Upper Skagit Tribe buys waterfront property in La Conner

The Skagit Valley Herald:

The Upper Skagit Indian Tribe recently purchased 6 acres on the La Conner waterfront, including a warehouse and small pier, for $6.8 million.

The land, acquired from La Conner Pier LLC, is directly across the Swinomish Channel from the Swinomish Indian Reservation.

About a half-dozen organizations lease property on the land formerly owned by the Roche Harbor-based limited liability corporation. Among the lessees are the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and two manufacturers, Alpac Components Co. and Comptex Inc.

The tribe has been considering purchasing or leasing property on the channel for at least two years. In March 2008, geotechnical issues caused tribal leaders to decide against leasing the town-owned, condemned cannery and docks, located south of Rainbow Bridge.

When the tribe contemplated a lease with the town, one possibility was moving the tribal fisheries department to that site and providing the tribe’s commercial fishermen with moorage and a location to unload their catch.

The tribe has not disclosed its plans for the property formerly owned by La Conner Pier.

“The property diversifies the tribe’s economic holdings while at the same time allowing it to provide better opportunities to its fisheries,” according to the tribe’s statement released Wednesday. “The tribe has no immediate plans to change the property’s current use; however it will evaluate future business opportunities for the property as they arise.”