Breaking news: Industrial Realty Group, Preferred Freezer Services terminate contract for fish-processing center | Update

Industrial Realty Group announced Tuesday that it has terminated its contract with Chill Build Seattle, LLC for the sale of land that would have led to construction of a 19-acre fish warehousing, distribution and processing center at the former Weyerhaeuser Company property.

Messmer initially wrote in the letter that the contract was terminated with Preferred Freezer Services but later clarified that Industrial Realty Group and Chill Build Seattle dissolved the contract. Chill Build Seattle, LLC is the company who applied for the fish warehousing, distribution and processing center to be occupied by Preferred Freezer Services and Orca Bay Seafoods as tenants.

In a letter to Mayor Jim Ferrell and the Federal Way City Council, Industrial Realty Group’s vice president of special projects Tom Messmer said that the termination was a “mutual decision” that allows the applicant to “better meet its project timeline.”

Messmer said Industrial Realty Group, however, will continue to move forward with the city’s State Environmental Policy Act technical review comments, which had 61 comments and questions.

“While the end-use and building construction details studied under SEPA will likely change, perhaps resulting in fewer environmental impacts, the proposed building footprint representing a similar (non-frozen) warehouse and distribution operation is expected to remain nominally the same as the original project application,” Messmer wrote. “There has been and continues to be incredibly strong demand for this use in this location.”

Senior advisor to the mayor Steve McNey said city officials are not going to make any official comment until they review the letter thoroughly so they fully understand what it means and follow proper procedure, as the city is the regulatory agency involved. He said, at this point, the city has only heard from Industrial Realty Group and not Preferred Freezer Services.

“To that end, we’re not upset, and I don’t think anybody in the community is going to be upset,” he said.

McNey was right.

Members of citywide advocacy group Save Weyerhaeuser Campus rejoiced at the news, stating they’ve claimed the first victory in the fight to preserve the historic Weyerhaeuser campus.

“While it’s great news for concerned citizens that this plant won’t be built, we realize our work is not done,” Lori Sechrist, president of Save Weyerhaeuser Campus, said. “Another warehouse on the same site is likely to be proposed, bringing many of the same concerns about environmental and traffic impacts. Save Weyerhaeuser Campus members are determined to make sure any development on teh campus meets the intent of the property’s 1994 annexation agreement.”

Members of the Save Weyerhaeuser Campus group have consistently attended City Council meetings since August, opposing the construction of the warehouse.

“After reviewing more than 300 public comments against the development application, the city of Federal Way required more extensive studies on the proposal and had granted the developer two extensions of the resubmittal deadline,” members of Save Weyerhaeuser Campus said in an announcement. “… They have pointed out that industrial uses are not permitted under the special campus zoning, and Federal Way is designated as a regional growth center, not a manufacturing/industrial center, under the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Vision 2040.”

Messmer said the contract termination addresses the community’s concerns over amonia refrigeration and fish processing.

“There’s no shortages of buyers that want to buy that land or buy any of that land there,” Messmer said. “For industrial land, I don’t think we’re going to have any trouble at all finding a buyer.”

Although Messmer could not disclose details of the termination of the contract for the sale of land, he did say Industrial Realty Group will be taking the next several weeks to “thoughtfully explore a new user and project that fits the Corporate Park-1 zoning, hopefully bringing critical jobs and much-needed tax revenue to the city of Federal Way.”

In past reports, Messmer has said the fish-processing center would generate $55 million in assessed value of the property, $400,00o of which would go toward Federal Way Public Schools.

In his letter released Tuesday, he reassured city officials that his company is committed to retaining undeveloped, untouched land on the 425 acres, keeping the Bonsai and Rhododendron Societies and “advancing creative options” for the 40 acres of wooded land near North Lake.

Editor Jessica Keller contributed to this report. The Mirror will provide an update as more information becomes available.

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