Brock Huard calls SoDo arena recommendations ‘life support’

Dec 1, 2015, 7:34 AM | Updated: 11:53 am
A 65-page report from the Office of the Mayor and SDOT recommends the street vacation of Occidental...
A 65-page report from the Office of the Mayor and SDOT recommends the street vacation of Occidental Avenue South to make way for a 750,000-square-foot sports facility. The report was sent to the Seattle City Council on Monday. (www.Sonicsarena.com)
(www.Sonicsarena.com)

The Seattle Department of Transportation seems willing to sacrifice at least a portion of a street for a new arena in SoDo. And, though it might not be a perfect solution, it’s a deal 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard called “life-support.”

“It’s good that Ed Murray didn’t pull the plug on it,” he said on “Brock and Salk.” “Chris Hansen has invested an awful lot of his own money, his own equity, his own resources to push this thing through. To vacate Occidental at least gives him the opportunity to put it on that city council’s desk.”

A 65-page report from the Office of the Mayor and SDOT recommends the street vacation of Occidental Avenue South to make way for a 750,000-square-foot sports facility. The report was sent to the Seattle City Council on Monday.

Arena investor Chris Hansen asked the city for an approximately 680-foot vacation of Occidental. That vacation would be between the north margin of South Holgate Street, and a line parallel, and 30 feet south of the centerline of South Massachusetts Street.

The report also adds line items for approval, including a parking garage for 1,750 vehicles at South Holgate Street.

Hansen and his investment group are willing to build a plaza and other features that would benefit the public in exchange for the street vacation.

The report points out that the site of the proposed arena, which could house an NHL and NBA team, is large enough for more than 800,000 square feet of mixed-use office buildings. There would be no requirement to provide public benefits under that alternative.

Additionally, office buildings would generate “significant peak hour traffic volumes” associated with office development, the report states.

Though the Port of Seattle argued against the project, alleging that it would disrupt truck routes, the report notes the “Heavy Haul Route” on Occidental only stretches from South Horton Street to South Holgate Street; the vacated portion of Occidental is not part of that stretch.

The report says there would be no “significant” adverse impacts related to the arena project.

This could be one of the last steps for the arena proposal. A Master Use Permit relies on the city council’s approval of the street vacation.

Huard’s co-host, Mike Salk, said it’s difficult to always decipher what really matters in these types of deals, but feels it’s a significant step. However, the plan still doesn’t drop an NBA team on Seattle’s doorstep and, though it might help on the NHL front, there are still no guarantees.

“While this seems like a significant step, I’m not sure it actually is,” he said.

Huard said, more than anything, it’s good to have options.

“It’s good for the City of Seattle, for the other pro sports to have options, especially one with a stakeholder that’s shown that he’s willing to cut the check,” he said.

Eric Mandel and Kipp Robertson contributed to this story.

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