Isn't It Weird That ... The city, which has argued all along that the proposed arena site in SoDo is merely one of many potential arena locations, just took two more actions that further solidify the SoDo site as the only real alternative?
Although prospective arena developer Chris Hansen has made it clear that he will only pay for an arena on land he owns in SoDo, the city has consistently made a show of protesting that they're willing to consider other options.
In February, the city prevailed in a lawsuit charging that they had settled on an arena site before going through a proper environmental review, which requires the city to consider alternatives to SoDo, when a King County Superior Court judge ruled that a memorandum of understanding between the city and Hansen on the arena did not preclude other alternatives.
"There is nothing in the MOU that precludes the city or the county from deciding to proceed with another location" if they decided Hansen's property wasn't feasible, assistant city attorney Jeff Weber said at the time.
Two more city actions indicate that the city has no intention of considering other options.
One week ago, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) received a request to vacate (that is, close down) 8 acres of Occidental Ave. S. between Massachasetts and Holgate (i.e. the proposed arena site) for the construction of "a proposed professional basketball arena."Two more city actions indicate that the city has no intention of considering other arena options.
"The project site is bisected by Occidental Avenue S," the vacation request continues. "The proposed vacation would consolidate the [arena] property through the elimination of the intervening right-of-way."
Second, the city has put out a request for qualifications for consultants to review the arena design and construction plan. According to the RFQ, the city will pay the consultant or consultants "at least $260,000" to evaluate plans for an arena on "the Project Site"—Hansen's land in SoDo.
Although the city could theoretically move the "project site" to a different location, by doing so, they would forfeit that $260,000, because the agreement Hansen signed with the city says Hansen will only reimburse development costs if he and the city reach an agreement—and that agreement is contingent on building an arena on Hansen's land in SoDo.
"It might be just within the letter of the law, but it violates the spirit of the law," says Peter Goldman, one of the attorneys who sued the city unsuccessfully on behalf of the longshore workers' union.
"All I can do is point you to the language in the MOU which clearly says we are going through the [environmental impact statement] process," which requires consideration of more than one location, McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus says.
Goldman tells PubliCola his team plans to file an appeal to the February ruling in the next few days.
And, Isn't It Weird That ... Arena plans suggest the new stadium will be a mere 15-minute walk from Harbor Island or Beacon Hill?
The vacation request includes a rather amusing graphic that suggests the new arena will be a mere 15-minute walk from Beacon Hill—which might be possible if you could fly over the "Jungle" of overgrown vegetation that abuts I-5, then fly across I-5 itself. The actual walk involves a long detour to cross I-5 and takes between 28 and 37 minutes, according to Google Maps. And of course, to get there from Harbor Island, you'd have to swim.
(And, to use a slightly less absurd example, getting to the arena from the south end of the ID on foot requires a daunting walk across I-90 and Airport Way that Google puts at around 30 minutes).