Opinion

EDITORIAL: A vote of confidence for pursuing the PACC

City leaders believe a performing arts and conference center (PACC) will become a cultural and economic catalyst for downtown Federal Way.

Last month, the city council voted to move forward on designs for the project.

The Mirror’s editorial board supports this first step. It is important to recognize that Federal Way is pursuing a vision for economic development. The public elected the mayor and council to make these decisions. Let’s help them move forward.

That said, there are a few concerns with the strategy. The PACC would become the city’s most expensive project with an overall price tag of nearly $32 million. But if you can’t pay for it, you can’t build it.

Consider the following as the process unfolds:

• First things first. The biggest public project in Federal Way history requires faith and patience as it moves forward, one glacial step at a time. Communication with residents will build trust. Can the public trust the city’s projections? More specifics would bring peace of mind.

• The more private investment, the better. Despite the city’s intentions to sell the naming rights and raise money through grants, none of this money has been guaranteed. The lack of a clear-cut business model — such as who will operate the completed facility — creates uncertainty among taxpayers who foot the city’s bills.

• Rebrand the project. The public hears the “performing arts” part of PACC, but they may not hear the “conference center” part. A rebranded but functional name could expand public support beyond the circles of arts supporters.

• As for the future of downtown Federal Way, consider that light rail should be here, we hope, by 2040. By the year 2040, the region is expected to grow by 1.7 million people. Light rail is the next catalyst for development, especially on property surrounding transit stations.

Is the city putting all of its eggs into one basket? Not quite. Another project in the mix is a proposed town square park at the former AMC Theatres property, located next to the site for the PACC. The plan is to surround a two-acre park with private enterprise and condos.

The PACC plus redevelopment of the adjacent AMC site would be the centerpieces of an economic revitalization of Federal Way. Both projects are two pieces of the same pie.

Today, Federal Way faces the challenge of planning ahead. The PACC is neither the savior nor a danger to Federal Way’s struggling downtown core. The PACC is only one piece of the big picture, but at least it’s a start.

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Contact: editorialboard@federalwaymirror.com

 

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