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Developer will study site for park in downtown Federal Way

The former AMC Theatres site is located on 20th Avenue South next to the Federal Way Transit Center. - Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror
The former AMC Theatres site is located on 20th Avenue South next to the Federal Way Transit Center.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror

The city is moving forward on a proposed downtown park/plaza.

The Federal Way City Council unanimously decided to enter into an exclusive 90-day contract with Seattle’s Lorig Associates to perform a “site development feasibility study” for the former AMC site in the downtown core.

After recent failures of getting private entities to build something on the 4-acre site, it appears the city is beginning the first steps toward the mixed-use park, retail and residential design that was offered as an alternative by city staff.

“We commissioned a concept sketch last summer or early fall, as to how to develop the site with an alternative from the proposals we’d had coming in, in previous years from the private sector,” said Patrick Doherty, director of community and economic development. “This alternative is anchored by a public plaza…a drive that goes through the site to provide access to the park or any retail shops at the base of the building(s). A water feature was also identified as a key component.”

Doherty said the city’s research into this type of development shows that once a project like the proposed one is in place, it has the ability to “activate” adjacent areas. The parcel of land by the Federal Way Transit Center that now hosts the sculpture garden is also a potential space that could be part of the project, Doherty noted.

Doherty indicated that Lorig Associates has a strong history of good work in the region.

“Lorig Associates has indicated an interest in this project as a concept. They have 40 years of experience in real estate development and management in the Seattle area,” Doherty said. “They’ve been involved in many projects and pioneering work in places that require creativity and innovation from the developer.”

Doherty said Lorig Associates would cover the costs of the 90-day study, and that it would include a “site planning program,” a market analysis, project budget, financial model, project schedule and a presentation to the council at the end of the 90-day period. Doherty said the city would provide help with the market analysis, so the city and Lorig could “get a bit deeper than just the broad demographics as to who the potential market would be for (the) proposal.”

Bruce Lorig, founder and co-owner of Lorig Associates, was on hand during the May 7 meeting, and gave a few remarks on the new feasibility study.

“We’re quite honored that you’re considering us to help your continuing development of the city center,” Lorig said. “Trying to change from a more suburban model to a more urban model..this really is not an easy task. This is a challenge, and an opportunity. We’ve done these things before…and we’re going to work really hard to challenge this assignment.”

FYI

• Lorig Associates is the developer responsible for the Village at Overlake Station in Redmond, along with the Uwajimaya Village in Seattle’s International District. To learn more about Lorig Associates and their local work, visit www.lorig.com.

• The empty 4-acre lot on 20th Avenue South was once home to AMC Theatres. In 2007, the city purchased the site for $4.1 million. The site had attracted private proposals for skyscrapers and later a Crystal Palace. Both proposals fizzled due to lack of money. The park concept has garnered support from several council members and could cost about $2.5 million. The park has a potential tie-in with a proposed 700-seat performing arts and conference center (PACC) to be located in an adjacent lot if it’s built.

 

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