News

Cramped quarters push city hall study

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

As the city’s Municipal Facility Advisory Committee awaits site-specific analyses of nine potential city hall spots, the committee is learning about funding and financing options to make a project of this magnitude work.

The project will be the city’s largest expenditure in its 12-year history.

In a three-part series that concludes today, the Mirror is looking more closely at the nine sites identified for a cops, court and city hall facility.

At the last committee meeting, members heard about the different ways to work with a contractor and developer to design and build a facility.

They also got a brief overview of the cost differences among the design styles and of financing and funding options available to the city.

• Current city hall. Among the nine sites, committee members are including the site where city hall is currently located at 33530 First Way S.

Some City Council members and city residents have said the city should build only a public safety and court facility, especially in a tight economy. But others have said overcrowding at city hall is a problem that will have to be resolved sooner or later.

The Seneca Group, a property consulting firm in Seattle, reported last December to the council that office workers needed about 347 square feet of work space per full-time worker. The number includes immediate work area, bathrooms and hallways.

Federal Way city workers have 293 square feet per worker, and the police have about 157 square feet per worker, according to the report.

If city growth continues as expected, the population of Federal Way will be about 136,600 in 2025. The associated growth in city government will necessitate about 108,600 square feet of office space for city staff, according to Seneca Group.

Some council members reason that if the city is going to need a bigger city hall in the future, the city might as well build now. Some have suggested building for future growth and leasing out unoccupied office space until the city grows into the facility.

But others have countered the city would be wise to forego a new building for city workers given the tight economy, slim resources and a laundry list of other capital needs.

The current city hall is a 26,742-square-foot building on 80,496 square feet of land at the corner of South 336th Street and First Way South. The land is valued at $483,000, according to county assessment records, and the structure is valued at almost $2.3 million, for a total of about $2.7 million. The city paid $1,286. 04 in property taxes in 2002, according to county records.

• Reliance land. The committee also is looking at a 5.7-acre site on land owned by Reliance Insurance. The 248,292 square feet site is located near South 336th Street and Sixth Avenue South. There are no buildings on the site.

There are five parcels at the site. In total they are valued at about $1.8 million, according to county assessment records, and the owner paid $22.,439.47 in property taxes on all five parcels in 2002.

Reliance Land is bordered on the west by Sixth Avenue South, on the south by South 336th Street and on the east by Ninth Avenue South. The land is bordered on the north by South 335th Street. Weyerhaeuser offices are located farther north.

• Washington Park. The final site being analyzed is Washington Park, a 5.1-acre site located at South 338th Street and First Way South. There is a 50,601-square-foot building on 220,714 square feet of property.

The land is valued at about $1.2 million and the structure is valued at about $7.6 million, according to county assessment records. The owner, Pullman Investments LLC, paid $113,724.21 in property taxes in 2002.

The property is bordered on the east by First Way South. The Woodstone Credit Union sits to the north and a new nursing home development is located behind the site to the west.

The property is bordered by South 340th Street to the south. Campus View is located farther south.

The proposed Washington Park site is about two blocks south of where city hall currently is located.

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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