Seattle arena backer acquires another big SODO parcel

Investor Chris Hansen has purchased a parcel of property in his pursuit to bring an NBA team to Seattle

SEATTLE - It ain't over yet.

That's if you believe property records that show Chris Hansen just completed another big purchase in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood.

According to those records, Hansen -- the San Francisco-based investor who's leading the charge to bring professional basketball back to Seattle -- paid $32 million for a warehouse and other connected buildings that border S. Holgate Street.

The property, more than 4 acres in size, stretches from S. Holgate Street all the way south to Walker Street. The price paid by Hansen's company is nearly three times the assessed value. His company, known as WSA Properties, now owns close to $100 million of property in the SoDo neighborhood.

One source close to the dealings said, "This is still all about the Sonics."

An aerial view of Seattle's SODO section with properties purchased by Chris Hansen's company outlined in yellow. The newest purchase is the long parcel lowest in the photo.   (Photo: Daniels, Chris)

But the purchase comes four 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 build a new sports arena 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.

Hansen's group now owns 12.26 acres in Sodo -- 14 properties comprising more than 500,000 square feet.

The latest purchase, which shows perhaps a renewed confidence by Hansen into getting the deal done, comes after his group signed an option to buy the land. They have long targeted the spot for a major parking garage.

The landscape has changed, both literally, and figuratively, since the 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.

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 last month when its biggest customer, Hanjin Shipping, declared bankruptcy.

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

Hansen's expanding ownership stake in the area almost certainly forces his plans onto that panel's discussion.

Seattle City Council member Rob Johnson, who voted for the street vacation and is also leading the industrial lands review, said the land purchase was "news to me” when contacted by KING 5.

"I hope this is one of the items we'll discuss," said Johnson. 

He said he believed the panel, which is also reviewing industrial lands in Ballard, will talk about land use and zoning, adding that it could perhaps revisit the "Stadium District Complex.”

Johnson also stressed that by 2017, he also hoped to answer one question through the panel.

"Can we find any sort of way to say this (arena) can work or is it clearly not going to happen?"

-- Follow Chris Daniels on Twitter: @ChrisDaniels5

Copyright 2016 KING


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