What's next for proposed KeyArena renovation after landmark designation?

What's next for the potential redevelopment of KeyArena now that Seattle's preservation board landmarked the building and neighboring Bressi Garage?

It's a complicated process, which could benefit the city and proposed developer Oak View Group, but also provides a potential quirk for the planned design.

Seattle's Office of Economic Development offered up a wide swath of land on the southwest corner of Seattle Center, in the RFP process for a KeyArena remodel.  That included the arena, garage, as well as the NASA Building, Blue Spruce Apartments, and West Court Building. 

Only the arena and the garage made it out of the nomination and designation phase. It came after Pottery Northwest, which has been in the garage for 45 years, spoke out claiming the building and space could not be replicated.  They noted that the nonprofit organization is so associated with the 1923 era building that it's part of their logo.

It was a compelling case to the board, which voted unanimously Wednesday to preserve the exteriors of the garage, interior trusses, and roof decking of the garage. 

However, that doesn't automatically mean the buildings will be saved as the city moves forward on the KeyArena proposal. 

The arena's landmarking is a bit more straightforward as the designation does open up the door for potential federal tax breaks in a reconstruction. Oak View had already agreed to preserve the iconic, sloped roof.  In fact, their original proposal includes $50 million in historic tax breaks in the financing of the project.

Neither Oak View Group nor the city's OED could immediately comment on the impacts of the new wrinkle with the Bressi Garage.  That spot, south of KeyArena, across from Thomas St., is where Oak View Group has planned to stage construction crews and also build the entrance to a subterranean tunnel to a new arena loading dock.

But Lois Maag, a spokesperson for the Department of Neighborhoods, shed some light on how the process would work moving forward.

"The project team (in this case OVG) would pursue proposed alterations through the Certificate of Approval process," she wrote via email, in regards to whether Oak View Group would have to preserve the garage.  "The applicant can apply for a Certificate of Approval to alter or demolish the building, following the procedures in the Landmarks Ordinance. Before pursuing that option, the staff would urge them to explore alternatives to demolition and discuss them with the Landmarks Board."

As far as tax credits, it is also possible Oak View Group could gain from preserving part of the almost 100-year old building.

"This property will be eligible for Special Tax Valuation as a city landmark.  The buildings need to be listed on the National Register to be eligible for the federal rehabilitation tax credits," Maag wrote.

The city is currently in negotiations with Oak View Group on a Memorandum of Understanding for a KeyArena redevelopment.  The next meeting of the council's Select Committee on Civic Arenas is scheduled for August 14 at 10:30 a.m.

© 2017 KING-TV


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