Landholders don't share developers' interest


The Mirror

Several efforts focused on redeveloping the city center have been coming to fruition this fall, the most notable being the Leland Group’s market study of Federal Way followed by an overview earlier this month of strategies to revitalize downtown.

While strategies are helpful, it’s beginning to become apparent if city officials want to see change downtown, they’re going to have to work with what Leland consultant Anne Ricker called “recalcitrant” property owners — those who aren’t interested in redeveloping what for them are fully tenanted, income stream-generating properties.

City officials began several years ago implementing changes in the city center to boost economic development. And while they could always do more — they’re now discussing public-private partnerships and whether the city should create a dedicated economic development fund — their efforts so far appear to be paying off.

Patrick Doherty, the city’s economic development director, said at least two large, nationally known developers have come to Federal Way over the past year with project ideas in hand. They tried to work with downtown property owners but both deals fell through, though Doherty said he still hears from one of the companies.

Doherty said he can’t reveal the developers, nor would he say which downtown property owners were involved. But he did say there isn’t a total lack of interest in Federal Way on developers’ side.

“We’re on the radar screen,” he said.

The situation emphasizes the importance of the people who own the property when it comes to making redevelopment decisions.

“Current property owners have established a property ownership and management regime that makes sense to them,” Doherty said. “Property owners establish (their) personal financial picture around that and are happy with it.”

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