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Gentrification Battle Moves To SeaTac As Immigrant-Owned Businesses Face Displacement

As some businesses nevertheless push for compensation, they are looking, ironically, toward Tukwila as a model. "Compassionate," the Bakaro Mall's Farah Abdi calls officials in that city.

True, a number of Tukwila's immigrant-owned businesses bitterly protested displacement because of the city's plan to build a justice center along the boulevard, just a couple of blocks north of the Bakaro Mall.

But a lawsuit filed by 14 businesses resulted, this summer, in settlements ranging from $50,000 to nearly $200,000.

Tukwila also agreed to negotiate with the businesses about a nearby city-owned property some may want to buy and relocate to.

Lawyer Kinnon Williams, who represented the Tukwila businesses, said he's not sure if those in SeaTac have the same leverage. The law offers special protections for those facing eminent domain, as Williams' clients are, he said.

David Bricklin, the attorney representing the business owners in SeaTac, contends the law mandates compensation for all businesses displaced by local governments. It's a question for court.

Abdi Mohamed Adan received one of the largest settlements in Tukwila. He has found another location for his Fresh & Green Market along the boulevard, and at least two other displaced businesses will be moving to the same site, he said.

Still, as their March 31 moving deadline looms, Adan is wistful about the community he and others developed along the boulevard. "I don't think it will ever come back to what it was," he said.

This story has been updated. An earlier version cited Councilmember Joel Wachtel's comment at a council meeting that the new development would bring in $400 million a year. After this article was published, he said the figure should have been $40 million, according to his calculation.

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