Deal would tie Sound Transit to center-related businesses


Staff writer

To the ongoing protest of business owners and residents, the city’s Land-Use and Transportation Committee reviewed a proposal by Sound Transit laying out how and when the agency will push for development near the site of a planned parking garage and transit center in downtown Federal Way.

Construction is scheduled to begin at South 316th Street and 23rd Avenue South later this year. Sound Transit expects to occupy the facility by October 2005.

Federal Way entered into an interlocal agreement with Sound Transit in 2001 that suggested requiring Sound Transit to provide transit-oriented development near the center.

Transit-oriented development is any kind of business that would complement the transit center, including dry cleaners, restaurants and daycares. But senior planner Lori Michaelson, the city’s lead on the project, said any use allowed in the city center zone would work.

While the 2001 interlocal agreement had a stricter development requirement of Sound Transit, the proposed agreement before the City Council next week would be less stringent.

It would still require the transit agency to try to find developers for designated areas east and west of the site. But if the transit agency doesn’t find anything 18 months after occupancy — which would be roughly the summer of 2007 — the west side would be conveyed back to the city and the city would have the option to buy the east side.

According to the proposed agreement, if Sound Transit hasn’t found a developer of its choice by next October, it’ll have to pay to issue a request for proposals. When Sound Transit moves in, it’ll have to conduct temporary landscaping of the transit-oriented development sites.

Councilwoman Linda Kochmar said she had lots of questions about the agreement, including what would happen if the city didn’t want to buy the east side.

In light of a number of unanswered questions by council members, the committee Monday recommended discussing the issue further at the next Tuesday’s council meeting.

Dave Larson, an attorney who represented citizens and businesses who appealed hearing examiner Stephen Causseaux’s decision upholding the city’s designation of the center as an essential public facility, reminded city officials of their right to enforce the language in the 2001 interlocal agreement.

“By June 2003, it begins to appear the transit-oriented development was voluntary, where it wasn’t, as shown in the December 2001 agreement,” he said.

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