This article appears in the October 2019 issue. Click here for a free subscription.
An ambitious $25 million project at Pacific Raceways in Kent seeks to position the Puget Sound region as a global hotbed for automotive technology and research.
Pacific Raceways in Kent has launched a multiphase development to create Pacific Motorsports Park and Pacific Innovation Center, which seeks to become a hub for research into future automotive technologies, including alternative fuels and autonomous vehicles.
“Not only will we cater to the traditional motor sports industry, but we will attract a new industry into our state — things like research and development and prototype manufacturing,” says Pacific Raceways President Jason Fiorito, whose grandfather helped build and open the track in 1959. “We envision a tech campus, and I believe we can attract more innovation companies than traditional motorsports companies, and I believe this is going to be the magnet that kind of redefines our Evergreen state.”
Phase one of the project, which broke ground in August, includes the construction of 200,000 square feet of manufacturing and garage space along with significant upgrades to the track and grounds. About half of that space has already been leased. The master plan reveals that future development could include an additional 1.2 million square feet of commercial, lab and garage space that could cost upward of $200 million. The project is privately financed.
The state Department of Commerce has designated the expansion as one of four “Projects of Statewide Significance,” which means it provides “significant economic benefit” that qualifies it for expedited permitting.
“We’re going to move forward assuming there will be pretty high demand,” says Fiorito, who adds that the state’s thriving technology and aerospace industries should serve as magnets for innovative auto companies that demand a skilled workforce. “I think we are going to be the spearhead that moves the automotive industry into the next century.”
The track will remain open during phase one of construction, which is expected to last three years.