For KUOW: Stories on the Washington State Convention Center expansion project

Convention center developers and community groups reach agreement

October 17, 2017

Seattle will get an additional $60 million in public benefits, including affordable housing and bike lanes, as part of the proposed expansion of the Washington State Convention Center. That’s more than the project’s developers had originally offered, and it’s the result of long negotiations.

Washington State Convention Center expansion still needs money and land

August 9, 2017

Groundbreaking for a new mega-project in Downtown Seattle is slipping further back. The expansion of the Washington State Convention Center is now months behind schedule, lacking money and land.

The convention center expansion project is so large – over two million square feet – it needs city-owned land, specifically, streets and alleys. But the city expects a fair exchange for the land. Developers have to show how the new buildings will benefit the public, otherwise, no city approval.

Winners and losers when Convention Center expands

June 13, 2017

The proposed expansion will cost $1.7 billion in tax dollars and stands to disrupt traffic throughout downtown. Proponents say Seattle will make more money with more conventions, but community groups are asking how the massive public investment can pay off for its neighbors, employees and the city as a whole — not just an influx of out-of-town conventioneers and the businesses they patronize.

If Airbnbs get taxed, should Seattle’s Convention Center get the money?

June 4, 2017

The Washington State Convention Center expansion project is short $200 million, so convention center leaders want to tax rental units like Airbnb to fill the gap. The thing is, the convention center already gets millions in tax dollars. Last year, it got $77 million in taxes from rooms in big hotels. When visitors stay there, the extra tax they pay can only be used by the convention center. That’s by law. And voters don’t get a say.

Still, the convention center says those taxes are not enough.

The biggest public works project Seattle won’t vote on: The expansion of the Washington State Convention Center

June 4, 2017

Is Seattle’s convention center really running out of space? It turns out, vacancy is part of the business.

Attendance numbers haven’t increased over twenty years of annual reports. Attendance hovers around the same point each year—about 400,000 people. Meanwhile, the space has more than doubled in size. Event bookers shared their calendars with me going back to 2012. I found on average, 40 percent of the days don’t have big conventions going on, especially during big swaths in the winter. Instead, smaller luncheons and auctions use the facility those days, as well as big conventions setting up and tearing down.