FW City Council approves Town Center 3 agreement

In other council action: Police talk about ‘crime downgrading.’

After many years of planning, negotiation and proposals, the Federal Way City Council voted April 16 to approve the Town Center 3 (TC 3) development agreement with One Trent, a Seattle-based development company.

The city also approved the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) proposal presented at the last session that will allow the city to bank future earnings from increased property tax revenue to fund projects.

“Our next step is to enter into meaningful negotiations with Merlone Geier Partners, the owners of The Commons Mall on 320th, to transform that site into a thriving business community,” Mayor Jim Ferrell said in a press release after the council meeting where the contract was approved.

TC-3 is part of an ambitious plan to transform the city’s informal downtown area — generally agreed to cover the area around South 320th Street that includes the Commons mall, Performing Arts and Event Center (PAEC) and upcoming light rail extension. City leaders seek a mixed-use blend of housing (including townhouses), commerce, event space and public space.

Crime categorization

During public comment, Anna Patrick referred briefly to a concern about “crime downgrading.” Mayor Ferrell paused the public comment period to request that the Federal Way Police Department respond.

Chief Andy Hwang is currently out of the country due to a death in the family, as Mayor Ferrell shared during the council meeting, so officer Kyle Sumpter responded instead. The mayor asked Sumpter to respond to “wild accusations on social media” about “how we classified certain things” and an incident “over at Steel Lake Park and how that how that played out.”

Sumpter responded to the recent social media posts as well as emails the FWPD has been sent over time referencing over 100 cases total that individuals allege include inappropriate downgrades to less serious crimes than were initially reported.

Sumpter explained that crime statistics change as evidence emerges or as the situation evolves. Through several examples, he explained that for the FWPD, “the philosophy we start with is: what’s the highest provable crime based on the evidence we have now?”

As just one example, he mentioned a situation where someone finds their car window has been broken into overnight. While they could initially conclude that this was an attempted car theft, further investigation could turn up security footage showing that an angry ex broke the window and immediately drove off with no attempt to take the vehicle.

In a more tragic example, Sumpter explained than in the case of a recent shooting on Southwest Campus Drive near IHOP, the initial call was for an aggravated assault.

“Within a few days the child very sadly passed away and so the crime coding changed to a homicide,” he said.

Sumpter extended an invitation to anyone who is concerned about how crimes are being categorized in Federal Way to “come and see us, come and meet with me and our expert on statistics,” and “we’ll go through some cases and we’ll show you exactly why we coded the way we did, and if you catch us in a mistake and we look at it and upon examination we agree that we made a mistake, we will change it.”

Sumpter also shared further details about an incident that occurred over the weekend at Steel Lake Park involving a weapon. As Sumpter explained it, the issue was that several parkgoers became involved in a disagreement, leading one individual to bring his assault rifle out of his vehicle and brandish it.

When police arrived, there were no victims or a suspect anywhere in the vicinity. They did speak to several witnesses who shared details of the incident. Sumpter explained that there was an error in the original coding and report that was processed through their automatic system, but as soon as the officer returned to work the next day and completed his report, those details were corrected, and a more full picture of the incident was entered into the record.

Resources for seniors

David Schmidt, recreation coordinator for the city, gave an update about senior program offerings at the Federal Way Community Center. Introducing him, parks director John Hutton said that he has worked there for 20 years and that the community center has “tremendous programs,” and that “despite being award winning and considered among the best in the region, sometimes people don’t know” about them.

Schmidt said that while they started with just a handful of programs two decades ago, they now have 50-plus programs actively running at the center and coordinate over 100 trips a year. He also spoke on the popularity of their current offerings, which bring 500 seniors on average each day into the community center.

Black Wellness Week

Councilmember Lydia Assefa-Dawson presented a proclamation designating April 15-19 as Black Wellness Week in the City of Federal Way. Keith Blocker, CEO of Momentum Professional Strategy Partners, accepted the proclamation with his wife and co-founder of Elevate Black Wellness, Christina Blocker.

Federal Way is the ninth city in Washington to proclaim the week. Mrs. Blocker shared that “when we improve things for our most impacted communities, we’re really improving things for all our communities.”

The proclamation stated that “Black Wellness Week reminds us that health is the building block on which everything — including political rights and economic self-sufficiency — rest.”

Terrance Hamilton, business analyst with Momentum Professional Strategy Partners, added: “It’s powerful and it’s encouraging,” to have this proclamation be made and that “this means a lot to me and it means a lot to our community.”


Economic Development Director Tanja Carter presented two grants to request authorization to apply. Both were moved forward by the council. The first was the Port of Seattle Economic Development Grant. Money from this grant will be used for outreach and surveys, tourism and marketing materials for businesses in Federal Way. The second grant is an opportunity to take advantage of federal dollars available through the Department of Energy. This grant is called the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Grant and would go toward an innovative collaboration with the Pacific Raceways to create a workforce development pipeline and support the expansion of their work on clean and sustainable energy alternatives.