City Spotlight – Federal Way

Prosperity in Western King County

Greater Seattle City Spotlight - Federal Way, Washingotn

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Federal Way has a little bit of everything that makes southern King County excellent. A thriving commercial district, accesible location for businesses, and a quirky history.

Located on the western border of Auburn. The events around the discovery of the are both odd and amusing. Captain George Vancouver landed his exploration party in what was originally thought of as Federal Way.

There was one slight problem with that;

Captain Vancouver never actually landed in what is now Federal Way. Based on his observations of being able to see Mt. Rainier from where he came ashore, he just couldn't have landed on any beach within the city limits.  It is impossible, the mountain was not visible from any of the waterfront in that era. 

He more than likely was on Vashon Island or potentially Mercer Island if his navigator got them particularly lost. 

However, that did not stop future parties of explorers and settlers from following what they thought was the same route. Ultimately, coming ashore in what we consider Federal Way today. Makes you grateful for your phone's GPS right? 

From 1800 onward, the area has consistently populated.  Economic prosperity also increased, particularly in the early 1900's, when the Puget Sound Electric Railway began operation.   Simultaneously the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company purchased over 800,000 acres of land in Washington.

Since then, Federal Way has continued to flourish while maintaining the balance of commercial and residential viability that continues to draw new businesses and families to the area.

Access to Everything, Without Breaking Your Wallet.

Featuring housing that ranges from waterfront villas to affordable commuter apartments, people of all backgrounds call Federal Way home.

The combination of easy access to Seattle, Tacoma, Sea-Tac International Airport, and various local ports makes Federal Way an ideal destination for businesses and residents alike.

Federal Way has also been chosen to receive a Lightrail station as part of Sound Transits SB2 project. This will give commuters yet another way to access Seattle & Tacoma.

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Attractive Business Climate

A business friendly atmosphere is incredibly important to continue the economic appeal and continue luring large companies there.

Federal Way has several of these corporations already, such as:

  • Xerox
  • World Vision
  • ACS

Additionally, with a population of nearly 100,000 the Federal Way School District employs over 2,000 local residents.  There is substantially job opportunity here for future residents.

Those organizations combined employ upwards of 5,000 local residents bringing not only economic stability to Federal Way but an influx of potential consumers for the businesses that support them and their employees.

Notable Locations

Federal Way is home to a unique set of attractions that appeal to tourists, families, and businesses:

Wild Waves is a well known regional Water Park that also plays host to some of the only rollercoasters in the area to operate outside of state fairs. Including, the Timberhawk Ride of Prey wooden coaster which is a loud, terrifying, and wholly worth experiencing ride. Consider that a personal recommendation. 

Fright Fest and Holiday With Lights also take place at Wild Waves during non-open seasons. 

The Pacific Bonsai Museum is a perfect destination to connect with the living art that is Bonsai. Opening in 1989 courtesy of the Weyerhaeuser company to symbolize their dedication to their community and forest resource sustainability, the Museum was gifted to a non-profit named after George Weyerhaeuser himself. 

The museum has over 150 different Bonsai trees from multiple continents. If you want to connect with nature and see the cultural boundaries art can bridge, The Pacific Bonsai Museum is an ideal destination.  

Located on the western tip of Federal Way straddling the line between King & Pierce Counties lies Dash Point State Park. 

With amenities such as: 

  • Miles of biking trails
  • Extensive walking paths
  • Ideal skim-boarding water levels during low tide
  • Varied bird populations
  • 398 acres of campgrounds

The park has something for everyone! 

Every major city needs a mall right? Federal Way is no exception with, The Commons at Federal Way. 

The astounding variety of businesses located in the mall is a major perk to those who live nearby or commuters looking to make one stop for everything. 

Highlight Businesses: 

  • Target
  • Gamestop 
  • Kohls
  • Sears
  • Macy's
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Century Theaters

You can get all your grocery shopping done, buy some gifts, get a haircut, and catch a movie without leaving the building. There's no other mall in the area that can claim that convenience. 

3 Simple Ways to Solve Seattle’s Rental Crisis

3 Simple Ways to Solve Seattle’s Rental Crisis

Seattle’s rental crisis cannot be solved with rental caps. 

Acting as such will only make the situation worse.

Seattle

Real estate is a living market.

Simply demanding that it meet demand is not sufficient.

Instituting Rent Control and calling it a day will not solve Seattle’s rental crisis.

Only when zoning laws, availability, and smart rental regulations work in tandem can Seattle’s rental crisis be dealt with.

Fix restrictive zoning

Seattle “simplified” zoning laws in 2015. Multi-Family zoning now falls into one three categories. LR 1, 2, and 3 respectively. The main difference with regards to the rental crisis is the restrictions on the number of units by overall building square footage.

At best, new construction is only allowed at a single unit per 800 sq ft. With others having a limit of one unit per 1,200 sq ft.!

