The head of Seattle’s economic development office said city negotiators have held all-day sessions with the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group on finer points of their proposed $564 million renovation.
City officials said Monday they are on target for completing a draft agreement to renovate KeyArena for NBA and NHL use by Sept. 12, and they hope a final deal is achieved before year’s end.
Brian Surratt, head of Seattle’s economic development office, told a city council arena committee meeting at City Hall that language on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is already being drafted. Surratt said city negotiators have held three all-day sessions with the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group (OVG) on finer points of their proposed $564 million renovation.
“This is a generational opportunity for this community,” Surratt told the council’s Select Committee on Civic Arenas, co-chaired by Debora Juarez and Bruce Harrell. “It’s on an asset that is regional in scope, and if we’re going to do this we’ve got to do this right.’’
The council is also to consider a proposal by entrepreneur Chris Hansen to build an all-private arena in the city’s Sodo District. Hansen still has a five-year MOU in effect from 2012 that would provide him up to $200 million in public-bond funds for an arena if he can land an NBA team first.
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That MOU expires Dec. 3. Surratt acknowledged the city is still bound by terms of that agreement for now but is focused mainly on KeyArena and “redevelopment of that important city asset” for the time being.
“After Sept. 12, we hope that city council carves out the time,” Surratt said. “I know you have a busy time. Again, we respect that. We hope that council can review this. … We hope to have a process designed for a fairly quick action before the end of the year.”
But some council members expressed concern about being able to meet such a time frame. The council has engaged its own consultant to review the city’s draft MOU with OVG after Sept. 12, but that bumps up against the start of a two-month period typically used by staffers to help finalize the city’s budget.
“I think there are just some realities around how council works and the other pressures and timelines that I want us to be really cognizant about to accommodate the work plan,” council member Lorena Gonzalez said.
Committee co-chair Juarez told the council that the independent consultant hired will assist the council in breaking down components of the draft MOU to help expedite the process.
“That person will digest a lot of that information, get it back to this table and to all of us,” Juarez said.
Juarez said she and co-chair Harrell agree that among that council consultant, a separate one working with the Mayor’s office and the city’s legal department, there should be enough assistance to get questions answered promptly.
But ultimately, she added: “If we need more time, then we need more time.”
The revised, all-private Hansen proposal in Sodo is still winding its way through the department of transportation and also could reach the council by early fall. The council would have to decide whether to hold a vote on vacating part of Occidental Avenue South so Hansen could complete his arena land blueprint.
During a public speakers’ session, a man who said he was a truck driver and small business owner in Sodo told the council Occidental is not a critical transportation valve in the neighborhood. The Port of Seattle and some Maritime unions opposing Hansen’s project have argued differently, claiming a new Sodo arena would hamper freight mobility.
The Mariners, Seahawks and Sounders have also complained that Hansen’s group has yet to negotiate a binding event scheduling deal with them.