After 50 years overlooking the Renton Municipal Airport, the Renton Chamber of Commerce is on its way to finding a new location.
Last week Taylor signed a 24-page purchase agreement for the former Burlington Northern Railroad Depot in downtown Renton. If all goes as planned, the closing could happen as early as the end of February 2012. The Chamber’s lease agreement with the City of Renton for its current location, 300 Rainier Avenue N., will end on Dec. 31, 2011.
Now it is the railroad’s turn to sign the document, and it’s a waiting game.
“It takes the railroad three weeks to turn anything around,” Taylor said.
Once both parties sign the purchase agreement, the Chamber then has 60 days to appraise the property and get an environmental review.
But Burlington Northern can extend that schedule as well, he said.
The City and Burlington Northern had the depot property appraised at $840,000, Taylor said.
The Chamber requested $175,000 of Renton’s lodging tax reserve funds to pay for a portion of the down payment help with building improvements.
On Monday, Renton City Council approved the allocation of $175,000. The majority of the funds, $150, 000, will go toward the down payment and $25,000 will go toward the exterior improvements of the depot building, including a new sign.
The Chamber requested the money from the Renton Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, which brought the request to the Council, Taylor said.
Money from the City’s lodging tax advisory fund’s reserve can only be used to promote tourism in Renton. The Chamber also acts as a visitor’s center for the City, and receives roughly $8,488 each year from the City for providing that service, said City Chief Administrative Officer Jay Covington earlier this year.
The Chamber will cover the remainder of the building’s cost and upgrades with its own funds.
“We’ve had a fairly healthy bank balance,” Taylor said.
, a longtime member of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, said such a decision would generally first go to the Finance Committee before Council, but “the Council thought it would be appropriate to move for approval and advancement rather than waste staff time,” he said. “The Chamber has been negotiating this for some time.”
Taylor gave props to John Galluzzo, chairman of the Chamber’s board of directors, for getting the ball rolling on the purchase agreement.
“If it wasn’t for John, we wouldn’t be where we are,” he said.
The 3,400-squre-foot depot was built in 1952. In 1999 the building received a major overhaul, including new restrooms, and interior upgrade and the addition of a 2,900-square-foot commercial kitchen building.
Earlier this year, both Taylor and Galluzzo said the new chamber and Renton visitor’s center building will be in downtown Renton. This move will mark the third location of the Renton Chamber of Commerce. The first office was on Wells Street.
Maybe the third time is the charm.