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Kent pursues new FAA facility; Seattle among competing cities
City officials are making another pitch to bring a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facility to vacant land in downtown Kent.
Kent submitted an expression of interest on May 16 to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which will oversee selection of a new site for a 300,000 square foot facility to handle approximately 1,600 employees.
The GSA plans to award a site in March 2015 and the new offices are scheduled to open in August 2017 as the FAA leaves its current SeaTac and Renton locations that do not meet criteria for the larger facility. The new site will require about 1,200 parking spaces.
"The competition will be strong but early indications are we will be competitive," Ben Wolters, city economic and community development director, told the City Council on May 6. "Downtown Seattle is going for it as well."
The city of Kent owns the Naden property downtown that it would use for the FAA offices. The Naden site is south of West Meeker Street and north of Willis Street. Its western boundary is Highway 167, and its eastern boundary is the Union Pacific railroad tracks.
The FAA started looking for a new site four years ago. Kent as well as the cities of Renton, Tukwila, Des Moines and SeaTac submitted potential locations. But cutbacks by Congress put the search for new location on hold.
Wolters said the project has now received full funding from Congress. But the FAA has reduced the square footage from 519,000 square feet four years ago. That has opened up more potential sites.
The number of cities that qualify under the eligibility radius within 10 miles of the current Renton site went to 15 this year compared to five in 2010, said Kurt Hanson, city economic development manager. The GSA extended that radius to include downtown Seattle.
GSA cannot release any details about which cities submitted expressions of interest because that information is procurement sensitive, said Stephanie Kenitzer, a GSA spokeswoman. Kenitzer said the GSA plans to award a site in March 2015 and open the facility in August 2017.
"The FAA is looking for space that will allow the agency to consolidate its workforce in the Northwest Mountain Region in one facility to better deliver their mission to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world," Kenitzer said. "The consolidated lease will minimize redundant resources and increase operational efficiency. None of the existing buildings as configured are of adequate size for the consolidation project. GSA and FAA are requesting space within the delineated area that could accommodate office and support space for a total of approximately 1,600 employees."