City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools reach agreement on planning for Seattle Center

Partnership agreement will lead to collaboration on Memorial Stadium, new high school

The City of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced a partnership agreement today, to collaborate on the design of SPS properties at Seattle Center, including a new Memorial Stadium and a high school. SPS and the City agreed the design should integrate into the Seattle Center campus and that they will explore nearby alternative sites for the high school. This agreement comes as the City develops a plan to transform Seattle Center in the 21st century, the Uptown neighborhood undergoes unprecedented growth and the possible redevelopment of KeyArena is being negotiated.

 “We have long been partners with Seattle Public Schools, to ensure each of our young people has access to the best education possible,” said Mayor Murray. “That partnership goes even deeper at Seattle Center, where we are mutually dependent on each other. However, as we reimagine Seattle Center and the district identifies ways to build more capacity in our rapidly growing city, we will closely collaborate to ensure our plans best serve SPS and Seattle Center. This agreement shows how SPS and the City can work together to address challenges and build a better Seattle.”

 “A new stadium and a new high school are both critical needs for Seattle Public Schools,” said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland. “We welcome this opportunity to partner with the City on how we can best meet our individual and collective needs.”

The Uptown neighborhood is slated to see significant changes in the coming years as the city rapidly grows. The Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan will be updated to reflect these changes, including the redevelopment of KeyArena, a new light rail station, the Space Needle renovation and a school. The City and SPS have a team of architects and planners who will be working over the next two months, looking at options that will best serve the needs of SPS and Seattle Center.


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Mayor Murray unveils affordability and growth plan, Arts and Culture District for Uptown neighborhood

Today, Mayor Ed Murray unveiled a plan for the future of Uptown, implementing requirements that will generate 600 new affordable homes for low-income people, providing capacity for more market-rate housing and jobs, supporting new spaces for cultural organizations and enacting the community’s vision for the future of the neighborhood. Additionally, Mayor Murray announced Uptown will become Seattle’s third Arts and Cultural District, providing resources to preserve, strengthen and expand arts and cultural spaces. Uptown has long been a cultural destination in Seattle, with over 30 arts, cultural and educational organizations located in the Seattle Center campus and surrounding neighborhood.

“By coupling growth with affordability, we are ensuring that Uptown’s booming culture and economy can be a model for community building rather than a model for gentrification,” said Mayor Murray. “With this announcement, we are ensuring everyone has access to housing in this local hub of arts, culture, transit, green space and jobs. Our housing policies must be about inclusion—this proposal makes good on that goal.”

Over the next 20 years, the proposed zoning changes will result in an estimated 600 new income-restricted and rent-restricted homes for low-income residents through the City’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program, a key recommendation of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. Under MHA, Uptown developers will be required to include affordable homes in between five percent and 10 percent of each building, or contribute between $8.00 and $29.75 per square foot to the Seattle Office of Housing to support affordable housing, depending on the specific location in the neighborhood.

“Uptown is one of our fastest growing urban centers, and borders on Seattle Center, one of the great civic spaces of our city,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia). “With its connections to Downtown, the Waterfront and the growing Belltown and South Lake Union neighborhoods, Uptown is already becoming a vibrant business and residential center. Not surprisingly, rents are rising rapidly in this neighborhood, and we clearly need affordable housing right in Uptown. Through this plan, hundreds of developer-funded affordable housing units will be built. I am committed to working with Uptown leaders to ensure we are using a suite of tools to create the housing we need.”

“I am excited for the implementation of MHA in the Uptown neighborhood. Through these zoning changes, we can ensure that more people have access to this vibrant neighborhood,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson (District 4, Northeast Seattle). “As an area with great access to job centers, open space, transportation, as well as arts, culture and civic institutions like the Seattle Center and KeyArena, its density and amenity mix support a high level of livability. It is important that we continue to implement MHA and create additional affordable housing in our communities so that our artists, nonprofit employees, and workers of all wages can continue to contribute to the character of Seattle.”

For more than three years, Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) worked with community members to envision a vibrant future for the Uptown neighborhood. The proposal includes neighborhood priorities, such as design standards, that support vibrant streetscapes, incentives for new arts and cultural spaces, improved connections to Seattle Center, and enhanced walkability as outlined in the Uptown Urban Design Framework (UDF).

