1. The city council’s transportation committee is set to approve the pivotal Occidental Avenue street vacation in SoDo between South Holgate and South Massachusetts today. The vote will signal the city’s intent to A-Okay the $200 million NBA arena deal; just gotta get a pro team some day.
There’s a batch of amendments to calm fears about traffic—like one that will attempt to make the new arena coordinate events with the other two arenas—but Fizz hears it’s a done deal.
The traffic concerns, largely raised by the Port of Seattle, which is strongly opposed to the deal, should come with a grain of salt. An internal port memo obtained by Fizz, shows that the port itself recently considered moving its two offices, one at Pier 69 and one in SeaTac that house nearly 800 employees, to land in SoDo. They've since dropped the idea.
Given the port’s longstanding, adamant stance against transforming the industrial lands in SoDo into commercial space, last summer's port memo, which highlights “an employee and visitor parking garage,” “a large floorplate,” and a “10-15 percent increase in employees” is wild with irony.
From the memo:
The Port is contemplating co-locating its Seattle and Seatac office space into a new, build-to-suit facility. The Port currently occupies about 300,000 square feet of space at Pier 69 in Seattle and the Airport Office Building in Seatac (see the breakout below) that houses about 769 employees. The Port has the following requirements/preferences for its new office facility:
•A site in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood with west facing views of the Port’s facilities.
•An employee and visitor parking garage adjacent to or near the new space; parking garage may be shared with other users/tenants.
•Good access to transit.
•Large floorplate format that will maximize the number of employees per floor and encourage collaboration.
•A site large enough to accommodate the Port’s anticipated growth (assume a 10-15% increase in employees) and possibly other Port-related tenants.
The memo doesn’t note any street vacations that may be necessary to relocate to SoDo, though.
In a self conscious moment about the irony of their own SoDo dreams, one internal email from last July from the port’s real estate manager Allan Royal to procurement officer Nora Huey states: “It has a very sensitive scope that I was admonished not to let out of the bag internally. I have completed the documentation, I believe, and I am looking to you on how you want me to handle the package.”
Port of Seattle spokesman Peter McGraw tells me the idea from last summer is no longer under consideration. He says: "We did look into it about a year ago. This was part of a larger, ongoing effort to look at all of our real estate assets more strategically in light of current real estate market conditions in the region. After brief consideration, the idea was not deemed suitable to current Port needs, and is no longer under consideration."
Asked specifically about squaring years of opposing a SoDo arena due to traffic concerns (plus saying SoDo should remain industrial) with their idea of a siting a major office there, McGraw told me:
"We're still against the proposed SoDo location of an arena. The feeling at the time [last July] was that we might want to be closer to our maritime and industrial customers, and also locate airport staff there too, having the Port of Seattle under one roof. We were looking at the commercial properties down there to have a visible port presence. After crunching numbers and making assessments, we concluded it was not suitable for what we needed."
2. Also on the council docket later this week: On Friday, the council’s special housing levy committee will vote on amendments to the mayor’s proposed $290 million housing levy, a $5 property tax increase per month for a median value homeowner that doubles the previous levy. Council member Mike O’Brien wants to increase the size of the levy, but there reportedly isn’t much of an appetite for that among his colleagues with the exception of council members Rob Johnson and Kshama Sawant.
3. To celebrate Seattle Met's 10-year anniversary, we've compiled some of our most popular long-form stories from the past decade.
Starting with my colleague Allecia Vermillion’s dynamite James Beard award-nominated profile of local chef turned bank robber, “The Brief Extraordinary Life of Cody Spafford," our eBook, True Seattle Stories, is available online for just $1.99.