King County taxpayers paying roughly $330k a month for empty hotel in Renton

RENTON, Wash. — Renton’s Red Lion Hotel, which once housed hundreds of people in need, now sits empty and abandoned.

Homeless people living there during the pandemic were relocated to another shelter over a year ago, but the county’s property lease never ended.

Turns out, King County taxpayers are still on the hook.

According to King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office, the county continues to pay property owners a flat monthly rate of $330,750.

According to Constantine’s spokesperson Chase Gallagher, all utility costs are included, among them heating and electricity.

In its heyday, the Red Lion boasted neatly made beds, plenty of event space, and even restaurants. Then during the COVID-19 pandemic, a fence went up and it became a shelter for more than two-hundred homeless people.

In November 2020, the hotel went up in flames, and Renton Police arrested someone for arson.

Six months after that, Renton’s mayor and Executive Constantine announced the residents would be relocated. They planned to spend $28.6 million in taxpayer dollars on the Extended Stay Hotel five minutes down the road.

Barb Denning works across from the South Grady Way property and contacted KIRO 7 after noticing the lights were still on.

“They just left the power on and all the broken windows, and is the heat still on, too?” asked Denning. “My power bill was $400 dollars a month. How much is that power bill?”

According to Gallagher, all utilities are included in that flat monthly rate.

“Since the facility is still being leased by the county, the Facilities Management Division has security patrols and has been installing plywood to cover windows to prevent any further damage or vandalism,” said Gallagher.

He also says the county is currently negotiating with the property owner to fix damages and make needed repairs. The county is hoping to be out of the lease within the next month or two.