Revisiting SoDo Land Purchases, Property Tax Bills

 Finance, Property  Comments Off on Revisiting SoDo Land Purchases, Property Tax Bills
Jun 072017
 

SoDo Land Purchases Locked Hansen In On Site, Created Street Vacation Requirement

One way that Hansen was able to focus his efforts in SoDo, on a tract of land that required a street vacation to construct an arena, was by buying the land for the arena and plenty of land from his neighbors.  My recent trip through the public records indicates WSA properties is paying about $786k in property tax bills each year on executed land purchases of approximately $122M in total.  Note:  This tally leaves out the Dream Girls establishment and the Mariner’s lot indicated in yellow in the picture from the King County Parcel Viewer.

SoDo land plats with Arena site circled and WSA properties/Hansen purchased land in blue, Mariner’s lot highlighted in yellow.

The current list of sites purchased by Hansen under various WSA Properties LLCs is below, proceeding counterclockwise from the highlighted Mariner’s lot.  The address and last 4 digits of the parcel number, Hansen/WSA’s purchase date, the purchase price (or currently assessed value if indicated with a ~), and the annual property tax bill for that property.

North of Arena block

1500 1st Ave S - 6430   not sold m  ~$4.3M      
1518 1st Ave S - 6440   10/2016      $25M      $82,540
1526 1st Ave S - 6445   10/2016      included  $14,490
1530 1st Ave S - 6450   not sold dg ~$3.9M
1534 1st Ave S - 6455   4/2012       $4.3M     $32,198
1548 1st Ave S - 6460   5/2012       $9.5M     $18,325
1556 1st Ave S - 6465   5/2012       included  $38,027

West Half of Arena

1700 1st Ave S - 6400   8/2012       $8M       $37,561
1714 1st Ave S - 6405   7/2012       $5.6M     $16,110
17XX 1st Ave S - 6410   7/2012       included  $32,188
1730 1st Ave S - 6415   9/2012       $1.7M     $16,110
1740 1st Ave S - 6417   4/2013       $9M       $20,132
1746 1st Ave S - 6420   4/2013       included  $20,123
1760 1st Ave S - 6425   4/2013       included  $40,242

West of 1st Ave

1757 1st Ave S - 7110   12/2012      $1.8M     $18,012
1915 1st Ave S - 7135   9/2012       $3.2M     $23,006

South of Arena (garage)

2228 Occidental - 6125  9/2016      $32M       $17,428
1900 Occidental - 6115  9/2016      included   $124,064

East Half of Arena

1750 Occidental - 6285  12/2011     $22M       $237,986

Hansen Seeks to Terminate MOU in SoDo, Build Privately and Scoops KeyArena Remodel RFP

 Finance, MOU, Other Arenas, PR Campaign  Comments Off on Hansen Seeks to Terminate MOU in SoDo, Build Privately and Scoops KeyArena Remodel RFP
Oct 312016
 

Chris Hansen and SoDo Arena

Chris Hansen re-emerged from the inky shadows and dropped a bit of a bombshell last week in a letter sent to the City Council, County Executive Constantine, and Mayor Ed Murray.  Hansen says his group no longer needs public bonds to assist with financing the arena (even though it wasn’t about the financing but a means to return tax money to the project) and is, instead, able to proceed with only future tax money being expressly abated.

We have concluded that a changed economic climate makes possible the private financing of the arena. For that reason, and to address concerns expressed by city council members, we would consider revising the street vacation petition to eliminate public financing of the arena. In such a case the MOU would be terminated and the rights and obligations of the parties under the MOU would end. The City and County would recoup the $200 million in debt capacity, and tax revenue streams generated by the arena would cease to be encumbered for arena debt service.

