SBD/June 7, 2012/Facilities

Seattle City Council Reviews Arena Proposal; Finds Taxpayers Would Share Cost

Seattle property owners “would pay an additional $2 to $3 a year in property taxes for the new sports arena proposed for Sodo, because as a publicly owned facility the site would be removed from the property-tax rolls,” according to Lynn Thompson of the SEATTLE TIMES. Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess said, "It's not true that this is not costing the taxpayers of the city anything." Deputy Budget Dir Hall Walker said that “additional arena revenue, such as sales and admissions taxes, might return benefits to the city in the form of more money for schools, criminal justice, mental health, emergency-medical services and other programs funded in part through sales taxes.” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and arena investor Chris Hansen “have described the deal as ‘self-financing’ and requiring no new taxes.” The hit to city taxpayers was “just one concern council members raised about the proposed agreement.” Thompson notes because the city and county “plan to buy the building, the arena owners wouldn't pay property taxes, and city homeowners would have to make up the difference.” Council member Sally Bagshaw said that she “didn't understand why the city and the county planned to buy the land from Hansen for up to $100 million, when Hansen has paid about $40 million to acquire it.” Bagshaw: "It's a good deal for him. I'm not sure it's a good deal for us." Council members said that they “won't make a decision until Hansen reveals the other members of his investment group and the city has a chance to vet their financial strength.” A spokesperson for Hansen "wouldn't say" when the names of the other investors might be made public (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/7).

WEIGHING IN: The Municipal League of King County yesterday said that Hansen's arena proposal “may well be the best deal that city and county officials will ever receive for bringing professional basketball back to Seattle.” The League released a six-page analysis of Hansen’s proposal and said the deal is "not risk-free and may not be self-financing as claimed by proponents." In Seattle, Bob Young notes although the group said that Hansen's proposal was “complex, impressive and delightful to those who still mourn the loss of the Sonics, the League nevertheless raises several concerns.” Chief among them is whether the proposal will “protect existing tax revenues that go to the city and county general funds, which pay for basic services such as law enforcement and road maintenance” (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/7).

PROJECT PROPOSAL: In Seattle, Eric Pryne reported two of the Sodo neighborhood's “biggest developers are teaming up to build the second phase of Stadium Place, the ambitious high-rise project in CenturyLink Field's north parking lot, and plan to break ground in summer 2013.” The project would include “a 23-story hotel rising from a full-block base that would have 16,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a 376-stall garage and a health club.” A 170,000-square-foot office tower “would be added later.” Daniels Real Estate President Kevin Daniels, one of the developers behind the proposal, as well as King County and the owners of the Seahawks and CenturyLink Field “worked out a deal last year to replace the 491 parking spaces displaced by Stadium Place with dedicated stalls in a Metro garage” (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/6).
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