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Billion-Dollar Investment Firm’s Seattle Departure Not Due To CHAZ Or COVID

(JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

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Benjamin Nichols Contributor
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A Seattle-based investment firm will relocate to Phoenix, but not because of recent unrest in the city or the coronavirus pandemic, the company said Tuesday.

Radio station KSTAR NEWS reported Monday that Smead Capital Management President and CEO Cole Smead said “the unrest that has taken place in the city of Seattle … there really is not a downtown community today.”

“We’re hearing rumors of 40-story buildings that will be only 20-percent occupied by October,” Smead said, according to the station.

However, the company said in a statement Tuesday that the relocation was announced internally in January, and is not due to recent protests or the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We announced our decision to move to Phoenix internally to our staff in January, long before COVID shutdowns or nationwide protests made their way to Seattle,” Smead said. “Put simply, nothing happening or being reported in the news right now had any weight in our decision to relocate from Seattle to Phoenix.”

Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, formerly called the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone or CHAZ, spans several blocks and has caused a disturbance to downtown life. Multiple shootings, rapes, robberies and a death have been reported within CHOP, according to Seattle police chief, and law enforcement had not been able to respond. (RELATED: Police Say They Are Investigating Another Reported Shooting Inside Seattle’s ‘CHAZ’)

A signs reads "Capitol Hill Occupied Protest" in area that has been referred to by protesters by that name as well as "Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, on June 14, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

A signs reads “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” in area that has been referred to by protesters by that name as well as “Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, on June 14, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

Smead will relocate effective July 1, selecting Phoenix “because of the region’s large pool of investment management talent, an equitable quality of life, and access to key domestic and global financial markets via Sky Harbor International Airport,” according to a June 17 press release.

Smead Capital Management manages over $1.3 billion dollars, according to the company’s 2019 annual report.

Correction: This article has been updated to accurately show why Smead Capital is leaving Seattle. We regret the error.

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