Introduction: Federal Way Campus (IRG) must mitigate proposed construction of 1.4 million square feet of warehouses on the historic Weyerhaeuser Campus in connection with the two wetlands-related permits it must obtain from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. IRG unveiled its mitigation plan to consulting parties at the Feb. 12, 2021, Corps meeting. (Read more about the meeting here and the Section 106 process here.)
Federal Way Campus (IRG)
Mitigation proposal of 2/12/2021
Summary: Preservation of the headquarters building's exterior and the meadow viewsheds, some additional depth to forested buffers in an effort to screen the warehouses, and some trails preserved -- but no public access to the campus is guaranteed. No discussion of protections for the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden and the Pacific Bonsai Museum (which lease their land from IRG) or the North Lake shoreline parcel, which city, county and state elected officials and agencies and other groups are interested in purchasing from IRG, with $4 million in grants currently available for this purpose.
Key points of mitigation offered
- Headquarters building façade easement: Would protect the exterior character-defining features of the headquarters building façade while allowing modifications that facilitate leasing of the building. IRG values the easement at $17 million.
- Headquarters south viewshed easement: Would protect the south viewshed of the headquarters building, generally encompassing the open space in the south meadow between the headquarters building and SR-18. IRG values the easement at $29 million.
- Headquarters north viewshed easement: Would protect the north viewshed of the headquarters building, generally encompassing the open space in the north meadow between the headquarters building and I-5. IRG values the easement at $25 million.
- Buffer easement and view protection — Warehouses A and B, southeast area of campus: Would create a buffer of approximately 50 feet along Weyerhaeuser Road (commonly known as the loop or ring road around the headquarters building), rather than the 10 feet of landscaping required by the city in that location. Additional trees and understory plantings in the area immediately across from the driveway to the eastern entrance of the headquarters building aim to protect character-defining views. IRG values the buffer easement at $4.8 million and the plantings at $1.2 million (Total: $6 million.)
- Detention pond landscaping – Warehouses A and B: Landscaping around the perimeter of the stormwater pond would minimize its visual impact.
- Buffer easement — Woodbridge Business Park, north end of campus: Would set aside a forested buffer of 50 feet or greater west of the three-warehouse (970,000+ sf) business park development. IRG values this buffer easement at $15.5 million.
- Trails, Meadows, and Wooded areas: Trails, meadows and wooded areas will be managed for employees of businesses on the campus, with public use at the landowner’s discretion.
Save Weyerhaeuser Campus
Suggested mitigation alternatives: Warehouses A and B
(Note: This does not include mitigation suggestions, such as conservation of the 54-acre North Lake shoreline, still being developed for the Woodbridge Business Park, three warehouses proposed on the north end of the campus.)
Ideally, development of the A/B site would avoid and minimize impacts through one of two alternatives:
- Protect the site entirely and divert development to the north end of the campus (with appropriate mitigation, including protecting the critical views to and from the HQ building), or
- Revise the A/B proposals to contain the buildings, parking, and stormwater pond within the historic development pod from the Master Plan for the property, as recommended in the 1/15/21 presentation by Pete Walker (PWP), Craig Hartman (SOM) and SWA.
If, instead, warehouses are built on the A/B site substantially as proposed, then impacts should be mitigated as follows:
- Protect everything not currently planned for development through conservation easements, including the critical viewsheds, the rhododendron and bonsai gardens, and the property along North Lake, which is important to the history of the Puyallup Tribe. Protection should address potential impacts of the proposed three-warehouse Business Park (e.g., avoiding impacts on critical viewsheds, containing stormwater runoff and wetland mitigation on site).
- Adjust A/B building size and buffering to increase the depth of screening and compensate for current and expected gaps in the buffer, allow for trails, replace proposed landscaping with forest, and reduce the number of ingress and egress points to the minimum needed. (Note IRG has said the City of Federal Way will accept building size reductions of up to 10% within the existing permit process.)
- Restore or replace trails so they extend through the A/B site and provide connectivity with the larger trail system on the campus, also protected through easements providing for maintenance and continued public use.
- Use exterior materials and paint colors on buildings and signage that reduce visibility and improve aesthetics (e.g., natural cladding, vines, green roofing, etc.; see the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area for color palettes).
- Impose physical and legal restrictions on truck access that prevent use (and widening and straightening) of Weyerhaeuser Way S north of the A/B site.
- Minimize exterior lights and direct lights downward; meet guidelines of the International Dark Sky Association.
- Commit to maintaining key practices from the recommended period of significance (including planting the meadow with lupines each year) by staff or funded volunteer
- Nominate the campus for the National Register of Historic Places, as a National Historic Landmark, and for appropriate state, city, and county designations.