Major Office Park Proposed for Olympia, Wash.

Aug. 25--OLYMPIA -- As much as 340,000 square feet of new office space spanning 22 buildings could be coming to the city's west side as part of a business park proposal.

The project, known as the West Capital Business Park, has been proposed by developer Jim Morris, who built the Thurston County WorkSource office in Tumwater.

The proposal outlines a mixed-use project that could result in buildings ranging from 4,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet at 3603 Mud Bay Road N.W. near the corner of Mud Bay Road and Kaiser Road.

Construction could begin in 2007, said Evan Parker, a commercial real estate agent and spokesman for the 20-acre project.

So far, medical and office tenants have shown interest in locating in the center, Parker said.

"We're starting to take reservations on the first phase of the park," said Parker, who works with the Olympia office of GVA Kidder Mathews.

The property has been owned by the Morris family since November 2000 and is zoned professional office and residential multi-family, according to the Thurston County Assessor's office.

Morris met with city officials about his project earlier this month.

The presubmission conference he attended is considered the earliest stage of the development process. It gives developers the option to learn requirements that city planners will request. Developers can use that information to help formulate land-use applications. It is these applications that trigger public comment periods.

The project also could serve retailers, but not gasoline stations, under city zoning, said Brett Bures, an associate city planner.

He said Morris plans to submit a binding site plan for the property which would allow him to subdivide it into individual lots. Each subsequent building on the site would require land-use approval, he added.

Space at the business park will be available for sale or for lease, and Morris plans to build the park himself, rather than sell the property to other builders, Parker said.

Morris met with city planners in part because the site is in Thurston County but could be annexed into Olympia, according to community planning manager Todd Stamm.

Property owners typically petition the city to initiate annexation procedures, but the City Council will discuss a city-led annexation at a City Council meeting in September, Stamm said. If that approach is approved later in the year, the city could annex from 300 to 400 acres of urban growth area along U.S. Highway 101, including the Morris property, he said.

The development site is bordered mostly by a wooded area and stores, but construction of College Station, a 400-home development, is underway nearby.

Joyce Arafeh, who lives on Overhulse Road near the proposed development, questions the need for so much office space when vacancies already dot the west side and Olympia's downtown.

"Why isn't there more of a focus to occupy already existing structures?" she said. "We need to actually occupy what we have, or use, or reuse what resources we have. Until they (other spaces) are occupied, why build huge developments?"

West Capital Business Park proposal details:

Number of buildings: 22

Parking structure: 1

Single-story buildings: 15

Multistory buildings: 7

Maximum height of multistory buildings: 4 stories

Source: City of Olympia