Here’s what Patrick Doherty, Federal Way’s economic development director and a SeattleScape blogger, says:
Response to the two potential projects has really ranged the full gamut. There have, not surprisingly, been a
Conversely, there have been many folks who are really excited about the prospect of the “big change” that such large-scale, high-rise development would constitute. It’s not only the Chamber-of-Commerce types who have expressed their enthusiasm, but folks right across the spectrum of the city’s residents. There are many longtime residents, especially empty nesters, who love their community and don’t want to leave, but are no longer able to or interested in maintaining a large house. There are also many first-time home buyers who may be scraping together the money to afford a condo and would prefer to live within walking distance of the regional transit center and shopping, entertainment, dining and other destinations. In this way, perhaps they can either forego a car or reduce the need to invest in a new car so they can afford their home.
Projects such as these would be the first modern high-rise residential options in all of South King County, responding to the latent demand for such product in a market area of approximately 700,000 residents.
It is interesting to note, however, that both of these projects have been proposed by Korean-American developers/investors. When asked about the wisdom of constructing new housing in this period of soft home prices and tough financing, I’ve repeated something that uniquely derives from that Korean connection: when it comes to either the investment opportunity or the housing market, these projects transcend the local South King/North Pierce market. With Federal Way’s “regional center” designation, attracting EB5-visa foreign investors, its status as hub of the Puget Sound area’s Korean diaspora, and the direct connection that many local Korean-Americans have with their home country, Korea in essence becomes part of such projects’ market! Or perhaps, the reverse is more appropriate: perhaps Federal Way and these projects become a satellite of the Korean economy.
With an economy that is almost fully out of the recession, with investors in Korea and neighboring Asian countries that have money to burn and are looking for places to invest it, and with investors also very enticed by the notion of securing a “green card” in tandem with their investment, Korea becomes a very viable economic driver in our region and in Federal Way, in particular.
So to summarize, I’d say that the response to these potential projects has been quite enthusiastic on the whole, but we cannot discount that they will represent a substantial change from the environment of today, and that will continue to engender some opposition. Those opinions need to be respected and, in fact, may serve as useful insights into concerns that can be responded to in various ways in the design, construction and/or operation of these new projects.