Federal Way is a city in King County, Washington, United States. Federal Way is located between Seattle and Tacoma. Its western boundary is Puget Sound. It is bordered by Des Moines on the north, Kent, unincorporated King County, and Milton on the east and Tacoma and Fife on the south. The population was 89,306 in 2010 Census.
Originally a logging settlement, the area was first called “Federal Way” in 1929, when Federal Way School District #210 was created. The name derived from Federal Highway U.S. 99 (now State Route 99 or Pacific Highway South), completed that decade, which ran through the area on its way from Everett and Seattle to Tacoma. Federal Way High School opened in 1930, and the local Chamber of Commerce adopted the name in the early 1950s. The city was incorporated on February 28, 1990.
Commerce and attractions
Federal Way is home to Weyerhaeuser, the largest private owner of softwood timberland in the world. Weyerhaeuser has opened much of its land to the public, including two botanical gardens: the Rhododendron Species Foundation and Botanical Garden, and the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection. Federal Way is also home to the US office headquarters of World Vision.
Other attractions in the city include the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, which features an Olympic size swimming pool and had been used for the 1990 Goodwill Games, and Celebration Park, with sports fields and wooded trails. The city has also developed many lake front and neighborhood parks and playgrounds.
Wild Waves Theme Park, the largest amusement park in the region, is known as Wild Waves and Enchanted Village. It is located on the south side of the city and is the Seattle area’s only permanent amusement park. Six Flags purchased Wild Waves in December 2000. However after low sales, Six Flags sold the park in April 2007 to Parc Management LLC of Jacksonville, Fl for $31.75 million.
Federal Way is locally identified by its 1990s semi-urban development, characterized by landscaped off-street multi-structure apartment complexes and shopping centers. The Commons at Federal Way (previously Sea Tac Mall), the city’s only indoor shopping center, is located on S 320th St. and Pacific Hwy South (State Route 99) near the city’s main Interstate 5 exit.
Major city and state parks:
Steel Lake Park – located on S 312th St just east of Pacific Hwy S; large lakefront area with picnic areas, playground, and boat launch.
Celebration Park – on 11th Ave S just south of S 324th St; with sports fields and wooded trails, and Independence Day fireworks.
Dash Point State Park – on SW Dast Point Rd at the west end of town; the city’s only developed waterfront park, with hiking trails and campground.
Five Mile Lake – on Military Rd S and S 364th St in the unincorporated area on the east side of town.
West Hylebos Wetlands Park – at S 348th St and 4th Ave S, hiking trails through wetlands.
The BPA Trail extending from the entrance to Celebration Park west to approximately 18th Ave SW, then south to the Pierce County border. The trail is paved and lies under the Bonneville Power Administration transmission line.
Downtown tower projects
In 2007, the city of Federal Way purchased a downtown lot formerly used by a defunct AMC Theatres cinema, and invited proposals from two developers, United Properties and Alpert Capital, to develop a multi-use tower project in the downtown core, adjacent to the recently-built transit center. Such a project follows in the steps of similar multi-use developments such as Kent Station in nearby Kent. The city awarded the contract to United Properties’ “Symphony” project, comprising four 15–22 story towers including 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) of retail and office space, 900 housing units, and a large downtown park which would be relinquished to the city. Transfer of the land to United Properties followed by construction of the first tower was scheduled to start in mid-. However, in July 2008, United Properties’ requested a one-year extension on the terms of the purchase agreement, citing difficulties in the credit and housing markets to acquire the necessary funds. In August 2009, United suggested scrapping the Symphony plan and instead building a performing arts center on the property, a proposal the city rejected.
In September 2009 the South Korean development firm Lander Korus joined onto the project with United. Korus proposed adding Asian elements to the building in order to attract investment and interest from the city’s influential Korean population and foreign investment. However, by July 2010, after having granted United and Korus five extensions to close on the project, the city transferred the deal to another Korean developer, Twin Development, which had planned a similar project on another lot. The new developer brings a new design, with two 45-story and one 35-story mixed-use towers. As of 2011 the new developers have yet to close on the property, citing financing difficulties and have received the seventh extension on the land from the city, which expires in March 2011. The developers are banking on the city’s recently granted EB-5 visa qualification to encourage foreign investment in exchange for permanent resident status. As of February 1, 2011, this deal is also dead, as the developer failed to make a required escrow deposit by the end of January.
In 2011 the city renewed its Request For Quotes for the undeveloped site, and received three proposals. The city ultimately chose a proposal by Arcadd known as the “Crystal Palace”, a densely-packed glass multi-tower structure where some of the towers bend outward near the top under 20 stories with a larger retail and public space pavilion at the base.
The Federal Way City Council consists of seven at-large seats who serve for staggered two-year terms. The city mayor acts as chair of the Council and is elected by the Council from among its members. In November 2009, the citizens of Federal Way approved Proposition 1 Led by City Council Member Jim Ferrell, 52%–48% to change the form of government from a City Manager-Council run government to a strong elected Mayor-Council government. Federal Way voters elected former mayor and state representative Skip Priest as mayor on Nov. 2, 2010.
As part of the Washington State Growth Management Act of 1990 (GMA), Federal Way, along with other Puget Sound suburban cities have identified Potential Annexation Area’s (PAA’s) as areas of unincorporated King County that they feel could best be serviced by them. Federal Way has indicated interest in West Hill (east of the city to the Auburn city limits), Lakeland (south and east of the city to the King/Pierce County border and east to the Auburn city limits), and Star Lake (north and east of the city to the Kent city limits). In 2004, the city annexed the Northlake, East Redondo, and Parkway neighborhoods into the city, adding over 2,700 people and nearly 1 square mile (2.57 km²) of area. Other possible annexation areas include the Jovita and Camelot neighborhoods.
In February 2007, the city announced formal plans to annex the majority of unincorporated land on its east border as one PAA named East Federal Way, comprising the Star Lake, Camelot, Lakeland, and Jovita neighborhoods, and a strip of road connecting them. Annexation of the area would add 20,000 people and nearly 7 sq. mi (18 km²) to the city, creating the 6th largest city in Washington by population, at over 106,000 residents and nearly 29 sq mi (75 km2). (75 km²)
On August 21, 2007, residents of the proposed East Federal Way annexation area rejected annexation to Federal Way by a 66% to 34% margin. Opponents of the plan, favoring remaining under direct King County government, asserted fears that increased density and higher taxes would result from annexation despite proponents showing studies that taxes and fees would be unchanged.
In 2011 a movement was underway to organize the unincorporated area as a township, a municipal structure that does not currently exist anywhere else in the state but which the state constitution provides for. If successful, a township organization would prevent the involuntary annexation of the area.