Author Archives: Queen Anne Scene

Community Funding, Public Bonds Discussed for KeyArena Renovation

By Chris Daniels

The City of Seattle may need to float a bond to pay for a KeyArena transportation fund to fulfill a $660 million proposal to renovate the site.

That was one of the key questions raised during a lengthy review of the tentative agreement, between the Oak View Group (OVG) and City of Seattle.

OVG agreed on the deal with Seattle’s Office of Economic Development to build a $600 million arena at the current KeyArena site last week. It still needs Seattle City Council approval to proceed.

The agreement, called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), also lays out $20 million for a community fund and a $40 million transportation fund. OVG has agreed to pay for it all with private money.

But on Monday, upon questioning from Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson, the key negotiators mentioned a wrinkle: Seattle may have to bond against the fund.

City Budget Director Ben Noble acknowledged the MOU only calls for OVG to make payments of roughly $1 million a year over 39 years.

“We could, as a city, choose to bond against that,” Noble said. “So current present value basis, it’s 20 million dollars.”

Transportation questions ruled the long briefing. However, the council is expected to drill down on the financing as well.

OVG has offered to cover cost overruns and displacement bills for current tenants. It has also agreed to spend more than $168 million in capital improvement costs to vest two extensions at the site.

OVG believes it can open in the building in September of 2020.  That timeline works for a potential NHL franchise to call Seattle home.

Council chambers were packed with mostly supportive people, including groups who operate out of Seattle Center. Pottery Northwest, in particular, was initially worried about the development. However, their Executive Director James Lobb told the council he’d been encouraged by the discussions with OVG.  Pottery Northwest’s building was slated to be torn down in the arena development. However, OVG has agreed to temporarily relocate the business during construction and put it back in its historic building.

Only a pair of people testified in support of the SoDo Arena project, which, technically, has an agreement with the city that expires in December.

The council is slated to have at least three more meetings on the topic — October 10 and November 16.  The Council could vote on the MOU as early as December 4 or after the SoDo deal expires.

OVG’s Lance Lopes issued a statement after the meeting, expressing optimism.

“We applaud the City of Seattle for its open, collaborative and transparent approach to determining an exciting future for the New Arena at Seattle Center. Today’s meeting in City Council chambers reaffirmed our belief in the broad support for this project as evidenced by the strong turnout. Our team at OVG has been building arenas in communities around the world for nearly 40 years. We’ve seen a lot over four decades – and learned a lot too. We remain laser focused on our project and our partnership with the community, the Uptown, South Lake Union, Queen Anne and Belltown neighborhoods, and the City of Seattle. We will continue to aggressively pursue an NHL franchise, the return of the NBA, and through our close collaboration with Live Nation, make the New Arena at Seattle Center a globally-relevant live music destination.

“The path we’re on with the City, the community and each of our partners is the path we all want for Seattle: A future with a vibrant new arena that’s home to professional hockey, basketball and the biggest concerts and live events on earth. And today we’re one step closer to making that future a reality.”

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TONIGHT: Uptown Rezone and Design Review at SIFF

By Laura Fonda

The Seattle City Council is hosting a special public meeting tomorrow, Monday, September 11th at SIFF Uptown. The meeting will cover two major topics: the Uptown Rezone and changes to the Design Review process. The meeting is open to all, it begins at 5:30pm at SIFF (511 Queen Anne Ave N).

The Uptown Rezone seeks to increase building heights in Uptown/Lower Queen Anne. Per the agenda, the meeting will includes 90 minutes for a presentation and discussion of the Uptown Rezone.

The second part of the meeting includes 120 minutes for a briefing and public hearing on proposed changes to the Design Review Process.

The latest maps for the Uptown Rezone are below. You can also read the latest on the plan here, and bring your questions and concerns to tomorrow’s public meeting at SIFF:

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$7.8 Million Price Tag for Historic Queen Anne Home

By Travis Pittman

A Queen Anne home designed in the 19th Century for a prominent architect is on the market for cool $7.8 million.

The Seattle Historical Society (SHS) says the Riddle-Irwin House overlooks the Space Needle and Puget Sound. It was designed in 1899 for attorney Charles A. Riddle by Edwin W. Houghton who later became an architect. Some of Riddle’s work is still alive today, such as Seattle’s Moore Theater and Hotel.

The two-story home on a corner lot has six bedrooms, five bathrooms, a theater room, and a wine cellar.


The house is a Shingle style, which SHS says “is distinguished by its rounded forms, smoothly covered with wood shingles, making the cladding an organic skin.”

The interior was remodeled in 1941 and again in 1980.

Riddle and his wife lived there until his death in 1928 and was later purchased by Dr. Lilian Irwin, hence its name Riddle-Irwin House.

Thanks to for spotting this gem.

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City Considers Up-zoning Uptown to Allow Taller Buildings

By Daniel Beekman

The Seattle City Council is considering an upzone of Uptown, with action expected as early as next month.

The legislationproposed by Mayor Ed Murray would allow developers to build higher in the neighborhood that wraps around Seattle Center and that is also known as Lower Queen Anne.

And it would activate a program requiring developers to help create affordable housing.

Across most of Uptown, maximum heights would increase slightly, by one or two stories.

In the heart of the neighborhood, for example — around Queen Anne Avenue North and Mercer Street — the jump would be from 40 to 65 feet.

In a triangle of land near South Lake Union, between Denny Way, Broad Street and Aurora Avenue North, maximum heights would increase more, from 85 to 160 feet.

Change is coming to the neighborhood with or without the upzone: The city and Seattle Public Schools plan to build a new high school and stadium at Seattle Center; Sound Transit plans a light-rail station there; and the city is working on an agreement to renovate KeyArena.

Uptown would be the latest neighborhood upzoned by the mayor and council this year, following the University Districtdowntown and South Lake Unionsome Central District intersections and the Chinatown International District.

Murray says the legislation would allow Uptown to better accommodate population growth and would generate low-income housing.

Triggered by the upzone, the Mandatory Housing Affordability program would require Uptown developers to include rent-restricted apartments in their projects or pay fees.

The city would use the fees to help nonprofits build rent-restricted apartments elsewhere in Uptown or in other neighborhoods.

Built on site or with fees, the rent-restricted units would need to be affordable to households making no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income.

This year, 60 percent of the area’s median for a family of four is $57,600 per year.

Under, the mayor’s proposal, Uptown developers would need to devote 5 to 10 percent of their projects to affordable housing or pay $8 to $29.75 per square foot.

Over 20 years, the city estimates Uptown development would create 600 low-income apartments under the Mandatory Housing Affordability program.

The council plans to consider upzones of dozens more neighborhoods next year and could allow apartment buildings on some blocks now reserved for single-family houses.

The Uptown upzone affects only blocks already zoned for apartments and commercial buildings.

Besides allowing taller buildings, the legislation would introduce new development standards meant to make projects pedestrian friendly through amenities such as midblock connections.

And it would offer incentives for developers to create open space and green streets as part of their projects.

The council may amend Murray’s proposal. Councilmember Rob Johnson has suggested adding incentives for developers to build family-size apartments.

Johnson, who chairs the council’s land-use committee, has also suggested capping the number of parking spots Uptown developers would be allowed to build.

The committee held its second discussion on the legislation Tuesday and has scheduled a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at SIFF Cinema Uptown.

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