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Seattle Municipal Civic Center Master Plan
June 1999

Back To Table of Contents :: On To Section 10: Appendix

Section 9: Implementation Strategies

Illustration 37 - Civic Center Project Organization
Illustration 38 - Primary Planning Dates of the Civic Center Master Plan
Illustration 39 - Financial Assumptions
Illustration 40 - Capital Projects
Illustration 41 - Debt Capacity Table (in millions)
Illustration 42 - Project Work Plan


The Civic Center Master Plan is not a static document. The Plan is intended to anticipate long range needs and provide sufficient specificity to guide the Civic Center development over the next ten years, while also being sufficiently flexible to accommodate the unknown. Thus, the Plan is actually an on-going "activity" which goes beyond locating, designing and constructing the buildings and public spaces. In order to meet all of the goals and objectives of the Plan, regular review , a formal update process and oversight of the Implementation strategies and policies are as important as the Plan itself.

The intent of the Implementation Strategies section is to outline key strategies and management accountability necessary to implement the Civic Center Plan. These key strategies include:

I. Plan Oversight, Advocacy and Updates

II. Phasing and Implementation Schedule

III. Financial Assumptions and Debt Capacity

IV. Trends and Policies in Support of the Implementation Plan

V. Sub-Plans

VI. Work Plan

Strategy I: Civic Center Plan Oversight, Advocacy and Updates

Plan Oversight

It is the Mayors responsibility, as Chief Executive Officer of the City, to implement the adopted Civic Center Master Plan. To that end, the Mayor has convened a decision-making body ("The Client Group") specifically to provide policy guidance and oversight for implementing the Plan. The "Client Group" will advise the Mayor on the specifics of the planned projects and monitor the Plans scope, schedule, and budget. The Client Group, upon review of staff analysis, will review and monitor approved projects specifically identified in the Plan and recommend funding strategies to the City Council. They will also recommend project and "sub-plans", as necessary, in order to meet the Plans vision and goals.

The Client Groups membership will include:

  • The Mayor, Deputy Mayor, City Finance Director and three City Council Members.

The Client Group has decided on a two-pronged approach to project organization, which is displayed in a chart on the following page.

Plan Advocacy

The Client Group will request further studies and recommendations in order to estimate the capital and operating resources necessary for successful Plan implementation during the biennial City budget process. Such a recommendation will be included in the Capital Strategic Plan and any fiscal notes prepared for individual projects. Operations and Maintenance plans of the City will also include the Client Groups recommendations to ensure the intent of the Civic Center Master Plan is carried out.

Plan Updates

The Client Group will recommend to the Mayor and City Council updates to the Civic Center Master Plan upon review of recommended changes. Updates will also be reviewed by the Citys Design Commission for concurrence.

Proposed changes will be formally transmitted to the City Council for adoption by Resolution.

The Plans goals, strategies and guidelines will be formally reviewed every two years during the biennial budget review. Updates to the Plan should also reflect changes to the Citys strategic capital initiatives adopted by the City Council.

The administrative responsibility for the Plan will rest with the ESD Facility Division.

Illustration 37 - Civic Center Project Organization

Strategy II: Civic Center Phasing and Implementation Schedule

There are two implementation steps in the Civic Center Plan:

Step One:

  • Acquire parking requirement
  • Relocate departments into Key Tower and Park 90/5;
  • Construct the Courthouse/Police Administration Building and City Hall;
  • Renovate Arctic Building; and
  • Dispose of vacated properties

Step Two:

  • Demolish Public Safety, Municipal Buildings;
  • Construct Open Space/Plaza;
  • Construct City Hall "annex" and
  • Private re-development on PSB site

Step One and Step Two are not sequential: some aspects of Step Two are expected to begin before all aspects of Step One are completed.

The timing of the Civic Center Plans implementation is affected primarily by the availability of funds AND the availability of space in Key Tower. The proposed Implementation Schedule was built upon determining optimum departmental adjacencies and square footage requirements and then identifying spaces in Key Tower that have lease expirations which can meet these needs.

