For 40 years, developers and builders have used the gravel and rock mined from Segale’s pit at 1875 Kersey Way on the city’s south end for infrastructure projects throughout Auburn.
But now, as Mark Segale, the son of Segale Properties founder Mario Segale, told the Auburn City Council at a study session Monday night (July 24), the pit is approaching the exhaustion of its resources. Within three to five years, he said, the company will close the mining operation and redevelop the land.
What shape the redevelopment takes won’t be known for several years. But whatever the answer turns out to be, the project will certainly be sprawling and complex, encompassing not only the pit, but the two existing sub-areas on the south end that flank it, of which Segale is the majority landowner — the Stuck River Road sub area and the Mt. Rainier Vista sub-area on the plateau to the south.
“Given that the subject is something like a new, miniature city, open space, parks, different types of housing, commercial, trail systems and employment uses could potentially be part of this project,” Mike Pruett, asset manager for Segale Properties, told the council.
“[At 900 acres) it’s not quite as big as Lakeland Hills in total both in King and Pierce counties, but it’s close,” Pruett said. “It’s going to be a big, important project within the city … It’s not starting from scratch. There has already been discussion about what it could be. This next step that we are initiating is, ‘Okay, let’s take it all the way,’ and we’ll be doing kind of a miniature comprehensive plan for the site.”
Council reaction was positive.
“Thank you for (showing) Auburn where we can grow because when I came to council in 2014, they told me within nine to 10 years, we would be above 100,000 population, and this would really put us over that. I can see a huge benefit to Auburn,” said Councilmember Yolanda Trout-Manuel.
“Being a lifelong resident here,” said Councilmember Cheryl Rakes, “I can remember when you put the pit in, and I remember the talk about what’s going to happen after it ‘dries out,’ so I really appreciate this and look forward to working with you.”
Segale Properties is a fourth-generation, family owned, real estate company with a broad range of real estate, commercial, industrial, residential, agricultural and natural resources properties throughout Washington state.
In total, Segale Properites owns 55 parcels in Auburn spread over 1,150 acres of land. As the owner of the land under Emerald Downs before its development, it played a key role in ensuring the race track came to Auburn. Segale intends to include the city and community in guiding the project along.
“We are proud to be part of Auburn,” said Mark Segale, noting that the family’s ties to Auburn go much deeper than merely doing business here. “We understand the importance of being good land stewards and partners in the community. We value our relationship with the city. It is important to us, and has been for a very long time.”
The potential land uses listed in the Auburn Comprehensive Plan number residential, commercial, institutional and recreational uses, with light industrial also potentially appropriate with an industrial or business park. Development will not occur, however, until adequate public facilities are available.
As noted above, the form the project takes will not be fleshed out for several years, but among the broad re-development possibilities are:
• A large, mixed-use master planned development with significant residential density, a commercial/retail “town center,” regional park development and an associated trail system, new school sites, and opportunities for professional office and employment uses. According to Segale, a project of this size and scale could help Auburn address new housing provision challenges Gov. Jay Inslee has handed down.
• A large, master-planned industrial park to support the ongoing demand for light industrial uses and manufacturing opportunities within the city. This, Pruett said, could support parks and trails for the community and provide for a significant amount of new industrial/manufacturing opportunities, fostering a future employment center, and providing the city a long-term land supply to support the region’s important aerospace manufacturing and logistics industries.
Given Mount Rainier Vista’s proximity to the city’s Coal Creek Springs well field, any development will have to allay concerns about storm water infiltration and protect a watershed on which everybody depends. The upshot is that the project, which envisions less dense/ intense residential uses, will not allow any stormwater infiltration. The developer will also need to make urban level street improvements to 53rd Street.
Barriers to redevelopment include significant transportation improvements that will be necessary for a project of such intensity. According to the city, the existing afternoon/evening peak hour capacity on area bridge crossings is approximately 250 trips. New bridges and road-widening work on key roadways would also be necessary for any re-use of increased intensity over current uses. The potential costs of necessary transportation improvement projects are not feasible to be undertaken by a single developer.
Potential Solutions to infrastructure barriers include re-developing the site to a use that is much less intense in terms of trip generation and infrastructure demand. This would be done using new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) opportunities in the state to pay for up to $200 million in necessary infrastructure improvements. Through the planning process, the goal would be to balance the intensity of future re-development with forecasted TIF funds, grants, and other funding to help finance key necessary off-site infrastructure improvements. A TIF study will be necessary as the planning effort advances.
The scope of work for the planning Effort and SEPA/EIS process will be finalized by the city. The city will help draft a three-party agreement. Communication and project management protocols will be facilitate between Segale, the city and a selected planning/SEPA consultant.
By the close of next month, Segale anticipates completion of tentative, draft three-party agreement language, and the city will publish a request for proposals and scope of work. By October, a consultant team will be selected to begin sub-area planning work. A complete sub-area planning effort and associated SEPA/EIS work is anticipated by September 2025 with city adoption by December 2025.