Dick's Drive-In: Our new Kent location is in danger of being bulldozed by Sound Transit
Sound Transit has identified the new Dick’s Drive-In Restaurant, along with the rest of the Midway Shopping Center in Kent, as one of a few potential sites that may ultimately be acquired to build the south Operations and Maintenance Facility, according to a press release from Dick's.
The drive-in opened mid-December to great fan fare.
“To have it potentially be taken away, it’s just overwhelming,” Dick’s Executive Vice President Jasmine Donovan said.
Sound Transit said they are very early in the selection process, which will include public comment and environmental studies.
“We are required by law to consider reasonable alternatives,” Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said. “These are not easy things to locate.”
The problem is, Sound Transit needs 30 flat acres near the Light Rail line. Their other options include demolishing a large church and a neighborhood with dozens of homes.
“What we can’t do is just dismiss one site because we all love hamburgers,” Rogoff said.
The Kent City Council unanimously passed an emergency zoning ordinance Tuesday, to prohibit Sound Transit from building the 30-acre facility where the Dick's Kent location is, and to specifically allow it at a nearby landfill site, also under consideration by Sound Transit.
“It is an absolutely viable site,” Mayor of Kent Dana Ralph said of the landfill.
But Sound Transit has concerns about that location.
“That is one of the sites we will consider,” Rogoff said. “But people need to understand that the landfill site is a Superfund site. And building on that landfill site could post significant environmental risks, not just to neighbors but to our workers.”
Rogoff said building on the landfill could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more.
The agency is looking to build a transit operations and maintenance facility for light rail cars, which would also put in jeopardy the Lowe's and many other businesses.
Dick's penned a letter to Sound Transit to urge them to reconsider where they build the facility.
"We are not a large company," the letter states. "Opening a new location requires a large investment of financial and human capital. But, as a family owned business, we make decisions for the long-run. We hired 40 new employees from the Kent area months before we opened and trained them throughout the summer in our Seattle stores, transporting them to and from Kent at company expense."
The letter ends with, "On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of customers we’ll serve and the thousands of employees we’ll train and help to graduate over the next 65 years, we ask you to please remove the Midway Shopping Center and our brand new and only location in the South Sound from consideration."