Hansen's arena group buys more SoDo land, investment now close to $125 million

SEATTLE -- Chris Hansen's Arena investment group has done it again - closing on a major acquisition of land in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood. The only question is what's next?

On Tuesday, public records indicated Hansen's LLC, known as WSA Properties, closed on two more parcels between 1st Avenue South and Occidental. One is the Taylor Edwards Building at 1518 1st Avenue South - home of Henry's Tavern, and another is a vacant lot.

The price tag: $25 million dollars. The assessed value was just $8.8 million.

It brings his team's total investment in the neighborhood at close to $123 million.

Just last month, his team closed on a piece of property, more than 4 acres in size, stretching from S. Holgate Street all the way south to Walker Street. The prices paid by Hansen's group, $32 million, was nearly three times the assessed value. His group had previously had an option to buy the property and have designated it for a potential parking garage.

The latest acquisition means that Hansen's group owns most of the land on the east side of 1st Avenue South, between Edgar Martinez Way and Holgate, with the exception of one gravel lot and the "DreamGirls" adult entertainment club.

It's a clear sign that Hansen's group still has confidence in his long planned Arena project and/or the Seattle economy.

The purchase comes five months after the Seattle City Council rejected Hansen's request for a street vacation of Occidental, between Holgate and Massachusetts. The vacation was considered the last major legislative hurdle after more than four years of discussion, that would allow Hansen's proposal to move forward.

Hansen and his partners agreed with the city on a Memorandum of Understanding to build a $500 million arena back in 2012. That agreement expires next year. Neither the NBA nor NHL has signaled whether they would provide a team before the expiration of the deal.

Multiple reports have indicated the NBA is said to be close to finalizing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which could, after the dust settles, reignite discussions about expansion.

Hansen's group now owns 12.65 acres in Sodo -- 16 properties comprising more than 551,000 square feet.

The landscape has changed, in more ways than one, since the City Council's May rejection.

Since the vote, the federal government has granted millions for the Lander Street Overpass project, which has long been a sticking point in any arena conversations. The Port of Seattle sees the overpass as critical to moving freight into and out of SODO. SDOT says it still needs $27 million dollars to build the Overpass. Hansen had agreed to pay $18-20 million for the Lander project, in exchange for the Occidental vacation.

In addition, there have been questions raised about Terminal 46, which is part of the Northwest SeaPort Alliance. The terminal's potential to grow cargo took a hit in August when its biggest customer, Hanjin Shipping, declared bankruptcy.

The Mariners ownership group, long led by Howard Lincoln, has also now been reorganized. In August, John Stanton, a former Sonics minority owner, took control.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray commissioned an "Industrial Lands Advisory Panel" in August to look at the long-term use of SoDo.

One of the first questions it may have to answer is what are Chris Hansen and his group planning?

Copyright 2016 KING


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