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Crystal Palace developer interested in arts center project

This parking lot on 20th Avenue South houses the former Toys R Us and Target stores, which now stand as empty shells. - Mirror file photo
This parking lot on 20th Avenue South houses the former Toys R Us and Target stores, which now stand as empty shells.
— image credit: Mirror file photo

ARCADD Inc., the Massachusetts-based architecture firm that's proposing the Crystal Way project in downtown Federal Way, has expressed interest in a public-private partnership to create a Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC).

Patrick Doherty, director of economic and community development for the city, gave a brief update to the council on the PACC project June 19. Doherty said ARCADD and one other firm responded to the city's Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the arts center project.

"The firm that is continuing to seek development of the AMC Theatres site, ARCADD Inc., led by Dr. Hisham Ashkouri, submitted a response to our request for qualifications and concept," Doherty said. "They actually went further, and expressed an interest in a master plan development of the Toys R Us site, which would be the Performing Arts and Conference Center, the old Target site, and potentially the small piece of property next to the transit center."

"This is an ambitious master plan idea," Doherty added.

Both sites measure about 4 acres each. The vacant and crumbling parking lots sit next to each other on 20th Avenue South just behind the Federal Way Transit Center.

The other group who responded to the city's April-issued RFQ consisted of a team that includes Lorax Partners, LMN Architects and Mortenson Construction, three Seattle-based firms. Doherty mentioned that one of the high ranking executives from this group, PJ Santos, was involved in The Crossings development now located at 348th Street and Pacific Highway South. They've also been responsible for some recent work in the region, Doherty said.

"(Santos) is quite familiar with the Federal Way market," Doherty said. "He and his partners started Lorax Partners, and actually delivered the Bremerton Conference Center and Hotel project on the waterfront."

Doherty said the next step with these RFQ responses is to ask for more detailed proposals. He and his staff plan to vet both responses over the next few weeks, and hope to have enough information available to the council for the council to have a serious discussion about it by mid-to-late July.

"We intend to conduct a certain amount of due diligence on these and come back to council in three weeks or so," Doherty informed the council.

Mayor Skip Priest reminded the council that while all of these responses and other plans are being worked on, the city is moving forward with an alternate plan it developed in the winter for the former AMC Theatres site. The alternate plan includes an "open space" park-like area, most likely surrounded by retail and/or residential buildings in that part of the city.

"That process is also going forward as we speak," Priest said.

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