Troubled Tukwila motels being torn down; city redeveloping area

TUKWILA, Wash. -- Construction crews are demolishing several motels raided by police during a 2013 drug and prostitution investigation.

The city knocked down the Travelers Choice Motel along Tukwila International Boulevard earlier this month. The Spruce Motel, Boulevard Motel, and Great Bear Motor Inn are also now in the process of being demolished as part of a plan to redevelop the area.

"Two and a half years after the seizure, people are still coming up to me and thanking us for what we did with these motels,” said Police Chief Mike Villa. “It had such a significant negative impact on residents, businesses, and property owners in the area.”

Villa said the city purchased motels seized by the federal government following the raid. The city also bought the Spruce Motel property.

Along with reducing crime in the area, the Tukwila School District says, closing the motels made the neighborhood safer for kids. Superintendent Dr. Nancy Coogan said drug dealers and criminals would often approach kids walking to school.

“It is so important for when students are born in this community that we raise them to be healthy, vibrant, 21st century citizens and that we create a safe environment for our kids to live and to thrive,” said Coogan.

Villa says the city spent $6.5 million to purchase and tear down the old motels. He expects the city to recoup some of the cost when the property is sold to developers. He added there are no plans for the properties yet.