The Waits Motel in Everett, Washington on Thursday, June 22, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

The Waits Motel in Everett, Washington on Thursday, June 22, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Despite turnaround, Everett buys Waits Motel for $1.85M

The city has no immediate plans for the motel with a history of illegal activity. Residents still need to be relocated.

EVERETT — The Everett City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to buy the historically troubled Waits Motel for $1.85 million.

It’s a significant step forward in a months-long process that began when the council voted to condemn the north Everett property in August.

There are no plans yet for the property’s future, city spokesperson Simone Tarver wrote in an email. The city will keep working to relocate long-term motel residents, she said.

County records show the motel’s current owner bought the property for $2.3 million in 2021.

The Waits has had an unsavory reputation for years. Neighbors have talked about seeing drug abuse, sex work and garbage at the motel.

But last March, a new manager took over the property. Emily Simpson made it her mission to turn around the motel at 1301 Lombard Ave. She worked to deter drug activity, make renovations and clean up rooms.

Early signs showed her efforts were paying off. Calls to 911 from the property decreased from 147 in 2022 to 47 in the first half of 2023. More than half of those calls happened before March.

In an interview last June, neighbor Kate McFarlane said the motel’s transformation made the area feel safer.

Simpson planned to buy the motel and make it an attractive destination for visitors.

Not all neighbors found her vision convincing.

“I don’t want to risk my future on a plan based on only one or two people with no current ownership of the property,” Holly James, chair of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, said at a July council meeting.

In August, the city contracted with Commonstreet Consulting to help long-term motel residents relocate. In the original agreement, the contract had a ceiling of $45,000. Last month, the City Council raised it to $260,349.

State law requires local governments to help with relocation and pay moving expenses when they acquire property. The government must also pay residents what they need to afford new housing for up to 42 months.

In a council committee meeting last week, Community Development Director Julie Willie said five motel residents had moved to hotels temporarily and two were finalizing their moves to apartments. That left residents in six units still in need of relocation help.

Simpson wrote in a text Wednesday that there were still 12 people living at the motel, including herself and her husband, with eight units occupied.

There’s no exact timeline for relocating the remaining residents, Willie said last week, adding the city will hopefully be able to help them move in the next month or two. Once the sale is final, staff will assess the building and figure out what repairs and cleanup are needed, she said in the meeting Wednesday.

In public comment before the vote, Simpson called the acquisition “government overreach.”

She plans to leave Everett, hopefully out of the county, she wrote in a text earlier that day.

“I’ve seen so much suffering and desperation here,” she wrote. “This acquisition had nothing to do with anything but money and political power.”

Sophia Gates: 425-339-3035;; Twitter: @SophiaSGates.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Riaz Khan finally wins office on his fifth try. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Mukilteo state House candidate arrested weeks before jumping into race

The misdemeanor domestic violence case against Riaz Khan, a former Mukilteo City Council member, has since been dismissed.

Everett Fire responds to  a medical incident at Northern View Apartments in Everett. (Photo provided by Everett FIre)
Everett firefighters rescue man and dog in fire that displaces 8

It took about an hour for firefighters to extinguish the flames at the Northern View Apartments on Wednesday night.

The Sounder commuter train at Everett Station Wednesday evening on October 9, 2019.   (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Hop a Sounder train from Everett, Mukilteo, Edmonds to Mariners games

The next run is Sunday as the M’s face their division foe, the Houston Astros. The train departs Everett at 10:45 a.m.

Boeing 787's in various stages of assembly at Boeing's Everett Plant on April 29, 2017 in Everett. (The Boeing Co.)
Boeing workers signal support for strike if contract talks fail

The union is calling for a 40% raise for workers over the next three years.

A wall diagram shows the “journey of the ballot” at the new Elections Center on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County primary election ballots shipped to registered voters

This year’s primary election will feature races in every corner of the county. Turn in a ballot by Aug. 6 to ensure your vote is counted.

A skeletonized cranium found at Scriber Lake Park in Lynnwood, WA on March 24, 2024. The remains are likely a black male estimated to be over 25 years of age and unknown height and weight. He is estimated to have been deceased at least one year. (Provided by Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office)
Authorities seek help identifying partial skull found in Lynnwood park

A homeless man discovered the skull at Scriber Lake Park. Forensic scientists hope to connect the remains to a missing person.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.