Seattle Center poised for big land sales

A good chunk of the Seattle Center's $9.4 million operating deficit could be wiped out soon, and there is a possibility that the entire debt could be erased if two proposed city-owned-land sales go through, according to Center spokesman Perry Cooper.

One of the deals involves the sale of a Seattle Center-owned parking lot across the street from the Pacific Science Center on Second Avenue North, while the other involves the sale of the huge Center parking lot on the east side of Fifth Avenue North.

Metropolitan Partners LLC is marketing the lot by the Science Center, and Cooper said it's worth an estimated $4 million. "In looking at it, it's just not making the same money we could get by selling it."

The other parking lot is one of four finalists in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's search for property for a world headquarters. The estimated sales price is $50 million, he said. "It's a pretty significant piece of property."

Selling the parking lot near the Science Center is not a new idea; an attempt was made several years ago to put in a hotel on the property. "That fell through due to the economy at the time," said Cooper, who explained that the developer couldn't come up with the financing.

That was then. "We anticipate the property will generate significant interest from a variety of developers," said Metropolitan Partners broker David Ray in a press release. "The neighborhood is one of the most dynamic in the city, and the adjacency to the Seattle Center presents a unique opportunity to create a signature project."

Deadline for offers on that property is Feb. 4, and a decision on Gates Foundation deal is due within a week or so, Cooper said. The Gates deal is more complicated, he pointed out, because the outdoor basketball court and the skateboard park would have to go.

So would the Seattle Supersonics practice facility, for that matter, but not right away, he said. "Obviously, they have a lease with us. That would have to be honored."

The loss of parking would also be addressed in the foundation deal, according to Cooper. "We would expect them to figure out a way that (parking) would somehow be replaced." One likely scenario is building a parking garage kitty-corner to the Experience Music Project, he said.

The sales of both properties could ease the pain of Key Arena running in the red, but it won't solve the problem, according to Cooper. "A land sale will not turn around what's going on at the Key," he stressed.

The Seattle City Council and Mayor Greg Nickels both have to approve the sales of the two properties, and both would decide how the money would be spent, Cooper noted. "The mayor has said he wants it to go to the continued support of the Seattle Center."

Staff reporter Russ Zabel can be reached at or 461-1309.[[In-content Ad]]