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Thanks to $4 million in federal assistance, the city of Tukwila is acquiring land along Highway 99 for a $35 million mixed-use development it hopes will begin to upgrade an area known more for prostitution that prosperity.

The two-block project, dubbed Tukwila Village, may include two three-story office buildings, space for restaurants, two dozen condominiums, a 214-space parking deck and a public plaza. It is planned for both sides of South 144th Street just east of Highway 99, also known in that stretch as Tukwila International Boulevard.

Tukwila has been working for two years to bring a 6.6-acre town center to Highway 99, and with construction now slated to begin next spring, it appears to be coming to fruition. Through proceeds from $10 million in bond sales, a $3.63 million federal loan and a $455,000 federal grant, the city will acquire the land and pay for park amenities — benches and walkways — and the parking garage.

The land will likely be sold to a developer and the rest of the city expenses would be recouped through subsequent sales- and property tax revenues the project generates. The previously selected developer, Fred McConkey, recently backed out of the arrangement to work on more immediate projects.

The land the city wants to use is currently in several parcels under separate ownership. The city is instigating the development because it says developers can’t afford to put up money then wait four years — while they assemble the parcels — before seeing a return on their investments. A public hearing on the Tukwila Village project is scheduled for Sept. 21 at Tukwila City Hall.

King County Executive Ron Sims lauded the project this week in a statement announcing the federal grant, which technically is funneled to the city from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, through the county. U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, also spoke well of the plans, if not of the current state of Tukwila itself.

“The Puget Sound has been blessed with a great deal of economic prosperity, but that economic development has not been spread evenly throughout the region,” Smith said. “This funding will help to spread some of that prosperity so that South King County isn’t stuck with airports and garbage dumps for its economic development.”

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