Business

City may have way to spend $55,000

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

A market study to see whether the city could support an urban lifestyle center could be coming since the Federal Way City Council approved reallocating $55,000 from two other economic development ideas that never took off.

The money hasn’t been designated for a specific use, but it has been earmarked to support the city center redevelopment strategic work plan, said Patrick Doherty, deputy director of community development for economic development. The money is one-time funding.

The reallocation follows a presentation by Bob Gibbs, of the Gibbs Planning Group, on the development of urban lifestyle centers, including what retailers they can attract and how much revenue they can bring into a city. The Michigan-based Gibbs group charges $25,000 to conduct a lifestyle center market study.

The $55,000 was set aside several years ago to install an electronic kiosk and a readerboard downtown to provide visitors with information and directions to destinations in Federal Way. “It never really got off the ground,” Doherty said, adding the kiosks are better-suited to airports and visitor centers.

Councilman Eric Faison, chairman of the city’s Finance, Economic Development and Regional Affairs Committee, supports the reallocation.

“The kiosk was not the best use of those funds,” he said.

Faison said the finance committee’s next meeting will include discussion of the selection of a consultant for the downtown market study.

The city conducted a market study in 2000 that focused on how fast the city was growing, what kind of development was happening here and how much land would be needed to support it.

“The 2000 study was a more macroeconomic look at the likely demand for new development in all sectors — retail, office, housing — over 20 years,” Doherty said. “It wasn’t trying to target specific types of retail. It was in a broad scope over 20 years. It was really for planning purposes.”

A new market study would be different.

“The concept here is to have somebody do a more professional study of the demand created by our specific demographic for the kind of retail we think is lacking in the city center,” Doherty said.

At the same time, city officials want to know what neighboring cities are providing — like SuperMall in Auburn, which provides outlet sales of designer clothes and products — so Federal Way can find a way to fill a vacant shopping niche.

“We’d like to have a really marketable product,” Doherty said.

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

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