At an open house acknowledging Veolla Transportation's opening of its King County hub in Ridgecrest, Veolia employees, neighbors, city officials and electeds, the property owners, and Shoreline Water District reprenstatives, and others toured the new site, got questions answered and enjoyed food as well as drinks and pizza from Cafe Aroma across the street.
The site, which includes an 18,000-square-foot building that sits on a two-and-a-half acres, has been empty for years and previously housed a bingo hall and before that the Prairie Market grocery space.
The Arizona-based property owner Development Services of America (DSA) signed a 10-year lease with Veolia Transportation. Veolia has King County's contract for its Access program that serves disabled clients throughout King County, to fulfill the American with Disabilities Act.
The taxpayer funded program puts King County access vans in the hands of Veolia staff and drivers who operate 62 vans currently. Veolia has 10 staff members in the office and up to 100 drivers, about 70 of which work who each day.
"We're glad to have the right tenant," said one of the property owners Jamie Bartholomew.
The Shoreline Water District and DSA are also beginning design and construction of five new water system improvement projects which will benefit the entire Ridgecrest area, according to Diane Pottinger, general manager of the water district.
Five check valves to hold pressure in case of a fire and two new water mains are being built. The project moves up the water district's plans which initially were to do the project in 2014. DSA and Veolia will be paying about $354,000 for the upgrades and the Shoreline Water District is adding $349,000, Pottinger said. The main reason for the changes is to add sprinklers to the building as required by city and fire district code.
While city and Shoreline Water District officials are pleased to see the site occupied, an earlier proposed development for the site fell through several years ago under a previous City Council.
"This is different than what the neighborhood envisioned, but it's great to see a business moving in," said Shoreline Councilmember Will Hall.
Some neighbors are concerned about the traffic impacts of the vans. Most drivers, about 70 percent will arrive and already be on the road before 6 a.m. each day. A traffic study done by Veolia prior to the issuing of permits was that 28 vehicle trips would be generated in the peak morning hour and 25 in the peak p.m. hour.
Crest Cinema Center patrons will probably not be able to park on the Veolia site, especially late at night, since the gates close at 11 p.m., but Veolia area manger Rafeh Haidar said something could possibly worked out.
A garage on the right side of the building is set aside to perform maintenance on vehicles between 4 a.m. and 10 p.m. weekdays.
Veolia plans to give the Ridgecrest Neighborhood Association $500 to sponsor events such as its annual Ice Cream Social, which occurred last week.