Environmental review of Seattle arena proposal begins

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by CHRIS DANIELS / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 7:02 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 8 at 7:02 PM

SEATTLE – It’s been called a sham before it begins.

On Thursday, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) formally accepted public comment on the Environmental Review of the Seattle Arena proposal.

The hearing, concerning the “scoping” of the project, involves other sites which should be reviewed in addition to the site south of Seattle’s Safeco Field.  Investor Chris Hansen has purchased $53 million in land for his proposed NBA/NHL arena, which has been approved by the city and King County, pending the environmental review.

“We’re going to look at one or more alternatives at Seattle Center, so not just Key Arena, not necessarily,” said John Shaw, who is leading the study for DPD.  “We’re not limited to the spots indentified previously.”

An application, filed by Hansen, indicates the following:

“Future construction of an approximately 725,000 sf, 18,000 – 20,000-seat spectator sports facility (Seattle Arena). Project includes demolition of eight existing structures of approximately 128,087 sf, and grading will occur for construction. Proposal includes venue-related commercial development at the site (such as team merchandise stores, ticket offices, team offices, and potentially restaurants and club spaces). Proposal includes a street vacation of the portion of Occidental Avenue South between South Holgate and South Massachusetts Streets, and the potential conversion of Occidental Avenue South between South Massachusetts Street and Edgar Martinez Drive South and a portion of South Massachusetts Street between 1st Avenue South and Occidental Avenue South to a pedestrian mall. Parking for the facility is proposed to be provided by commercial parking lots off the site. The initial list of alternatives includes one or more sites at Seattle Center.”

A land use action notice, posted at the site, shows the northwest corner of the site (presently the location of the Showbox SODO) would be leveled for a “proposed paved area”.

“We need to do everything we can to preserve this industrial area,” said environmental attorney Peter Goldman, who has sued to stop the project on the behalf of the ILWU.  He plans on closely monitoring the review, which had previously called a “sham” because it is being conducted after the city and county had approved a Memorandum of Understanding.

“We hope we get an honest, objective, well balanced EIS,” said Goldman. “We’re convinced it’ll contain a lot of facts that make it less attractive.”

The scoping for the project will take a few weeks.  Shaw says he could review spots like the old Associated Grocers site off of I-5 or a comparable location elsewhere in the city limits.  That will take months longer.

Hansen still needs to acquire a franchise to fill the building, if the environmental review goes in his favor.

The Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported Thursday that Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell both met recently “with the ownership of the Sacramento Kings and mentioned the Maloof family, which owns the team, by name.”

The Glendale Arizona Mayor-Elect Jerry Weiers wasted no time this week suggesting the deal to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in his city is up for further review. Weiers said at his victory speech he loves Coyotes, but “Glendale is not your cash register.”
 

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