Nonprofit, company at odds over preserving Weyerhaeuser property

IRG addresses concerns over first building; Save Weyerhaeuser advocates for alternative plan.

The Weyerhaeuser campus is home to some truly spectacular architecture. The main headquarters building is built into the land, complimenting the natural surroundings. The inside, while vacant now, tells a tale of its bustling past. The floors are all wide open, and the very top boasts beautiful secret gardens on either end of the long, gorgeous building.

It’s no mystery why the Save Weyerhaeuser Campus is fighting so hard to preserve the area.

Industrial Realty Group’s Executive Vice President, Dana Ostenson, said the company is also focused on preserving the property.

“In order to preserve this land, we need to make it usable again,” he said.

However, both Save Weyerhaeuser Campus’s and IRG’s visions of how to best preserve the campus differ.

When Weyerhaeuser moved from the Federal Way campus to Pioneer Square in Seattle in 2016, they sold the property to IRG for $70 million. The real estate development and investment firm specializes in the “acquisition, development and management of commercial and industrial real estate across the country,” according to IRG’s website.

According to Lori Sechrist, president of Save Weyerhaeuser, the community group is currently in the process of appealing the construction of IRG’s “Warehouse A” on the campus.

As the grassroots organization’s mission is to preserve, protect and maintain the campus, they want to construct the campus in a way that doesn’t damage its unique character. However, Sechrist said they do recognize that IRG owns the property and will follow through with plans to construct new buildings.

The group said they are hoping to speak with IRG in an effort to preserve the unique character of the land, but they have not yet met with them to do so.

Ostenson said IRG actually had the same idea when it comes to the campus.

Both he and Amanda Reykdal, director for real estate for Allison Public Relations, said they do not wish to harm or significantly alter the campus either. Instead, they want to revitalize it, bring it back to life so it can both be preserved and be of use again, Reykdal said.

Ostenson said they have not yet met with Save Weyerhaeuser Campus to talk about their plans for the campus.

IRG recently changed the campus name to Woodbridge Corporate Park. The website describes the property as “a new corporate business park that connects with nature.”

Ostenson said IRG is waiting on final permit approval before they begin construction on Warehouse A.

During a recent monthly Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Twin Lakes Golf & Country Club, Ostenson spoke about IRG’s plans for the campus and addressed several perceived misunderstandings circling the community. Mainly, he wanted to explain what the industrial buildings would really be for, as the word “industrial” has been cause for concern among residents who wish to keep the campus similar to its current state.

At the luncheon, Ostenson said IRG was trying to be a good corporate citizen when it comes to revitalizing the campus. Ostenson referred to it as “a very important project that we believe is very important for Federal Way, and very important for residents.”

As the bridge between the old economy and the new economy, as Ostenson referred to IRG, it was part of their job to bring life back to the campus and the city as well.

“When Weyerhaeuser left, it left 6,500 jobs,” he said, noting that without bringing those jobs back they won’t be able to revitalize the area.

“We are focused on three things,” Ostenson said, “Restoring the jobs, preserving the most important elements of the campus, and creating a new paradigm of industrial development.”

Sechrist told the Mirror they understand that construction on the campus needs to happen to help preserve it, but they are against warehouses being part of that construction. IRG refers to the first building as “Greenline Warehouse A” in its SEPA application.

But Ostenson is adamant that the buildings are not going to be warehouses, and while they are referred to as “industrial,” they will actually be used for office space.

Sechrist said the organization still remained concerned about the industrial warehouses being built on the property, and particularly the influx of semi-trucks this would bring in.

While Ostenson said during an interview and tour of the main headquarters building that the number of semi-trucks would be significantly less than what people are saying, Sechrist said IRG’s plans stated there will be 800 semi-trucks daily, according to the application IRG submitted for building permits.

“That’s not what they’re permitting for,” Sechrist said of Ostenson’s comment that IRG is expecting “significantly less” truck traffic. “We can only go on the facts.”

Sechrist said the application IRG put forth shows 25 percent of the property being built on by the end of project completion.

“Five buildings represent a million-and-a-half square feet of warehouses,” Sechrist said. “The traffic analysis reports in their application call out over 800 semi-trucks.”

The 800 semi-trucks include traffic for all of the buildings IRG would be constructing, not just Warehouse A, according to project documents.

Save Weyerhaeuser is championing an alternative plan that would involve developing on the existing footprint of the property in a mixed-use fashion.

“It could be some residential, higher end, some luxury, which we don’t have here in this city,” Sechrist said.

“We also don’t have any retail on the east side,” Sechrist said, citing a need in the area.

Sechrist said that people in that area who are technically residents of Federal Way would spend most of their time shopping in areas surrounding the city like Auburn or Edgewood because the increased traffic could make it much more difficult to get to downtown.

“And these 800 trucks, thousands of cars that could come and go out of these areas,” Sechrist said. “We’ll never be able to get to Federal Way.”

According to a 2016 traffic impact analysis memorandum for Warehouse A, the total weekday daily vehicle trip estimates both coming and going from the property are at 750. However, this does not specify what types of vehicles, although trucks are included.

According to the memorandum, the peak hours in the morning would have 75 vehicles total coming and going from the property, and the evening peak hours would have 99 total vehicles traveling.

An updated 2017 traffic impact analysis memorandum for Warehouse A shows a slight increase from the 2016 numbers, with 795 daily passenger vehicle trips and 199 daily truck trips generated.