King County agrees to sell downtown bus station for convention center expansion

The King County Council voted Monday to sell its downtown bus station for $162 million, to make room for a four-acre Washington State Convention Center expansion.

The Metropolitan King County Council voted 8-0 on Monday to sell a four-acre bus station in downtown Seattle for $162 million, so the Washington State Convention Center can double in size.

The project ought to provide 6,000 construction jobs and 2,300 long-term hospitality jobs, sponsors estimate. A quarter-million square feet of exhibit space, in one vast hall, will be added by 2020.

It will create traffic congestion near-term, by evicting 570 daily buses from Convention Place Station, the downtown transit tunnel and adjoining ramps to I-5 and surface streets, two years from now.

Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, whose district includes the site, said the addition’s vertical design increases Seattle’s advantage of a compact campus, in the heart of the city, instead of a far-flung location where people must find a ride, then walk long distances.

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A 29-story, 400-unit housing tower, and a 16-story office tower will also be built on a former car dealership across Olive Way.

Within the $1.6 billion convention center expansion budget, an additional $14 million will go toward housing subsidy programs by Seattle and King County, and $4.6 million to public art. After the vote, project developer Matt Griffin said more proposals will be unveiled in July to bring total “public benefits” contributions past $40 million.

The project has many friends, including construction unions, land developers and the hospitality industry.

“The convention center will create many good job opportunities for FareStart graduates who are struggling to escape homelessness and poverty,” said Lauren Young, a fundraiser for the nonprofit, in public…

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