  • Approval of the street vacation
  • Granting of a waiver of the City’s admissions tax for the arena, just as similar waivers have been granted for the other sports venues
  • Adjustment of the City’s B&O tax rate for revenue generated out-of-town

The letter glosses over the fact that the admissions tax was the largest chunk of the money for the prior bond repayments and the other venues in town (Centurylink and SafeCo Field) did a tax-swap where the county collects admissions tax even though they’re venues within the city limits (and they only collect a fraction of the legally allowed 10% admissions tax).  Details may be coming, but a few days later the public learned why Hansen was grabbing headlines where he could.

KeyArena Remodel RFP On the Way

We learned a few days after Hansen’s announcement that senior analyst for Mayor Murray, Sara Belz, had been a point person for soliciting KeyArena renovation proposals with Irving Azoff and Tim Leiweke in one group and current KeyArena operator AEG in another.  Apparently the discussions have been off-and-on for a while, maybe being hinted at during the “did AEGCOM’s report get hidden by the council” story in April 2016.  The mayor was planning to make an announcement of the plan to issue the official RFP to renovate the KeyArena in January 2017 and Hansen may have rushed his announcement to refocus the public on his plan.  Details are even more unknown, since an RFP is mostly a framework for a project and bidders need to respond appropriately.

Still, as the NBA season kicks off, Seattle has a lot of arena news, but there are no NBA teams available, no plans to expand the league, and then there’s the great unknown of the NHL.

Fourth Arena Hearing On 4/19 and Materials/Amendments Are Online

 Finance, PR Campaign, Property  Comments Off on Fourth Arena Hearing On 4/19 and Materials/Amendments Are Online
Apr 142016
 

The last (third or second, depending on how you count the evening comment period) meeting for the Occidental Street Vacation for the proposed arena had several amendments proposed, including reducing the street vacation’s timeframe to 5 years and adding language meant to emphasize arena-contingent conditional approval.

 

April 19th at 2PM is the next regularly scheduled committee meeting, where the street vacation could be forwarded to a full council.  Materials have been posted online for that presentation.

 

Edit:  Seattle Bike Blog is advocating for protected bike lanes on 1st avenue, instigated by the arena.

Sonics Rising is trying to muck-rake a comparison of Port aviation vs seaport operations and tries to stir public anger over the port pledging its taxing authority to contribute to the viaduct replacement, as if that contribution wasn’t a “business as usual” ask by the government to fund projects from local taxpayers without going through a public vote/levy.  In this case, the port’s contribution of “up to $300 million” was to help plug the gap left by the state lowering the toll threshold from $400 million to 200 million.

CM Lisa Herbold Affirms “No NHL-First Arena”

 Finance, Property  Comments Off on CM Lisa Herbold Affirms “No NHL-First Arena”
Dec 072015
 

Lisa Herbold, the former Nick Licata aide, is officially the Councilwoman-Elect for Seattle City Council District 1 after a manual recount.  Nick Licata was a council member who once testified to Congress (along with economists Brad Humphreys and Heywood Sanders and Field of Schemes author Neil deMause) about professional sports’ extortion of the cities, particularly from his experiences with the Sonics.  Nick is retiring from the council and was one of the two members who voted against Hansen’s SoDo arena MOU.

In Lisa’s interview with Tracy Record of the West Seattle Blog, Lisa mentioned a desire to keep a close watch on the SoDo arena proposal and that no NHL-first scenarios happen.  This should not surprise anyone who listened to the Seattle Arena Review Committee’s report or the councilmember comments while voting on the MOU (which, when first announced by McGinn and Constantine, was “must have NHL and NBA both before building”).

She also plans to keep close watch on the SODO arena proposal, insistent that it can’t be built “hockey-first.”

Personally, I wish she’d also commit to shelve any street vacation votes as well.  It only serves to pave the way for Hansen’s land parcels to be stitched together.

