MYNORTHWEST HISTORY

Federal panel recommends closure and sale of Seattle National Archives facility

Jan 15, 2020, 10:00 AM | Updated: 10:01 am

National Archives Seattle...

The National Archives in Seattle. (Feliks Banel, KIRO Radio)

(Feliks Banel, KIRO Radio)

A federal panel is recommending closure and sale of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in Seattle’s Sand Point neighborhood. If the closure goes through, the research services and historic materials currently held there would be moved to facilities in Missouri and California.

Forgotten radio scripts discovered in state archives

In a report submitted to the Office of Management and Budget in late December, the Public Buildings Reform Board identified the Seattle facility, known as the Federal Archives and Records Center or “FARC,” as a “High Value Asset” that should be sold to generate revenue for the federal government.

This report is a result of the 2016 Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act (or “FASTA”), which created the Public Buildings Reform Board and which appears to be looking at federal real estate and federal facilities in a manner not unlike military bases are often analyzed and recommended for closure.

The findings for Seattle’s NARA facility stated, in part:

The FARC does not meet NARA’s long‐term storage needs. NARA may require a short‐term occupancy agreement to prepare alternate space and to relocate its records … NARA will begin its relocation project upon full Office of Management and Budget approval of this disposition and will have subsequent discussions with its employees. Records will be relocated to NARA facilities in Kansas City, Missouri; archival records will be relocated to a NARA facility in Riverside, California, within which some renovation may be required to house the archives.

Seattle’s hot real estate market and demand for housing in what’s a desirable residential neighborhood were likely part of the analysis and the decision to recommend closure and sale.

“Relocating FARC will make 10‐acres of highly valuable land available, likely for residential housing, in the Hawthorne Hills neighborhood just to the west of Lake Washington in the Puget Sound region of Washington,” the report reads.

KIRO Radio accidentally saves American history

However, there’s also no question that the facility and its archival holdings are invaluable in that specific location for researchers associated with the University of Washington, and with other colleges around the Puget Sound area – not to mention amateur historians, genealogists, and others whose research benefits from ready access to government archives.

Local staff were unable to comment on the news, which apparently only reached Seattle a few days ago, and instead referred KIRO Radio to NARA’s national spokesperson John Valceanu, who has yet to respond. KIRO Radio has also reached out to U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal’s office for comment, but have not yet heard back.

It’s unclear if the recommendations outlined in the report are final, or if local lawmakers and history enthusiasts will have any opportunity to influence the process and help keep the NARA facility in Seattle.

This is a developing story.

More from Feliks Banel

MyNorthwest History

Powwow...

Feliks Banel

Feliks Banel: Seafair Powwow commemorates layers of complex history

The Seafair Indian Days Powwow at Discovery Park begins Friday featuring drummers, dancers and other performers.

2 hours ago

The big blue flame first graced the Washington Natural Gas building in Seattle in 1964; it was take...

Feliks Banel

Feliks Banel: Icon extinguished as­­­ big blue flame neon sign leaves Seattle

A neon sign that was an iconic landmark burning high above Mercer Street in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood has found a new home.

2 days ago

An old newspaper clipping from the 1920s shows the "airsign" for SEATTLE at the Standard Oil facili...

Feliks Banel

All Over The Map: Searching for ‘ghost signs of the air’

An aviation historian said you might be able to spot one of these "Ghost Signs of the Air" still on duty in a few Washington towns.

7 days ago

Taco Time Wallingford...

Feliks Banel

Feliks Banel: ‘Beacon of tacos’ shutting down in Wallingford

News broke Wednesday afternoon that the iconic Taco Time restaurant in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood will close in just a few days.

7 days ago

Marshall Dompier of Port Angeles was one of the earliest American Cub Scouts, and likely the first ...

Feliks Banel

Feliks Banel: Forgotten Pearl Harbor hero was a Cub Scout from Port Angeles

A young sailor from Port Angeles who died more than 82 years ago in the early hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor is making history.

9 days ago

Photo: Airborne United Airlines’ DC-4 at Sea-Tac Airport on July 9, 1949....

Feliks Banel

Vintage photos: Sea-Tac Airport celebrates 75 years

While its origins as an airfield date back to the early months of World War II, the Port of Seattle is marking 75 years of Sea-Tac Airport.

15 days ago

Federal panel recommends closure and sale of Seattle National Archives facility