Port plans tax increase and $348 million in waterfront upgrades

SEATTLE — The Port of Seattle Commission next week will unveil plans for $348 million in waterfront upgrades, including a fourth cruise ship terminal.

The first port levy increase in a decade is expected to bring in $74.2 million annually to help pay for the projects and fund environmental programs and debt service on bonds.

The port commission is expected to approve a 3% property tax increase. That means the owner of a $590,000 home, who now pays $69 per year to the port, would pay about $70 in 2019 and $79 in 2023.

"We are good stewards of those resources," said port commission president Courtney Gregoire.

The capital improvement plan to be detailed next week includes upgrades to Fishermen's Terminal, modernization of the conference center at Bell Harbor, new light industrial space in Interbay near Terminal 91 and a new cruise ship terminal.

The cruise ship terminal location could be decided next year.

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If Terminal 46 is chosen, that could raise eyebrows, since the port opposed a SODO sports arena, citing the need to protect cargo operations.

"I want to be clear, our priority is cargo, and how we can make sure we have a productive, efficient waterfront is seeing what flexibility there is for other working waterfront opportunities," Gregoire said.

The port is already pursuing an upgrade of Terminal 5 near West Seattle to accommodate the larger ships becoming more common in the cargo industry.

Details on a T-5 agreement with a private shipping company are expected to be announced early in 2019.

The port plans an open house on its five-year budget on Nov. 19 from 4:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Pier 69.

The commission is expected to approve the tax increase by the end of the month.