Two Harborview buildings need seismic work; that might be funded by future ballot measure

SEATTLE — As King County and UW Medicine plan for the future of Harborview Medical Center, they'll need to contend with a couple of buildings that don't meet current seismic standards.

Consultant reports obtained by KIRO 7 through a records request offer various options for retrofitting the iconic 1930s Center Tower and the neighboring East Clinic.

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​Paul Hayes, Harborview's executive director, said in an interview that the leading options for the Center Tower would cost $268 million, and similar work on the East Clinic would run $123 million.

Neither building houses patients. The most critical service is the inpatient pharmacy on the ground floor of the Center Tower.

"(The pharmacy) is part of an essential service, but as all hospitals are required, we have redundancy plans should any interruption of that service occur," Hayes said.

Harborview's emergency department and trauma center are both in newer buildings, which were funded by previous voter-approved taxes.

"It seems about every 15 to 20 years we ask voters who are funding to support Harborview facilities and they've always been responsive and supportive," said Leslie Harper-Miles, a senior project manager with King County, which owns the buildings.

It would be possible to tear down the East Clinic, but the Center Tower is a historic landmark and would need to be retrofitted.

It's still early in the planning process, but Harper-Miles said seismic upgrades and expansion at Harborview could come before the King County Council in the next two years.

It would then be up to the county's elected officials to decide on any ballot measure.