By Jack Mayne

The SeaTac City Council on Tuesday (May 12) took up the pending close of the $11 million SeaTac Center two-parcel property sale that has been on hold because the COVID-19 pandemic caused banks to put the financing for the Adara project is on hold. The only vote opposed was from Councilmember Takele Gobena.

Over the past two months, the illness that has swept the world caused most banks to significantly curtail lending.

One objector
The seven member SeaTac Council approved by a 6–1 vote a resolution authorizing City Manager Carl Cole to amend the sales Agreement with CAP Acquisitions for sale of the SeaTac Center property.

Councilmember Takele Gobena voted against the sale approval, continuing his objection to the project.

The developers intend to start demolition the week of May 25, said Senior Assistant City Attorney Mark Johnsen.

The city will get $6.9 million for the Polaris property and will lease the remaining Adara property. The Adara portion will be utilized as a staging area for construction to begin on the Polaris property.

“Despite the current economic conditions, Inland is eager to commence construction on the Polaris project as soon as possible, even though they cannot close on the purchase of the Adara property at this time,” said city documents. The “fact that this is a single development proposal and that there are many common elements between the two projects, it is necessary to restructure the timing of the Adara closing while at the same time setting up a legal mechanism for preliminary work to occur on the entire development,” the city outline of the project prepared for the Tuesday night Council virtual session.

For this reason the city and the developer have “determined that the best path forward” would be for the parties to close on the Polaris property while simultaneously enter into a 12-month ground lease with an option to purchase on the Adara property.

This allows Inland to commence work on “this ambitious development sooner until financing is available.”

The city said that “in the unlikely event that Inland is unable to close on the property, the value of the Adara property will increase because Polaris will be responsible for demolishing the current retail and garage structures; installing water, sewer, and stormwater facilities; and ensuring access between the two parcels for connectivity. Additionally, the ground lease will allow for the grading of both parcels at the same time.”

Working Families Party
Gobena, the only Council opponent to the project, was mentioned in a statement Thursday morning (download PDF here), after the Tuesday vote, that repeated and accelerated his objections. The statement was sent by Madeline Stocker, an organizer for the MLK Working Families Party.

“It looks like there might be some pushback from community members – especially the immigrant community, as the immigrant business owners suddenly evicted from the Center last August are learning that this development will likely drive even more displacement and gentrification in SeaTac.”

The memo from Stocker said that with “the sale is moving forward, Councilmember Gobena is calling for the development to include key benefits for SeaTac residents, including expanding the number of affordable housing units, and diverting funds to support immigrant-owned businesses.”

In the Tuesday (May 12) statement, Gobena said the change could be used to help the community.

“We have an opportunity to expand affordable housing to support our immigrant-owned small businesses right now, with the new amended proposal for development of SeaTac Center,” Gobena’s statement said. “Our small businesses are shuttered and those immigrant-owned businesses in SeaTac Center were evicted August 31, 2019 with two days notice. The SeaTac Center has stood empty for over 8 months now, when these businesses could have been generating revenue for their families and for the City. More ironically, the property is now being split into pieces, losing its original value and failing to meet the city’s strategic goals as stated in the purchase and redevelopment proposal.”

New Employee
Council was introduced to Becky Scheffer, the new city Permit Center supervisor. She has over 20 years experience dealing with permitting, the last seven years at the City of Seattle.

Committees necessary
Mayor Erin Sitterley asked the Council to approve her appointment and reappointments to various citizen advisory committees. She said there were 16 applicants for 12 positions.

The selection process was “public, transparent” and she hoped the Council would ratify her choices.

The Council did so after Sitterley said appointing people to city committees was, under the governor’s order, than only “necessary” work should be carried out during the rules laid out by Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 stay at home rules.

Committees are needed “so that our city can continue with necessary work through the various recovery phases that are going to be imposed by our governor,” she said, adding “we’ve got to have our committees ready to stand up and get back to work.”

She said the governor’s order gives “the authority to determine what is routine and/or necessary. This is necessary work tonight to accomplish so that our city can continue with necessary work through the various recovery phases that are going to be imposed by our governor. It is particularly necessary to get our planning commission up and ready to go.”

Appointments recommended by Sitterley and approved by Council included a variety of citizens.

Judith Williams was re-appointed along with Andy Sevao and Dennis Cooper to the Community Services Advisory Committee.

Tom Dantzler and Leslie Baker were reappointed to the Planning Commission along with appointments of Tony Sanchez and Kyle Becker.

Wayne Morgan and Veena Mehta were appointed to the Senior Citizen Advisory Committee.

Jill Aldrich was reappointed the the Sidewalk Advisory Committee along with Paul Jackson and Stanley Tombs.

Councilmember Senayet Negusse questioned why former appointed Councilmember Stanley Tombs was appointed to a committee and if that was proper procedure for a former Councilmember to be on city committees. Tombs was on the city planning commission before being appointed to fill a City Council vacancy. He ran for the Council at the last election and was defeated by current Councilmember Takele Gobena,

Sitterley said there is “nothing to block anybody from participating as long as you are resident of our city.”