The expansion project is underfunded by around $ 300 million as the region struggles to recoup losses from the pandemic.
SEATTLE – King County Director Dow Constantine on Thursday announced a major financial offer to help save the Washington State Convention Center expansion project in downtown Seattle.
Constantine announced that King County is offering a $ 100 million loan to save jobs and continue construction on the project, which is expected to serve Seattle’s economy in the future.
a update sent late last month included a warning that if a solution to a $ 300 million funding gap was not found by the end of 2020, the project would start shutting down and around 1,000 people could be unemployed.
The county loan will not cover the $ 300 million shortfall and will be repaid at an interest rate of 1%. But county leaders and construction managers hope the county’s bid will serve as a model for future funding opportunities.
Union leaders applauded the idea, which has yet to be approved by the King County Council Executive Finance Committee.
Constantine supported the idea of a public loan when he was pressed for the need for a large gathering space after the pandemic: “You know, we keep hearing people say that because of the pandemic, no one will never go back to work in person, that cities are dead, that no one will ever travel, that there will be no conventions. And I think all of this is not supported by what we see and hear all around us, people are eager to come together again. “
Visit Seattle CEO Tom Norwalk said, “I think there are different parts of the travel industry that will recover at different times. I think everyone is pretty convinced that the recovery really starts when vaccines are available and introduced. “
“But we still find a lot of optimism and we have no doubts that travel will flourish again,” added Norwalk.
Lower accommodation tax revenue – associated with travel and tourism – in King County due to COVID-19 pandemic has “hampered” the convention center’s ability to complete the second round funding needed to complete the project by 2022, according to last month’s update.
In May, project manager Matt Griffin said they were in “an unfortunate situation”.
“We don’t like it at all. We have a certain amount of money on hand. If we don’t have additional funds to complete this project, we will have to shut down in 10 to 12 months,” Griffin told the weather.
The expansion, which was already 30% complete in May, spans Interstate 5 and has been the subject of discussion for years.
State and civic leaders have argued that the addition of 1.5 million square feet is needed to compete for multiple conventions.
It was not immediately clear how the remaining $ 200 million budget hole will be filled. But Griffin suggested construction would stop early next year if funding was not secured by the end of December.