News

Here comes another Wal-Mart

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

A Wal-Mart superstore is expected to open next year at the Federal Way Marketplace development going in on the northeast corner of Southeast 348th Street and 16th Avenue South.

After several months of rumor and speculation, Wal-Mart's regional spokesman, Eric Berger, confirmed the plans Wednesday.

The existing Wal-Mart in Federal Way, located in the city center core, will remain in its current location when the new store opens. It will undergo refurbishing starting May 30.

The only difference between the existing Wal-Mart and the new one will be the inclusion of a full-line grocery department. The supercenter –– the name given to the locations with grocery departments –– will be 203,000 square feet and will also include electronics, books, home furnishings, apparel, a garden center and an automotive center.

Berger said the new store is expected to employ up to 400 people, with "the majority of those positions available to local residents. The majority of positions are full-time and competitive wage." He added the state average wage for hourly workers is $10.14 an hour.

"It's a competitive wage. There are a lot of opportunities for local residents," he said.

Berger estimated the current Wal-Mart in Federal Way employs about 200.

Building a Wal-Mart superstore normally takes about 10 months, he said said. Regional officials are hoping to open the doors to customers in the fall or winter of 2006.

Jeffrey Oliphant, president of Fedway Marketplace Investors, the company developing the whole site, said there will be 900 stalls of parking.

Oliphant said it took about a year from the time he submitted the site plans and applications to get final approval from the city.

"It went quicker than other cities," he said. "The city has always been straightforward and responsive. I didn't always like their decisions, but they were proactive."

Berger said Wal-Mart officials looked at population growth, convenience, site location and customer requests in deciding where to site the new superstore.

"We've heard from our customers they appreciate the opportunity to meet all their shopping needs in one location," he said. By providing another location in the southern part of the city, "ultimately, they have choices."

Wal-Mart officials anticipate the new store will draw some patrons of the existing store for a while, but once their curiosity is sated, the stores will reach a customer equilibrium based on convenience and the availability of the items shoppers need.

"We believe both stores will still do well in serving our customers," Berger said. "We strive to tailor to the local customers' needs in a particular area. That's what's helped us be successful –– responding to customer needs."

Oliphant said he picked the site for Federal Way Marketplace because of the convergence of three major thoroughfares –– Interstate 5, State Route 18 and State Route 161 (Enchanted Parkway).

It's his first foray into Federal Way; Oliphant has other developments in Auburn, Kent and Bellingham.

The development here is one of several major construction projects on line for construction in Federal Way over the next year. Federal Way Crossings, a commercial center replacing the old Broadway Flying J truck stop, will be built at the southwest corner of South 348th Street and SR-161, and the Christian Faith Center megachurch will soon be under construction on 50 acres of property hemmed by South 336th and South 341st streets, Pacific Highway South and Interstate 5.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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