Dick's may be saved by light rail change
By Giordan Gallacci - Staff Reporter
The threat to wipe out Lowe's Hardware and Dick's Drive-In across Pacific Highway South from Highline College has been temporarily derailed.
Sound Transit has targeted the two businesses as the preferred site for its new South King County Light Rail maintenance and operations yard, but a subcommittee last week recommended the site be pulled from consideration.
King County Councilman Dave Upthegrove, a Sound Transit board member, and the four other members of the System Expansion Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the Lowe's/ Dick's site be pulled from consideration when the full board takes up the matter May 23.
The prospect of tearing down the new Dick's Drive-In has been particularly controversial. The iconic Seattle area eatery opened last December after a major social media campaign to convince the parent company to open a restaurant in Kent. It has already established itself as a community hotspot, popular with Highline students and is seen as a jobs-pro- ducer in the area.
"The Dick's Drive-In site doesn't make sense for the new operations and maintenance facility with other options still open. It would have also forced a low-in- come mobile home community to move," Upthegrove said.
Part of the problem is that the site is too close to the proposed Kent-Des Moines light rail station that will be across the highway from Highline College, near the college's new dormitory.
The Sound Transit Board is in somewhat of a bind, though. It needs 30 acres of land to build the maintenance and operations facility to accommodate 140 light rail cars. It is estimated to employ 300 people in well-paying jobs
The location was originally the prime option and if the full board agrees with its subcommittee the board will be looking at other options. Those options include a site occupied by the Midway Landfill just south of Dicks, at South 336th Street and I-5 that is part of Federal Way's Christian Faith Center, and at South 344th Street and I-5, which would also impact the Christian Faith Center.
If the landfill is chosen, there would need to be a massive cleanup of the Superfund site. If one of the other sites is chosen, the Christian Faith Center will be forced to move.
The Christian Faith Center sites would require approximately $750 million for construction, while the landfill site would require upwards of $1.4 billion.
The subcommittee's nomination will go to the full Sound Tran- sit Board on May 23 for the final decision.