Rendering of the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle
Ground was broken this afternoon on a long-awaited expansion to Seattle's Washington State Convention Center. New names have been announced for the facility's two buildings: The existing facility will be called Arch, referring to the sky bridge and canopy arch on Pike Street between Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue, and the new building, to open in 2022, will be called Summit, referencing Seattle's geography and a dramatic staircase that is part of the design.
Visit Seattle, the city's convention and visitors bureau, has underscored the need for the new space. In the past five years, according to the CVB, more than 350 event proposals had to be declined because of space or timing restrictions at the existing center, at a cost of more than $2.13 billion in potential economic benefit. When finished, the city hopes the Summit building will bring more than 400,000 new conventioneers to the city each year, generating more than $19 million in tax revenue.
"The WSCC's Summit building is one of the largest public capital projects in downtown Seattle's history and creates new opportunities to generate more economic impact for the region," said Jeff Blosser, president and CEO of the WSCC. "This additional facility is a game changer for our ability to give meeting planners additional dates and space with the opportunity to book their events in Seattle. We look forward to the opening in 2022."
The project also aims to make the neighborhoods around the WSCC more welcoming. More than $90 million will be used to improve pedestrian and transit infrastructure, refurbish open spaces and create affordable housing opportunities in the Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, Denny Triangle, and Pike and Pine areas.
"Meetings mean business in Washington, and our convention center's Arch and Summit buildings are an economic catalyst for Seattle, as we now have the ability to fulfill excess demand for meeting space in our city," said Visit Seattle president and CEO Tom Norwalk. "Thoughtfully designed and centered in the heart of our downtown, both buildings will provide an atmosphere that fosters future innovation and connections."
The project is being funded without levying any new city, county or state taxes; instead, a bond was issued to finance the project with existing hotel-occupancy taxes. The city is aiming for LEED certification for the new building.
The CVB also noted that Seattle's hotel inventory will soon grow by 20 percent, with eight new properties on the way that will add almost 2,500 additional rooms, bringing the downtown room count to 14,343.