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Originally published Friday, May 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Denny Triangle tower approved

Seattle city planners approved a 40-story, 340-unit apartment tower in the Denny Triangle on Thursday. Developer Security Properties of...

Real estate

Seattle city planners approved a 40-story, 340-unit apartment tower in the Denny Triangle on Thursday. Developer Security Properties of Seattle said it plans to break ground on the project, dubbed Kinects, late this year or early next year.

John Marasco, managing director of development, said Security Properties has obtained financing for the 440-foot tower, on Minor Avenue between Stewart and Howell streets.

Kinects, designed by Bumgardner Architects, would be slightly wedge-shaped and bigger at its top than its base, flaring out on three sides by six inches per floor.

Plans call for about 6,000 square feet of ground-floor restaurant and retail space, a rooftop lap pool, deck and lounge, and a total of 325 aboveground and underground parking stalls. Some units would be earmarked for low- and moderate-income renters.

Real estate

Title companies hit with lawsuits

Based on complaints from several Washington homebuyers, a Seattle law firm has filed class-action lawsuits against four of the nation's largest title companies, charging they bilked customers out of millions of dollars by charging excessive fees.

Old Republic Title and Escrow, First American Title Insurance, Chicago Title and Fidelity National Title are accused of charging consumers duplicate "reconveyance fees" in violation of various federal and state laws. The reconveyance process extinguishes a lender's lien against a property, and occurs when a property is sold or paid off.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Courts in Seattle and San Francisco by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, alleges the practice occurred over the past five years and involved hundreds of thousands of transactions.

Boeing

Vandalism spurs $5,000 reward offer

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Two military helicopters were vandalized on the production line at a Boeing factory near Philadelphia, the Defense Department said Thursday.

Federal officials handed out fliers to workers at the Boeing Rotorcraft Systems plant listing a $5,000 reward for information leading to whoever damaged the two H-47 Chinook helicopters.

A production line at the plant has not been fully functional since Tuesday, when two workers found what the company called irregularities in the helicopters.

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak has said he was told that broken or severed wires were found in one helicopter and that a suspicious washer was found in a second.

Big GPS contract goes to Lockheed

Lockheed Martin beat Boeing for a $1.46 billion U.S. Air Force award to build a new network of navigation satellites for military and civilian use.

The contract covers development of the first two Global Positioning System III satellites, with options for 10 more, the Defense Department said Thursday.

The current constellation of 33 GPS satellites lets the Air Force direct so-called smart bombs to targets and also helps civilian pilots, drivers and hikers pinpoint their locations. Boeing's ties date to the first award in 1974, and since then it has delivered almost twice as many satellites as Lockheed, which won its first order in 1989. Thursday's award cedes the next generation to Lockheed.

Boeing has yet to launch a single satellite under its most recent GPS contract from April 1996, and in 2006 the company forfeited $21.4 million and replaced the program's managers after delays and cost overruns.

Spirit AeroSystems

Airbus awards fuselage work

Spirit AeroSystems won a contract from Airbus to design and build a fuselage section for the A350 XWB jetliner and said it will open a plant in North Carolina to perform some of the work.

The contract is valued at $2.7 billion over the 20-year life of the program, company spokeswoman Debbie Gann said. Spirit — which runs the former Boeing parts plant in Wichita, Kan. — will build a section that is about 65 feet long, 20 feet wide and weighs almost 9,000 pounds, the company said Wednesday.

Spirit, which also makes the nose section of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, will start construction of the new plant this year. It should be completed in 2010.

Nation / World

Nintendo

$21 million verdict in patent case

Nintendo was told by a federal jury to pay $21 million to a Texas company for infringing a patent used in the Wii and GameCube systems.

The jury in Lufkin, Texas, awarded the money to closely held Anascape, of Tyler, Texas, which sued Nintendo in 2006. Anascape founder Brad Armstrong claimed Wii and GameCube used his invention, patented in 2005, related to ways to make game controllers.

Not all controllers were found to infringe the patent. Jurors agreed with Nintendo that the rectangular Wii remote and the "Nunchuk" controllers attached to the remote don't violate the patent. The Wii Classic Controller, WaveBird controller and Nintendo GameCube violated the patent, the jury said.

Nintendo said it would appeal the judgment. The company expects the trial court to "promptly reduce the dollar amount of the verdict significantly" because it wasn't calculated correctly, said spokesman Charlie Scibetta.

Microsoft, which also was sued by Anascape, settled its part of the case on May 1, according to court records.

Mesa Power

Texas wind farm betting on tax credit

Maverick oilman T. Boone Pickens' plan for a mammoth wind farm in the Texas Panhandle is a $2 billion bet that Congress will extend a tax credit critical to the environmentally friendly industry.

Pickens' company, Mesa Power, is purchasing hundreds of wind turbines from General Electric to create the Pampa Wind Project, which will eventually cover 400,000 acres and generate enough power for more than 1.3 million homes.

Pickens said the total cost of the deal will grow to between $10 billion and $12 billion after the initial $2 billion investment in GE's turbine technology.

Federal Reserve

Industrial output down during April

Industrial output plunged in April as factories making everything from autos to heavy machinery felt the adverse effects of the weak economy.

Industrial production dropped 0.7 percent last month, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday, more than double the decline that economists had expected.

Manufacturing output dropped 0.8 percent, with half of that weakness coming from large cutbacks in auto production.

Bernanke: Banks overlooking risks

Commercial banks and other financial institutions need to beef up their ability to detect, and protect themselves against, risks like the credit and mortgage debacles, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday.

The trio of crises — housing, credit and financial — have exposed weaknesses in financial firms' ability to detect and hedge against risks. Multibillion-dollar losses resulted when investments in complex mortgage-backed securities soured with the collapse of the housing market.

Compiled from Bloomberg News, Seattle Times staff and The Associated Press

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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