A deal was announced Wednesday between the Washington State Convention Center and King County Metro to buy four acres in downtown Seattle for construction of a new convention facility a block north of the existing convention center. The WSCC will pay $283 million in principal and interest payments to King County Metro over the next 30 years for the site. Officials hope adding the facility will help Seattle attract national conventions that haven't fit in the city before, and will help the city compete with Denver; Phoenix; San Francisco; San Diego; Portland, Ore.; and Vancouver, B.C., all of which currently have larger convention centers.
The agreement must gain approval from the Metropolitan King County Council and the convention center's board, and is expected to be finalized next year.
"While there are several more steps necessary before groundbreaking, this is a major milestone toward realization of a much-needed additional convention center facility in the heart of downtown Seattle," said Tom Norwalk, president & CEO of Visit Seattle.
The convention center expansion ideally will feature a total of up to 250,000 square feet of heavy-load exhibition space, 120,000 square feet of breakout space, a full-service kitchen, and 60,000 to 70,000 square feet of ballroom, freight-loading and support space, as well as certain transit operations, retail and potential private co-development. Construction could start by early 2017 with a projected opening in 2020. The convention center plans to issue about $1.1 billion in bonds for the project.