A rendering of the city’s new Kent East Hill Operations Center to be constructed later this year near SE 248th Street and 124th Avenue SE. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

A rendering of the city’s new Kent East Hill Operations Center to be constructed later this year near SE 248th Street and 124th Avenue SE. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

City of Kent nears groundbreaking on $38 million operations center

To be built on East Hill for Public Works and portions of Parks and Police departments

One city leader called the approval of a new Kent East Hill Operations Center the “biggest project the city has seen in quite a long time.”

City leaders plan to break ground on the $38 million project by late March or early April, according to Parks Director Julie Parascondola, whose department oversees city facilities. If all goes as planned, construction is expected to be completed in early 2026.

The 83,000-square-foot building will go up on about 10 of the 22 acres the city owns south of SE 248th Street and east of 124th Avenue SE, across from Clark Lake Park. It will house a portion of the Kent Police Department operations, both with staffing and evidence storage; the Parks Department’s East Hill crew; and most of the Public Works Department.

The site will include 427 parking spaces, with 25 electric vehicle charging stations, according to a March 5 report to the council.

Although the city still will use its current operations facility in the Valley at Russell Road and South 240th Street, staff had years ago outgrown that 16,636-square-foot structure built in 1968. About 150 employees use the facility and that number increases to more than 200 employees with seasonal jobs.

“It’s the biggest project the city has seen in quite a long time,” said City Councilmember Zandria Michaud prior to an unanimous vote March 5 to approve a $29.9 million construction contract with Mercer Island-based Bayley Construction. “It’s very much needed. I toured the center and employees are working in horrible conditions.”

Kent Police have lacked space for years as well at headquarters near City Hall, including somewhere to store evidence. The department actually uses four locations to store evidence.

“They have boxes stacked to the ceiling in all areas of the building,” Michaud said about police headquarters.

Those are all reasons Michaud supports the project.

“We need to think about the future,” she said. “I know it’s a lot of money, but it’s needed and will be used for 50-plus years.”

In addition to the $29.9 million construction contract, the council in 2023 approved a $2.5 million design contract with Seattle-based Wagner Architects and Planners and a $5.7 million contract to purchase a pre-engineered metal building from Lakewood-based Corona Steel Inc.

Costs for the metal building will be covered by the American Rescue Plan Act, relief funds from the federal government given to the city to combat the cost impacts of COVID-19.

The council, in November 2022, approved Mayor Dana Ralph’s 2023-2024 biennial budget that included $24.5 million for the new operations center.

“A good portion of the project will be paid for out of fund balance (or reserves) from a variety of governmental and utility funds,” Parascondola said.

That includes monies from the capital resources fund ($7.7 million); the drainage fund ($4.7 million); the water fund ($4 million); and the parks capital fund ($3.3 million), the sewer fund ($2.6 million); and the criminal justice fund ($2 million), according to city documents.

Funding for the rest of the project remains to be determined.

“We are currently completing an in-depth analysis to help determine how much, if any, should be funded through a bond issue,” Parascondola said. “That determination should be made by late spring/summer.”

If the council goes the bond route, depending on the size of the bond, which would be paid off with interest over a number of years, the city might use fewer reserve funds.

Plans for a new operations center began about 25 years ago.

“The property was purchased for this intent back in 1999, with the city completing site improvements on and off in subsequent years, such as fencing, landscape, general site grading, underground utility infrastructure, etc.,” Parascondola said. “We also had some design work occur during this time frame.”

But the project never got off the ground.

“This building has been 25 years in the making,” Ralph said at the March 5 council meeting. “Employees at the shop were told year after year, ‘it’s coming.’ The fact we are here at this stage is pretty incredible. ...The frontline staff support us, it’s really important to provide facilities for them to do their job.”

Parascondola echoed those comments.

“After 25 years from the creation of the initial vision, we are now, finally ready to break ground soon,” she said. “As we soon lay the foundation for our new maintenance and operations facility, we are filled with gratitude and much relief, knowing that we can finally embark on this crucial project, providing much needed space and operational efficiencies, to our maintenance and operations staff, who have been operating in less than ideal, inequitable spaces and to provide a solution for our police department’s evidence retention and other storage needs.

“With this new facility, we will continue to honor the trust and investment of our community and grant funders, ensuring that we continue to provide the essential services that serve us all.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentnews.us.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://kentnews.us/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

The facility will house City Parks and Public Works employees and equipment as well as Kent Police Department evidence. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

The facility will house City Parks and Public Works employees and equipment as well as Kent Police Department evidence. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

The city’s new operations center is expected to be completed in 2026. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

The city’s new operations center is expected to be completed in 2026. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

A look at the site where the city’s new Kent East Hill Operations Center will be built. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

A look at the site where the city’s new Kent East Hill Operations Center will be built. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

More in News

t
Kent Police use drone, K-9 unit to capture assault suspect

Man had fled after fight with security guard at apartment complex along SE Kent-Kangley Road

Jail bars. File photo
Renton man convicted in 2018 Des Moines homicide

Jurors found 28-year-old Yourhighness Jeramiah Bolar of Renton guilty of two felony charges.

t
One of two victims identified in fiery Kent crash

Kristen Anne Meyers, 53, died in May 11 crash on West Hill, according to medical examiner

t
City-owned ShoWare Center in Kent loses $742,675 in 2023

Losses lower than projected but expenses continue to exceed revenue at 6,200-seat arena

t
Kent firefighters extinguish two fires on the same morning | Photos

Friday, May 17 at apartment leasing office in the Valley and at a vacant East Hill house

Courtesy Photo, City of Kent
City of Kent population drops by 1,051 in 2023 compared to 2022

Decline similar to many cities of 50,000 or more across the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau

t
Kent Police Blotter: April 25 to May 8

Incidents include burglaries, robberies, shootings

t
Rape charges dismissed against former Kent school bus driver

Prosecutors decide they could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt due to medical tests

t
Feds indict 9 South King County residents on drug trafficking charges

Those accused from Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Enumclaw

A screenshot of King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn speaking about a proposed amendment for the proposed $20 minimum wage ordinance. (Screenshot)
King County approves $20.29 minimum wage for unincorporated areas

Councilmember Reagan Dunn and more than a dozen business owners argued tips and health care expenses should be a part of the new wage. The council passed the ordinance without the amendment.

Dave Upthegrove. COURTESY PHOTO
Upthegrove one of seven candidates for state lands commissioner

His King County Council member’s district includes part of Kent

COURTESY PHOTO, King County Elections
Candidates file for Kent-area races for Congress, Legislature

Incumbents face challengers in two Congressional contests and four state House races