Boeing is demolishing five buildings at its Kent site in preparation to sell about 50 acres.
“Boeing plans on selecting a developer for the property that would be a good match for the city of Kent, for its residents and for Boeing, and appreciates the partnership by all parties going forward,” said Kimberlee Brattain, a company spokesperson, in a Monday email.
Crews started to knock down buildings in the last couple of weeks on the north end of the Kent facility between South 199th Place and South 208th Street along the West Valley Highway, also known as 68th Avenue South.
Boeing announced in 2016 that it would consolidate some of its underutilized facilities and sites to strengthen competitiveness. The demolition this month is part of that process.
“We have been a resident of Kent for a long time and appreciate the continued partnership with the city,” Brattain said. “We continue to see great value in the Kent site.”
Despite the removal of buildings, the company will add jobs in Kent, including Boeing Information Technology & Data Analytics and the 737 Propulsion team, Brattain said. Boeing announced last year as many as 1,400 jobs being moved to Kent from other sites. So far, about 250 employees have been transferred to Kent and about 450 more employees are expected to arrive by the end of the year.
“We have long understood they would do that as they are reconfiguring the site even as people move back in,” said Bill Ellis, city chief economic development manager, in a phone interview about the building demolitions. “They plan to sell off property like they did where Amazon is.”
Boeing sold 70 acres at the Kent Space Center property north of South 212th Street in 2013 to the IDS Real Estate Group and Clarion Partners. Amazon.com, Inc., built a nearly 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center that opened in 2016 on the property, which also includes the Stryker Business Center at Pacific Gateway. Crews demolished several large, former Boeing buildings to make room for the projects.
Boeing, which opened its Kent Space Center in 1964, had a peak of about 5,500 employees at its Kent site, Ellis said. That number dropped to as low as 500 employees but is expected to trend up to about 2,000.
This story originally appeared in the Kent Reporter.