Port of Olympia reconsiders use of Oyo Hotel for housing


During the Port of Olympia Commission’s work session on Mon., Nov. 15, commissioners confirmed that they have reconsidered their decision and plan to seek to enable  the sale of the OYO Hotel for use as permanent supportive housing.

The Thurston County Housing Authority has expressed interest in purchasing the hotel to convert it into permanent supportive housing; however, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits properties near airports to be used for residential purposes so a waiver must be secured before a sale can be completed.

The move came after Port Commission Chair Joe Downing shared that there was a “public outcry” against the Port’s inaction. “Basically I feel like we need to do the work to find out if the FAA would approve it.”

Downing clarified, “I don’t hold high hopes but we need to do the legwork. I think we owe that to the community.” The chair added, “I personally wanted to see this move forward.” Commissioner Bill McGregor also agreed that the Port should push its plans to see a lift of the FAA restrictions.

“I’m surprised at this turn of events,” Commissioner E.J Zita said. Just like Downing, Zita is also unsure whether the FAA would allow the Port to use the property for residential use.

In addition, the commissioner claimed that the port staff failed to act on the recommendations given by the FAA which would have helped to lift the restriction, “Despite requests, nothing happened until someone [The Olympian] had published an article about the issue,” Zita said.

As a response, the Port’s Executive Director Sam Gibboney claimed that Zita was making a false statement. Gibboney asked Downing to “interject and have the commissioner refrain from accusing staff of making false statements.”

The commissioners agreed to have a more in-depth discussion about the future of the Oyo Hotel property at the next commission meeting.

Editor's Note: 11/17/21 -- We added a hyperlink to reporting by The Olympian on this matter. 


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