The redevelopment of Federal Way’s downtown could be considered the blueprint for creating community.
At the Jan. 18 Federal Way City Council special meeting, city planners are presenting a redevelopment plan, and the council’s approval is needed to confirm the redevelopment vision is headed in the right direction.
The plans explore development possibilities for the city-owned TC-3 property (the former Target location) and re-imagining the 21st Avenue South corridor. Council members previously provided possible ideas for the downtown core, and the city planners created the roadmap for these suggestions.
“We’re at this pivotal place in time where, if we want a vision for how to make Federal Way’s downtown memorable, we have to go now,” said Keith Niven, planning manager for the City of Federal Way.
Town Square Park, Town Center Steps and the Performing Arts & Event Center (PAEC) are the first pillars of the long-term vision.
As Sound Transit’s Federal Way Link Extension takes its full form in Federal Way, the surrounding space must also match the revitalization and placemaking efforts.
The design approach of placemaking “inspires people to collectively re-imagine and re-invent public spaces as the heart of every community,” according to the Project for Public Spaces.
Along 21st Avenue South in Federal Way — which Niven refers to as the “spine of Federal Way” — has the possibility of become a space dedicated for fewer cars and more people.
“If you were wanting to create a signature street downtown, you want one that isn’t full of cars,” Niven said. “21st starts to feel like this place where you could create this spine for downtown.”
A space designated for people would help build cohesiveness between the future light rail station and any possible development next to the PAEC.
Options for the upper level of Federal Way’s TC-3 property could include relocating City Hall, a civic center or civic plaza, a hall for the Federal Way Farmers Market to call home, mixed-used retailing, additional housing and more.
If the concept is approved by the city council, community members will have the opportunity to contribute their ideas for the redevelopment at a later date.
Another priority is making sure Federal Way’s new light rail station is not just a departure point, but a destination as well, said Community Development Director Brian Davis.
Another aspect of the redevelopment is creating a pedestrian-oriented passageway for people to travel across South 320th Street from the future light rail station to the businesses and mall across the road. This project will improve non-motorized mobility within the downtown area.
“The Dip” project suggests lowering South 320th Street for traffic to travel under an at-grade or slightly elevated bridge for an uninterrupted continuation of 21st Avenue South for pedestrians and cyclists.
Interesting infrastructure can help create a sense of place, notifying people they have arrived in Federal Way, Niven said.
An additional $150,000 is needed by council approval in order to complete a feasibility and traffic study for “The Dip.”
With the council’s support, the proposal for the TC-3 redevelopment, study of the road dip, and a policy and code update could be completed in 2022 or early 2023.
A proactive approach to the development plans could allow for real changes to be seen as early as 2027 or 2028, said Chaney Skadsen, associate planner for Federal Way.
“With this concentrated space, it’s building the energy and the activity in a spot,” Skadsen said. “It’s like creating the blueprints for [community].”