After two years of negotiations, Korry Electronics has decided not to move to Port of Seattle property and will relocate outside the city...

Share story

After two years of negotiations, Korry Electronics has decided not to move to Port of Seattle property and will relocate outside the city.

Some see the decision by Korry, which has more than 600 employees, as a sign the Port lacks the commitment to bring industrial tenants to a 57-acre parcel it owns near the Magnolia Bridge.

The Port has long sought to develop office and biotech buildings on the property, as well as some industrial space.

“We’re not sure that property has ever been marketed to industrial companies. For several years, the Port was telling people it was an unoccupied wasteland,” said Dave Gering, executive director of the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle.

Korry, which makes hardware for airplane cockpits, isn’t saying what went wrong with the Port. “We were unable to reach agreement. I can’t say more because we haven’t told employees where we are going to locate to,” said company spokeswoman Peggy Keene.

The company will move from Dexter Avenue North, near the west shore of Lake Union, to outside city limits, Keene said. Korry has been in Seattle since 1937, she said.

Top Port officials strongly disagreed with suggestions it didn’t want Korry and industry in the area between Queen Anne and Magnolia known as Interbay.

Port Commission President John Creighton said those criticisms were “old news.”

Creighton and Port Chief Executive Tay Yoshitani said the Port made Korry an aggressive 60-year lease offer that probably wouldn’t have been profitable for the Port.

They noted Korry’s developer, Capstone Partners, sent the Port a list of 15 requirements last month, and the Port was willing to meet every one.

“This commission is very committed to fostering industrial activity in this city. We were very excited about Korry,” Creighton said.

The deal was so favorable to the company, Creighton said, that he would’ve had difficulty voting for it.

He said he wasn’t willing to sweeten the pot for Korry by using the Port’s property-tax levy to subsidize the deal.

“I think the days are over when the business community can consider the Port as its own private ox to gore. This commission is committed to use the levy for public benefit, not private gain,” Creighton said.

Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis said he did not know of Korry’s plans to leave. “We’re going to contact them. Our objective is to keep them inside Seattle.”

Spokeswoman Keene said the company’s lease expires in 2011. Korry is looking for a new home because rents are rising in its neighborhood near booming development in South Lake Union and because it wants to expand.

Korry’s parent company, Bellevue-based Esterline Technologies, makes aerospace and defense products at 16 sites in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.

An Esterline regulatory filing says the leased office and plant in Seattle occupy 200,000 square feet.

Gering said he wasn’t clear on why negotiations between Korry and the Port came to an end and he wasn’t blaming either party at this point.

“It’s really frustrating, because if you talk to the two sides it’s very hard to figure out what happened here. We don’t have a shared set of facts about what’s required to make the deal pencil.”

But the outcome, he said, is disappointing. “At the end of the day, it’s an amazing failure that his city couldn’t hold on to Korry,” Gering said.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or