Suburbs cheaper for city hall, but farther away


Staff writer

While some argue that locating a new municipal facility in the downtown core of Federal Way would boost economic development, others have countered that downtowns are not the best place for government to take over prime real estate.

ThatŽ’s because offices and shops pay property taxes into city coffers, but government entities are exempt.

In the second of a three-part series, the Mirror is looking at three sites located outside and away from the heart of the city: the Safeway/Fred Meyer property at 100 S. 320th St., Celebration Plaza at 32723 Pacific Hwy. S., and East Campus property at 32nd Avenue South and South 320th Street.

While Municipal Facility Advisory Committee members havenŽ’t decided any area is superior to the others, they are considering that building in a suburban locale would cost less than building in the downtown core.

As a general rule, the cost of acquiring property is lower in a suburban area, assistant city manager Derek Matheson said. In addition, building in the downtown core probably would necessitate structured parking, which adds considerably to the cost of development.

Building in a suburban area, however, probably would not require a parking garage.

Regardless, committee members are comparing and contrasting locations, gathering as much information as they can on each.

As with the other six sites (three ŽÐŽÐ sites of the former SeaTac North theater, Best Plaza and Federal Way Public SchoolsŽ’ bus barn ŽÐŽÐ were covered in the Mirror Aug. 31), committee members will decide the best spots based on a list of criteria that includes visibility, accessibility, ease of use, civic presence and contribution to economic development.

Ž“There could be differences among suburban areas that are just as great as differences between the suburbs and downtown core,Ž” Matheson said.

Ž¥ Safeway/Fred Meyer. The 707,850 square feet of land is surrounded by residential areas to the north, First Avenue South to the west, South 320th Street to the south and Fourth Avenue South to the east.

There are two six-acre wetlands on the site that limit development to about 10 acres.

The land is valued at $914,800, according to King County assessment records, and there is no building on the property. The owner, Glee Patten Draper LLC, paid $11,469.53 in property tax in 2002, according to county tax records.

Ž¥ Celebration Plaza. The property is located between Celebration Park and Pacific Highway South next to the Shurgard storage area. The property is unplatted and there are a couple buildings and a parking lot on the site.

The land is valued at $999,300, according to the county. There is no assessed value associated with structures on the site.

The owner, Chase Livio Limited Partnership, paid $15,498.97 in property taxes in 2002, according to county records.

Ž¥ East Campus. The committee is looking at about 20 acres of Quadrant land available in East Campus for development of a cops, court and city hall facility.

One of the functions of finding many places to develop was to include areas of substantial size that could accommodate a campus design. There is little on the property but trees and scrub brush, though Quadrant considers the property suitable for housing or office parks, Matheson said.

The slot of property the committee is considering is just east of the freeway, over which a portion of the BPA powerlines run. The eastern edge of the property is located near the city border with unincorporated King County. King County fire station 4 is on the southeastern corner of the property.

More in-depth planning data, like street capacity considerations, will be dealt with when the committee further narrows the list of possibilities.

Committee meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sept. 11 at city hall.

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and

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