City will sell SeaTac Center despite objections of small business owners

By Jack Mayne

Despite heavy lobbying and sometimes vociferous argument from several small Somali businesses, the SeaTac City Council voted 5 to 1 Thursday night (Dec. 13) to begin a process to sell the SeaTac Center to CAP Acquisitions, also known as the Inland Group, for the purchase of city properties located in the vicinity of S. 154th Street and International Blvd.

The only negative vote was from Councilmember Rich Forschler. The seventh vote would have gone to recently deceased Councilmember Amina Ahmed.

The vote came in a special meeting postponed from the regular Tuesday session on the Council. The issue has regularly drawn a large, vociferous and sometimes unruly group of largely Somali background.

The SeaTac city staff says the project will create 665 units of housing along with 30,000 square feet of new commercial space next to the Tukwila International Boulevard Light Rail Station. The buildings are said to include approximately “385 units of workforce housing which is affordable for individuals and families earning less than 60 percent of area median income” on a 4.5-acre site at 15245 International Blvd. South. The site has a 65,000 square foot commercial building and a structured parking garage.

“This will allow more community members an affordable option to live and work in SeaTac,” said Mayor Erin Sitterley. “The Transit Oriented Development project creates badly needed housing while giving residents an option to be mobile without the need of a car.”

The City purchased the property in 2010 and has maintained its intent to sell it for redevelopment, despite the occupants of small business. Currently, the City of SeaTac has leases with 11 tenants who were notified of the sale potential in March.

The City Community and Economic Development Department has offered assistance in finding new spaces for all businesses currently operating on the site.

The session approving the beginning of negotiations to sell was moved from the regular Tuesday Council meeting time because of sometimes vociferous objections from the tenants of the facility. At one point in the Tuesday session, a shouter asked why they were not respected and was followed by shouts and general negative audience comments.

“Come on, come on,” said one audience member at the Tuesday meeting and another said “you serve the people.” This caused the mayor to order the speaker’s microphone turned off.

Below is a rendering of what the new project will look like:


6 Responses to “City will sell SeaTac Center despite objections of small business owners”
  1. Mike says:

    Another case of money winning over the locals and the residents. Typical Seatac. Wonder who was paid off this time?

  2. Vicki Lockwood says:

    Your insinuations are neither supported or founded on any truth. This property was purchased with the intent to resell it. It might have been sold 8 years ago, 3 years ago, or a month in the future … but it was going to be sold. All leases were aware of the situation when they signed and renewed their leases. None of them tried to purchase the property in that 8 year period. No one has done anything clandestine or illegal. I, like many many other residents of SeaTac, am saddened by the timing of this action in relation to the tragjc loss of Amina. I understand that it’s easy to shout slurs and accusations when a decision is made that is not to our liking, but most of us outgrow this childish reaction. I wish you more maturity as you age.

  3. Stefanie Ross says:

    It may have always been the intention to sell this property, but what are the measures taken to ensure a smooth transition for the Somali population? How did there become such a large Somali community in that area? Of course there will be outrage that now the place where they had resettled will be taken away, leaving many families displaced. How do we communicate with this community?

    • Janice Taylor says:

      Having been a small business owner who had to move twice, I understand the tenants concerns and fears. However, when one leases rather than owns, having to move is always a possibility. Very rarely does moving come as a surprise. The city always has been upfront with its desire to see this property redeveloped into mixed use, with great emphasis being put on affordable housing.
      Ms. Ross asks about “measures taken to ensure a smooth transition for the Somali population”. If the tenants had been predominantly white, would the same concerns arise? Again, the city made no bones about redevelopment. Why are righteously indignant others treating the Somalis like they are ignorant children? The Somalis I’ve met are intelligent, resourceful and capable.

  4. Kathie Brave says:

    Again, if you own property you have every right to sell it!, 8

  5. D Tapio says:

    This property has been an extremely difficult one for the city and previous owners and now the tenants. The city probably wishes it never purchased it to begin with and avoided the controversy, lawsuits, staff replacement, and costly settlements.

    However, there may be a silver lining. The new federal tax cut and jobs bill along with Governor Inslee’s designation as much of Seatac being an Opportunity Zone creates a once in a generation incentive to invest in businesses and property in SeaTac. Capital gains from any investment such as stock or the sale of a business or property can be invested in a business or real estate on a tax deferred basis. There is a reduction in tax if kept 5 years, more if kept 7 years, and the big incentive if kept 10 years. At 10 years, the tax basis is stepped up to market value, which means all gain from the investment is tax free at that point.

    This could provide the incentive to developers and the community to build or remodel buildings for housing or businesses in many areas of SeaTac. My experience with building in SeaTac greatly improved over the years as the staff started helping and encouraging development.

    The IRS and Treasury are in the final stages of writing the code for Opportunity Zones and it appears that the projects may need to be funded by Dec 31, 2019 to get maximum tax benefit. I hope that SeaTac will be able to benefit from this opportunity to provide housing and business space for the citizens.