Council Roundup: April 27, 2020

Burien Annex, Paycheck Guarantee Act, Public Safety
Posted on 04/28/2020
Burien Annex

Council discussed the future of the Burien Community Center Annex.

Council Discusses the Future of the Burien Annex

PaRCS director Carolyn Hope presented information about the current condition of the Burien Community Center Annex (Annex), as well as two short-term options for addressing the short-term future of the buildings and site. Council is scheduled to take action on May 18.

Two options were presented:

  1. Demolish the buildings. Cost = $350,000. Removing the building will reduce the City’s liability and risks for system failures within the building as well as vandalism.This option would not include any park improvements, as the site would be preserved until a community engagement process identifies priorities for the site. The property will remain in the City’s ownership for park and recreation uses.
  2. Secure the buildings. Cost = $500,000. City staff would secure the building by boarding up windows and doors, fencing the outside of the building, enhancing the physical and manual security systems, continuing with pest control, fire protection systems, and the provision of some utilities to the building. This option preserves the building in its current state. Monthly costs would be spread over a three-year period. The site aesthetics, however, would be poor and there would be a higher risk of vandalism and building deterioration. Based on the experience of other cities with large empty buildings in their downtown area, this option would potentially create an “attractive nuisance,” making the entire area feel less safe.

Council discussed whether another option that would allow tenants to stay past July 31 was viable. There was concern expressed that these nonprofits are facing real barriers to finding new locations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, concern was also raised about the risk of allowing people to remain in the building.

Despite Interim Fixes, Building Condition Deteriorating

Meng Analysis, the firm hired by the City of Burien to assess the condition of the building, estimated a complete renovation would cost $10.8 million and reconstruction of the same type of building would cost $11.4 million. These are high-level, estimated budgets that don’t reflect more detailed costs that could emerge after engineering design and investigation of underground utilities. This also doesn’t include the cost of demolition of the existing buildings, removal and replacement of underground utilities, or consideration of changes to the facility design that the community may desire.

Earlier this year, the Council allocated $25,000 for staff to make immediate health and safety repairs for the benefit of the tenants. For approximately $17,500, staff made the following repairs, completed in March. This was the extent of the repairs that could be made while tenants remained in the building:

  • Replaced sinks and faucets due to lead in drinking water.
  • Repaired the boiler leak and pump, kitchen exhaust hood and associated roofing leaks, air bleed to eliminate leaks from the HVAC, and the fire panel motherboard.
  • Inspected fire and security systems (annual inspection), inspected fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide/smoke monitors, and re-inspected the fire panel motherboard and exhaust hood
  • Removed sewer line backup and scoped line and removed and repaired ceiling tiles with fungal growth
  • Re-tested lead in drinking water in four locations and test asbestos in ceiling tiles where fungal growth is located.
  • Reattached chimney structural brace.
  • Monitored, inspected, and abated pests.
  • Encapsulated broken floor tiles.

These repairs did not remove all health and safety risks. City staff shared that the building is one system failure away from having to evacuate the building. The Meng Analysis report identified critical systems and concerns such as:

  • Many building systems are at end of life (e.g.; boiler, plumbing, electrical and sewer) and a large number of significant repairs may trigger a complete code compliance upgrade of the facility.
  • Due to their age, portions of the building likely include hazardous materials (which later testing confirmed).
  • Due to the age, the facility may not be responsive to current structural code for seismic resiliency.

Burien Annex Tenant Support Team Provides Support

The City of Burien has assembled a team comprised of City staff and staff from partner economic development organizations dedicated to assisting the tenants of the Annex with relocation. The Annex Tenant Support Team has spent hundreds of hours evaluating other city facilities, seeking alternate sites in Burien, and working with external partners to support relocation efforts.

Each organization has been assigned a City staff liaison, a community partner, and a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) representative to assist with relocation efforts. 

Three of the seven tenants have secured new locations.

  • Hi‐Liners Musical Theatre have secured alternate space through the end of 2020 at the Burien Community Center and the Highline Performing Arts Center and has already vacated the Annex building.
  • Meals on Wheels has acquired space at St. Francis of Assisi.
  • Para Los Niños has signed a lease for a new space on SW 153rd and is working on transition plan to move into the new space.
  • Burien Actor’s Theatre has explored multiple sites. Highline College auditorium space is still under consideration for use as temporary space, as is the Elks club. BAT has turned their attention to more immediate plans recently as COVID‐19 outbreak has had an impact on their operations. BAT has been in contact with several properties for lease or purchase as a long-term option, but have not been successful in acquiring a permanent space as of yet.
  • Burien Cooperative Preschool has a new board president and they are pursuing long‐range strategic planning efforts to ensure they have a sustainable model for a new facility. The school has engaged with a real estate agent in pursuing purchase or lease of space for a permanent location. They have turned their attention to more immediate needs recently as COVID‐19 outbreak has had an impact on their operations.
  • Transform Burien is reaching out to the school district to pursue use of the old Sunnydale Elementary School building. Also looking into a Presbyterian church north of Burien that is being decommissioned. City staff have provided introductions to both of these organizations on behalf of Transform Burien. Finding a space with a dining hall large enough to serve their clients that also has a commercial kitchen at an affordable price point has proven difficult. Transform Burien may be open to untying the cooking operations from the dining operations to give them more flexibility in workable spaces, but they are not pursuing this option yet. They are also exploring a mobile food distribution service option.
  • Journey Arts is continuing to operate in Annex until July while exploring co‐location with two other arts organizations in a space on SW 152nd St.

Short-term Communications Plan and Gathering Community Feedback on Future Recreational Needs

A short-term communications plan includes informing tenants and their customers, neighbors, residents, business community, and others of the plans for the building, once Council makes a decision about its future.

The City also plans to conduct a community engagement process to learn more about the recreation, social, and other service needs in Burien. City staff will work with community partners, asking community leaders to lead conversations, and ensure diverse and representative participation. This process will include discussion of how to support affordable places for nonprofits to exist in our community. Council asked for this community engagement process to start as soon as possible.

Police Chief, Council Discuss Recent Violence

Council directed staff to present at a future Council meeting information on public safety and efforts to prevent violence in Burien. That discussion will include an exploration of social determinants and how we are coordinating with schools, human services planners, and other partners.

Chief Boe stated that there is no singular approach that will prevent violence, and that it takes constant and collective effort. Suppression and emphasis patrols are important, but also mentorship and engagement as well. He also stated that people are under enormous stress and that with school and structured extracurricular activities shut down, there are less traditional opportunities for youth engagement and mentorship.

He stated that there is no finish line with this work, and that what Burien is facing is a regional issue.

Council Pledged Support for the Paycheck Guarantee Act

Council pledged support for the proposed federal Paycheck Guarantee Act, legislation sponsored U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal that aims to end mass layoffs, keep workers in their jobs and connected to their health care and other benefits, prevent employers of all sizes from being forced to close permanently, and ensure that the economy is ready to restart when the COVID-19 pandemic ends.