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Originally published September 22, 2011 at 5:01 PM | Page modified September 23, 2011 at 9:48 AM

Parking tiff settled; stadium-lot development ready to go

An ambitious redevelopment project in CenturyLink Field's sprawling north parking lot — considered key to revitalizing Pioneer Square — will break ground next week now that a last-minute dispute over replacement stadium parking has been settled, the project's developer said Thursday.

Seattle Times business reporter

quotes Have Paul Allen/Seahawks build a garage on the other half of the surface parking lot... Read more
quotes The county is selling 491 spots in it's own garage that is across rail tracks, 6 blocks... Read more
quotes I guess 500 parking spots for a stadium that seats 70,000 is going to crush all sports... Read more

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An ambitious redevelopment project in CenturyLink Field's sprawling north parking lot — considered key to revitalizing Pioneer Square — will break ground next week now that a last-minute dispute over replacement stadium parking has been settled, the project's developer said Thursday.

"I'm going to Disneyland!" an elated Kevin Daniels said. "This has been the most difficult and challenging four years in my professional life, but it's the opportunity of a lifetime."

The project's first phase includes 444 apartments in 10- and 25-story towers, plus retail and parking.

Eventually, Daniels Real Estate and development partner R.D. Merrill plan a total of 700 apartments and 420,000 feet of office space on the 4-acre site south of South King Street.

The apartments are the project's most important component, said Leslie Smith, executive director of the Alliance for Pioneer Square: "Adding more market-rate housing is the first step toward making Pioneer Square a real neighborhood."

The parking spat, which erupted last month over how to replace the 491 spaces the North Lot project would displace, had put Daniels' construction financing in limbo and delayed the closing of his purchase of the property from King County.

With that fight resolved, Daniels said, his lender, Pacific Life, is back on board. The property sale, negotiated in 2007, could close as soon as Friday.

City and county officials identified the site as ripe for redevelopment more than a decade ago. A series of agreements dating back to 1998 allowed the state Public Stadium Authority, CenturyLink Field's owner and Paul Allen's First & Goal, the Seahawks' parent company, rent-free use of the 491 stalls — and all the revenue they generate — until redevelopment happened.

Then the developer was to provide replacement parking.

The dispute arose last month because, with project construction imminent, the parties still hadn't reached agreement on where those replacement stalls should be.

The settlement, announced late Thursday by King County Executive Dow Constantine, calls for the replacement parking to be in a county-owned Metro transit employee-parking garage at Sixth Avenue South and South Royal Brougham Way.

Daniels would pay the county $10.2 million for 491 stalls in the 1,009-vehicle garage, Constantine said. That's in addition to $10 million Daniels is paying for the North Lot property.

The county then would transfer control of those garage spaces to the stadium authority. First & Goal would get the revenue from them, as it does now from the North Lot spaces.

The Metro garage usually is just one-third full on nights and weekends when stadium parking demand is greatest, Constantine said. The deal envisions making even more than 491 spaces available for many events, he added.

The settlement not only clears the way for the North Lot project, he said, but also generates $10 million for the county from an underutilized facility, money that could be used for new buses and bus shelters.

What's more, Constantine said, "it avoids construction of another parking garage on a scarce downtown parcel."

In a prepared statement, stadium authority board chair Lorraine Hine called the deal "a win for the region and the stadium."

Daniels said the $10.2 million is about $2 million more than he had planned to spend to satisfy the replacement-parking obligation. Some less-significant features of the North Lot project could be scaled back as a result, he said.

Planners and Pioneer Square activists say the North Lot project is important because it would provide what the neighborhood needs most to thrive: more residents.

About 85 percent of Pioneer Square's current residents "live in the missions or the equivalent," said Smith. They shouldn't be forced out, she added, "but it's important to have more people in the neighborhood with money to spend."

The North Lot development's residents will boost retailers already doing business in the neighborhood, Smith said, and attract stores Pioneer Square's population can't support now.

The project isn't a panacea, she said, but "putting more people on the streets makes places more lively. It makes them feel safer."

City officials concurred. "We'll never revitalize Pioneer Square's retail businesses without significant residential development in the neighborhood," Mayor Mike McGinn said in a prepared statement praising the parking deal.

To celebrate the groundbreaking, the Alliance for Pioneer Square has scheduled a block party at the project site at 4 p.m. on Monday.

The North Lot also would be the largest transit-oriented development on the West Coast, Daniels says: Light rail, commuter rail, buses, Amtrak and ferries all are nearby.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or epryne@seattletimes.com

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