Business

Speculation abounds over multimillion dollar investments

Federal Way loves to shop.

We love the cornucopia of retailers in our city.

And we love a good bargain. As a reluctant shopper, every time I’m at Costco, I’m overwhelmed at the length of the check-out lines, the volume of cars jam-packed into the lot, and the amount of stuff that can fit in a single shopping cart.

Parking lots and shopping carts across town are full — not to mention what happens in November and December. Then the slow crawl of shopping-induced traffic clogs downtown streets and tests even our most forgiving drivers’ temperaments.

Two recent sales in our fair city dwarf even the most outrageous Costco shopping spree.

On Sept. 26, 2007, (interestingly around the timing of my article on Hillside Plaza), the old Toys ‘R’ Us site was purchased by Pal-Do Company for $4.8 million. It is widely speculated that Pal-Do Company is an extension of Brian B.C. Park’s family of investors that acquired the Target site (via Park Target Investments) for $7.3 million in May 2007. That would make Brian Park Federal Way’s $12 million-dollar man.

Times two.

If rumor proves true, the recent Hillside transactions bring Mr. Park’s Federal Way investments to $24.5 million, factoring in his October 2005 purchase of the Pal-Do World site for $12.4 million (by Outback Steakhouse).

Money moving around that neck of the woods isn’t uncommon with the June 24 purchase of Denny’s to DWO, LLC for $1,905,000 and the Sound Credit Union acquisition of the vacant lot behind it in December 2003 for $550,000. The big story is the rumored Park Empire. Big money fosters big imaginations.

What are his intentions?

Last week’s efforts to track down Mr. Park were a bust, resulting in an extended game of phone tag (one sided with me only playing) with his lead commercial real estate broker.

That leaves only little fact in precedent and mainly speculation to go by. So I’ll tread carefully.

Precedent/Fact: Pal-Do World International Mart is a Lakewood-based chain of pan-Asian super-sized supermarkets founded by Mr. Park over a decade ago. It’s an awe-inspiring big-box specialty grocery retailer specializing in, but not restricted to, products from China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and of course, South Korea.

Speculation: At full tilt, the rumor mill, fueled with supposed stories of a slow-moving landlord on repairs, contends that Mr. Park wants to move his current tenants north to the Target and Toys ‘R’ Us sites that now sit vacant, so he can demolish the existing buildings south to create a brand new mega-concept from the ground up.

Further speculation on the exact nature of the concept property ranges from an international shopping center with a grand Asian-inspired architectural theme housing various stores (similar to his Lakewood properties) to a $350 million mixed-use commercial/residential property that will be the Empire’s crown jewel — and everything in between.

Without verification from Mr. Park (or until the land use permits become public), there is simply no way of knowing for sure.

One thing is certain — with that amount of money changing hands, you can be sure someone wants a serious return on their dollar.

At the very least, that means upgrading the properties, if not expanding them.

And that’s great news for our avid shoppers — and our local economy!

Tom Pierson is CEO of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at (253) 838-2605 or tomp@federalwaychamber.com.

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