New construction and seismic upgrade schedules for existing facilities were based on the City estimating standard of four- year design/construction schedule. Demolition plans were estimated to take twelve months, from design and permitting through clean-up. City Council approval, designs and contractual agreements will dictate final schedules.

Schedule planning assumptions were reviewed with City Council in 1997 and 1998. The primary planning dates are displayed on the following page.

Illustration 38 - Primary Planning Dates of the Civic Center Master Plan

Strategy III: Financial Plan

Financial Assumptions

Although the Civic Center Plan has evolved over time, the proposed approach is consistent with the Citys decision in 1995 to acquire Key Tower and not to attempt renovation of the existing Municipal, Public Safety and City Light Buildings.

Each redevelopment option was evaluated on a net present value and annual cashflow basis. The decision to acquire Key Tower and build a modest amount of new was shown to be about $90 million less expensive (on a net present value basis) than renovation. The City also determined that their choice was less expensive than constructing large amounts of new space.

All options were considerably more expensive than the status quo. However, continued occupancy of the existing buildings without very expensive upgrades was not (and is not) a reasonable alternative, given the condition of the buildings.

The cost of implementing the Civic Center Plan includes the site and capital improvements, operations and maintenance and financing.

In 1995, the City hired The Seneca Group and Craig Kinzer and Associates to perform numerous real estate and financial analyses for evaluating options for the civic center. Most of the development cost estimates are from their analyses. The Citys financing policies relative to debt, cost of debt, and financing are directed from the Citys Chief Financial Office.

Key financial assumptions used throughout the financial analyses:

Illustration 39 - Financial Assumptions

Financial Plan: Project Costs

The Master Plan proposes a specific development concept, which allows the City to estimate project costs. The following capital project costs are presented as estimates based on a combination of prior internal and external experiences and unit costs applied to the Civic Center Plan. They are not project budgets nor cost estimates based on specific designs, materials and contracting procedures since the programs and designs do not exist at this time. Final costs could vary significantly from the estimates included here, depending on final programs and design solutions. Project designs and budgets will be presented to the Client Group and City Council for final approval and funding determination.

The capital projects that follow are intended as guideline amounts for accomplishing the Civic Center Plans development concept (updated to 1999 dollars):

Illustration 40 - Capital Projects


The City currently "budgets" for its downtown space costs in the biennial budget of the various funds. Occupancy costs (approximately $13 million annually for downtown space) are generally paid by the central landlord agency (Executive Services Department) and charged back via a rate structure based on actual square feet utilized by a given department. The annual amounts include operating costs, leases and debt or capital investment.

Debt service for acquisition of a facility is paid by the "owning" fund (General Fund for general municipal properties and the specific utility fund for utility properties) and serviced through the operating budget.

Capital improvements generally are funded through the Cumulative Reserve Subfund ( CRF). The CRF is funded from Real Estate Excise Taxes (REET) and the General Fund. Projects compete for funding based on a priority system which includes building integrity, safety, or improvement. Specific tenant improvements are funded through the operating budget and paid by the tenant department.

When the City purchased Key Tower and Park 90/5 in 1996, it chose to use Councilmanic debt for the acquisition, which is consistent with existing practice for financing space or infrastructure costs. It is anticipated that the City would sell 20 or 30 year debt for new Civic Center construction and seven year debt for tenant improvements. General Fund debt service would be provided either through a direct General Fund payment or through a similar user charge-back system as exists today. This assumption has been built into the Citys long term budget sustainability plan.

As the table above indicates, implementating the entire Civic Center Master Plan is estimated to cost approximately $224,000,000 in todays dollars.

Debt Capacity

The Table below summarizes the current General Fund debt capacity. It begins with current commitments, which includes outstanding debt and the debt that is planned for making tenant improvements prior to moving into Key Tower and Park 90/5. In addition, several other planned commitments have been allowed for, including a new Southwest Police Precinct, public safety technology projects, DCLU technology improvements, the parking garage for the new Library, and the planned capitalization of some portions of the proposed Seattle Center/Community Centers levy lid lift renewal.

