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Current city hall location No. 1 with committee

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

The Municipal Facility Advisory Committee recommended four locations for a new cops, courts and city government facility to the Federal Way City Council Tuesday night, but equally recommended the city pursue an open bid process to flush out latent opportunities.

Of the four site recommendations, the one that topped the committee’s list was the current City Hall location.

The estimated total cost of expanding the current site is a little more than $18 million and includes purchasing adjacent land from Quadrant and purchasing a neighboring building from Smith Barney. With money the city already has or expects to get from leasing additional space, the cost of development is expected to be close to $14.5 million.

The three other site recommendations include property at South 336th Street and Sixth Avenue South (almost $23 million, almost $17 million), vacant land at First Way South and South 320th Street (almost $26 million, about $19 million) and an East Campus site at 32nd Avenue South and South 320th Street (about $26 million, almost $20 million).

The committee’s report to the council Tuesday night was the conclusion of an eight-month process that involved intensive research by the volunteer, 11-member committee as well as tours of neighboring cities’ facilities, panel discussions with local development experts and public forums held to gather citizen input.

While the committee did what it was charged to do — offer site options for the council to consider — members encouraged city officials to pursue an open public bid process, just in case.

“We just think there may be some opportunities out there,” said committee member Russ Wolf, who also is a board member and past president of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce.

In an open public bid process, also called an RFP, the city would establish a scope of work — how many buildings, what size, and for what purpose as well as parking — along with any other amenities — like associated housing or landscaping that includes a courtyard — and would ask developers to come up with their best sketches for the project.

The city then could compare costs and benefits submitted by all the different developers and choose the one it liked best.

Committee chairman Jack Dovey said local developers have responded favorably to the idea of an open bid process for the municipal facility project.

“Other developers said if there was an RFP process, they’d probably offer something but because there wasn’t a process, they didn’t come up with anything,” he told the council Tuesday night.

Committee member David Kaplan said the committee recommended the open bid process to make the project as inclusive as possible.

“In going through the process, we felt coming up with specific sites limited the possibilities,” he said.

Councilman Eric Faison, a long-time proponent of building a new municipal facility in the downtown core, said he didn’t disagree with the results of the committee’s work.

“I think we’ll come up with something reasonably similar, particularly with regard to the RFP,” he said.

Still, he chastised the council for creating a committee that ate up a lot of time doing research and talking to development experts. The council should have gathered information and held public forums itself, he said.

Deputy Mayor Dean McColgan countered that the time the committee devoted to the project was well-spent.

“You’ve identified many things we didn’t consider nine months ago,” McColgan said. “I know the information you presented tonight will be very valuable.”

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

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