Construction on a new Tukwila Fire Station 51, which also serves as a the department’s headquarters, could in early 2018. The project is one of several funded by a public safety bond issue approved by voters in November. COURTESY PHOTO/City of Tukwila

City of Tukwila aims to finish public safety projects by 2021

The city of Tukwila hopes to complete five public safety projects by spring 2021.

In November, voters approved a $77 million bond measure, which will be used to construct three new fire stations and a justice center to house the city police department and municipal court. The construction of new city shops for the Public Works Department will be paid for using water, sewer and surface water funds, with the other half coming out of general revenue.

The City Council approved a $2.7 million contract in December to have Sheils Obletz Johnsen (SOJ) serve as the project management firm. The contract runs through March 31, 2021.

Representatives from SOJ attended a City Council work session on Jan. 10 to discuss the project timeline and next steps with city leaders and staff.

Construction of the Justice Center could start in late 2018 or early 2019. The building of Fire Station 51 could begin in 2018, while work on stations 52 and 54 is expected to start in early 2019. The city shops will be the last project with construction anticipated to start in late 2019.

Ken Johnsen, SOJ owner and founder, said the timeline for the projects is brisk but not too fast and adjustable as needed.

“This is going to be the target we are going to work hard toward,” he told the council.

The first step is selecting sites for the new facilities, which will begin within the next couple of months.

The site for Fire Station 51 has been determined, so architect selection for that project will begin soon. Fire Station 51, which is also the department’s headquarters, will move from Andover Park East to Southcenter Parkway and South 180th Street.

SOJ suggested the city use the same architect for all three fire stations. Councilmember Joe Duffie asked if using the same architect would mean all the fire stations would look the same.

While there may be some similarities in the design, Johnsen noted, each building could have its own personality.

“I think there probably will be a desire to touch the community they are in that says, ‘This belong to this part of Tukwila,’ ” Johnsen added. “What’s most important is that the fire department and all the firefighters feel that the design works well. I think the adjustments to the outside depends on what is in the buildings.”

Siting for the justice center and Fire Stations 52 and 54 is expected to be finished this year, while selecting a site for the city shops might stretch into early 2018.

“The shops require a larger parcel of land,” said Justine Kim, project manager from SOJ. “We are anticipating that it may take us awhile to identify and purchase it.”

DJ Baxter from SOJ said it is important to find the best location for each building.

“You’re really going to spend a lot of money building these facilities, and you probably won’t do that again for a long time,” he said.

SOJ staff has already started meeting with firefighters to find out what they want in the new stations and will continue to meet with other constituent groups.

“We want to ask all those questions up front to make sure we have a comprehensive and accurate set of criteria to allow us to evaluate sites,” Baxter said. “Then, once we have a long list of potential sites, this criteria can help us score those sites to make sure we are meeting as many of the policy and community objectives as possible for each of these facilities. Really the hope is to maximize, in every possible way, the benefit of these facilities for your overall community in addition to the core functions.”

City officials plan to create a Siting Advisory Committee to help select sites. The City Council will determine the makeup and framework of the committee in the next couple of months.

The committee’s main focus will be finding a location for the justice center.

“While fire station locations are data-driven to ensure optimum response times, and while the Public Works facility will be constrained by acreage and zoning requirements, these facilities can also benefit from the Siting Advisory Committee,” according to an overview document about the committee provided to the council at the work session. “The Siting Advisory Committee will meet regularly to review and provide strategic advice on outreach efforts as well as to review feedback gathered from the community and verify that major themes are incorporated into siting decisions.”

The Siting Advisory Committee is separate from the Public Safety Bond Financial Oversight Committee, which was specified in the bond measure. The five-member committee will review the allocation of the bond proceeds and progress. The City Council could appoint the members of the oversight committee in March.

Keeping the public informed

City officials have said they plan to keep the community engaged and informed during the projects.

Dennis Sandstrom, a project manager from EnviroIssues, shared with the council plans for communicating with residents and businesses.

Open houses are slated for March, June and October of this year, although exact dates have not been set.

In March, key topics will include siting criteria, the fire station site process, justice center programming and facility shop space requirements. In June, discussion will include fire station siting options, the justice center siting process and site options, as well as facility shop areas. October’s meeting will focus on fire station design, justice center design plans and facility shop site options.

Additional open houses will occur as the projects progress, and ongoing updates will be available through various outlets, including a dedicated project page on the city’s website.

“The in-person open houses are an opportunity to meet with project staff, see up close pictures of the design and whatever else we are discussing at that moment and really have a good opportunity to provide key feedback, whether that be putting stickers on boards or drawing on maps,” Sandstrom said.

People who cannot attend the open house will still be able to take part in the process.

“We also know that people are busy, so we will also have opportunities for people to participate 24/7 online,” Sandstrom said. “That will be an opportunity to not only learn about the same information they will have opportunities to learn about in person, but participate and provide feedback in a similar manner. If you missed an in-person open house, you haven’t missed everything.”


Public Safety Projects

Justice center (includes police department and municipal court)

• Anticipated cost: $28.6 million

• Anticipated completion: May 2020

Fire Station 51

• Anticipated cost: $11.4 million

• Anticipated completion: September 2019

Fire Station 52

• Anticipated cost: $5.7 million

• Anticipated completion: June 2020

Fire Station 54

•Anticipated cost: $7.3 million

• Anticipated completion: June 2020

City shops

• Anticipated cost: $29.5 million (funded from enterprise and general funds)

• Anticipated completion: April 2021


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