Opinion

How will proposed project impact area? | Q&A with Mr. Federal Way

Mr. Federal Way - Contributed
Mr. Federal Way
— image credit: Contributed

Q: What have you heard about the new tenement that Devco is planning to build at the old bus barn on 320th Street across from Safeway? Won’t this have a major detrimental effect on all of Federal Way?

A: Yes, Mr. Federal Way has heard about the DevCo Inc. proposal to build a low-income apartment complex on 10 acres at the old Federal Way school district bus barn.

It’s quite the conundrum and the classic NIMBY (Not in my back yard) attitude has emerged.

Like Alec Baldwin’s character says in “The Departed,” — “The world needs plenty of bartenders.”

The world also needs plenty of jails to house criminals and dumps to house the unbelievable amount of garbage that we produce.

And, unfortunately, in today’s world, we also need plenty of affordable places for low-income families to live.

The new apartment complex will be made available to households earning no more than 60 percent of the median household income in King County, roughly translating to $900 a month for a one-bedroom.

But, Mr. Federal Way does understand that the location, appearance and magnitude of this project are the huge question marks.

The 308-unit development, which isn’t the most pleasing architectural design, will be one of the first things people see when driving into Federal Way. The bus barn proposal includes 16 buildings, which will range in height from three to six stories. They will tower over the city’s skyline in that area.

And that’s not even taking into account the traffic considerations that the 1,000-plus residents will create on the already-crowded 320th (see Mr. Federal Way question below). According to the city’s average daily traffic count, the stretch of South 320th Street between Interstate 5 and First Avenue South attracts more than 35,000 vehicles a day.

It also doesn’t take into consideration the impact the 308-unit complex will have on nearby Mirror Lake Elementary School. The school currently employs six portables to house its 440 students. That number would rise substantially with all the kids that will be moving into the area.

It just seems to Mr. Federal Way that there has to be a better location within the city for a project of this magnitude. But it also seems like it might be too late. The Federal Way school district is in a “legally binding contract” with DevCo, Inc. to build the apartments and the property is zoned for these types of buildings.

“At the heart of this ... It’s zoned this way,” Mayor Jim Farrell said last month. “Once the property is zoned and an application is made, the city has a very limited role in what we can do. We can’t go back and say, ‘We don’t need you,’ (to a developer). What we can do right now is make sure the developer complies with the letter of the law. If this (project) happens, we’re here to make sure that it doesn’t have the kind of impact that will detract from your quality of life, that there are protections and mitigations. If they comply with the letter of the law, the only thing we can do is make sure the impacts to the community are addressed.”

Q: Mr. Federal Way, is there a reason why the lights on 320th Street from I-5 to Pacific Highway South are sequenced so poorly? Seems like I hit red lights on about 80 percent of them.

A: It’s definitely not the funnest stretch of road to drive. In fact, Mr. Federal Way attempts to avoid 320th around the Commons Mall whenever possible, for this reason exactly.

But, Mr. Federal Way doesn’t think that the lights are sequenced badly. Mr. Federal Way just thinks there’s a lot of traffic, and a lot of traffic lights, on that stretch of road.

Taking on the task of driving down 320th is much like getting a table for a group of seven at Olive Garden at 7 p.m. on a Saturday night. You go into the situation knowing you are going to have to wait a long time before your little circle-thingy starts vibrating and flashing. So there’s no sense in complaining about it.

Q: I read with interest your column regarding how great it was to have a sports team win a championship after such a long time. You noted the only other team to win were the Sonics in 1979. Does this mean that the Seattle Storm players are not professional since they are only women? Please let us know how Mrs. Federal Way and any young Miss Federal Ways may feel about your comment.

A: After consulting with Mrs. Federal Way, Mr. Federal Way would like to admit that he made a mistake while answering that question. Mr. Federal Way should have recognized that the Seattle Storm WNBA franchise has won a pair of national championships.

When writing about the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, the Storm’s titles didn’t even enter Mr. Federal Way’s head. And that’s Mr. Federal Way’s fault and unfair to the hundreds of girls who play sports throughout the city.

Q: Mr. Federal Way, what’s the fastest speed you’ve traveled on a luge?

A: None of your business.

Email mrfederalway@federalwaymirror.com

 

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