Business is buzzing at Celebration Center, located at the southwest corner of S. 320th Street and Pacific Highway in Federal Way.
The site is anchored by Black Bear Diner, Rite Aid, Party City, Michael's and a newly renovated Ross Dress for Less. Several new developments will arrive in the coming months, including a wine store and a fast-food franchise.
The recent activity reflects an upturn in people's spending habits, said Jordan Schnitzer, president of Portland-based Harsch Investment Properties. Retailers are getting ahead of the curve as the economy shows signs of recovery, he said. The recession and its aftermath were more prolonged than anything Schnitzer had seen in 45 years.
At Celebration Center, the renovation of Ross has helped increase the store's sales due to a stronger visual presence and updated layout, he said. The entrance and parking lot were also realigned.
"We've spent a lot of money on that corner," Schnitzer told The Mirror. "It's important for us to put the right tenants in to create new employment in Federal Way."
When construction wraps up in 2014, Celebration Center will feature new facades, signage and new tenants. More announcements will be made in the coming months, said Dave Moore, senior vice president of retail operations for Harsch.
"We really find the city of Federal Way a pleasure to work with," said Moore, noting the cooperation of city staff as Harsch has developed the site.
Under construction is a new store from alcohol retail giant Total Wine and More, which is slated to open in the first quarter of 2014. Harsch is also working on a deal with Half Price Books as another possible tenant.
In 2014, Bank of America will upgrade its building to the latest prototype. On the property's south side, the former PJ Pockets Casino will undergo remodeling to make way for an as-yet-unnamed restaurant and sports bar, Moore said.
Harsch is working with a national fast-food chain that's set to debut in the local market. The deal is 90 percent complete, said Moore, who would not reveal the mystery tenant.
"I do think it will be a welcome addition to the corridor," he said.
On that note, The Mirror followed up on a rumor in late July that Georgia-based Chick-fil-A was coming to Federal Way. The popular chicken sandwich franchise plans to open a restaurant near the Tacoma Mall, according to The News Tribune.
A representative from Chick-fil-A would neither confirm nor deny the rumor of a Federal Way location.
"All I have to communicate at this time is that Chick-fil-A would love to be in Federal Way, WA. However, we don't have anything that we can communicate at this time," said Brenda Morrow, public relations for Chick-fil-A Inc., in an email to The Mirror in July. "Feel free to check back in with us later in the year, and hopefully I will have more to share."
(Pictured: Construction is under way on a Total Wine and More store at Celebration Center in Federal Way.)
(Pictured: A newly renovated Ross Dress for Less at Celebration Center.)
(Pictured: A site plan for Celebration Center, courtesy of Harsch Investment Properties.)