The Table shows that implementing the Civic Center Master Plan will cause the Citys available debt capacity to drop to $143 million in 2002. This is still above the $100 million emergency reserve required by City policy. The available debt capacity recovers quickly and exceeds $250 million again by 2004. Key Tower fund balances are used as a cost offset, which results in reducing the amount of debt the City must issue by roughly $6 million. The sale of a (capitalized) ground lease for the Public Safety Building site more than offsets the borrowing requirements for that buildings demolition.

Debt Service

The City currently has about $22 million of annual net debt service which it is obligated to pay from the General Fund (out of an annual budget of $500 million). Existing and planned commitments will raise that to about $29 million by 2001 and $36 million by 2004. Adding debt to finance the Civic Center would add about $14 million annually by 2004.

Illustration 41 - Debt Capacity Table (in millions)

Financial Plan: Offsetting Revenues

While it is the Citys usual practice to treat each capital project as a stand alone financial project, the financial planning for the Civic Center anticipated a revenue stream from sale or lease of vacated property and the leasing revenue stream from Key Tower and Park 90/5. Any offsetting revenue reduces the Citys need to borrow funds.

The key property dispositions and associated estimated revenue assumptions that the Client Group and the City Council have adopted are shown below. "TBD" indicates an unknown amount that is to be determined once development plans and feasibilty studies are complete:

  • Proceeds from sale of Dexter Horton Building:
    $ 0-$7 Million (net of existing debt)
  • Proceeds from sale of Alaska Building:
    ($0-2 Million)*
  • Proceeds from long term lease of PSB site:
    $ 8-13 Million
  • Lease revenue in Key Tower:
    $ 6 Million (net)
  • Leases at Park 90/5:
    $ 2 Million (net)
  • Misc. Development Rights:
    $ TBD
  • Misc. Offsetting revenue:
    City Hall Park $ TBD
    Step Two City Hall retail $ TBD

* The Alaska Building is expected to sell for less than its outstanding debt.

Building Operating Costs

Very early in the Civic Center analysis, measuring operating costs among the different development options was imbedded in the financial analysis. We were able to look at each option from not only the capital costs but also the long term operating cost impacts. The analyses benchmarked Key Towers operating costs as the average operating cost for new construction and added $1.50/RSF for an additional shift of security and janitorial service to support the Citys extended service hours. The final analysis includes an annual operating cost reduction of roughly $3,000,000. The annual inflation adjustment for operating costs is estimated at 3%. Remaining building operating costs reflect actual expenses with 3% annual inflation adjustments.

Open Space and Community Spaces Operating Costs

The Civic Center Plan contemplates a significant amount of public and community space and two half-blocks of Open Space. A goal of the City policy makers and the Civic Center Oversight Committee is a commitment to the on-going development and maintenance of these newly created spaces in order to adhere to the goals of the Civic Center Plan. This is a new program for the Citys biennial budget.

The Open Space/Plaza is estimated at approximately 40,000 square feet, and will cost approximately $2.00/SF in on-going landscape maintenance, and $1.50/SF for eighteen hours a day, seven days week security.

The "annex" to City Hall, together with the public spaces in City Hall and the Open Space/Plaza, will be of a scale that enhances interaction among a diversity of people throughout the day and evening. The "annex" is envisioned as able to generate some revenue in order to partially offset the capital investment by the City for the facility. To ensure success and to draw the necessary retail, commercial and 18-hour activity into the Civic Center, the City will produce a detailed development plan and conduct a feasibility analysis before the Citys capital investment is secured. The study will also explore private fundraising for a Civic Center open space maintenance endowment strategy and plan. Such an endowment strategy could include partnerships with horticultural organizations for the sustainability of the gardens and/or a relationship with other downtown non-profits that share the same security and maintenance goals for public spaces.

