When the city council squashed Seattle's latest NBA arena plans last week by voting against granting Chris Hansen and his Arena Co. a street vacation on Occidental Avenue South in SoDo, the main argument from council opponents of the project was that it would undermine the maritime industry there. That argument was pushed by the Port of Seattle, the longtime and ardent opponents of putting a stadium in SoDo, who said commercial development and traffic would undo the neighborhood's industrial economy.
As the vote approached, I published internal Port emails that showed the Port itself was actually looking at developing its corporate headquarters in SoDo—to house 800 employees and a parking garage.
The Port told me while they did consider the idea, they dropped it last summer.
Now, further documents not only show that some work on the scoping project, identified as SD-16, was still being paid for in March of this year (there's a $4,600 invoice out of a $45,000 overall scoping project), but a map of SoDo sites under consideration reveal that Hansen's arena site itself was listed as a potential new home for the Port; that's site number six in the document obtained below in a public records request related to the Port's site search.
Commercial real estate firm Kidder Mathews, who assessed SoDo for the Port, presented this map to the Port:
Port spokesman Peter McGraw is not shy about the Port's designs on SoDo, which he maintains were only considered momentarily last summer. In general, he says, "we wanted to be closer to our industrial partners and bolster our presence there."
As for the one very ironic site that appeared to be under consideration, McGraw says: "Having a port presence there would have been better than an LA Live type of property, but we never seriously considered a headquarters in SoDo."
McGraw says that while Kidder Mathews presented the Port with the Hansen arena site, it wasn't something the Port itself requested as a specific option in their SoDo property assessment.