Tim Burgess, Council’s Arena Negotiator, Says an NHL-Only or NHL-First Arena Unlikely

 Finance, MOU, Security  Comments Off on Tim Burgess, Council’s Arena Negotiator, Says an NHL-Only or NHL-First Arena Unlikely
May 082015
 

Tonight, we have a few words from Tim Burgess which clarify that the NHL was not considered a stable investment of the public’s money as far back as the 2012 negotiations.  When combined with the reported tensions between Hansen’s NHL guy, Coleman, it sounds like Chris has been backed into a corner that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars that only Ballmer was willing to burn.

“We specifically wrote the idea of a hockey-only or hockey-first arena out of the agreement three years ago,” Burgess said. “We did that because it’s very weak financially. It’s just too risky for the city.”
The reason is that a typical pro hockey team generates about a third less revenue than an NBA team. So city analysts concluded a hockey arena might not be able to cover the city’s bond payments.
“If we’re going to do hockey, there would have to be a substantial lowering, if not elimination, of the public investment,” Burgess said.

That alone could be a fatal blow. But the arena also now has a triple whammy of political problems.
-One is that Hansen got in trouble down in California for making an illegal, undisclosed campaign contribution.
“That caused a few of my colleagues to be very concerned about his methods and style,” Burgess said.
-Two is that the big money behind the project, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, bolted when he bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. It didn’t escape notice at City Hall that $2 billion could have built the Sodo arena four times over. Yet they needed public help?
-And the capper: News hit last month that a different group has proposed building an arena in Tukwila. They said it would be 100 percent privately financed.
You can’t compete with free. Burgess suggested it would be next to impossible now to convince Seattle citizens to help pay for an arena when another group is willing to do one without public money “only 15 minutes away.”

SoDo Arena Final Environmental Impact Study Released – Murray Reminds Everyone NHL First Requires Money

 Finance, Security  Comments Off on SoDo Arena Final Environmental Impact Study Released – Murray Reminds Everyone NHL First Requires Money
May 082015
 

People have been working themselves up into a tizzy about alternate arena proposals related to the NHL in Tukwilla and Bellevue.  Are they real, privately funded plans or just distractions prior to the SoDo arena FEIS being released ?  Nobody really knows as NHL team owners tend to do very little without public subsidy.

The FEIS is a huge document I’ll browse through later.  It’s being said that the document did not uncover huge roadblocks but did take a rather low-end view on traffic impacts and estimated a negative impact to the Port of Seattle of $-115,584 a year or so.

I also have noticed that the whole City of Seattle collection of arena documents for the city has gone dark with a 404 error.  (I think I found the re-designed collection for the County)  Hopefully, that’s a temporary issue.

NHL-First Means Sweeten the Private Money Pot

Ed Murray’s comments to the Seattle Times suggest the NHL first proposal will have to put in even more private money towards an arena than the NBA-only one.  I guess Ed realizes that NHL-associated taxes and benefits are likely to be far fewer than that of a NBA team.

While hailing Thursday’s release of a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as “another major milestone” reached, Murray said he’s prepared to look elsewhere if entrepreneur Chris Hansen and his hockey partner can’t produce an “NHL first” funding proposal by fall. Murray told The Seattle Times he needs a “much, much better” public funding package to present to the Seattle City Council than the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Hansen, the city and King County.

That deal calls for up to $200 million in bonds toward a $490 million arena if an NBA team is acquired. But Murray believes there’s no chance of that now, meaning a new proposal with more private money for a riskier “NHL-first” scenario is needed.

“Folks have got to come up with a plan that’s viable for us to finalize this process,’’ said Murray, who needs less public funding to help him sell the council on a request to close a street that’s part of the 627-page EIS. “The timeline you see for decisions on the arena are the timelines for when we either go forward, or we pull the plug.’’

As a refresher of how much public financing (aka, the money the public would be getting to support public functions if this were an entirely private arena) is involved, from way back in September 13, 2012’s meeting we had this chart.  Does Hansen and his NHL partner have a way to sink $400+ million into just the arena and still have things pencil out ?

The range of public money that would be going to the arena project under NBA-only and NBA+NHL scenarios.

