The Washington State Department of Commerce has transmitted the Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee’s recommendations and implementation plan for repurposing the Washington National Guard’s 25-acre armory site to the Legislature and governor’s office.

Any potential redevelopment will take several years to be realized, and is dependent on the Legislature also authorizing funding the National Guard requires to build a new Readiness Center (armory) in North Bend.

The Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee was formed through a Senate bill to assess the greatest public benefit the site could serve should it be redeveloped. The committee began meeting last September, with technical support from the Department of Commerce.

Multiple redevelopment scenarios were evaluated over the past year, including keeping the land zoned for industrial uses, a hybrid model with multifamily housing, and several mixed-use commercial and residential models.

None of those would provided the capital funding needed to relocate, and the National Guard wouldn’t dispose of its Interbay property until its North Bend facility were operational. The National Guard and committee worked under the assumption that the state, not the federal government, would need to cover the bulk of the $101 million in relocation costs.

The Legislature approved $6.6 million during its last session to go toward the purchase of a 25-acre North Bend property from Puget Western, Inc.

A federal and state funding option is estimated to take until 2034-36 at the earliest to get the readiness center operational, with the state covering $77.5 million for the center and the feds putting in $23.5 million for a field maintenance shop. Again, federal funding is not guaranteed.

The advisory committee recommends the state form an Interbay Community Preservation and Development Authority (ICPDA) to take over the property and manage its redevelopment, which would require federal approvals through the U.S. Secretary of the Army.

The ICPDA would have to assess the multiple future redevelopment scenarios the advisory committee left on the table when it approved its findings and recommendations in late September. It would also need legislative and financial support from the Legislature to get started.

There are 660 guardsmen assigned to the Interbay armory at 1601 W. Armory Way, and another 110 at Boeing Field, but that lease expires on June 30, 2023 and will not be renewed.

While the Legislature works through the recommendations and implementation plan, Sound Transit is still working on a light rail extension to Ballard that is expected to cut through a portion of the armory site. The ultimate fate of Initiative 976, which would limit car-tab fees to $30 and hit the transit agency hard, will likely not be decided by the time the Legislature convenes in January.

The Magnolia Bridge is also being considered for replacement in the future.

There is only one entry point to the armory site, which is West Armory Way, and by way of an easement with a private property, so access would need to be improved as part of a suite of pre-development infrastructure investments.

The Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee’s report finds that an industrial-only concept “creates the greatest total economic output, with approximately $460 million being generated annually,” and it would also avoid a potentially tedious rezoning process. This includes the goods and services bought and sold by future businesses on the property.

Looking at property, sales and business-and-occupation taxes, the industrial-only concept would generate $12.3 million in annual revenue, which is only slightly higher than a mixed-use high-rise concept at $11 million.

The advisory committee met eight times over the past year, and later in the process had consultants assess how a hybrid model would pencil out. A high-rise housing and industrial concept is estimated to generate $11.8 million in annual tax revenue. Swapping high-rises with mid-rise buildings next to industrial ones would generate $10.8 million.

All concepts with housing would provide at least 30 percent of the units at 60 percent or less of area median income. A high-rise model would generate 1,000 affordable units while a mid-rise model would create 550.

The Port of Seattle has been pushing to keep industrial land zoned as such, citing high demand in the region.

Any revenue generated from redevelopment would need to be applied to paying off the cost of the National Guard’s relocation to North Bend.

The Interbay property is also in a liquefaction zone, which means new construction would need to be built on “pilings and a structured slab-at-grade,” according to the report, “increasing the costs of development.”

It will ultimately be up to the Legislature to decide how to proceed, and consultants are expected to be called to provide more information and answer questions during House and Senate work sessions before their respective capital budget committees. Washington Sen. David Frockt, who served on the Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee, is also chair of the Senate Capital Budget Committee.