Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tacoma Port to Drop Blair Waterway Condemnation Suits

Now that the Port of Tacoma has canceled the redevelopment of the Blair-Hylebos Peninsula, including a major new terminal for NYK Line, the port is seeking to drop condemnation lawsuits against property owners still remaining on the peninsula.

When first announced in 2007, the Blair Waterway redevelopment project, including the NYK Terminal, was originally estimated by the port to cost about $800 million. By the time the project was canceled in late 2009, the cost of the development project had risen to $1.2 billion. In the end the port wound up spending $190 million into the deal– $146 million on the purchase of real estate along the peninsula and $38 million for design, planning and staff time.

As the development project got underway, the port aggressively tried to buy up just under 140 acres of property on the peninsula, eventually approving the use of eminent domain to obtain some of the needed parcels that were in private hands.

In all the port wound up filing condemnation suits against all of the 23 landowners on the peninsula. While it settled with 19 of the landowners, four holdouts remained including owners of the former CleanCare site, owners of Graymont Lime, owners of the former Occidental Chemical site and owners of Philips Environmental Services. These four properties cumulatively total 70 acres, or nearly 60 percent of the port's desired redevelopment project property.

The port commission voted last week to dismiss the four outstanding condemnation lawsuits, though the port's Real Estate Director, Jack Hedge pointed out that the port is in final negotiations with all four property owners to purchase their properties.