Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn shares gives rare insight into Seattle’s past, present, and future in this first of three new Seattle Growth Podcast episodes. The mayor of Seattle from 2010 until the end of 2013 covers the subjects of each of the last two seasons of Seattle Growth Podcast. Season 1 examined how Seattle’s rapid growth is affecting residents, businesses, and city leaders. Season 2 examined how efforts to build a roughly half billion dollar arena in the city would affect sports fans and non-sports fans throughout Seattle.
The episode also features insight into why Seattle is growing from Taylor Graham (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris DeVore (TechStars and Founders Co-op), Maggie Walker (Founding partner of Seattle Venture Partners), and Brian Bonlender (Washington State Department of Commerce).
In this episode, McGinn describes what he did as Mayor to set the city up for its recent growth (5:15). McGinn notes how public demand for dense, walkable, urban centers was increasing nationally. “What we were doing was focusing on place and the attractiveness of the place.” McGinn recalls companies who “needed to locate in urban areas to attract the employees they wanted.”
McGinn discusses the challenges created by Seattle’s growth (11:00) “The single biggest challenge is housing. And I think that what we did not do over the last few years was give that the same focus that we were giving to trying to climb out of the recession.”
McGinn opens up about what he would have done differently as mayor given the subsequent growth of our city (13:15) and what change he would like to implement as the next mayor of Seattle (14:35).
McGinn shares how growth has affected him personally (18:00).
The conversation turns to the arena discussion (19:25). “I think we should just push SoDo arena through to its conclusion. The street vacation should be voted on because it was part of the original deal.” McGinn also comments on the Key Arena renovation proposal (20:45). “The deeper you look at the proposal from Oak View Group, they’re asking for a fair bit of city revenue…When you start doing all the math of the money that they are capturing, my thought is, ‘maybe we should just dedicate those revenues to a modest remodel of Key Arena.’”
McGinn shares how he thought about Key Arena at the time of negotiating the memorandum of understanding with Chris Hansen’s SoDo arena group (21:50). What happens if the City Council proceeds with the OVG proposal and McGinn is elected mayor? McGinn addresses this question and more (23:50).
Stay tuned next week for insight into Seattle’s budget. Director of the City Budget Office Ben Noble describes how growth affects the revenues and expenses. UW professor Justin Marlowe shares the details of his study examining the effect of the two arena proposals (Sodo arena and Oak View Group) on the city’s budget.