Under all circumstances, managing the new public spaces will require an entrepreneurial spirit and expertise that should be separate from the daily operations of either City buildings or City parks. It will most likely require a separate development model for achieving the stated goals. Beyond a separate and new entity of City facilities and parks staff, there are three models that could provide the requisite expertise and accountability for management of the new Civic Center public spaces:

  • Contract maintenance and management to private sector firm
  • Seattle Center
  • Partnership maintenance and management with a non-profit or DSA-type organization

The development plan and feasibility analysis will review each option and make a recommendation to the Mayor and City Council. This new commitment for event-oriented "management" is estimated to cost approximately $150,000/year (in 1999 $) for property management, marketing and "event" development in addition to the $100,000 for landscape maintenance and security.

Financial Plan: Long Term Sustainability, Operations, Maintenance

The Civic Center is an opportunity for the City of Seattle to set a new standard of sustainable design that will impact the on-going operations of City facilities. The Civic Center Plan concept prioritizes sustainable design principles as an integral part of shaping the architecture, the open space, type and use of materials and systems which emphasizes long term benefit over short term capital outlay.

Strategy IV: Trends and Policies in Support of the Implementation Plan

The Civic Center Master Plan was developed over a period of years and was framed by a number of trends and adopted policies. Those trends and policies include:

  • Generally, City government employment will see modest growth over the next twenty years.
  • Many services traditionally provided downtown may also be provided in neighborhood civic centers and made accessible through technological mechanisms.
  • The Citys strategic business plan is framed in the Comprehensive Plan; expansion of new service provision is not contemplated.
  • Multi-disciplinary, "one-stop shopping" for citizens accessing City government information and transacting business is a high priority.
  • City office and conferencing space will become more "team" oriented rather than private office oriented.
  • Departmental space plans will utilize the adopted City space standards.
  • New technologies will continue to have significant influence on how work is accomplished and how work spaces are used.
  • New technologies are developing at such a rapid rate that new construction or renovations must maximize infrastructure flexibility in order to plan for the future.
  • With multiple buildings in the Civic Center, communication among all aspects of City government will become more critical as a unifying organizational force.
  • Child care will be provided on-site downtown.
  • Existing social services will be provided in the Civic Center .
  • A consistent signage system will be placed throughout the Civic Center.
  • Economic resources continue to be limited, so flexible use of interior space must be maximized before leasing or constructing new space is considered.
  • Environmental impacts and sustainability in the use of all natural resources will impact how facilities are built and operated
  • Concern about personal as well as workplace safety is increasing.
  • Accessibility for all citizens and employees is of the highest priority in design, operations and public spaces.
  • Art will be a unifying mechanism within the Civic Center and possibly a connection to the neighborhood civic centers.

Strategy V: Sub-plans

The Civic Center Master Plan is the framework for many smaller "sub-plans" that will ultimately guide long range facility decisions as the Plan is implemented. Such plans will include:

  • Strategic Plan for Customer Service/one stop shopping in City Hall
  • Technology Plan for infrastructure and multi-disciplinary services
  • Departmental Space Plans
  • Parking Plan
  • Accessibility plan throughout the Civic Center
  • Key Tower Fitness Facility Plan
  • Sustainable Operations and Maintenance Plan for the Civic Center
  • Step Two City Hall "Annex" Development Plan
  • Open Space/Public Space Development Plan
  • Re-Use and development Plan for the Public Safety Buildings site
  • Disposition strategy for Dexter Horton, Alaska Buildings
  • Severe weather/public feeding program transition plan
  • Link to Sound Transit Tunnel
  • Art Plan
  • Civic Center Security Plan
  • Residential needs analysis

Strategy VI: Work Plan/ Next Steps

The Project Work Plan is a logical, but significantly more detailed, extension of the Master Plan. Its highest level of definition is encapsulated in the following graphic. (See next page.)

The Project Work Plan, as well as the Civic Center Plan Phasing and Implementation Schedule, will be greatly amplified by the Project Master Schedule, which will produce and maintain a detailed work/task breakdown with all corresponding time and precedence relationships for each element of the referenced Plans.

The Project Master Schedule will be employed as the principal tool for defining and controlling all work necessary to carry out the intent of the Civic Center Master Plan.

Illustration 42 - Project Work Plan

Back To Table of Contents :: On To Section 10: Appendix