Ellenos Yogurt says being displaced by Sound Transit could be 'catastrophic'

In the heart of Pike Place Market, the Ellenos yogurt stand is always hopping.

People come here for the Greek yogurt from Con Apostolopoulos' family recipe.

"Everyone in Seattle has fallen in love with us," Apostolopoulos said. "We've fallen in love with Seattle, so we want to share the yogurt with the rest of the country."

Ellenos Yogurt's expansion plans hinge on a facility in Federal Way beside Interstate 5.

The company searched for a year to find the right location, spent millions building a state-of-the-art yogurt plant that currently employs 150 people and just moved in last year.

Now, there's a chance Ellenos will have to move out if Sound Transit selects the site for a 30-acre light rail maintenance yard.

"I don't often use the word catastrophic, and I don't think I've used it before, but I find it hard to think we could rebound from something like that," Apostolopoulos said.

After a public outcry, Sound Transit's board Thursday voted to spare a property that includes the new Dick's Drive-In in Kent by removing it from the list of potential sites.

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There are now three choices left: the site that includes Ellenos, the home of the Christian Faith Center and the old Midway Landfill beside I-5.

The landfill is the clear favorite of the community, but Sound Transit says it would cost more,: about $1.3 billion, compared to $750-$800 million on either of the other sites.

That's because Sound Transit would be building on 15 years of trash.

"We looked at putting down a large concrete pad several feet thick to stabilize everything," said agency spokesperson Scott Thompson.

Officials in Kent support building at the landfill, and KIRO 7 obtained a preliminary expert report commissioned by the city.

It concluded "the landfill site could be successfully redeveloped" "using common construction techniques," making building on the site "cost effective and feasible."

Apostolopoulos is also hoping Sound Transit chooses the landfill.

"I couldn't think there's a better spot than the landfill site," he said.

It will take about a year and a half to finish the environmental study of all three options.

A final decision won't be made before 2021, with the facility opening by 2026.

Sound Transit says it's important to study more than one location in case a fatal flaw is discovered at one of the sites.