The range of public money that would be going to the arena project under NBA-only and NBA+NHL scenarios.

Reality of “no team owner $$ and no arena = no NHL” hits Geoff Baker

 Finance  Comments Off on Reality of “no team owner $$ and no arena = no NHL” hits Geoff Baker
Apr 242015
 

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has many, many pieces where he pines for the NHL to grace Seattle.  He stirs up passions with stories of the NHL leaders meeting with rich guys who drop hints of Seattle, Bellevue, or Tukwilla sites for an arena.  Eventually, reality comes crashing in, as in today’s piece from a AP Sports Editors meeting.  Nobody with as deep pockets as Ballmer is rumored for the NHL in Seattle, and without an NBA team committing both city and private money to an arena, any NHL team would need to throw in big money.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear Friday that Seattle needs an arena plan and financing in place before the league even considers expanding there.

“From a distance, it won’t warrant — if it does at all — serious consideration until there’s a realistic expectation that there’s going to be an arena there,’’ Bettman said. “You’ve got your approvals, you’ve got your financing — you’re ready to go. You’re basically saying, ‘Listen, if we get a team, we’re committed to and are ready to break ground, because this building can be a reality.’ ’’

Why, yes, for a league with many teams on shaky financials, it probably doesn’t make sense to expand to Seattle until a gift arena suddenly appears.  Would you like to look at the KeyArena, because the city council would love to show you around and could cut a nice deal ?

Sports Reporters Find Arena Review Process Confusing, Unclear

 Finance, MOU  Comments Off on Sports Reporters Find Arena Review Process Confusing, Unclear
Jan 192015
 

If you were thinking that the Hansen Team’s secretive “what has been submitted, what is the city waiting on, what is Hansen delaying on” approach to getting an arena approved for building is not transparent, you’re not alone.

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has to make a lot of calls to city workers and still can’t figure out what to write about, so “we need transparency” it is!

On Friday, the city’s department of planning and development revealed the proposed arena’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) had been delayed three more months because of the complexity of issues involved. That realistically pushes well into 2016 the time frame for issuing any permits for the project proposed by entrepreneur Chris Hansen.

And it prompted an unusual news release from Murray’s office — on Saturday morning, no less — saying he wants more transparency from the planning department his office oversees.

Translated into plain English: Murray is taking heat over the latest delay (ed: or he hates getting phone calls from sports reporters on Friday afternoon).

“There’s some frustration out there on both sides of this,’’ (Murray) said in a phone interview. “People on both sides are struggling to understand the process.’’

Murray is not exactly a huge sports fan, but does perform ceremonial functions (waves to the crowd) at playoff games.  Mayor Murray really has not been involved in any of the arena approval steps (they were before he took office) and, aside from Geoff getting him on the phone to talk about sports, I’m not sure what he’s supposed to be “ushering along” to please sports fans currently distracted by OT wins by a team playing the worst game of the season (until the last minutes of the 4th quarter).  But, transparency!

Frankly, this arena saga could use greater transparency from all sides.

….

Hansen also could be more transparent. Much of this now yearlong EIS delay stemmed from him not submitting requested paperwork until late September.

….

It’s also worth noting the city isn’t compiling the EIS. That falls to consultant Katy Chaney of URS Corp.

But we don’t know exactly why she needs more time. Neither does the mayor, from what he told me.

And that’s problematic. It’s OK in a democracy to request that anyone wanting public money be put through rigorous screening. What isn’t OK is dragging things out indefinitely for reasons few understand.

There’s no evidence that’s being done here. But when the public remains in the dark about a process — even if via ignorance — it can lead to abuse.

Murray needs to spread the word about how this process will unfold. Some sports fans might not like the result, but they’ll at least see it coming.

If only someone in the driver’s seat on EIS submissions, the state of the ownership group, if the Bucks are for sale, and very familiar with where things stand had a website they could put that on…..   but then what would Geoff do to keep busy?