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Renton chamber signs final deal to buy new HQ building downtown

 

After 52 years overlooking the Renton Municipal Airport, the Renton Chamber of Commerce has found a new home.

Three chamber officials, John Galluzzo, Jason Parker and Bill Taylor, signed the final paperwork on Monday for the $840,000 purchase of the historic train depot downtown from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co.

An initial agreement was signed in November and since then the chamber and Burlington Northern have worked out the final details.

For years, the depot on Burnett Avenue was the home of the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train and the kitchen where catered meals were prepared for the Spirit of Washington Event Center, now the Renton Pavilion Event Center at the Piazza.

The move is "exciting," Taylor said Tuesday, but there is still a lot of work ahead, including repairs – replacing 11 broken windows – and new paint.

The chamber's 50-year lease with the City of Renton, which owns the airport, expired at the end of 2010. Since then, the chamber has scoured Renton for a new home, mostly in the downtown area.

"For 52 years, the chamber didn't need to concern itself about its home," Taylor said. "The main reason we wanted to buy and not lease is that so we could deliver to future chamber folks the same feelings."

The purchase includes two buildings, the main building and a second one that houses the kitchen. The chamber plans to sell that building and launch a major capital campaign to reduce the debt on the new chamber headquarters and visitors center.

When will the chamber move in?"

"When we're ready," Taylor said.

"There is so much to do," he said. "It's not in move-in condition."

Work has already begun on installing phones and data system and getting the heating and air-conditioning systems started. Taylor has met with representatives of Certified Folder Display Service Inc., which will supply for free the displays for brochures at the new visitors center.

The chamber and its guests will leave behind at the headquarters on Rainier Avenue the iconic view of Renton airport and the almost daily view of 737s making their maiden voyages.

It will, however, have a new connection to Renton's most famous export. Fuselages for the 737 pass by the train depot on their way to Boeing's 737 production plant in north Renton.

 

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