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Federal Way's paved paradise | Andy Hobbs
Federal Way loves parking lots.
Last Saturday, The Commons mall was transformed into the destination it was meant to be, thanks to surplus parking.
The mall's parking lot hosted a classic car show, a sand sculpting festival and a farmers market. The events claimed their own sections of asphalt that stretched from Sears to Macy's. The Northwest Sand Festival continues through Sept. 3, and the Federal Way Farmers Market runs Saturdays through October.
The three festivals combined last Saturday to test and prove the potential for the parking lot.
What is that potential? The ability to attract a crowd.
As a host for cultural and family activities, the mall adds another dimension to the city's economy. The mall enhances quality of life by playing the role of a central destination — a common space where people come together to play and seek entertainment.
Saturday's steady crowd buzzed along with live music and announcements. Note the word "crowd." The mall's parking lot bustled with people of all shapes and sizes and incomes and interests.
The mall has hosted such events for years. The parking lot is the de-facto town square, chosen by the people of Federal Way over the years, whether they knew it or not.
Let's pause for a moment and consider the empty AMC Theatres and Toys R' Us parking lots located near the transit center. Those sites are mired in negotiations for ambitious developments. Last year, one of the giant empty parking lots became home to the Federal Way Farmers Market every Saturday.
The Commons is a more visible and accommodating site for the market. However, the market and all these other events need a flat pedestrian-friendly promenade with easy public access. They are willing to settle for the striped asphalt in the mall's outskirts.
I have not discussed the following idea with the mall's management. Nothing they can do about it anyway. Therefore, this plea goes to Steadfast Companies, the mall's owner, which is headquartered in California.
Please consider the potential for The Commons mall to become the top community destination in Federal Way.
The mall will amplify its power as a people magnet by remodeling the outskirts of the parking lot. A landscaped promenade, for example, would equip the parking lot with the means to host and stage events all year long.
Maybe the bricked walkways could lead more customers into the mall, but you're more of an expert on that stuff.
This mall is the key cog in Federal Way's economic engine. The mall ranks as a top choice for a community festival venue. The mall sits smack dab in the middle of Federal Way's economic core.
There's a song that says, "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot."
With help from Steadfast Companies and city leadership, The Commons can turn that mall parking lot into Federal Way's own paved paradise, and everyone wins.
Pictured below: Scenes from the Northwest Sand Festival, Federal Way Farmers Market and Federal Way Lions Classic Car Show on Aug. 18 in The Commons mall parking lot.