News

Moving day getting close for city hall

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

City workers are about a month away from moving their papers, files, staplers and chairs into their new quarters in the Paragon building.

City manager David Moseley told the Federal Way City Council June 1 the work in the municipal court and police department should be finished July 1. Cops and courts will move into the new building over the second weekend of July.

The rest of the City Hall staff — community development, management services, city law, public works and city manager and council staff — will move in August.

Early last month, the project was about 10 days behind schedule after contractors found unexpected HVAC and plumbing lines. As of May 25, the first floor was only three days behind in the court area and eight days behind in the police department, according to city staff. The second floor and parking areas are on target.

Because the project is, so far, coming in $225,000 under budget and city officials don't expect to need the $600,000 contingency, city council members decided to use any leftover money for a second parking area and furniture for all the rooms in the new City Hall. The total project budget is $15.96 million.

The Paragon building currently has 289 stalls. Phase I parking construction will add 131 stalls on the east side of the parcel and provide grading work for Phase II parking on the west side. Phase II construction will add 46 parking stalls.

Councilman Eric Faison said he was initially skeptical about using the leftover money on Phase II parking and furniture. He said the building is smaller than what the city is expected to need in the future, and he was hesitant to invest money in building parking lots the city might not need before it moved to a larger location.

"I wasn't sure we needed to invest the money now," he said. "I was swayed by the city manager. The additional parking will have value."

As city workers prepare to leave the old building behind, the Federal Way City Council is preparing to host a consultant to help them decide whether to lease or sell the existing City Hall building, which the city owns.

According to city staff, there can be little to no cash-flow during the first year of a lease and, under the current market, it could take 18 months for the building to be fully leased. As a lessor, the city would have to act as a landlord, providing building maintenance and tenant improvements, according to staff.

Once the building was fully leased, it could generate between $200,000 and $250,000 a year in net income, according to staff estimates.

If city officials opted to sell the building, city staff estimated the city could probably get between $2.4 million and $3 million. Still, staff said, it could take up to 18 months to find a buyer.

City staff have suggested using money generated from the lease or sale of the building to fund the city's economic development efforts, but council members haven't made any final decisions.

Because the city owns the current City Hall building, officials don't have to make a decision under a deadline. Still, Faison said sooner would be better than later. "We want to maximize the resource," he said.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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