Unfortunately, this creates an awkward scenario where lack of supply increases demand but developers cannot build to meet all the demand even if it would make financial sense.

Simply put, Seattle must allow for increased density in construction to supply the studio and one-bedroom apartments required to solve the crisis.

The case for Rent Stabilization

If you recall from our first piece, Rent Stabilization is different from Rent Control as it doesn’t set the maximum price units can rent for rather, a maximum rate for yearly rent increases.

This rate is determined by inflation, local residential real estate market, and other economic factors.

In particular, Rent Stabilization has the massive benefit of reducing the financial risk for developers when it comes to building. Property Management companies can buy units doing their profit analysis on the value the units are worth on the open market.

This means the developer does not have to worry about Rent Control making certain building types unattractive for sale post-construction.

Developers can focus on creating supply to meet the demand of would-be renters instead of worrying about if those projects will be able to turn a profit based on Rent Control regulation.

Regulations must be enforced

Solving Seattle’s rental crisis requires smart decision making and a well-constructed plan.

Additionally, regulations must be well thought out, written to have maximum impact, and pragmatic in their wording and execution.

Poorly planned or toothless regulation will be like pouring gasoline on a raging fire.

The last thing Seattle needs is a situation like London or New York are currently in.

Reports of family members pretending a parent is alive when they actually passed away years ago are not uncommon. Hard to blame them when the rent on their parents place was $270 when the market value is over $2,000!

Now what?

The only way to get this crisis solved is to find solutions that make it profitable for developers and landlords to participate.

As well as, ensuring Seattle residents have safe and affordable rentals to call home.

Solving Seattle’s current rental crisis has no single solution. 

Specifically, easing zoning laws, implementing stabilization systems, and smart laws that take the human element and market into account will allow natural change to begin loosening the rental market.

Harmony between supply and demand will help every business in Seattle. When people have more money left in their pockets, businesses have more money in their tills.

Amazon’s Relationship With Seattle, Our Thoughts on What Happens Now.

Amazon’s Relationship With Seattle, Our Thoughts on What Happens Now.

It is no secret, Amazon’s HQ2 will be built somewhere in North America. Ultimately, the Seattle area will not be host to that new headquarters.

In our opinion, we are better off that way.

Labor market drought

Amazon has received over 230 proposals across the country because of its proven result of major job growth to that area. Thus resulting in an economic boom for that small area. However, small businesses will feel the available labor force drought almost immediately. Many industrial areas cannot sustain the personnel demands of Amazon as well as their own local businesses.

Amazon can support substantial wages, offers benefit packages, and stable employment, but generally, there are only a finite amount of people to fill the demands Amazon has.

Furthermore, the response “People will just move to the area,” has an entirely different problem.

The cost to live near Amazon

Take it from those near Seattle, when an area has a massive economic growth period real estate prices will keep pace.

The average cost of a home in Seattle is $730,000 as of writing this. Up 13.2 percent since last year. Well over double the national average of 6.1 percent.

This can create a rather odd situation where Amazon’s own employees cannot afford to live in the city which they work.

As of Mid October, there were three condos available in Seattle under the $500,000 mark, in the entire city.

Our thoughts on the future

Amazon owns 16% of the office real estate space in Seattle. Their distribution centers are massive employment centers across the greater Seattle region. Amazon is a piece of a much larger economic picture in the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle and Amazon’s relationship seems well balanced. Consequently, Amazon hit the market at the correct time and have not saturated it. Amazon’s next step is to seek an area for HQ2 that has the population, real estate availability, and infrastructure to support their continued growth.

Where should Amazon’s HQ2 be located?

A few options that crossed our mind:

Detroit 

Detroit

Detroit was formerly known as one of the manufacturing capitals of the United States.

Additionally, Detroit used to be known as Motor City. Amazon could revitalize that American working spirit under the banner of a 21st-century tech giant.

Amazon would be hard-pressed to find a large urban area with real estate space Amazon could acquire and a city that would openly embrace a new titan of industry like Detroit would.

This city has proven they know how to work. As a result, Amazon’s HQ2 would find staff in an eager to work populace

Pittsburgh 

Amazon is one of the largest employers of recent college graduates in the United States. While Pittsburgh has multiple world-renown colleges nearby.

Pittsburgh has the populace to support Amazon’s HQ2, the city makeup to allow them to grow, and the local institutions to feed into Amazon’s personnel at all levels.

While Pittsburgh may not need the revitalization like other cities, it cannot be denied they are a good fit for HQ2.

Atlanta 

Atlanta

Atlanta is the turn-key fit for Amazon. Atlanta’s a major supply chain hub, tech company friendly, and hosts an international airport.

An international airport would be of particular importance for Amazon employees going between HQ1 in Seattle and HQ2 in Atlanta as well as abroad.

Nice weather and affordable housing combined with a large populace make an attractive proposal for Amazon.