“The Urban Design Framework in this ordinance will help create the neighborhood where we want to live and work as Uptown grows,” said Deborah Frausto, chair of the Uptown Alliance UDF Committee. “We still have work to do in creating more possibilities for open space, affordable and workforce housing, and walkable community that’s safe and welcoming. Our community, with its generosity of spirit and gifts of time and expertise, will continue to stay involved and share ideas of what they want their neighborhood to be like.”

Mayor Murray’s proposal allows new building heights for many areas of the neighborhood already zoned for multi-family residential and mixed-use commercial buildings, providing additional capacity for market-rate and income-restricted housing within walking distance of South Lake Union, Belltown and Downtown. The rezone proposal includes an increase in building height along the Mercer Street Corridor from the current 40 feet to 85 feet, the same as the current height limit on the Seattle Center campus. The iconic public views of the Space Needle and the Seattle skyline as seen from Kerry Park, Bhy Kracke Park and other key view corridors are protected under the proposal.

The triangle bounded by Broad, Aurora and Denny could feature taller, thinner, well-spaced, 16-story residential towers. Other areas of the Uptown Urban Center currently zoned for multi-family residential or mixed-use would receive one or two stories of additional height. No zoning changes are proposed outside of the Uptown Urban Center or in nearby single-family neighborhoods.

Additionally, the rezone will create incentives for new arts and cultural spaces, giving smaller organizations a chance to operate in or near Seattle Center, which attracts visitors from around the world. The rezone will also help preserve historic buildings by allowing them to sell unused development rights.

In the last two years, 20 King County Metro bus lines that serve the neighborhood have expanded service because of voter-approved Proposition 1, improving transit speed and reliability. The Seattle Department of Transportation has updated signal controls on Mercer, Roy, and Valley streets to be more sensitive to real-time traffic conditions. Similar signal upgrades are planned for Denny Way. New street connections across Aurora at John, Thomas and Harrison will ease pressure on Mercer and Denny after the SR-99 tunnel opens.

Uptown Arts and Cultural District

Since the 1962 World’s Fair, Uptown has been a hub of Seattle arts and culture with the largest concentration of diverse organizations that range from independent artists, to internationally renowned classical arts, to innovative theater and visual arts, to ethnic festivals from around the world, to major music concerts. The Arts and Cultural District designation recognizes the culturally rich neighborhood and seeks to enhance its character.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as an official Arts and Cultural District,” said Cyrus Despres, co-chair and president of the Uptown Arts & Culture Coalition. “Uptown is experiencing the same growing pains as the rest of Seattle, and we are committed to enhancing our cultural experiences and evolving our identity as a welcoming home for the arts in Seattle.”

The designation includes access to the Creative Placemaking Toolkit, a suite of tools designed to preserve, strengthen, and expand arts and cultural spaces. The district will have access to $50,000 to be used toward the toolkit’s programs and resources for right-of-way identifiers, wayfinding, busking and plein air painting, art historic markers, pop-up activations, and parklets. The toolkit was designed to support artists, art spaces, and neighborhoods in maintaining and investing in their cultural assets.

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Mayor Ed Murray announces Oak View Group as preferred partner for redevelopment of KeyArena

Mayor Ed Murray announced Oak View Group (OVG) as the preferred partner for the redevelopment of KeyArena today, beginning the process of negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will meet the needs of the surrounding community, the City, Seattle Center and the people who will enjoy the building for years to come. Today’s announcement comes at the culmination of a process that began last fall, with two organizations offering more than $1 billion to rebuild KeyArena into a world-class sports and entertainment facility. KeyArena is the centerpiece of the broader vision of a Seattle Center that is a central destination for Seattleites and people who visit our city each year.

“Today is an exciting day for the City, Sonics fans and everyone who looks forward to visiting KeyArena for hundreds of events each year,” said Mayor Murray. “KeyArena is one of our city’s great landmarks, and we will now work with OVG to get the best deal for Seattle – one that embraces the surrounding community, helps lay the foundation for the future of Seattle, and brings the Sonics home and the NHL to Seattle. I want to thank Oak View Group and Seattle Partners for working with the City of Seattle on the future of KeyArena and their interest in investing in the city.”

In February of 2017, the City of Seattle released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to redevelop KeyArena into a world-class sports and entertainment facility. Two serious bidders, Oak View Group and Seattle Partners, presented more than $1 billion in combined investments to reimagine the arena at the heart of Seattle Center. Oak View Group’s proposal emerged as the preferred option from the internal and external review processes. The Mayor’s Executive Review Team, led by Brian Surratt, unanimously selected Oak View Group as the preferred partner on Friday, June 2, 2017.

