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September 22, 2016

Hansen pays $32M for more land in SoDo

Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce

Brian Miller

Chris Hansen's representative says he has spent $98 million to buy about 12.26 acres in SoDo, 'with the goal of bringing the Sonics back.'

An LLC associated with Chris Hansen, the San Francisco financier hoping to bring pro basketball back to Seattle, bought two contiguous SoDo properties on Tuesday that total about 4.88 acres.

King County records show WSA Properties XI LLC paid about $32 million for the property. The seller was Occidental LLC, associated with investors Apollonia Kwan and Hokwai Woo.

Hansen has proposed building a new sports stadium at 1700 First Ave. S.

The address of the larger site that sold this week is 1900 Occidental Ave. S. There is a 125,000-square-foot warehouse on the property today, built in 1941, as well as parking and loading docks. The deal also includes a connected property at 2228 Occidental Ave. S., which has a 9,000-square-foot warehouse, also dating to the 1940s, on a 30,000-square-foot lot.

Hansen's local representative, William Vipond, arranged the sale and confirmed it with the DJC on Thursday.

"This was an option we've had for about three years," Vipond said. "It's a great warehouse. It has a lot of possibilities. It could be used for parking for the stadium."

Vipond said that Hansen now owns about 12.26 acres of land in SoDo. With the Tuesday sale included, he said Hansen has spent about $98 million on property. "We're assembling all of this with the goal of bringing the Sonics back," he said.

Hansen has a memorandum of understanding with the city of Seattle that expires in November 2017 if he doesn't secure an NBA team. The agreement would grant some public financing for the proposed stadium.

Hansen had previously asked for a vacation of Occidental Avenue (between Holgate and South Massachusetts Street), which the Seattle City Council rejected in May.

Vipond said the two properties Hansen just acquired are "100 percent full." Tenants all have leases with 90-day termination clauses in case the stadium goes forward, he said. Even so, "We get a lot of calls" from prospective tenants.

Current tenants include Kasala and other furniture showrooms.

"The area is gentrifying," Vipond said. "It's kind of like a little furniture district now. The town's growing so fast, and we're running out of land."

Vipond, an Issaquah-based attorney, represented Hansen in the sale. He said the seller was represented by Irene Mitchell of John Paul Mitchell Associates and Sophia Wong of Kidder Mathews, but that could not be confirmed at press time.

The seller of both properties, Occidental LLC, acquired them in 1996 for $5.75 million from real estate developer Michael Mastro. Mastro declared bankruptcy in 2009 and fled to France in 2011. He was arrested in 2012, yet remains free because France has refused extradition.

Legal wrangling continues in federal and state court over the ownership of Mastro's assets.

© 2016 Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. All rights reserved.

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