Dick’s Drive-In and the city of Kent are taking on Sound Transit’s plans to build a new maintenance facility.
Sound Transit says the new facility is needed to support light rail expansion to the South Sound.
But the city of Kent is fighting one of the proposed sites - the same spot where Dick's Burgers just celebrated a grand opening in December.
“We were shocked to learn that sound transit was considering tearing down our brand new restaurant,” said Jasmine Donovan, Executive Vice President of Dick's Drive-Ins Restaurants and the granddaughter of founder Dick Spady.
The business has learned the land its on - which also includes Lowes, and other stores - is being considered as one of six locations being considered by Sound Transit.
“It’s unthinkable and it's devastating to imagine. And it was very difficult to share that with employees here yesterday before this all became public. It's really frustrating that this has come this far,” Donovan said, her voice breaking.
She also wrote a letter to the Sound Transit board Wednesday, saying, “On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of customers we’ll serve and the thousands of employees we’ll train and help to graduate over the next 65 years, we ask you to please remove the Midway Shopping Center and our brand new and only location in the South Sound from consideration."
Their site is one of six locations being considered.
Another site on the list is a closed landfill nearby.
“That's the frustration. There is a viable piece of property within walking distance of the new Dick’s Drive-In,” said Kent Mayor Dana Ralph.
“We’ve been unable to get Sound Transit to say, we'll take this off the list. And that's our ask,” she said.
KIRO7’s Deedee Sun took that question to Sound Transit.
“When do you think they’ll get an answer of whether it’ll be removed from the consideration list?” Sun asked.
“I don't have a simple answer for you as to when every site either gets thumbs up or thumbs down,” said Peter Rogoff, the Sound Transit CEO.
Rogoff said it's required by law, to consider a variety of locations.
“People must understand that under the law we must look at a range of reasonable alternative sites,” Rogoff said.
He said another part of the challenge is the land criteria has specific needs - it must be a 30-acre piece of land that is flat, and also near the light rail.
“These are not easy things to locate,” Rogoff said.
Sound Transit said the landfill will be considered too, but emphasized the site is not an easy solution and could come with significant environmental risks - plus-a hefty price tag.
“Having to build over the landfill could cost hundreds of millions of dollars in additional cost in comparison to some of the other sites under consideration,” Rogoff said. That cost would be paid by taxpayers across King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
Kent is putting up fight, doing what it can to remove the Dick’s Drive-In site from Sound Transit’s short list.
Mayor Ralph said the city has worked on plans for years on a Midway plan to bring density to the area with housing and shopping.
“This option blows up that plan. It takes away a huge section of our vision of what the midway area actually is,” Ralph said.
The Kent City Council is also working to put up red tape, and passed a moratorium on Tuesday.
“They’re doing a zoning change that basically boils down to, an operation and maintenance facility is not permitted on this site, but would be permitted on the site to the south (the landfill),” Ralph said.
Sound Transit said it considers things like zoning and community input – but said wherever the new facility goes, it will likely cause disruption.
“Yes, demolishing a newly built facility would be really unfortunate, but some of the other alternatives involved include demolishing a very large church, or demolishing dozens of existing neighborhood homes,” Rogoff said.
Rogoff said Sound Transit plans to notify residents of the other site locations under consideration next month, then there’s a review phase. He said Sound Transit would make a recommendation to the board sometime in the spring and make recommendations on which sites will advance to the environmental impact phase.
A final location won’t be selected for a couple of years.
The Kent Reporter reported that Sound Transit officials revealed plans in November about the agency’s potential sites for the facility, including three locations in Kent, two in Federal Way and one in unincorporated King County.
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