Politics blog

State gives its State Patrol project near Capitol an environmental green light

OlympianJune 4, 2014 

An artist's rendition from the Sellen-ZGF design team showing the porch area of the proposed new State Patrol building on the Capitol Campus side looking west.


A proposed new office building to house the State Patrol and other agencies won’t need a full environmental impact study, state officials said Wednesday. The decision by the Department of Enterprise Services to issue the formal determination of non-significance puts the project on a faster track, although this apparent environmental green light is subject to a 14-day public comment period.

The $82 million proposal is for a roughly 215,000-square-foot high-efficiency office building at the corner of Capitol Way and 11th Avenue, on the north edge of the Capitol Campus. The structure could stand as tall as five stories, according to the environmental checklist prepared for the state by Parametrix, a Bellevue-based engineering consultant.

Portland-based parking consultant Rick Williams has already outlined challenges the project poses for parking at the Capitol Campus, which we reported on in some detail here

A key to making the project work – with 400 more employees on campus and 262 fewer parking stalls – could include more telecommuting or telework by state workers on the campus, Williams has told state officials in his draft report. 

Other governments are using innovations such as smart meters to shoe-horn more visitors into limited parking spaces. A recent blog post at Governing magazine talked about efforts by San Francisco and Los Angeles to use variable rate parking

The office building project was envisioned by House Capital Budget Committee chairman Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, as a way to solve several problems. He says it is designed to be highly energy efficient and will improve efficiency of workers, while also providing a way to empty the General Administration Building that many lawmakers want to demolish.

The State Patrol is the major tenant in the GA Building, and the new headquarters project has $13 million in financing from the Legislature. The remainder of the financing is subject to legislative approval in 2015, and Republican Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside has questioned the wisdom of going ahead with the project because its debt service costs are expected to be much higher than Dunshee initially outlined in 2013.

Honeyford has proposed a smaller project near the Capitol for State Patrol executives and a project elsewhere in the county that could be leased from a private builder.

Enterprise Services is moving ahead and spending the $13 million for preparatory work such as predesign. The agency has said it will not proceed with demolition on the project site, which is a full city block at the intersection of Capitol Way and 11th Avenue. The 1.26-acre site contains a run-down two-story office building and two parking structures that would be razed.

One design-build team made up of Sellen Construction of Seattle and ZGF Architects’ Seattle office was selected earlier this year in a competition with two other finalist teams, and Enterprise Services is now negotiating a contract with Sellen-ZGF for the full predesign.

Parametrix prepared a traffic and parking report – linked here – that summarizes some of Williams’ draft parking study. 

Enterprise Services is overseeing the environmental review and says public comments can be sent in until 5 p.m. Monday, June 16, by email to 1063BlockProject@des.wa.gov. Project director Richard Browning also can be reached at 360-407-9360 to answer questions.

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