Morning Fizz

Internal Emails Show Port Was Uptight About Implications of Scoping Out SoDo Property

Port of Seattle real estate director asks staffer to remove SoDo references from description of project.

By Josh Feit May 16, 2016

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 1. In a February 4, 2016 email about the Port's "Service Directive 16" (its analysis of buying and developing property in SoDo for a new consolidated headquarters), Port of Seattle director of real estate Jeffery Utterback asked real estate port staffer Allan Royal: "Can we take out the SoDo references and make it more generic? Otherwise, fine."

The Port was evidently sensitive about checking out real estate options in SoDo; adamantly opposed to turning an industrial district like SoDo into a commercial district, the Port has been the leading public critic of building an NBA arena in SoDo. Their main objection to developing SoDo? Traffic.

That could certainly explain Utterback's preference for deleting the SoDo  tag from the official description of Service Directive #16, which one invoice calls "Office Facility Evaluation - Seattle SODO." The facility was expected to house 800 port employees and have an "employee and visitor parking garage adjacent to or near the new space."

And as I reported last week  one of the properties that was listed by the Port's real estate contractor was Chris Hansen's NBA arena site itself.

Port spokesman Peter McGraw tells me the port only "briefly" considered developing property in SoDo last summer. However, the email conversations about the project, including Utterback's email to Royal to scrub the word SoDo, run up through the early months of 2016.

In an earlier July email from Royal to procurement officer Nora Huey, Royal was already on edge about the implications of scoping out property in SoDo. He wrote: “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.”

2. The five female members of the Seattle city council—also the five votes in the 5-4 vote that derailed Hansen's current plans to build an NBA arena in SoDo—are going to be on political comedian Samantha Bee's Full Frontal with Samantha Bee tonight. Bee picked up the news that the women were targeted by a berserk outburst of misogynist hate speech.

Bee sent a producer to Seattle last week to interview the women of the council—and, evidently reclaiming the vitriol, Sally Bagshaw reportedly hits the C word when recapping some of the email attacks.

3. The race for the open state representative seat in the 43rd Legislative District (Capitol Hill, Wallingford, U. District) got a jolt Friday when charismatic transgender leader Danni Askini announced she was dropping out. At first blush, Askini's decision seems to help homeless advocate Nicole Macri, the other candidate in the crowded field who appeals to the activist left.

However, with the race in reset mode, another candidate, Washington Environmental Council staffer Sameer Ranade got timely news this weekend. The Washington Conservation Voters, the state's main environmental lobbying group, gave Ranade its sole endorsement.

4. Watch for state senator Marko Liias (D-21, Edmonds), one of the Democrats' transportation policy leaders, to announce his candidacy for state treasurer this week. Liias, first appointed to the house in 2007 and then elected in 2008, was appointed to the senate in 2014 when longtime state senator Paull Shin retired.

Liias, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. congress in 2010 (Suzan DelBene won), is not up for reelection until 2018, so he'll only leave the senate if he wins his race for treasurer.

There are currently two other main candidates in the race, Democrat and former dissident port commissioner Alec Fisken and Republican investment banker Michael Waite.

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