            Fair enough.

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  • Jamo57

    Hey Art, wondering if the power point presentation is posted anywhere on the interwebs. Not at sonicsarena.com yet. Any ideas?