With a hearing over the potential street vacation of a portion of Occidental Avenue S coming on Tuesday, arena investor Chris Hansen joined Dave "Softy" Mahler to provide an update on the process of returning the NBA to Seattle.
The fight over the vacation of a little used street that essentially works as an alleyway seems absurd. However, it's one of the few remaining hurdles before the land the arena would be built upon would be ready for development.
"We're not going to be able to build an arena on that block if that part of the street doesn't get vacated." Hansen said.
The Port of Seattle has championed the opponent cause for the entire arena project and are once again making a stand over the vacation of Occidental. Opponents have called the street a key roadway for Port traffic.
This time lapse video of the traffic on the portion of street in question would seem to show otherwise.
Nevermind that the Port of Seattle could ultimately close Pier 46 altogether on their own per a story by Stephen Dunphy in the Seattle Business Magazine.
New, highly automated terminals planned for Harbor Island, Fick observes, will likely be able to handle virtually all of Seattle’s container traffic volume. Some insiders speculate that the increased efficiency could lead the alliance to shut down Terminal 46, near the SoDo-Stadium district, when Hanjin Shipping Co.’s lease ends in 2025. But Fick and the Port may have other plans for the area. Asked about Terminal 46, Fick says cautiously that he would more likely be a buyer than a seller.
But that's beside the point here. Back to the subject at hand.
The portion of Occidental would not be vacated unless an NBA team has been acquired and the arena is built. Only in that circumstance would the vacation occur.
Hansen said having the right to build an arena on this portion of land is the most important aspect. The street vacation approval is one of the few remaining major hurdles to that right being in place.
Hansen said that even with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city, county and Hansen set to expire in two years, Hansen said that he believes they would be able to have up to 10 years to hold the capability to build an arena at that location.
The funding package agreed upon with the MOU could potentially have to be be readdressed, but the land would be ready for an arena.
Also, Hansen said the assertion that his group, or the city of Seattle, hasn't adequately explored the idea of a renovated Key Arena as a more viable option is asinine.
"We did look at [Key Arena]," Hansen said. "The idea that it could be adequately renovated for under $300 million is ludicrous."
"You need Key Arena to play in," Hansen continued. "Unless somebody wants to build on spec, [you need to play in Key Arena] for two years while we build the new arena."