Opinion

Downtown Federal Way is changing | Editor's Note

Editor Carrie Rodriguez - File photo
Editor Carrie Rodriguez
— image credit: File photo

One of the first stories I wrote when I became editor of the Mirror last December had this headline in our print edition: “Big changes ahead for Federal Way in 2014.”

The story featured a profile about new Mayor Jim Ferrell and his vision for Federal Way. The photo next to the story showed Ferrell sitting in the cab of a Public Works snowplow — a metaphor for the mayor taking the driver’s seat to steer Federal Way in a new direction.

Now, we are in the midst of those changes the mayor set out to make.

This week marks two significant changes for the city.

Construction crews began demolishing the former Toys R Us building on Thursday, signifying the beginning of the Performing Arts and Conference Center construction.

Across the street from that site, the city will open its first downtown park on Saturday.

The Town Square Park, located at the former AMC Theater site at 31600 20th Ave. S., will include a large grass area for event gatherings, chess sets and basketball courts. The park will serve as the new site for the city’s annual Christmas tree lighting.

Both sites are located on the northeast and southeast corners, respectively, of a blighted intersection at 20th Avenue South and South 316 Street.

But city officials hope these changes will stimulate downtown development. They hope the changes will send a signal to private capital that the city’s vision for downtown is starting to materialize.

City officials are also currently vetting candidates for a new economic development director, who will assist the city with this expected growth.

The director will seek ways for Federal Way to compete regionally and nationally for new businesses. The staff member will also reach out to local businesses and seek their input on the needs of the city’s economy.

“You’ve got to operate with a sense of urgency,” said Ferrell in that story last December. “We’re going to go out and find businesses and associations and private capital to invest in this community.”

I applaud Ferrell for steering the city with a sense of urgency and his desire to move the city forward.

Federal Way needs it.

We will see what kind of economic development these changes spur and the Mirror looks forward to reporting on these expected transformations as they unfold.

I also urge city officials to balance their enthusiasm and determination with a sense of prudence. Take moments to take your foot off the pedal, slow down and reflect on the changes you’ve made and ones you’ve yet to make. Include residents, ask for input and don’t ignore the need for some process.

This is an exciting time for our evolving city and I look forward to more changes ahead. Let’s make them good ones.

 

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