“On behalf of OVG, we want to congratulate the City of Seattle for its vision in revitalizing the arena at Seattle Center,” said Tim Leiweke, Co-founder and CEO of Oak View Group. “We are honored to partner with the Seattle Center, Uptown and Queen Anne neighborhoods, and the City, to preserve this historic building while transforming it into a world-class sports and live entertainment venue. We are committed to being a good neighbor, building on time and on budget with no risk to the taxpayers and City. Lastly, we will be a partner in the City’s path to bringing the NHL to Seattle and the return of the NBA. There is much work ahead and we have a great team and partner in the City of Seattle.”

While leaving the iconic roofline intact, OVG plans to redevelop the entire interior of the building, digging fifteen feet lower than the existing floor to add more square footage, bringing the arena size up to 660,000 square feet. Since KeyArena is eligible for historic landmark status, maintaining the existing roofline was identified as an important criterion. And OVG’s design meets at least the requirements of both the NBA and NHL.

OVG’s plan does not rely on the City’s bonding capacity, and they have partnered with Live Nation and Madison Square Garden Group, two well-established companies with the financial resources to build and operate an Arena of this size and scope. Additionally, OVG has strong relationships with both the NBA and NHL, which will be necessary to court teams in the future.

“I have been involved in basketball all my life, and I believe that Oak View Group’s vision provides the best way to bring the Sonics back to Seattle,” said Lenny Wilkens, former head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics and a member of the Arena Community Advisory Panel.

“Seattle’s labor community is excited about the opportunity to redevelop KeyArena,” said Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary of the M.L. King-County Labor Council and a member of the Arena Community Advisory Panel. “This project, during and after construction, will be a major employer, and OVG has indicated a strong commitment to equity and to workers as we move forward.”

Over several months, a Community Advisory Panel, external consultants who are experts in arenas, and internal City staff evaluated the proposals based on the following criteria:

  • Provide a world-class civic venue to attract and present music, entertainment, and sports events, potentially including NBA and NHL events, to Seattle and the region.
  • Provide for project design and arena operations in a manner that integrates with and enhances connections to Uptown and adjoining neighborhoods and aligns with the urban design
  • Provide for design, permitting, development, demolition (if applicable), and construction of the arena with minimal City financial participation.
  • Mayor Ed Murray announces Oak View Group as preferred partner for redevelopment of KeyArena.
  • Provide for the continuous, successful, sustainable operation of the arena as a world-class civic venue with minimal City financial participation.
  • Provide for mitigation of transportation impacts due to project construction and arena operations.
  • Provide project construction and arena operations in a manner that is equitable for workers and consistent with the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative.
  • Provide for project design and arena operational integration with Seattle Center, contributing positively to the vibrancy of Seattle Center.

Also, the City collected comments from residents at an open house and online. While this process focused on the possible redevelopment of KeyArena, the City continues to honor its MOU with the group led by Chris Hansen, which continues into December of this year. Today’s announcement underscores the interest in building a world-class arena in Seattle, offering the City an option should the Hansen group fail to secure an NBA team, and helps address the future of the City-owned KeyArena.

In addition to their expertise with the arena, OVG demonstrated a commitment to the Seattle community. They established a $20 million community investment fund, $10 million of which will be dedicated to fighting youth homelessness through YouthCare.

“It is beyond our most vivid daydreams to think about all that will unfold through our partnership with Oak View Group,” said Melinda Giovengo, CEO of YouthCare, an organization that has provided support to homeless youth in the Seattle community for more than 40 years and to which Oak View Group has pledged $10 million over the next 20 years. “YouthCare is incredibly honored to be part of this transformative and historic project. So often homeless youth are invisible or left behind. But today? They are right alongside the City as it prepares to take a powerful and innovative step into its future. We thank Oak View Group for their commitment to Seattle’s shared values, and to helping homeless youth in our community find safety and prepare to take powerful steps into their own futures.”

On Wednesday, Mayor Ed Murray signed a letter agreeing to negotiate with Oak View Group to determine the final terms in a MOU. Once the terms are agreed upon, City Council will vote on the MOU by the end of 2017

The City of Seattle invites the community to continue to share their thoughts about Oak View Group’s design to help inform our negotiations moving forward. Visit to share your thoughts and to review materials.

