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Alaska Airlines is expanding its training facility in Renton

Alaska Airlines is more than doubling it's training facility in Renton, saying it's hiring more pilots than ever before.

SEATTLE — Alaska Airlines is expanding its flight simulator training to keep up with the number of pilots its hiring. The company ordered five new simulators and is more than doubling its Renton training facility on the Longacres property.

It’s been decades since the Longacres racetrack in Renton closed.

“There’s a lot of sentiment and feeling around this location," said Alec Nelson, vice president of Unico Properties.

Still, that Longacres name has stuck. 

“It is a really important property to the people and City of Renton,” said Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone. First, as Boeing’s headquarters and now a new development.

“And it was really this place for the community to come and gather and be entertained and enjoy themselves and Unico’s vision is to restore that,” said Nelson.

It's anchored by the expansion of Alaska Airlines and the Seattle Sounders new training facility. 

“When we acquired the property, they were 38,000 square feet and then expanded to 107,000 square feet,” said Liz Thorson, director of leasing and market leader for Unico Properties. 

Alaska Airlines is more than doubling its footprint to keep up with the amount of pilots being hired. The space will allow for more flight training simulators.

“It’s one of the largest deals not only for Renton, but for the region,” said Thorson.

“What we have now is a city that’s transitioning from a drive-through city to a drive-to-city with the employers that are coming into the area,” said Pavone. 

The new development will eventually include 3,000 apartment units and retail along with the big business expansions. 

“Seeing it being a revived, vibrant property again will make it really important to the city, people of Renton and surrounding cities,” said Nelson.

Pavone said Renton is finally being invested in, “Things like Top Golf coming into our community and now we see Seattle Children’s is coming to the area. We’re no longer the hidden opportunity of Puget Sound.”

The project will cost around $1 billion to finish and will take a decade or more to fully complete.

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