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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington State Signs Pacific Tower 30-Year Lease

Joe Mabel
File photo of Pacific Tower, a building on Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash.

Washington’s Department of Commerce has signed a lease to take over Seattle’s iconic Pacific Tower for the next 30-years.

The formal signing Tuesday came despite serious concerns about the cost and terms of the deal.

The man who actually signed the lease for the former headquarters is Dan McConnon, deputy director at Washington’s Department of Commerce.

“My hand hasn’t stopped shaking yet," he says. "It’s pretty daunting.”

Daunting because for the next three decades, the state has agreed to maintain and operate the 80-year old building and fill it with tenants. About half the space will be for a community college health training program. The goal is to sublet the other 100,000 square feet to health-related non-profits.

“It would be so much easier if the college was taking the whole building or we had two big tenants," says McConnon. "But because we’ve elected to follow this concept that the legislature asked it’s a much more complicated deal.”

Democratic Speaker of the House Frank Chopp is a chief architect of the plan to turn Pacific Tower into a health innovation center with the lease proceeds going to support low-income healthcare.

McConnon says he’s pleased that at this point the level of interest from potential subtenants exceeds the available square footage.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."