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Market Conditions & Business Environment


Positive Transition for Federal Way

A mayor with a vision, supported by seasoned professionals focused on the future is constructively transitioning this previoulsy characterized "tweener suburb" south of Seattle and north of Tacoma along Interstate 5.  The positive transition is underway - in a big way.

Like so many communities across the Evergreen State, the Great Recession had a signficant negative impact on local economies - Federal Way inlcuded.

However, when Federal Way's Mayor, Jim Ferrell came into office in January 2014, he did so with a vision to help define and create a downtown, along with working to diversify and sustain the economy by creating jobs and new investment.

In doing so, he first called for the formation of a "Blue Ribbon" task force to examine the viability of the long envisioned performing arts and conference facility.  This task
force illustrated the need and the demand.  They presented a conservative financial plan to achieve it.  They recommended its location in the central city, an area that
had been severely impacted by the closure of hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail space.

The Mayor and City Council saw even greater opportunities, a vision of creating a "Town Center," the creation of a downtown, a heart of Federal Way by the acquisition of further empty retail space in the central city.

The Town Center is 21 acres comprised of the $32.7 million Performing Arts and Events Center, which broke ground in October 2015 and opened in the summer of 2017.  Also, the City acquired property for a 4 acre park that is adjacent to both the performing arts facility and the City's Transit Center.  Additionally, the City released a Request for Qualifications and Request for Proposal in selecting a "Master Developer for nearly 10 acres of adjacent property to be redeveloped into art studies, galleries, office, retail, housing and a conference hotel adjacent to the Performing Arts and Events Center.  "Combined, the Town Center is estimated to be a $125 to $150 million dollar project.  "This will be the catalyst for an economic renaissance that will tranform the core of the City," said Ferrell.  Coupled with that, is yet further acreage for the purpose of educational space in the attraction of a branch university campus.

However, during this period, the longtime mainstay of the Federal Way economy, the Weyerhaeuser Company announced that it was going to move from its 430 acre corporate campus north to Seattle.  In doing so, the loss of its long time largest employer created what many thought would be a major step back for the vision.  However, the Mayor and Council saw yet another opportunity to continue to transform Federal Way.

To address the issue, the Mayor released an economic development strategy outlining six major goals and 30 objectives to be implemented over the next two years.  One of the major goals is to address the relocation of Weyerhaeuser and its campus redevelopment. Today, city staff is working to create a plan for development that achieves the vision of jobs, diversification and sustainability.

The Economic Strategy illustrates that over a two period 2015-2016, some 10,000 jobs will be created or announced coupled with $350 to $450 million in private investment.  These included the Town Center and acquisition of Weyerhaeuser along with other projects such as the $110 million rebuilding of Federal Way High School and the development of the Seattle Children's Hospital, South Puget Sound clinic.

In January 2016, the City began a Request for Interest, (RFI) for a hotel. The purpose was to ascertain development interest from owners, operators and developers of hotels. The City initiated a direct letter campaign to solicit interest. Twelve firms asked for a Request for Proposal. By the due date for the Request for Proposal, one firm, the Bozeman, Montana -based Cadius Partners, submitted a proposal for the hotel. The City sold the property to investors involved with Cadius Partners, the California-based Ottone Partners in the summer of 2017. It is forecasted that construction of the hotel will provide 75-125 full-time jobs through the design and construction process. It is also estimated the hotel and its amenities may employ from 25 to 45 full time jobs. Estimated cost is from $18 to $21 million.

As a key component of the Town Center project, the public amenity of a “Grand Staircase,” is being formulated. At 85 percent design, the project will go out to bid in early 2018 for construction. The estimated expenditures for the project cost nearly $3.7 million. The costs include design, right-ofway, engineer’s estimate of cost, a ten percent construction contingency and construction management. 

The transformation is in progress, taking this once "tweener" community towards new heights in becoming the "Premier Location for Business in the Puget Sound."

Below, find  a report on the businesses and developments that have occurred in Federal Way since 2015.  This report is updated quarterly

Business and Development Activity Report


  • The Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County - Is a source of economic research and data for Seattle and King County, business resources, professional assistance, and important links. 

  • Federal Way Chamber of Commerce - The chamber offers important information about the community, business environment, local businesses and contacts, meetings and events, educational opportunities, and much more. 

  • Puget Sound Regional Council - Find maps, data and publications, including info on Puget Sound trends in housing, population, income, transportation; a regional profile, and vast informational resources.



Tim Johnson
Economic Development Director


33325 8th Ave. South
Federal Way, WA  98003

Fx: 253.835.2409

Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 5:00 pm