Business

Proposal made for commercial zone by freeways

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

City planning officials are considering a proposal to create a new freeway commercial zone they hope will encourage development in underused areas of Federal Way adjacent to and accessible from Interstate 5 and State Route 18.

The proposed zone is intended for businesses that would complement or support existing retail located downtown or in commercial areas of the city, city officials said. A list of potential uses includes, but is not limited to, car and recreational vehicle dealerships, outlet malls, hotels, driving ranges, household furnishings and appliance stores, home electronics stores and entertainment venues like theaters or amusement parks.

No specific area of the city has been tapped as a freeway commercial zone. Instead, officials want the zone to be available to businesses interested in applying for it in the future.

A property owner in the city’s potential annexation area has already submitted a request for the zoning designation.

City senior planner Margaret Clark said several studies over the past few years have indicated Federal Way loses shopping money to other cities. The freeway commercial zone is intended to “capitalize on areas where we’re not getting some retail dollars,” she said.

In addition to considering the new zone, the city Planning Commission is reviewing several proposed allowances under the sign code, one of which would allow businesses in commercial zones abutting and visible from Interstate 5 to put up an additional pole sign to attract faster-moving customers. The allowance wouldn’t apply to businesses located along Pacific Highway South.

Other proposed sign code changes include allowing:

• Daycares to put up signs year-round advertising available spaces.

• Realtors to put up signs with directions to open houses.

• Sponsors of athletic events to hang advertising banners inside athletic field fences.

The commission also is reviewing two other requests to change the comprehensive plan: Proposed zoning designations in the city’s potential annexation area east of Interstate 5, and deletion of the extension of Weyerhaeuser Way South north of South 320th Street.

Quadrant Corp., a real estate division of Weyerhaeuser, asked the city to delete the road extension because it would divide a piece of property on which the company plans to build an office building.

The city’s Department of Community Development has issued a determination of nonsignificance, meaning the deletion of the road isn’t expected to have any negative environmental impacts. A public hearing on that decision will be held April 21.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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