SEATTLE - King County Executive Dow Constantine said Thursday that the county is considering a $100 million financing package to help finish the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center.
The Convention Center needs an estimated $300 million to finish construction of the $1.9 billion expansion of the project.
The project was being funded by bonds to be repaid by future lodging tax revenues, but that money has dried up with COVID-19 limiting travel and tourism.
Constantine says the financial package would help save the jobs of hundreds of construction workers and put future economic development at risk.
“I have always advocated for sustainable economic development and family-wage jobs. That's why this has been a priority project for me over the course of a decade,” said Constantine. “Particularly at this moment – with so many people struggling – this is good and compelling public policy. We have an obligation to help our region compete for convention and visitor dollars. King County will be fully repaid from future lodging tax revenues, but the real benefit will come in the form of thousands of good jobs and growth opportunities for local businesses.”
The project could shut down by the spring if the public facilities district can't find a solution to fund the remaining $300 million of the project.
“Perhaps at no other time in our region’s history has it been more critical to fight tooth and nail to save every existing family-wage job,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County Council Budget Chair. “And I believe we have a fiscal duty to do everything it takes to keep this highly significant project for our economic recovery moving forward. This world-class facility will serve as an economic engine and attraction for generations to come driving our economy and creating job opportunities throughout King County.”
The Convention Center is projected to be finished by 2022.