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City looks at four properties for the next city hall

Building a new city hall is a top priority for the Sequim City Council, but what’s continued to get in its way is a location. They don’t have one, but four properties are possible options.

The council had directed staff to present the work done toward the project, asking also that a representative from Arai-Jackson Architects be present. Arai-Jackson has been the primary architectural firm for the project since 2005.

At its April 14 meeting, architect Mark Spitzer spoke to the council, saying the firm had come up with recommended space allocations for the project. In its 2005 report, Arai-Jackson recommends a 25,000-square-foot building and 75-80 parking spaces. The calculation for determining the number of parking spaces, according to Spitzer, is three spaces per 1,000 square feet.

Spitzer said designing remote parking for staff, meaning parking a block or two away from city hall, or underground parking could alleviate some obstacles, but underground parking was quite costly. Surface parking, landscaping and roadway construction cost $7,000 to $10,000 for three spaces; underground parking costs $25,000-$30,000.

One idea has been to build on city hall’s present Cedar Street location. Spitzer said that the firm looked at the Cedar Street location as a possibility.

“Believe me, we support that, but it’s a very difficult site,” Spitzer said.

According to Spitzer, what makes the Cedar Street location difficult is space — there isn’t enough for parking and a building. Arai-Jackson’s conceptual plans call for a two-story building, and while the city could save on space by building up, making the new city hall three stories, Spitzer did not recommend it for a city of Sequim’s size. Also, Sequim’s zoning does not allow buildings taller than two stories to be built in downtown.

Councilman Ken Hays asked if it were possible to close off part of Cedar Street as a way of increasing parking opportunities. Spitzer said that although there was no formal study on the option, he did not recommend it either.

“It’s going to be hard,” Spitzer said. “Is it worth the battles? There are tricky issues with reducing street capacity.”

Spitzer said that finding a location for the new city hall is, in part, a philosophical question: Where is Sequim going? The council first has to grasp the essence of the city before looking at a site.

Special projects manager Frank Needham concluded the presentation by unveiling four potential locations for the new city hall. There is the Burrowes site. Located at the northeast corner of Sequim Avenue just off U.S. Highway 101, the property’s owners have offered five acres to the city for $1,250,000. The Booth Farm or Sorrento project on North Sequim Avenue directly across from Sequim Bible Church has offered the property’s south five acres, although a price has yet to be discussed.

Another option is the Stewart property at the corner of Hendrickson Road and North Fifth Avenue. The city has been offered three and a half acres for $1,400,000.

A fourth property was discussed in executive session with city attorney Craig Ritchie citing possible property acquisition with the price likely to be affected by the public.

Resident Greg Madsen offered council a fifth option: the old Costco building at the corner of Hooker Road and U.S. Highway 101. A 14-acre lot with 600 parking spaces, the building is going for $5 million, but Madsen said the price was likely to be negotiable. The fact that the property is outside city limits, Madsen said, could be worked out.

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