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The pieces of the controversial High Point puzzle | Letter
How do you put together a puzzle when three parties are holding the pieces?
At a hearing on July 28 at the Federal Way City Hall, we heard from a developer, a group of Federal Way residents and the city of Federal Way. They were meeting to discuss specific points on the proposed High Point development on the old bus barn property located at South 320th Street and 11th Avenue South.
Whether you are for or against this development, let’s take a look at the pieces of the puzzle each party is holding to put together a bigger picture.
1.) The property is just shy of 10 acres and absolutely prime real estate.
2.) The developer wants to put in 15 buildings that include 301 residential units, 400 parking spots and retail.
3.) This property is the last link in the infamous Federal Way “Ring Road.”
A little history first, the “Ring Road” proposal has been on the books for upwards of 30 years. The Bus Barn has been there for 50 years. It is meant to run from Interstate 5 onto 320th westbound, turn south by Red Robin and travel behind The Commons. Cross over Pacific Highway South, turn north onto 11th Street, continue across 320th Street, through this new development to the street behind Best Buy to 312th Street, turn east onto 312th Street back around to I-5.
The city states that their traffic study shows there will be no significant impact but that it was done with the assumption that the “Ring Road” is in place. Wait. What? Even the hearing examiner picked up on that. He asked, “What is the timeline for the ‘Ring Road’ to be built?”
The city’s representative stated, “Well, it’s currently on the 20 year plan, but if there is a need it would get bumped up to the six year plan.”
Ah, now there’s the crux. The city wants this high density residential compound to be built in order to show a need for the “Ring Road.”
There are a few key points in this picture:
1.) The traffic on 320th Street will become a nightmare, at least long enough to show the city a need to fix it, and then there will be a funding issue and probably more taxes to pay for it.
2.) The neighborhood that shares a fence with the bus barn property has been there for 50 years. It is the only place in Federal Way where the city frame abuts single family homes. The developer has proposed six story buildings 80 inches from their back fences.
3.) A pedestrian gate is proposed to allow the kids to walk through the neighborhood to get to Mirror Lake and Federal Way High School. Those kids will have to cross “Ring Road” to get to the pedestrian gate to walk to school.
The city’s position is that it’s up to the school district on how to transport the kiddos. Really? The city should be helping build up the schools. Work in partnership, help our kids, not just look for a means to an end to build your road.
The city just issued a moratorium on new buildings in the city frame but they did not include this part of city frame. Why?
I have lived in Federal Way since 1998. I love it here. It’s beautiful; however, there is a tarnish that has come over this city. The citizens do not have a voice in what is happening, specifically, the homeowners in the little neighborhood that will be most affected by these insider deals and political maneuvering.
That property should be developed, but in a more productive and positive manner with something that benefits the city, not just the developer, which as I see it, is the only one who will benefit from this proposal.
Jennifer Wojciechowski, Federal Way