CH& Represents Dick’s Drive-In in Its Recent Success with Sound Transit’s Light Rail Maintenance Base in Kent

Representing Dick’s Drive-In and a coalition of property owners, Cairncross & Hempelmann attorney John Hempelmann attended the recent Sound Transit Board meeting which voted on possible sites for a Sound Transit Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF). A new OMF is needed to expand the light rail south to Federal Way and Tacoma. The Board voted 15-2 in favor of removing the Kent Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) properties, which includes Dick’s Drive-In, from sites to be studied for the 30-acre OMF. The City of Kent and Dick’s Drive-In, with help from John Hempelmann, led the intense and successful effort to protect the area near the future Kent/Des Moines Light Rail Station that the City of Kent has planned and zoned for TOD.  Cairncross & Hempelmann has a TOD Practice Group that specializes in helping property owners, developers and cities build communities around high-capacity transit stations, such as the Sound Transit Light Rail Stations. In a letter to Sound Transit Board Members, Cairncross & Hempelmann argued that taking the Kent TOD properties for the OMF violated numerous Sound Transit Board Polices.

King County Council Member and Sound Transit Board Member Dave Upthegrove led the Sound Transit Board process to protect the Kent TOD properties, which will include businesses, apartments, townhomes and shops within walking distance of the Kent/Des Moines Light Rail Station, set to open in 2024. Jasmine Donovan, the President of Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants, joined John Hempelmann in many meetings with Sound Transit Board Members. She stressed that Dick’s Drive-In had built its new restaurant in Kent because the area had been planned and zoned for TOD.

With over 40 years of experience as a land use, natural resources and real estate development attorney, John Hempelmann understands the fundamental barriers and opportunities involved in supporting firm clients in TOD matters. John gave credit to CH& attorneys Randall Olsen and Nicole De Leon who did the careful analysis of the Sound Transit documents and wrote the powerful opinion letter sent to the Sound Transit Board.

Click here to read more about Sound Transit’s proposed action.