Pacific Northwest Washington had the nation's 14th-highest per capita personal-income growth last year, newly released federal data show...

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Pacific Northwest

Economy

Washington had the nation’s 14th-highest per capita personal-income growth last year, newly released federal data show.

Per capita personal income rose 5.76 percent in 2007, to $40,414, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That compared with the national average growth of 5.17 percent.

Washington’s per capita personal-income figure also ranked 14th in the nation, up from 15th in 2006 and 17th in 2005. It was 4.7 percent higher than the national average of $38,611.

Personal income includes all income received by individuals: wages and salaries, interest and dividend payments, rents, business income and government payments, less what people pay in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

In Washington, increases in employment earnings accounted for the bulk of the growth in overall personal income.

Real estate

Mixed-use project set for West Seattle

The West Seattle site of an old Huling Brothers auto showroom will become a six-story mixed-use complex, its developer announced Wednesday.

Blue Star Management of Shoreline said preliminary plans for its Gateway Center project, at Fauntleroy Way Southwest and 39th Avenue Southwest, include more than 100 apartments or condos above two floors of retail and three floors of underground parking.

Spokesman Eric Radovich said the company has a contract to buy the property and expects construction to start in late 2009.

Blue Star plans to break ground this spring on another mixed-used project across 39th. The Fauntleroy Place development will have 170 apartments and retail, including a Whole Foods Market.

Cell Therapeutics

Debt restructuring prompts lawsuits

Two investment funds are suing Cell Therapeutics for restructuring its debt without their consent, the Seattle biotech company said Wednesday in a regulatory filing.

Tang Capital Partners, which holds preferred Cell Therapeutics stock valued at $3 million, filed a civil suit in January in federal court in New York. It claims the company violated investors’ rights by changing wording in its articles of incorporation and converting some $36 million of debt into stock last December without getting written consent from at least 67 percent of preferred stock shareholders.

Another investor, Enable Capital Management, filed a similar lawsuit in January, the regulatory filing said. In a bid to rebalance its finances, the company has restructured at least $45 million of short-term debt since December.

Tang claims it is entitled to be paid at least 130 percent of its investment’s value.

Cell Therapeutics acknowledged in a court filing that it didn’t get the 67 percent consent before making the changes, but denies that was a breach of contract.

Starbucks

Ex-barista sues over tip-sharing

Starbucks has been sued in Massachusetts by a former barista who says the coffee giant wrongly required him to share tips with shift supervisors.

The lawsuit comes five days after a California judge considering a similar case ordered the company to pay baristas in that state $100 million in tips and interest.

In the suit filed Tuesday, Hernan Matamoros, 18, claims Starbucks violated a state law that bans supervisors from sharing tips reserved for waiters, bartenders and other employees paid below the minimum wage. He worked as a barista at a store in Brookline.

Matamoros sued on behalf of thousands of baristas who have worked at Starbucks stores in Massachusetts over the past six years.

Starbucks plans to appeal the California case.

Nautilus

New CEO named at struggling firm

Nautilus, the maker of Bowflex and StairMaster exercise machines whose shares have lost 27 percent this year, named Edward Bramson chief executive officer.

Bramson, also Nautilus’ chairman, replaces Robert Falcone, who was named interim chief executive Aug. 13, the Vancouver, Wash.-based company said Wednesday.

Nautilus is reviewing its operations and will discuss its findings after the second quarter, it said in the statement.

The company said last month it will consolidate its North American direct-sales call centers to improve efficiency. It posted a fourth-quarter loss of $47.7 million as sales fell and administrative and general costs more than tripled.

Nautilus stock gained 3 cents to $3.53 Wednesday before the CEO news was announced.

Alaska Air

Update to shut programs 8 days

Members of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Airlines’ frequent-flier programs are facing an eight-day blackout period April 14-22, during which time they won’t be able to redeem miles for award tickets, change award tickets or request mileage credit for previous travel.

The airline placed a notice on its Web site at www.alaskair.com saying that it will be taking down its computer system for more than a week to perform a major update.

The outage won’t affect customers’ ability to fly on previously issued tickets or to earn miles, the airline said.

Frequent fliers won’t be able to check mileage balances, buy, transfer or donate miles or request mileage upgrades or access elite seating online.

A spokesperson wasn’t immediately available to discuss how the shutdown will affect the ability of frequent fliers to use their miles to book travel on partner airlines.

Nation and World

Adobe Systems

Photoshop version to be free, online

The maker of the popular photo-editing software Photoshop has launched a basic version available for free online.

Adobe Systems says it hopes to boost its name recognition among a new generation of consumers who edit, store and share photos online.

While Photoshop is designed for trained professionals, Adobe says Photoshop Express, which it launched in a “beta” test version, is easier to learn.

Photoshop Express will be completely Web-based so consumers can use it with any type of computer, operating system and browser. And, once they register, users can get to their accounts from different computers.

Web-based software is increasingly popular, and Adobe knows it’s got to get on that train, said Kathleen Maher, an analyst at Jon Peddie Research. Google provides a host of such services, as do Microsoft and others.

“This is the battlefield where Adobe and Microsoft and Google are going to fight some pretty big battles,” Maher said.

Adobe, based in San Jose, Calif., has about 500 employees in Seattle.

Commerce Department

New-home sales down for 4th month

Sales of new homes fell in February for the fourth straight month, pushing activity down to a 13-year low. While the rate of decline has slowed, the worst slump in more than two decades has not run its course, analysts said.

The 1.8 percent drop sent the annual sales rate down to 590,000 units in February, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. That was the slowest pace since February 1994.

The median price of a home sold last month dropped to $244,100, 2.7 percent less than the level of a year ago. The median sales price is the point where half the homes sold for more and half for less.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Seattle Times staff