Sound Transit to begin process of acquiring parking garage property

‘Auburn Access Improvement Project’ would add 535 new stalls, upgrades

Within four years, Sound Transit expects to whip the 1st Street Northwest and A Street Northwest parking lot northwest of City Hall into its second parking garage in Auburn.

All of the parcels Sound Transit must have to make that happen belong to the city of Auburn.

As Sound Transit project manager Jason Suzaka told the Auburn City Council at a study session late last month, the agency expects to begin the complex process of acquiring the needed property from the city this month.

Suzaka said the “Auburn Access Improvement Project” garage will not only add 535 new parking stalls, but it will also be the new digs for an array of access improvements for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders.

Sound Transit has budgeted $60 million for the garage. But while the budget allows for the construction of 535 parking places and bike lockers and bike racks, stairs and elevators, it precludes bathrooms.

Voters approved the Kent and Auburn Station Access Improvements projects in 2008. In 2010, however, the Sound Transit Board suspended funding because of the economic recession. It restored that funding in 2016.

On Nov. 16, 2017, Sound Transit’s Board identified the site as its preferred alternative among four options, which numbered the Ace Hardware store on West Main Street and the present station. The board also identified for Kent a parking garage site south of East James Street.

The wrinkle in Auburn’s situation is developer Jeff Oliphant’s private proposal to build a parking garage, with perhaps twice the capacity of Sound Transit’s proposal, at the old Mel’s Lumber site. Sound Transit has said it would consider that proposal after it had selected its preferred alternative.

This spring, Sound Transit will share the results of the environmental review and other information at an open house in Auburn, and then the Sound Transit Board will decide which project it will build.

Construction should start in 2021 and wrap up in 2023.

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