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Mayor Murray statement on KeyArena proposals

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement regarding today’s announcement by Seattle Partners:

“We appreciate Seattle Partners’ interest in investing in KeyArena and our ongoing partnership with AEG on major events, such as Bumbershoot. Over the last few months, the City and the Community Advisory Panel have undertaken a careful review of the two proposals to redevelop KeyArena into a world class entertainment facility that will bring the NHL to Seattle and the Sonics back home.

“There are strengths and weaknesses in each proposal and the City fully expects a robust negotiation upon choosing a preferred alternative, to ensure the final plan meets the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods, the city, Seattle Center and those who will use the building for years to come.

“It is unfortunate Seattle Partners chose to pull their proposal. As recently as May 19th, Seattle Partners stated in a mass email: ‘We applaud the City for executing a thoughtful public process. Engaging with teams from the City and the public has strengthened our proposal and crystallized our approach.’ We hope to continue our current relationship with AEG and look forward to addressing our path forward on KeyArena, as well as our commitment to engage the community, in the coming days.”

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Mayor Murray announces $1.1 million in matching fund awards for community-based projects

Mayor Ed Murray has announced an investment of $1,182,400 to support 28 community-initiated projects across the City. The awards are from the Neighborhood Matching Fund’s Community Partnership Fund which provides awards of up to $100,000 to community organizations committed to fostering and building our community. The awards range from $10,500 to $100,000 with the 28 organizations pledging a total of $1,729,494 in community match resources of locally raised money, donated materials, in-kind professional services and volunteer hours.

“Through the Neighborhood Matching Fund, the City helps to support the efforts of the many community members whose creativity and hard work make this a more vibrant, interesting, and inclusive city for everyone,” said Mayor Murray. “From providing free classical concerts to creating a youth fitness challenge to celebrating the rich heritage of ethnic communities – our community members can use this fund to make their ideas come alive, and we are all richer for it.”

NMF consists of two separate funds: Community Partnership Fund, which is offered three times a year with cash awards up to $100,000, and the Small Sparks Fund, which is offered on a rolling basis throughout the year with cash awards of up to $5,000. To make the program more accessible, several enhancements were introduced this year including a streamlined application, added flexibility, and faster review processes. The program improvements have already resulted in nearly half of the applications coming from first time applicant groups. The next CPF application deadlines are June 26 and September 25.

The Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) provides more than $3 million each year to local organizations. Over its 29-year history, more than 5,000 projects have been funded in partnership with the NMF Program, and its investment in neighborhoods can be seen across the city. For more information about NMF, visit

2017 Community Partnership Fund Awards – Spring Cycle

Citywide (Across all Council Districts)

$95,400 to The Seattle Globalist to organize a series of 17 free media workshops to train diverse communities to identify and produce multimedia stories about issues facing international communities around Seattle. The stories will be featured on its website and at a public celebration this fall. (Community match: $53,760)

$100,000 to Seattle Repertory Theatre to engage all ages and backgrounds from eight neighborhoods to participate in one year of free theatre-based classes led by professional teaching artists. It will include a production of four performances featuring the participants. (Community match: $734,493)

$60,000 to Town Hall Seattle to facilitate Inside/Out Community-Created Events in four neighborhoods. Neighborhood committees will collaborate as co-creators to develop and produce three to five inclusive arts and civics events in their neighborhoods. (Community match: $100,900)

$50,000 to Center for Linguistic and Cultural Democracy to organize a series of workshops and events to celebrate the arts and culture of the Caribbean throughout summer 2017. (Community match: $46,440)

District 1

$100,000 to Friends of Highland Park Elementary to construct a new public entryway and new play features at the Highland Park Elementary School playground. (Community match: $129,400)

$28,300 to Friends of 5th and Cloverdale to engage the community and a landscape architecture consulting team in a design process for streetscape improvements at the intersection of 5th Ave S and S Cloverdale St. (Community match: $18,730)

$10,500 to The Community Outreach Challenge Steering Committee to host the Community Outreach Challenge, a three-day fitness challenge for youth, to promote teamwork and decision-making through fitness. (Community match: $10,940)

District 2

$30,400 to Rainier Beach Merchants Association to organize the Rainier Beach Music and Arts Fest (BAAMFest), a cultural festival held in July to celebrate Rainier Beach’s beautiful, vibrant community, cultural heritage, and highlight its business district. (Community match: $29,895)

