Crystal Palace coming soon to downtown Federal Way

A rendering of the proposed Crystal Palace slated for the former AMC Theatres site on 20th Avenue South in Federal Way. - Courtesy image
A rendering of the proposed Crystal Palace slated for the former AMC Theatres site on 20th Avenue South in Federal Way.
— image credit: Courtesy image

Both the plans and money are coming together for the former AMC Theatres site in downtown Federal Way.

ARCADD, an architecture firm based in West Newton, Mass., was selected by the Federal Way City Council to begin moving forward on a proposed “Crystal Palace” design at the vacant parking lot on 20th Avenue South. During the council’s July 19 meeting, ARCADD president Dr. Hisham Ashkouri presented an ambitious design of flowing metal and glass structures.

“The critical thing that really comes to mind after seeing Federal Way is really the scale of the city,” Ashkouri told the council. “It is something very important and very unique. The development you have and that we’re showing you today is something that is compatible with it.”

The preliminary design would include approximately 500 residential units, 12,000 square feet of office and retail space, 50,000 square feet of “recreation/cinema/restaurant/entertainment” space and 75,000 square feet of the “crystal palace” space. It also would have an underground parking structure and a large but undefined amount of “public open space.”

Ashkouri also said part of the plan would be to complement the proposed performing arts and civic center slated to be built downtown on 20th Avenue South near the Federal Way Transit Center.

“It’s critical these are linked,” he said. “Not just to bring the two sites together, but also the sites surrounding it.”

If both the AMC site and the civic center are linked, Ashkouri envisions a revitalization of downtown.

“By standing there, being beautiful, being built of the highest quality, the question becomes, what will the neighbor do?” he said. “If the neighbor sees this kind of thing, suddenly you have a whole movement within the city center to build something that’s urban, but also beautiful and commensurate with the environment of Federal Way.”

Money is available

Outside of his beautiful dream for Federal Way, Ashkouri also touched on some of the nuts and bolts of the project.

ARCADD has already developed a company called Crystal Way LLC that would oversee the project once things start happening. Funding, a major issue that impeded efforts of local developer Twin Development, should not be a problem, Ashkouri said. He indicated ARCADD and its local representatives have a “private equity source” that would be able to supply the $300 million needed for the project.

The local companies who will be involved with the project are Seattle-based Keith Henrickson Construction, Bellevue-based Mulvanny G2 Architects, and DCI Engineers of Seattle.

With those details reviewed, the council directed city staff to begin working on the feasibility phase of the project with ARCADD. Over the next 90 days, city staff and ARCADD will “conduct due diligence, refine the project concept, analyze market feasibility and further develop details,” according to a press release.

Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest said the architect can help bring Federal Way’s downtown to life.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with an internationally renowned firm like ARCADD, and a visionary such as Dr. Ashkouri,” Priest said in a news release. “The firm is known for stunning, signature developments around the world. Their presence in Federal Way could potentially redefine our downtown.”

Teri Hickel, interim CEO of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, is excited for the opportunities this project may bring.

“Federal Way’s downtown has been waiting for a signature project like this that will create excitement and momentum,” she said in the city’s release.

ARCADD representatives are slated to return to the city council in a public meeting by Oct. 18 at the latest. The council will then need to vote on the refined proposal.


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