Today, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce sent a letter of support to Mayor Durkan advocating for the completion of the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) Addition project and requesting the City authorize a bridge loan to prevent this crucial project from shutting down.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the WSCC was well underway with their $1.9 billion expansion project. The WSCC Addition is expected to create 3,900 jobs and the completion of this project would transform the surrounding streets, linking the renovated waterfront to Capitol Hill along the Pike/Pine corridor. Approximately 255,000 square feet of exhibition space, meeting rooms, and ballroom space would be added to the current Convention Center capacity, making this one of the city’s largest construction projects.
This project was to be financed using bonds repaid with future lodging tax revenues. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis and resulting decline of travel and tourism dollars, the revenue raised by the lodging tax has been greatly reduced. On December 3, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a financing package totaling $100 million for the WSCC. Unfortunately, this loan is not large enough to cover the $300 million shortfall that the project faces.
Without a bridge loan from the City of Seattle, the WSCC Addition project and 1,000 construction jobs are at risk. Thirty percent of these jobs will be held by people of color and 25% of these jobs will be held by people from priority zip codes, making this project an especially important one as we strive to rebuild our economy so that it is more competitive, equitable, and resilient.
Emerging from the pandemic, we must have the infrastructure in place to allow our city and region to thrive and be competitive on a global scale. Completing the WSCC Summit building in a timely manner is critical for that recovery to take place. Delays in the WSCC Addition will further delay recovery.