Emotions boil over at council meeting after vote to sell SeaTac Center

SEATAC, Wash - - Some small business owners packed the SeaTac City Council meeting Thursday to voice concerns about a decision they say will hurt the community and leave them without a place to do business.

Emotions were running high.

“Think about what you guys are doing to each and everyone of these people out here," said a member of the SeaTac Center Community Coalition, a group of immigrant business owners in SeaTac.

Just days after SeaTac City Council member Amina Ahmed died in a car accident, the council called a special meeting to vote on the sale of the SeaTac Center. The center currently leases to over 50 immigrant; mainly female and small business owners.

“The reality is that these businesses want to work with you as the city and as council members to find a solution that again, is win, win, win,” said Aneelah Afzali,  a spokesperson for the Seattle Center Community Coalition.

Members of the Seattle Center Community Coalition say Ahmed was against the sale and urged the council to vote NO.

But SeaTac Mayor Erin Sitterley explained that there had been plans to sell the commercial property for years.

“When the city acquired the SeaTac Center in 2010, the plan was to seek a new buyer," Sitterley said. "And move forward the redevelopment of the site in approximately seven years to implement the vision for the neighborhood."

Many of the those speaking to the council say the immigrant community would be devastated by the sale. But there were some in support of the new developers.

“I encourage the city to sell this property. Let the new investors in. It’s nothing against these people. I have nothing against these people,” said a SeaTac resident, who's lived there for 50 years.

After hearing from the public, SeaTac city council members ultimately voted to sell the SeaTac Center and then the meeting took an unexpected turn.

Some attending the meeting, begin singing "This Little Light of Mine" and then sat on the floor right in front of the city council.

“Just to be disposed like that, to just be displaced, we’re really, really outraged,” said one of the small business owners.

The council says $1.2 million dollars of state funding will be offered to the developers to create an international market that could serve the current tenants but developers don’t have to take that money and the tenants will have no choice but to move.