Watching Boeings vanishing act in Renton....
Watching Boeings vanishing act in Renton.... Charles Mudede

Remember my post "Boeing Should Sell Its Renton and Everett Plants to China?" You should because it was written only a year ago and received a heap of predictable contempt because it suggested that our region should seriously consider what to do with all of the properties that Boeing is offloading as it departs to states that have weak unions/cheap labor. Boeing is not in this region's future. I said it before, I will say it again.

Anyway, in that post, an aviation expert suggested that, at this point, "it would be better to just turn Boeing's Renton and Everett sites into affordable housing... Demolish the plant in Renton and make it a vibrant neighborhood for working and middle-class people. If that is not politically viable, which is most likely the case, then there is option two: Make an agreement with Amazon to convert the plants into bases for its very own cargo planes. This would mean Amazon acquiring FedEx and relocating its headquarters from Memphis (a city I love) to Everett (a city I rarely think about). A lot of talk has already been circling something that's close to this possibility." The other option was selling the facilities to a Chinese airplane company that might stay around and compete with a Boeing whose plants are in increasingly "right-to-work" states.

Well guess what happened to the Boeing Commercial Airplanes headquarters, a Renton property the Chicago-based plane manufacturer sold in 2021 for a cold $100 million?

The Seattle Sounders FC will make it its home in 2024 and transform a part of "the former Boeing property" into "a really amazing state-of-the-art training facility," the club announced today. Renton is also already home to the Seattle Seahawks. The city is aggressively upgrading its downtown. It also has a great coffee shop (Boon Boona Coffee) and, for those willing to explore its periphery, a large number of outstanding small restaurants representing, it seems, every corner of the world. The post-Boeing future of this city is materializing before our eyes.

Puget Sound Business Journal's real estate reporter, Marc Stiles, writes:

Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer called the new facility "an enormous investment for the club," which "will run into the tens of millions of dollars."

He added, "Today is about the future and what we will do to build this club for the next generations."

The money that bought the property from Boeing, Unico, also plans to develop "3,000 apartment units next to Tukwila Station," which will certainly raise the value of Sound Transit's under-developed Sounder trains. It's unlikely, however, any of these major investments and moves will make a post-Boeing Renton cheaper or affordable. We can expect a sharp increase of property values in a city that has a population size that's almost identical with Everett, a city whose economic base is at present almost entirely the production of airplanes.

Renton is also virtually minority majority, thanks to the influx of black Americans displaced by the gentrification of Seattle's Central District in the 1990s and early 2000s. However, it's hard to see how these huge developments and investments will not further displace black Americans and those in the working classes in general. The city needs to find a balance right now, as it is transitioning from one economic base to another. Once everything is settled, change will be impossible.

It's also important to note that the assets Boeing is unloading in Renton are huge. One, on 530 and 600 Park Ave. N., totals, according the PSBJ, 334,000 square feet, and the former headquarters is over 800,000 square feet. And because the Chicago company is unlikely to build its next jets in the region, as I wrote yesterday, you can expect more of Renton's economy to exit the production and design of planes and enter sectors concerning recreation, consumption, and housing.

Everett, wake up, it's time to say bye to Boeing.