The area in yellow/gold shows the Kent Industrial Valley area that city leaders want to change to attract businesses besides more warehouses. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

The area in yellow/gold shows the Kent Industrial Valley area that city leaders want to change to attract businesses besides more warehouses. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

City hires land-use consultant to help with Kent Industrial Valley plan

Contract for up to $150,000 over the next two years

City leaders will hire a land-use consultant to help change what type of businesses move into the Kent Industrial Valley.

City staff from Kent, Auburn and Renton interviewed four companies before selecting a consultant team of Mackenzie and EcoNW for the Rally the Valley services contract. Kent will pay the consultant up to $150,000 over the next two years to conduct a needs assessment for the valley and to develop a vision, goals and strategies plan for the manufacturing industrial center.

“We were impressed with the depth of their knowledge of the Kent Industrial Valley,” said Danielle Butsick, city of Kent senior planner, in her April 8 presentation to the City Council’s Economic and Community Development Committee. “They work on the public and private side. They have a comprehensive knowledge about the complexities of industrial development and what works and what doesn’t from the developer side, but they also have familiarity with the tools government can use.”

Mackenzie has offices in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, Wash. EcoNW has offices in Seattle, Portland, Eugene and Boise.

City of Kent staff and leaders first talked publicly about changing up the industrial valley during a council workshop in September. They want to transform the valley into a place where companies choose to set up headquarters and production plants rather than more warehouses and distribution centers.

On April 2, the council unanimously approved an interim land-use zoning ordinance to limit any new large warehouses. City leaders are looking to more of an aerospace center or similar industries that bring in more tax revenue and fewer trucks that quickly wear out the roads.

In February, the council approved a $100,000 contract with Seattle-based Barokas Communications to provide public/media relations and marketing services over the rest of the year to promote the Kent Valley as a business destination. A total of $75,000 of the contract is from the city’s lodging tax, a 1 percent state tax on overnight hotel, motel, bed and breakfast and campground stays in Kent. State law dictates who is eligible to apply and mandates the funds be used for marketing and promotion of business and leisure tourism. The other $25,000 is from the city’s general fund and its Rally the Valley campaign.

The $150,000 for the land-use consultant will come out of the city’s 2019-2020 budget and its Rally the Valley plan. Mayor Dana Ralph has compared the potential changes to when Howard Hanson Dam was built in the 1960s and Boeing built a space center that turned the valley from a farming community into an industrial zone full of warehouses.

Kent included Auburn and Renton city staff in the hiring process because the mayor and council see this transformation as larger than one city.

In a letter to the city of Kent, Mackenzie wrote that it is excited to work to help the city identify and evaluate the enormous future economic opportunities in the industrial valley. It noted the plan will help shape and guide the vision for the future of Kent’s industrial and manufacturing lands.

The consultant will review work done by Mackenzie in the Portland Metro area, Southwest Washington and other locations on industrial lands, compatible uses, site design and performance standards.

Butsick said city staff plans to come back to the council’s Economic and Community Development Committee in July with the vision and goals outlined by the consultant. The project is expected to take two years. The council would need to approve any land-use zoning, building design or other changes.

“We want to make sure the council is on board with the broad vision and goals before we develop strategies and how to implement the vision,” Butsick said about the initial consultant report this summer.

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