The Landing Gear Works hopes to negotiate their way out of an eviction

Tom Anderson, owner and founder of TLGW, wants to try and stay in Renton.

The Landing Gear Works, a shop specializing in airplane landing parts and engine repairs, could soon leave Renton.

Thomas Anderson, owner and founder of The Landing Gear Works, grew up in Renton and said he loves it there. However, on April 8, 2024, the Renton City Council unanimously approved the termination of TLGW’s building lease at 295 E. Perimeter Road, the lease of their two rented hangars, and their eviction from the Renton Municipal Airport due to unpaid rent, which Anderson said he views as a consequence of an unfair lease.

“At the time when those leases were signed, I scribbled on them and sent them back to them, and I said, ‘I don’t agree with this, I don’t agree with that, the leases are too short,’ and they said, ‘no you’re not gonna change the lease. This is the way it is. Take it or leave it.’ I had customers all lined up, and I was basically coerced into signing the lease,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he thinks the leases he signed after 2017 were unfair because thereafter, he became liable for all repairs on the 295 E. Perimeter Rd. building, and because the leases were short-term, banks wouldn’t approve loans so he could pay for repairs.

According to lease documents from the City of Renton, each of Anderson’s leases lasted between a year to 18 months. It wasn’t until 2022 that he signed his longest lease, a two-year lease, with the understanding that it would be terminated on June 22, 2024, and would by no means be extended due to the building’s scheduled demolition, according to the lease Anderson signed. Anderson said ideally, he didn’t want the lease to end in June 2024, and he instead wanted to negotiate a long-term lease of at least five years despite the details of the 2022 lease stating this would not happen.

Despite his issues with not being given a longer lease, Anderson said the problems really boil down to the issues that come with having a short-term lease. Anderson said the issue with the short-term leases was that although his original lease in 2013 — which was 18 months long — stated that he was liable for repairs, Anderson said the Renton Municipal Airport was paying for 50 percent of all building repairs before 2017. He said that after 2017, when it was solidly established that he would be 100 percent liable for repairs, this created a financial burden for him because of the inability to take out a loan because the lease was short-term.

Because of the inability to take out loans, Anderson said all repairs after 2017 had to be paid upfront with cash. Ultimately, Anderson said the cost of repairs caused him to become delinquent on his rent beginning in November 2023.

On April 19, when the Reporter spoke with Anderson, he said he owed the City of Renton about $75,000. Anderson said that despite not having paid rent and having funds to pay some of it, he doesn’t think he should be required to pay all the unpaid rent.

Anderson said he has had to pay about $93,000 in repairs to the 295 E. Perimeter Rd. building since the beginning of 2023. He said these repairs followed a heavy rainfall, which collapsed part of the roof. Additionally, Anderson said the roof had been leaking for years, and following the collapse, he had to fix it and clean out the mold. This was corroborated by photos sent between Anderson and the City of Renton retrieved through a public records request.

Despite what he thinks are consecutive unfair lease agreements, Anderson said that since he heard about the eviction, he wanted to negotiate with the City of Renton on what he owes, subtracting the cost of the repairs he had to make since the beginning of 2023. He said in a negotiation, he would possibly suggest paying $50,000 for rent, getting a payment plan going, and an extended lease.

According to the original lease, Anderson was always fully liable for repairs despite the length of the lease and past financial aid from the City of Renton. In addition to his desire to acquire a longer lease moving forward, his lease from 2022 stated that he was expected to leave by June 2024. Although the terms of the signed leases say one thing, Anderson feels like the precedent of financial assistance in the past and now being fully liable for repairs doesn’t line up.

“It doesn’t make any sense to have a short-term lease, that you’re going to be basically throwing away $100,000 worth of improvements to the building and then [you’re] asked to leave the next year. It doesn’t make any sense,” Anderson said. “It’s the same thing with the roof and the repairs we had to do. They put it in the lease that we were supposed to correct the major structure on the building and take care of the mold and all that stuff, and then it had a short-term lease. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Anderson cited a document from 2016 that he sent to Renton City Council through email, which shows a bill in which the city covered half of the costs of repairs. He said this is precedent for what he wants to see now.

In a March 21, 2024, in an email to the Renton City Council, Anderson laid out his grievances and said he would like to see a negotiation where he would pay one-third of the owed rent, and the City of Renton would pay two-thirds of the rent. Anderson said this is how he would like to handle the eviction rather than it going through legal proceedings.

“At this point, TLGW again is prepared to pay $30,000 for rent in arrears as a good faith gesture to resolving the eviction matter peacefully and amicably. In closing, I wish to reiterate that TLGW would like to work out the current situation peacefully and amicably,” Anderson said in the email to the Renton City Council. “It is disheartening that the City of Renton/Renton Municipal Airport has not been willing to do so. In the event that the City chooses not to try to resolve this issue with TLGW, TLGW is prepared to take any and all appropriate action against the City of Renton, including seeking legal remedies in a Washington State Court and filing a grievance with the FAA.”