Arena developer Chris Hansen purchased land in Sodo for $32 million. He already owned options on the property, so the significance of the deal for reviving the arena project was unclear.
Chris Hansen has completed a purchase of more than four acres of land that have been a part of his stymied plan to build a basketball/hockey arena in Sodo, according to public property records filed with the city and first reported by KING5’s Chris Daniels.
Whether it means the project has new life isn’t clear. In April, the City Council denied the request of the Seattle native and San Francisco hedge fund manager to vacate a portion of Occidental Avenue, a surprising development that seemed to doom the four-year-old plan to return NBA basketball to Seattle.
But Hansen said in a statement on his arena website that he wasn’t done. A source confirmed recently to Sportspress Northwest that there have been conversations between Hansen’s camp and city employees, but no alternatives have emerged publicly.
The land, purchased for $32 million, had been optioned by Hansen some time ago and was included in the draft plans presented to the council. It runs from South Holgate Street to Walker Street along First Avenue South, has a warehouse and four other buildings, and would be the site primarily of the arena’s parking garage.
KING reported that the sale price is three times the property’s assessed value, and brings the investment to 12.26 acres at a cost of $97.2 million.
Since Hansen already controlled the land, the purchase could be seen as a normal conclusion to the transaction. Should no plan emerge for an arena by the November 2017 expiration of a memorandum of understanding with the city, Hansen could sell the real estate and recoup much of his investment.
Since the NBA has indicated no interest in expansion or relocation, the NHL remains a possibility. But since Hansen said he has no interest in owning a hockey team, a prospective owner also willing to partner with Hansen in arena construction has not emerged.
One change since the council vote was seen as a positive for Hansen’s original plans. The federal government agreed to give the Lander Street Bridge project $40 million, bringing to $100 million the committed funds needed for the $140 million project. The Port of Seattle, Hansen’s chief opponent because of freight mobility concerns, has long sought the overpass as a way to mitigate port congestion problems.
If Hansen and the port, along with other area users, were to help close the funding gap and get the bridge built, the thought was that a revived arena project might win approval.