News

Downtown high-rise plan makes more room for retail

By JACINDA HOWARD, The Mirror

The Federal Way City Council approved, 6-0, the $6.156 million sale of the former 4.1-acre AMC Theatre site to Canadian developer United Properties Ltd.

City staff has worked with United Properties to alter its proposal to better serve Federal Way since July 17, when the city council chose the developer to create a sense of community downtown through the creation of a four-tower, mixed-use project called Symphony.

Upon choosing the developer, the council set forth changes it wanted made to United Properties’ proposal before the sale of the parcel took place and construction began.

At that time, the council had concerns about the number of apartments and the amount of space dedicated to retail within the four towers. Also of concern was the dismal contrast in design elements between the four buildings — three of which were proposed at 22 stories high. Additionally, the city council wished to find a way to ensure United Properties would complete the construction as the city saw fit.

The developer presented an updated version of its project at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

• Now, all four buildings have a retail base, opposed to residential. An estimated 45,000 square feet of retail will be featured within the towers compared to the previously proposed 25,000 square feet.

• Also increased is the number of condominiums. Residents and council members alike voiced concerns in July over the 400 apartment units initially proposed. Now, 70-75 percent (about 650) of the residential housing will be condominiums, United Properties president Victor Setton said.

• The heights and appearances of the high-rises have been slightly altered as well. The towers will measure 16, 20, 22 and 24 stories, respectively. A mix of color and materials as well as prominent features perched atop the buildings will distinguish each high-rise, said Matt Roewe, director of mixed-use and major projects for VIA Suzuki Architecture.

To ensure the finished product fits with the city council’s vision, guidelines for the developer and city to follow were created. United Properties will begin construction of the first phase, the 16-story building housing residential, retail and office space, in summer 2008. It will conclude 18 months later.

Symphony Park and Symphony Lane, a thoroughfare to be bordered by retail shops, will also be mostly completed at the same time. All four towers are expected to be finished in 2014.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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