On a drizzly Thursday afternoon, Bruce Harrell only saw bright sunshine.
“I’m excited. The proposal for KeyArena has come together quite well,” said the Seattle City Council President while sitting in a South Seattle coffee shop. “It’s part of a vision that we can really activate. The problems are going to be significant, but I think we can overcome them.”
Harrell was conspicuously absent at the announcement outside the Seattle Center facility Wednesday. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced he has selected Tim Leiweke of the Oak View Group to lead a $564 million renovation of the building.
The two men signed a document pledging to work out a deal for the city, which now goes through a City Council negotiation. Harrell is also leading the Select Committee on Civic Arenas, which will handle the finer points of any deal. But Harrell, nor the other eight council members, were at the public announcement.
Harrell noted that the council will likely sign a resolution soon, which will outline the most important issues that need to be addressed. Harrell noted transportation, the lack of public subsidies, and using local women and minority contractors as pertinent issues.
On Wednesday, Murray called the lack of transportation plans and financing a “deal killer.” Harrell echoed that on Thursday saying OVG paying for transportation mitigation “should be part of the obligation,” and the “investment group should have some skin in the game.” It could take months for a deal to be worked out.
Two different council members have hinted that they would like the council to hire an independent transportation consultant and financial consultant to study the KeyArena plan’s feasibility. Leiweke has pledged that his project, which aims to excavate another 15 feet at the KeyArena site will be privately financed and have zero risk to the city.
Harrell was not ready to declare Chris Hansen’s SODO arena proposal as dead either.
“I have not heard it's dead. I've heard it has a constant heartbeat,” said Harrell, who hinted that SDOT is expected to forward Hansen’s street vacation to the council later this summer.
Yet, he couldn’t speak about whether it had council support to bring to a vote. Hansen has offered to tear up his original Memorandum of Understanding with the city, signed in 2012, in exchange for vacating a one-block stretch of Occidental and allowing him to build a privately financed NBA and NHL caliber arena. That deal expires in December, and Murray has hinted he’s hopeful a similar MOU with OVG can be signed by the end of this year.
When asked whether that timeline was possible, Harrell said, “absolutely.”
The arena committee meets on July 10 at 10:30 a.m. to review the Leiweke proposal.
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