The Samish Indian Nation has purchased about 14 acres of prime Highway 20 real estate, just east of Thompson Road in the March Point area. According to the County Assessor, purchase price was nearly $8.6 million.
The property, located inside the Anacortes city limits, has been vacant for some time. The seller, Bill Wooding, had once promoted it as a location for a Fred Meyer-type retail store, but he was unable to get the City to rezone it for retail.
In fact, a retail market study by Berk & Associates released last Spring urged the city be cautious about allowing retailing in the March Point area, saying sales there "risks harming Downtown retailers and upsetting emerging vibrancy Downtown and along Commercial Avenue."
The tribe has not announced what it intends to do with the property, other than to get it removed from the tax rolls, then put into a trust. Because of tribal sovereignty on trust land and agreements with the state, they have the ability to do things with the land that other owners wouldn’t be able to do.
But, Samish Tribal Chairman Tom Wooten said “We intend to work with the city toward common goals.” He added “We want to continue to be part of the Anacortes community.”
The process of moving the land to trust status, however, won’t come easily or quickly. It took the Samish six years to get their land east of Campbell lake placed into trust.