Arena investor Chris Hansen signs deal for more SoDo land



Posted on June 10, 2014 at 6:54 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 10 at 6:54 AM

Public records show that the man behind the Seattle Arena project has made an even bigger play for land in the SoDo neighborhood.
In May, as Steve Ballmer was readying a bid for the LA Clippers, Chris Hansen signed documents to make his biggest purchase ever for his SoDo project.
On May 19, Hansen signed a "Memorandum of Option to Purchase" for roughly five acres of property south of South Holgate street, adjacent to land he already owns.  The deal, for 1900 Occidental Avenue, allows for Hansen to have the right of first refusal on purchasing the property, and is considered the precursor to finalizing the deal. The land would be the biggest parcel in the Hansen portfolio, stretching from Holgate Street, almost to Lander, and across the street from the nearby Starbucks Center.
"We now control the land," says Hansen's real estate consultant Bill Vipond, who says that the Arena backer paid an undisclosed amount for the option.
He has so far spent almost $65 million, in cash, for several pieces of land near 1st Avenue South and Occidental.  The piece of property, involved in this latest transaction, has an appraised value of around $10,500,000. Vipond says Hansen has already agreed to a final sale price for the new piece, although it will remain undisclosed.
It will likely be for significantly more than the appraised value of the property, based on market conditions, and the fact that Hansen paid roughly $21 million in 2011 for his first piece of property, south of Safeco Field. At the time, it's appraised value was less than that.
On Monday, Hansen declined comment on the new purchase.
He has publicly talked about his admiration for the "LA Live" entertainment complex in Los Angeles.  But Hansen could also be taking needed steps to satisfy any questions about traffic mitigation and parking. The project is currently undergoing a city environmental review, which is scheduled to be completed near the end of the summer.
Hansen quietly purchased two pieces of property, west of 1st Avenue South, along Holgate, last year. Vipond says they are targeted for potential construction of a new parking garage.  He also says 1900 Occidental, which at five acres runs north/south, would be more than enough room for another parking garage.
The piece of property is larger than both the Safeco Field garage, and the CenturyLink Field garage, and would be big enough to house hundreds of parking spots.  
"Parking is nice to have," says Vipond.
He added, "This is a commitment," shrugging off suggestions the project would be killed after Ballmer agreed to the deal for the Clippers.  "This shows Chris is looking for ways to make this happen." 
Vipond says current tenants will not be required to move until there is some finality with the NBA/NHL Arena project.
The option agreement is scheduled to terminate on March 31, 2017.  The Memorandum of Understanding, approved by the Seattle City, and King County Councils, is scheduled to expire later that year.
"How are we going to manage this many modes of transportation in this part of town?" asks Dave Gering, the Executive Director of the Manufacturing Industrial Council, which is an advocate for the industrial community in SoDo.  He welcomes the idea of new parking garage, but says the City needs to follow through on a freight plan for the neighborhood, with or without an arena.  "There were parts of this that needed to be addressed in the Arena MOU, that still need to be addressed."
Hansen is not the only prospective sports owner who is gathering land in the stadium area.
Prospective Seattle NHL owner Victor Coleman recently purchased buildings on two city blocks on the north side of the Stadium District for $281 million.
Public records show “Hudson and First King LLC” bought the property at the intersection of 1st/King back in July of 2013 for $224 million.  Another LLC, called “Hudson Merrill LLC,” purchased the Merrill Place building, one block over, in February for $57.6 million.
Both LLCs list the same address at Coleman’s Hudson Pacific Properties in Los Angeles.  That company’s website says it owns the three properties that were part of the purchases.  Both properties, close to Century Link field, will likely have unobstructed waterfront access, when the Alaskan Way viaduct is torn down.
Coleman was part of the delegation, along with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, who met with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and County Executive Dow Constantine back on May 6 in Seattle.