After years of planning, the Washington State Convention Center updates and construction are officially underway, as an 11-story addition will be added to “the sprawling cite of the Convention Place Station at the north portal of the downtown transit tunnel.” The $1.7 billion project is one of the biggest developments to be embarked upon in Seattle, and as Puget Sound Business Journal outlines, it is expected to “create up to 6,000 union construction jobs and hundreds of apprenticeships.”

Upon opening in 2021, it will add nearly 4,000 jobs to the Emerald City and “generate around $260 million in new customer spending and $19 million in sales taxes.” Among the features to be included in the update are 225,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 60,000 square foot ballroom and 125,000 square feet of meeting rooms. As Tom Norwalk, CEO of Visit Seattle, tells PSBJ, “the current facility is not large enough. Seattle has had to turn away more than 350 conventions in the past five years.”

The city agreed to allocate some publicly owned alleys to the convention center in exchange for $93.5 million to fund pedestrian, park and other improvements. The city is attempting to alleviate congestion and traffic issues with this and other projects in the pipeline through the One Center City initiative, which aims to “make the transportation network work better with projects totaling $30 million.”

The latest timeline updates released by the Washington State Convention Center pins the following items as being completed by the end of 2018, the majority of which have already been accomplished: a NEPA final environmental impact statement, a city council decision regarding street and alley vacations, the issuance of a Master Use Permit and building permits, construction documentation, and the commencement of construction with demolition and excavation (which starts this month). Structural work, exterior enclosures and rough-in framing are expected to begin next year.

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