$29,800 to Othello Park Alliance to organize the Othello Park International Music and Arts Festival in August which will include music, food, art, and dance for all ages and cultures. (Community match: $31,634)

$15,100 to Friends of Japantown and Beyond to develop a series of free community walks in Chinatown-International District this year. The walk route will include sites of historical, economic, and cultural significance to the Japanese American community. (Community match: $39,100)

$27,800 to Friends of Block Party at The Station to organize the 2017 Block Party at The Station, an annual music and arts festival which showcases South Seattle artists and small businesses. This year’s festival will spotlight marginalized communities with most festival performers being women and LGBTQ artists of color. (Community match: $18,568)

$34,000 to East African Arts & Cultural Association to organize events to celebrate Ethiopian Week in July. The events will bring together the Ethiopian community to practice their heritage, engage Ethiopian youth in relevant community issues, and strengthen mutual understanding and respect among various cultures. (Community match: $19,400)

$20,000 to Big-Brained Superheroes Club to facilitate mini workshops by the Big-Brained Superheroes of Yesler Terrace, youth ages 5-18, on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). (Community match: $23,500)

$21,200 to Soul Societies to provide art instruction and cultural exploration to approximately 50 youth as a part of Tales of Art Project. This project will provide a place for Vietnamese and East African youth to create and showcase their artwork with the hope of increasing intra-cultural awareness and appreciation. (Community match: $10,760)

$25,000 to Somali Community Services of Seattle to organize a series of theater and acting trainings for youth in South Seattle this summer followed by a public performance. This project will bring together community members from various racial and ethnic backgrounds to promote understanding and cohesion. (Community match: $14,000)

$30,000 to It Takes a Village to organize The Middle Passage Healing Project, a series of events designed to foster unity among African Americans and East Africans. Digital storytelling, dance, art, music, African proverbs, podcasts, social media and cultural recipes will be highlighted. (Community match: $42,800)

$30,000 to Fathers & Sons Together (FAST) to organize six outdoor activities and powerful lessons with the goal of empowering fathers and guardians to embrace the pivotal role they hold in the family structure and support them in mentoring their sons and male youth into manhood. (Community match: $21,400)

District 3

$99,000 to Eritrean Association of Greater Seattle to make physical improvements to the Eritrean Association Community Center to improve opportunities for community events and educational activities. (Community match: $49,500)

$30,000 to Garinagu Houngua to organize a series of music, language, history, and food workshops centered on cultural exchange between the Garifuna and Panamanian communities in Seattle.  (Community match: $35,273)

$24,000 to Ethiopian Women Mothers & Family to organize an all-day celebration at Powell Barnett Park of the achievements of Ethiopian women through arts and culture, speaker presentations, family entertainments, and role model awards. (Community match: $39,275)

District 4

$58,000 to Sand Point Arts and Cultural Exchange to install equipment to launch KMGP 101.1, a low power radio station, with the goal of connecting communities using arts and culture and providing equity over the airwaves. (Community match: $44,677)

District 5

$46,800 to Friends of Jane Addams Middle School to engage the community and a landscape architect to prepare conceptual landscape design drawings to improve outdoor usability and safety at Jane Addams Middle School. (Community match: $24,930)

$50,000 to Friends of Evanston P-Patch to renovate the Evanston P-Patch’s decaying infrastructure by building a new path, new fence, sheds, a greenhouse, and a community gathering space with input from gardeners and neighbors. (Community match: $49,600)

District 7

$18,100 to Discover Music in the Park to organize a free outdoor classical music and dance concert in Discovery Park this August. (Community match: $11,760)

$20,000 to Magnolia Chamber of Commerce to install “Discover Magnolia” street flags, host three art walks, and implement an art in empty storefronts program as part of the Visible Village Vitality effort. (Community match: $12,700)

$40,000 to STRUM Community Group to organize music programming and potluck events to bring together musicians from the city’s homeless population and neighbors who share an interest in making music and building community. (Community match: $50,000)

$65,000 to Sundiata African American Cultural Association to produce Festival Sundiata, June 10-11, the largest African American festival in the Northwest that celebrates the culture of people of African descent, through music, food, dance and artistic expression. (Community match: $52,660)

$24,000 to Friends of Sheridan Street End to collaborate with a design firm to prepare conceptual design and permitting for improvements that would provide greater public access and community amenities at the West Sheridan Street End. ($13,400)

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