Vashon College’s Sheffield Building is in tax arrears

Editor's note: This story has been changed from the printed version so as to correct a statement about the relationship between the three officers in JTSIP, Inc.

The Sheffield Building, a 41,000-square-foot office complex owned by Vashon College, is subject to foreclosure due to $149,000 in unpaid property taxes, interest and penalties, according to the King County Assessor’s Office.

The unpaid taxes date back to 2008, when Vashon College paid half of its annual tax bill, according to public information found on the assessor’s website. Since then, no tax payments have been made.

The owners have until the end of May to pay 2008 and 2009 taxes, interest and penalties — a tax liability of $35,947. If the bill isn’t paid by then, the county will file for tax foreclosure in King County Superior Court, said Carol Hutchinson, a foreclosure technician at the county’s Treasury Department.

“At this point, they’re subject to tax foreclosure,” she said.

Ted Clabaugh, president of JTSIP, Inc., a for-profit corporation owned by Vashon College, said the building simply doesn’t have enough tenants to keep up with its operating expenses. Rex Stratton and Tom Bangasser are the corporation's two other officers.

“We’d love to be able to pay the taxes,” he said.

Clabaugh, a lawyer who also chairs Vashon College, said they have some excellent tenants in the building, including BURN Design Lab, which makes cook stoves for people in developing nations.

But the building, despite conference room facilities and state-of-the-art telecommunications technology, is far from full, Clabaugh said.

The building took a hit when the Vashon Island School District decided to vacate the building a few years ago, he said. Since then, he added, the economy has taken a toll.

“Have you looked at the economy recently?” Clabaugh asked. “If you don’t have enough tenants to pay rent, that’s a problem.”

The building was purchased in 2003 by a group of investors, several of whom are members of Bangasser’s extended family, Clabaugh said. JTSIP has also not been able to pay off those investments, he said.

JTSIP stands for J.T. Sheffield Industrial Park. The building was named after Bangasser’s grandfather.

“Sometimes real estate investments don’t work. And this one, at least from a real estate standpoint, has not been successful,” Clabaugh said.

Even so, he said, he believes the necessary taxes will be paid before the county files court papers and initiates the formal foreclosure process.

“I think the taxes will be paid up,” he said.

If the owners don’t pay 2008 and 2009 taxes by the end of May, they’ll have to pay their entire tax bill to stave off foreclosure, Hutchinson said. Should that not happen, the building would be put up for sale on Dec. 14, she said.


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