By Kristin Bentley

After acquiring the 425-acre Federal Way property in February for $70.5 million, Los Angeles-based Industrial Realty Group, LLC, (IRG) presented its vision for the new Weyerhaeuser Campus for the first time before city officials last Thursday evening, which includes plans for a new cold storage facility and the relocation of a seafood company’s headquarters.

Tom Messmer, the vice president of special projects for IRG, says the developer is in the process of launching a campaign in order to create a whole new name, brand and vision for the new mixed-use campus. “Otherwise the space will continue to be called the old Weyerhaeuser headquarters,” said Messmer. “It needs to be something that can reach outside of the Pacific Northwest to the Bay Area, to Asia, wherever.”

Our niche in the market is really that we buy huge properties and huge buildings that have become obsolete to their current owners and we bring them back to life

Photos Courtesy of Industrial Realty Group
Photos Courtesy of Industrial Realty Group

The vision for the mixed-use office and industrial park is to update the interior of the existing headquarters into a state-of-the-art Class A office space, make interior updates to the remaining one-third available space of the tech center, and to move forward with plans for two parcels that have been designated as developable industrial space. All of this will be done while maintaining the current open spaces that are available to the public, such as the bonsai and rhododendron gardens.

Working with CollinsWoerman Seattle Architects, the five-story 600 foot-long building’s interior will be redeveloped to become a creative and collaborative work environment with open spaces, once it is vacated and Weyerhaeuser moves its headquarters into Seattle this month. DEI Creative, a graphic designer out of Seattle, will be doing most of the new branding for IRG as well, says Messmer.

“In a perfect world, we’ll have one giant headquarters user,” said Messmer. “We’re hoping that someone comes along and that the pendulum will swing for one of the big growing companies in the Pacific Northwest. Or we have to reach outside the region to people who haven’t already seen the building.”

Approximately one-third of the tech center will also be gutted, while working around the remaining space that will continue to be occupied by Weyerhaeuser. “The tech center is a little bit more of a challenge because Weyerhaeuser is in a piece of it, and it looks too much like the rest of the space that’s available in south King County,” added Messmer. “So we have to figure out how to differentiate that, because it will probably take on three or four tenants to fill it with about 30,000 to 40,000 square feet each.”

Weyerhaeuser4Along with bringing more jobs to Federal Way through leasing space in the headquarters building and tech center, Messmer believes the plans for 19 acres of industrial space will provide additional jobs and revenue to the city. Preferred Freezer Services, a refrigerated warehousing company based in New Jersey, is planning a 239,153-square-foot facility made up of freezer storage, loading docks and office and mechanical space where Renton-based Orca Bay Seafoods Inc. is relocating its corporate headquarters. This will bring between 190 to 210 hourly and salary jobs to the area.

The facility will also increase revenue for the community in the form of tax dollars. “A normal industrial building is between $37 to $40 per square foot, but a freezer building is $200 a square foot,” said Messmer. “At $200 a square foot, that’s a $60 million building. Everything on this entire 430 acres is on the tax roll for $110 million. By developing four percent of the land, we are going to increase the tax roll here by 50 percent.”

IRG sold a second parcel to KG Properties Investment, LLC, a privately-owned company based in Bellevue, where a 720,000-square-foot industrial facility will be built on the far north end of the campus. The building will prospectively be used for light manufacturing or warehousing.

“The ultimate in recycling is reuse,” added Messmer. “We own 125 million square feet of property, and we might tear down a million square feet of buildings but only because it’s become unmaintainable. Our niche in the market is really that we buy huge properties and huge buildings that have become obsolete to their current owners and we bring them back to life.”