I Wonder: Where are Seattle's self-cleaning toilets?

I Wonder: Where are Seattle's self-cleaning toilets?

Credit: KING

Seattle's five automated public toilets, which cost $1 million each, were sold to Racecar Supply in Rochester, Wash. for about $12,500.

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by TRAVIS PITTMAN / KING5.com

KING5.com

Posted on June 14, 2010 at 10:27 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 21 at 11:35 AM

"What happened to those coin-operated, automatic toilets that Seattle installed and then removed? Are they in use in another city?"

David

Bellevue

Yes they are, David. Actually, they were free to the public. But before we tell you where they ended up, here's a little history lesson for those new to this story.

They were supposed to be a nice, clean place for visitors and the homeless to do their business. But Seattle's five automated, self-cleaning toilets became a haven for drug deals, drug and alcohol use and prostitution.

The experiment started in 2004 for $5 million. It ended in 2008 with an online auction to get rid of them. The city put a minimum bid of $89,000 each on eBay.

No one stepped up to the plate. The city revised its strategy in hopes of sparking a bidding free-for-all.

Unfortunately for the city, one of the toilets sold for $4,899. The others went for much less. The average selling price for all of the toilets was about $2,510 each.

Rochester, Wash.-based Racecar Supply bought all five toilets. At the time, owner Butch Behn said he planned to use two of the units at the South Sound Speedway in Rochester and sell the other three. But Behn tells us now that he hasn't sold any of them.

In the end, the $5 million investment netted about a $10,000 return for the City of Seattle after the company that held the auction took its cut.

If you have a question you'd like the KING5.com staff to try answering, send it to iwonder@king5.com.  Do not post your question in the comment section. Please include your first name and where you are writing from so we can post it with your question. We will not post your last name or any other information.

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