In a major victory for Oak View Group‘s proposed KeyArena renovation, a Seattle City Council committee unanimously approve an agreement on Thursday.
As part of the ongoing process to negotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city and Oak View Group, the council’s Select Committee on Civic Arenas weighed in on the issue. Oak View Group has assembled a $660 million financing package that includes $600 million for KeyArena, plus $40 million for a transportation fund, and an additional $20 million for non-profit entities.
The committee ultimately moved the process forward, approving the MOU by a 5-0 margin. This does not grant final approval to the project, but it does allow it to proceed to a vote before the full city council in December. More from King 5:
OVG has a tentative Memorandum of Understanding with the city to build the project at the current site of KeyArena. The council took a crack at amendments to the package, with Rob Johnson raising concerns about scheduling conflicts with the Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
He also raised concerns about the House GOP’s Tax Reform Bill, approved Thursday, which eliminates the Historic Preservation Tax Credit. OVG has been banking on using it to help finance the proposal, and the city went through the Historic Preservation process as an enticement to bidders.
Johnson asked city consultants, and central staffers if it would be an issue. Consultant Carl Hirsh told the committee that if the Senate approves a bill, which includes the historic preservation elimination, it would put more equity and private financing into the deal. Hirsh called it “10 percent” of the overall project cost.
OVG’s Lance Lopes told KING 5 earlier Thursday: “OVG has been monitoring the legislation and we have had discussions with members of Congress about the issue. We are pleased with the progress we have made and we will continue our efforts to obtain the federal tax credits for this historic project. Overall, OVG is excited and pleased with the progress on the New Arena at Seattle Center. We look forward to finally bringing Seattle a world-class arena.”
The proposal from Oak View Group has not been the only high-profile arena pitch being floated in Seattle, as Chris Hansen has proposed the construction of a new privately-financed venue in the city’s Sodo neighborhood. Part of Hansen’s plan requires a one-block street vacation, which would require a vote by the city council. When addressing Hansen’s effort, council member Debora Juarez said that the street vacation is “yesterday’s news.” From King 5:
Juarez told reporters, “I’ll be really frank with you. The street vacation is yesterday’s news. I don’t need to tell you about that. This is about looking forward. This is about Seattle Center, KeyArena and about hopefully bringing back a basketball team and a hockey team.”
When asked if the council would vote again on the street vacation, Juarez said bluntly, “I voted on that 18 months ago, and I voted no. It’s done, it’s over. I’m looking forward. That’s a failed MOU. That’s the past.”
Oak View Group’s MOU is expected to be considered by the full city council on December 4, and will require votes of approval from five of nine city council members to move forward. Current plans call for the KeyArena renovation to be completed in 2020, and for the project to bring the venue to modern NBA and NHL standards.
Rendering courtesy Oak View Group.
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