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Doing business in Twin Lakes: City wants public input on retail development

Federal Way seeks public input in shaping the future of the Twin Lakes retail district.

The city secured a $180,000 grant recently to assist Federal Way officials in coming up with the plan for Twin Lakes district, which includes large businesses such as Safeway, Fred Meyer, Rite Aid, several restaurants and numerous storefronts.

The city is hosting a public workshop at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, in the Federal Way City Hall Council Chambers regarding the retail area around the intersection of 21st Avenue Southwest and Southwest 336th Street. The event will start with an informal open house followed by a structured workshop at 6:30 p.m.

Citizen input will help identify priorities and refine concepts. The plan will essentially serve as a blueprint for future development and capital improvements in the area.

“We just want to come up with a vision,” said Matt Herrera, an associate planner with the city. “We want to make sure everybody is on the same page as to what they want to see in the future.”

The grant requires Federal Way to have a land-use plan adopted or rejected by the city council no later than March 2012, Herrera said. He said city officials hope to get a bulk of the process done this year with a plan going before the council in the fall.

“We are on the fast track,” Herrera said.

The funding to undertake this plan is made possible through the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant administered by Public Health – Seattle and King County. One purpose for receiving the grant is to adopt policies that promote healthy and active lifestyles. Therefore, the city is also seeking input with regard to zoning and public improvements that can directly affect health outcomes to citizens in the surrounding area.

Doing business in Twin Lakes

The Twin Lakes retail area is zoned to accommodate neighborhood business, which is defined as an area intended to provide convenient goods (groceries and hardware, among others) and services (dentists and banks, for example) at a pedestrian and neighborhood scale.

That zoning designation might have cost the city a prominent business last year, according to Herrera.

The 24-Hour Fitness health club chain was looking to open a 40,000-square-foot franchise in the old Albertson’s building at the intersection of 21st Avenue Southwest and Southwest 336th Street, but the zoning codes wouldn’t allow it.

“The neighborhood business zone is scaled for something smaller,” Herrera said. “We went in and did a code amendment to get them in there. But, by the time we finished, (the health club) didn’t come back with any formal applications.”

At that time, city officials decided to take a harder look at the Twin Lakes subarea and formulate a land-use plan that will shape the future of the heavily-travelled section of Federal Way.

Recently, the city created a stakeholder group that includes representatives from the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, the Planning Commission, YMCA, AmeriCorps and other residents and business owners that are helping staff formulate a plan. The group has held a pair of meetings and is hosting Wednesday’s public workshop.

Survey results

Staff conducted a survey of residents of the area, asking six questions about the Twin Lakes neighborhood around the intersection of 21st Avenue Southwest and Southwest 336th Street. In total, 87 people filled out the survey.

The first question asked “How frequently do you shop in the neighborhood’s retail area?” A resounding 72.4 percent checked three times a week or more.

Other questions asked things like how residents get to the retail area (97.7 percent answered by car), what do trips to the area consist more of (71.3 percent said for shopping) and how far is the resident’s home from the area (36.8 percent said one mile away).

“We will take the information and city staff will develop a plan to take to the Planning Commission and then to the city council,” Herrera said. “It will be more of a blueprint and a vision of what they would like to see. We will then take that and prioritize where the deficiencies are and get some capital funding and start fixing them.”

 

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