Work has begun in earnest on a multi-phase project involving the former King County Journal campus in Kent, which once included the news, business and production office of the Reporter.
During the week of March 24, part of the former newspaper offices were demolished – the opening salvo of a project that ultimately will see the location of a new L.A. Fitness center and the relocation of a Renton electric business.
According to Seattle developer Mike McKernan, who purchased the 5.3-acre site last August with fellow developer Larry Benaroya, L.A. Fitness will open a gym in the former press plant, while Holmes Electric will be moving its operations to the remainder of the former editorial offices. The moves will follow extensive renovations to both buildings.
Part of last month’s demolition work was to provide space for the fitness center’s renovations, McKernan said.
McKernan and Benaroya, who have worked in tandem on other developments in the Puget Sound area, purchased the buildings from Sound Publishing for $9.3 million. Until they were vacated last fall, the buildings housed the King County Journal, which ceased publishing at the end of 2006, and the Covington and Maple Valley Reporter, the Kent Reporter, the Renton Reporter and the Auburn Reporter. The group of community newspapers moved into separate offices in their respective circulation areas.
Sound Publishing also moved the press from the Kent plant to the company’s centralized printing facility in Everett last summer.
Mike Richards, chief executive officer of Holmes Electric, said his company will relocate its administrative staff to the new locale by fall.
“We couldn’t find anything in Renton that we could afford that was useable,” Richards said, noting the Kent site also was attractive because “the access is good” and because the majority of company employees live in the south King County area.
The former newspaper facility is located just off State Route 167 and within a couple miles of Interstate 5.
Holmes’ current location in Renton is on property that will be used by the state Department of Transportation for a future State Route 405 project.
Richards said his company, which has been in Renton since its founding in 1945, will be moving approximately 50 employees.
Information on when the new L.A. Fitness center will open was unavailable from Irvine, Calif.-based company.
The Kent Reporter contributed to this report.