SEATTLE – Chris Hansen was rebuffed in his effort to bring the NBA to Seattle this fall.
The acquisition of a franchise is a prerequisite for him to build a new NBA/NHL sports arena. Hansen has specifically targeted the SoDo neighborhood, near Safeco Field, where he has purchased close to eight acres of land. An environmental review on the project is currently underway as well.
So what happens to the land now?
“This was done with patient capital, and designed to go the distance,” says Bill Vipond, who is representing Hansen in the real estate transactions for the Hansen Group. “Chris and Steve and Wally did a great job trying to get (the Kings) done. But the fact it didn’t happen doesn’t have an impact on the real estate or commitment on the deal.”
Vipond says the group has spent close to $70 million on the property near 1st Avenue South. He says “soft costs” like attorneys fees have added to the overall cost.
“It was bought right, it was bought with no bank debt, no leverage, and no debt service payments,” said Vipond, who says the land still “generates a pretty good return, better than a ten year treasury.”
Vipond says the Showbox Sodo building on 1st will likely stay in its spot for the time being and most businesses are on a month-to-month lease basis.
Glenn Allen, the General Manager of Barcodes West, says “we are looking at options.” His building was purchased by Hansen’s LLC. Allen says the systems integration company has an expiring lease in July, and then will fill the building on monthly basis. “Eventually we’ll have to go somewhere else. This (building) will probably be used for something.”
Tony Do, an employee at 1st Avenue Deli Mart, says he will probably move out this summer.
“We’re tired of the business,” said Do, “and weren’t going to stay anyway.”
Vipond says it is possible some of the lots could be converted to parking until Hansen’s group can secure a team.
“I’ve had people offering to buy the land, and more on certain pieces than I’ve paid for it,” said Vipond. “We’re set up to go the distance. The Kings were a great opportunity; it was just a kind of a windfall if it could’ve happened. But it doesn’t change the master plan.”
Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development, or DPD, said Monday that the SoDo Arena environmental review process has been delayed, but not due to last Wednesday’s vote.
Bryan Stevens, a spokesperson for DPD, said Monday “The review process continues to move forward. Early discussions anticipated a draft of the environmental impact statement (EIS) in June, but the complexity of the analysis and necessary evaluation requires a bit more time to provide a complete and thorough report.”
Stevens say the draft EIS will likely now be available in August, with a public review meeting scheduled in July.