New buildings, demolitions coming to Harborview after King County voters approve major expansion

SEATTLE — King County residents overwhelmingly voted to pay more property tax in order to fund expanding Harborview Medical Center. Proposition 1 will completely reshape the hospital’s campus, at a $1.74 billion price tag.

So far, 77% of voters supported the proposition. The 20-year bond measure means people in King County will pay on average an extra $75 per year in property tax.

The most notable changes will include a brand new ten-story medical tower built on the southeast side of the hospital, where there is currently a small park.

“I voted for it,” said Andrew Rodeman, who has been a patient before at HMC.

The hospital’s CEO, Paul Hayes, said he was a little worried whether voters would go for the cost.

“It’s a lot of money and that’s what was giving me pause,” Hayes said. As the ballots were counted, it quickly became clear most voters supported contributing more property tax over the next 20 years.

“I was with bated breath, but I have to say very early on in the evening I was ecstatic,” Hayes said.

Rodeman said having been a patient at HMC, it was clear the hospital needed a major revamp. He said while the medical teams are top-notch, the hospital is crowded -- a problem exacerbated by coronavirus.

“They’ve had patients in the halls and that’s really not proper,” Rodeman said.

Rooms are shared, even for some of the most serious procedures.

“It’s just a curtain. People need to have their space and be protected, and not have other people what’s going on with their health issues,” Rodeman said.

The biggest chunk of money - $925 million - will go towards constructing a new 10-story medical tower to serve more patients.

One new feature of the building is helicopters will be able to land on the roof, and an elevator will bring the patient straight to the emergency room. Right now, patients must be loaded into an ambulance and driven around the hospital before they can be admitted.

“Every second counts,” Hayes said. “I can’t think of a better return on investment."

Harborview’s Center Tower is currently not rated to survive a major earthquake. It will be retrofitted and converted for administrative work. That will cost about $248 million.

A small building at 9th and Jefferson that currently houses security-related work will be demolished. In its place, a new building will be constructed, specifically dedicated to behavioral health. The estimated cost for that building is $79 million.

Other projected costs include demolishing the East Clinic at 9th and Alder, which also is not considered seismic safe.

KIRO7 previously covered a 1987 ballot measure for a new emergency department. And in 2000, voters funded a new building for treating trauma patients – the Norm Maleng Building opened nearly a decade later in 2009.

There’s no timeline yet for when construction will begin, but Harborview’s CEO says the latest vote will transform the hospital once again.

“Clearly the residents and voters of King County stood behind what is needed for HMC to continue its work. Not only for the next generation but for generations beyond,” Hayes said.

Harborview Medical Center is the only Level 1 Trauma center and burn center in our region. It serves Idaho, Montana and Alaska, in addition to Washington.

Here’s a breakdown of how the $1.74 billion is projected to be spent:

Medical Tower Building

Increase surge capacity; meet infection control and privacy standards; new emergency rooms; disaster preparedness: $925M

Behavioral Health Building

Expand capacity for behavioral health services and programs: $79M

Renovations to Existing Hospital Buildings

Expand ITA Court, Gamma Knife renovations; renovate labs, Public Health TB, STD, MEO: $178M

Harborview Hall

Create space for 150 respite beds including seismic upgrades: $108M

Center Tower

Seismic upgrades for safety and modify space: $248M

Pioneer Square Clinic

Seismic upgrades for safety and improve clinic space: $20M

East Clinic

Demolish building: $9M

Site Improvements/ Other Costs

Site preparation; plant infrastructure: 1% for Arts; project labor agreement; project management: $146M