Category: Convention Center Public Benefits

In the News: Convention Center Expansion

In case you missed it, the Convention Center expansion was the subject of last week’s Community Post over on the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog.

Our Sustainability Manager and Planning Director look at the affects of the project and lay out the case for investing $57 million in affordable homes for WSCC workers: “We are in the midst of a housing shortage. We can no longer afford to boast how many jobs a project will bring to our city without thoughtful consideration of where these new workers will live.”

Read more over on the Blog, or follow the link here.

Where will the new Convention Center workers live? Behind the numbers.

As our region booms, we are adding far more jobs than housing units.  From 2010 to 2015 Seattle has added 49 jobs, but only 12 homes per day.  Our city and region is particularly behind on providing housing for people who make 50% of the median income or less, people like hotel desk clerks who average $12.32 per hour.  The Washington State Convention Center projects that their new expansion was create 2,300 jobs in the hospitality industry downtown.  As our country continue to climb out of the Great Recession, we need more jobs.  Unfortunately, many of these jobs will not pay enough to afford to live in Seattle.  When these workers and their families cannot afford housing near work, they are forced into long commutes, that add to traffic congestion, hurt our environment, and take away time from family and community.  Luckily, the Convention Center can do something about this by providing affordable housing as a public benefit.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for our region and on similar findings for recent downtown Seattle hotel projects, we expect that 60% of the jobs created by the Convention Center expansion will make less than 50% of Area Median Income.  The local hotel workers Union, UNITE HERE Local 8, has shared information in the past that the average household size for its members is 1.33.  Thanks to the income of other family members, only half of the workers making 50% of Area Median Income or less live in households that fall below 50%.  This combination of figures leads us to a simple equation for calculating the need for affordable (50% of AMI) housing created by the expansion: 2,300 X 0.6 X 0.5 / 1.33 = 519.  It costs about $110,000 in local subsidy to create 50 years of affordability, which gets us to about $57 million in needed funding.

 

WSCC Addition

 

Build More Homes. House More People.

Build More Homes. House More People.

In case you’ve missed it, plans are underway to redevelop the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC). This billion dollar project, dubbed the “Addition,” will double the capacity of the existing convention center and is expected to begin construction in 2017.

Before that happens, the Addition is assembling a package of community benefits that will go along with the project. Why are public benefits on the table?  As part of the project, they are requesting the city vacate three alleys and underground portions of Olive Way and Terry Avenue. In exchange,  the developer has agreed to pay for these rights of way and also provide a package of public benefits.

Next Wednesday, December 7th, WSCC Addition is hosting an open house to present and get feedback on different community benefit concepts. Our friends from the Lid I-5 campaign will be advocating for a feasibility study to figure out where lidding I-5 is most reasonable citywide, what the new land should be used for, and how the freeway can be improved for commuters and neighbors alike.

We’ll be there to make sure that affordable housing is part of the conversation. Check out the graphic below to understand what’s at stake and how the WSCC addition can help us build more affordable homes and house more people.

Make sure to show up on Wednesday to make your voice heard. You can RSVP to the event on Facebook. WSCC has also circulated an online survey where you can vote on which concept you will like to see.

WSCC Public Benefits Open House

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

5-7 p.m.

WSCC, (705 Pike St, Seattle, WA) Room 2AB