Letters to the Editor

Visions and ideas for downtown Federal Way | Letters

The July 19 Federal Way City Council special meeting on downtown revitalization and the AMC Theatre site was interesting. The architect/developer from Massachusetts was impressive with a concept presentation. It was creative and certainly a futuristic Frank Lloyd Wright-type design. The site, of course, will merge the new performing arts center around it, and that is a fine idea.

At first I was not favorable to the proposal. However, the more I listened, the more I became enthralled and inspired with the plan and probable future for Federal Way.

We genuinely need to create outside excitement and bring on new innovative ideas. One can imagine this design as similar to building a Space Needle in Federal Way.

The best part (if I state this correctly) is the architect/developer will foot the entire cost with a budget estimated at $300 million. Federal Way provides only the land. We are a growing and changing global world economy. Federal Way can benefit and grow with this novel way to do things.

The steps (my vision):

1. The next move should be “conceptual drawings” and firming the real budget cost.

2. If everything looks favorable, we should expect “working drawings” within six months.

3. Construction should commence within one year and be completed within two years, on schedule.

4. The city would be well advised to hire a “construction manager” making certain the project is moving forward on a completion schedule without delays.

5. Retail, small business, hotel and condos, tenant improvements, leases and sales must be sufficiently completed to make the project happen successfully.

The concerns:

1. The project rendering design appears to be an extreme and complex design. Subjectively, based on the scope of the project (unless scaled down), the cost may run closer to $500 million rather than $300 million.

2. What happens when an accurate cost estimate is completed? Will the “off-shore bankers” be prepared to provide additional funding if needed?

3. The high-rise buildings concept all have angular designs. Elevators, for example, will need special construction methods similar to the pyramid hotel/casino (Luxor) in Las Vegas. The buildings need to meet extreme West Coast earthquake (seismic) national building code standards. All this undoubtedly will be  expensive. Obviously, there will be more concerns, including infrastructure development and cost. Has the architect/developer figured all these costs in his feasibility budget?

4. What happens to our current Commons Mall? Can the city oversee that The Commons does not turn into a wasteland? Can The Commons be brought into a truly viable center again together with the new “downtown?”

Neil Corbin, Federal Way


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