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Federal Way Senior Center expansion includes 30 housing units

The Federal Way Senior Center is moving ahead with plans to expand and introduce on-site senior housing.

The Intentional Community and Network for seniors (ICAN) project started three years ago as a way to address the senior center's evolving needs. It includes the development of the 5 acres on which the current senior center is located, 4016 S. 352nd St.

Preliminary designs have been drawn, but the project is still undergoing a feasibility study. Senior center director Nathan Brown and senior center board member Bob Darrigan introduced the ICAN project to the Human Services Commission on May 17.

"What a valuable piece of landscape and real estate this is going to be," Human Services manager Lynnette Hynden said.

The membership at the center has grown significantly in the past few years. There is a desire to expand the center's programs, Brown said. However, the current facility is too small.

"We are kind of bursting at the seams," Brown said.

Housing: 30 units

The design calls for an expanded senior center flanked by housing on the south end of the site. The current building will be torn down and a new two-story center will be erected. The additional space will allow for programs to flourish, such as adult daycare and the center's food pantry food bank, Brown said.

The housing element is designed to appeal to seniors (ages 55-plus) of varying income levels. Roughly 30 units (one- and two-bedroom) are proposed. About 20 will be available for purchase, while about 10 will be rentable. Both the home ownership and rental options will offer affordable and market-rate housing.

"We thought having a residential facility right alongside the senior center would strengthen both," Brown said.

Open and recreational space are also planned. The community garden will likely be moved and expanded, Brown said. It will be the centerpiece of the development, with housing and the senior center surrounding it on all sides. The garden will remain open to residents, visitors and the public.

A public park could also be included at the north end of the site. The park is supported by the Cascade Land Conservancy and the City of Federal Way. Both agencies contributed funding to the ICAN feasibility study.

Once the construction is completed, senior center members will call the shots. The renters and homeowners will, for the most part, maintain the housing and center, Brown said. They will spend much of their time giving back to the senior center — as members already do — through volunteer work.

"They are not just living together, they are living together for a purpose," Brown said.

Feasibility

Funding has yet to be identified, but the project is likely to require several sources. State and federal funding, as well as pre-sale profits from the on-site housing units are being considered. The land where the current facility is constructed, which is now rented from the Lakeland Homeowners' Association, will be donated to the senior center by the HOA to accommodate the new development, Brown said.

More project data will be known this summer once the feasibility study is completed. At that time the board will be ready to again present to the Human Services Commission. It will also hold a public meeting about the project to seek input from neighbors and the larger community.

The Federal Way Senior Center is operated through private membership funding. It is kept afloat by membership fees, grants, city-supported programs, donations and volunteers. The model will continue as a way to keep the new facility alive. The updated facility, garden, park and programs will continue to remain open to the public. The finished product will reflect an ideology that extends beyond that typically associated with a senior center.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we go through a rebranding and call ourselves something other than a senior center," Brown said.

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