City to demolish properties for maintenance facility

Community members inquire about pair of log cabin homes.

It’s official — Federal Way is moving forward with the demolition of properties along 28th Avenue South for the expansion of the Joint Operations and Maintenance Facility that has outgrown its current building.

The project has had a long road, and was identified as a need for the city in May 2021 “in order to provide effective operations and maintenance for the city’s public infrastructure including: facilities, parks, streets, surface waters, and storm drain systems.”

The initial plan to utilize the area of the skate park at Steel Lake faced opposition, and ultimately the city sought an alternative location.

The new area stretches between South 308th Lane and the existing Operations and Maintenance Facility ,which begins at approximately South 311th Street.

In order to acquire these properties, the city worked with homeowners for their purchase, including the requirement for just compensation and relocation assistance.

Some of these negotiations took longer than others. Multiple homes were purchased by the city before the end of 2023.

At the Federal Way City Council meeting Jan. 16, councilmembers heard a presentation from Deputy Public Works Director Desiree Winkler that requested authorization for acquisition of the four remaining properties via condemnation.

The need for that authorization disappeared just after the start of the council meeting that night. Winkler said in her presentation requesting the authorization that as of 6:20 p.m. that evening, all property owners had signed purchase and sale agreements, so there was ultimately no need to use other means to acquire them for city use.

Log cabin question

Federal Way community members have reminisced on social media about the neighborhood as they’ve become aware, with much of the conversation focusing on two log cabin style homes that have been a feature of the neighborhood for decades.

While the charm of the log cabin facade inspired some community members to reach out to the city council about their preservation, it is not likely that the cabins will be moved and saved, according to a statement from the city.

“Mayor [Jim] Ferrell, along with our Public Works Director EJ Walsh and City Administrator Brian Davis, visited the property on 28th Avenue this morning to assess the structure. It does not appear at this point that there is any historical value to these buildings,” the city spokesperson said in an email.

In an email from Walsh to the council, he said one of the structures is a “log cabin on top of a concrete masonry unit (CMU) foundation. It is reported that the structure was built in the 1940s, however it has been substantially modified or moved since then if that is accurate.”

To learn more about the structure, Walsh said they have reached out to King County to see if the county has any archived records for this property.

“The structure’s foundation cannot be older than the 1970s, and the logs appear severely degraded and damaged,” the statement from the city continued. In the email to council, Walsh said there are “significant portions of the logs that are either gone or completely rotten, to the point that in multiple areas you can see through the logs into the house.”

“Both buildings contain asbestos and will require remediation even if demolished,” the statement from the city continued. “The structure to the right is not a log cabin but a stick-frame building with cedar siding.”

Although at this point there does not seem to be a possibility of preserving the structures, city officials say they have not made any final decisions at this point. They “will obtain documents from King County to learn more about the history and background of the property,” and “will need to go through the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process,” before that decision is made.

Photo provided by the City of Federal Way
EJ Walsh, Brian Davis and Mayor Ferrell visit the cabins to evaluate their condition and historic value.

Photo provided by the City of Federal Way EJ Walsh, Brian Davis and Mayor Ferrell visit the cabins to evaluate their condition and historic value.

Photo provided by the City of Federal Way

Photo provided by the City of Federal Way