Chris Hansen open to negotiate but won’t fix all Seattle’s traffic problems

Jul 31, 2012, 11:08 AM | Updated: 1:34 pm

Investor Chris Hansen says he’s encouraged by the progress of arena dealings but won’t pay to fix all of SoDo’s traffic problems. (AP)

Investor Chris Hansen says he’s not surprised by a letter
sent by the Seattle City Council calling for changes to a
Seattle arena proposal. As long as the requests
are fair, he’s “willing to listen.”

In an interview with “Brock and Salk” Tuesday morning,
Hansen says the City Council had been “telegraphing” proposed changes, and it’s his “job to listen and hear their concerns.”

The council’s letter, signed by eight of nine members, called for some tax revenues slated exclusively for the arena to be used instead to fix traffic problems in the area and help improve freight mobility for the Port of Seattle.

The proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) calls for all tax money generated by the arena to be used for paying off construction bonds.

Hansen tells “Brock and Salk” he’s “happy” to discuss
possible changes to the agreement, but “the deal is not
going to work if we are on the hook for trying to fix all
of SoDo’s traffic problems.”

The investor repeatedly refused to disclose whether he’s
had any talks about possible changes to the agreement or
who he might have been speaking with, calling it
“inappropriate to air in public.”

“I would just say that everybody’s been friendly. They’ve
been cordial to us, we’ve been cordial to them. There are no threats or ultimatums flying back and forth. That’s just not the way I do things,” Hansen says.

The agreement currently calls for $200 million in public
financing if the arena is built for both the NBA and NHL,
or $120 million if it’s designed solely for pro basketball. At a public debate co-hosted by Mike Salk Monday night, Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess suggested Hansen’s group could contribute up to an additional $80 million in tax revenues for mitigation. But Hansen calls that “unfair.”

“We acquiesced on the deal,” Hansen says of his original
proposal. “That was a request put to us by the County Executive and the Mayor to insure that hockey would come. And we agreed because we were very confident that we would be able to get a hockey team.”

Hansen says a joint-use arena would cost at least $30
million more, and “is completely unfair to ask us to build a hockey/basketball arena for the same price.”

Hansen also had plenty of praise for the King County
Council, which approved the MOU in a 6-3 vote Monday. He
urges fans to keep reaching out with their support as
negotiations continue.

“It’s great. We put in a lot of work. I really appreciate all the testimony and letters everybody wrote. It obviously made a big difference,” he says.

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