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November 13, 2017

County wants master plan for downtown civic campus

Journal Staff Reporter

Map from King County [enlarge]

King County owns 10 buildings and vacant lots in downtown Seattle that are mostly in a cluster between Yesler Way, James Street, Sixth Avenue and Second Avenue.

The county is seeking proposals by Nov. 17 for a consultant team to develop a master plan for this downtown civic campus that “has the potential to create the next generation high-density town center located in the pulse of downtown Seattle,” according to the RFP.

The RFP notice appeared in the Oct. 19 DJC. According to the RFP, the plan will address the county's short- and longer- term facilities and operational space planning needs and be the basis for future analysis and master plan development for the county's downtown campus properties.

Thomas Koney, King County deputy director, department of executive services, said the plan could include development of mixed-use buildings with housing, likely in public private partnerships, and land swaps.

“The idea is nothing is off the table,” he said.

The question, he said, is “What is the most effective way for the county to leverage its presence in the community as real estate gets more and more expensive in the city?”

Two of the county's properties are vacant and one at 420 Fourth Ave. has a building that is being used as a temporary homeless shelter.

The vacant properties are at 415 Fifth Avenue and adjacent to the Goat Hill Garage at 415 Sixth Ave.

The other buildings are the King County Courthouse at 516 Third Ave., King County Administration Building at 500 Fourth Ave., King County Correctional Facility at 500 Fifth Ave., Chinook Building at 401 Fourth Ave., Goat Hill Garage at 415 Sixth Ave., Yesler Building at 400 Yesler Way and King Street Center Building at 201 S. Jackson Place. The King Street building is the only one not in the cluster.

Maureen Thomas, project manager in the facilities management division of the county, said the county expects to hire the consultant team by January and have its report done by May. The report will be sent to the King County Council in June, and the council would decide whether to fund another phase of the project. That phase could include a deeper analysis of the consultants report and a look at options for funding of the downtown campus.

She said that now they are just “a bunch of government buildings downtown,” (but) “we're looking into making it more of a neighborhood, more of a significant place that people would recognize as part of their government” — a place that also forms connections with adjacent neighborhoods.

The King County campus is at the intersection of five neighborhoods: historic Pioneer Square, the Central Business District, the International District, Yesler Terrace and First Hill. “The downtown civic campus has the potential of being the vital link that connects and act as a catalyst in the revitalization of these neighborhoods,” the RFP notes.

This planning effort grew out of a 2015 King County Council Auditor recommendation to prepare a building alternatives analysis to guide future investment in the King County Courthouse and the downtown buildings, according to the RFP.

The master plan must be designed for future flexibility, growth and opportunities, incorporation of state of the art technology, optimization of infrastructure investment and promotion of neighborhood safety, according to the county.


Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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