A Brief History
The Commons at Federal Way Mall, initially named SeaTac Mall, has been a cornerstone of the Federal Way, Washington community since its grand opening on August 14, 1975. Developed by Newman Properties and Ernest Hahn, the mall was not just a retail space but a community hub.
The architecture was designed to pay homage to the Pacific Northwest, featuring wood finishes and Native American artwork. The land has a rich backstory, once a forested, swampy pasture belonging to Mabel Webb Alexander, a homesteader who made Washington her home and died one day before the mall opening at the age of 96.
In 2003, the mall underwent a significant transformation. The mall’s original name, SeaTac Mall, became a source of confusion after SeaTac was established as an independent city. To avoid this confusion and give the mall a fresh identity, it was rebranded as The Commons at Federal Way.
This change was not just cosmetic; it was part of a broader redevelopment program to modernize the mall, attract new tenants, and make it more appealing to a new generation of shoppers. In 2017, the mall was sold to Merlone Geier Partners, a San Francisco-based firm, for $46.5 million.
The Current Landscape
Fast forward to 2023, and The Commons is home to a diverse range of 71 tenants. Traditional retail stores now share space with service-oriented businesses like Barber College and Beauty Nails, reflecting the changing retail landscape.
The mall has successfully replaced its anchor stores. Save By The Day took over the space vacated by Macy’s in 2022, and Amazon Fresh and Burlington (coming soon) are dividing the former Sears location.
Public opinion about the mall is a mixed bag. A review of its Facebook page shows a rating of 3.3 based on 836 reviews. While some appreciate the mall’s efforts to diversify its tenant mix, others miss the old stores that once defined its character. This opinion divergence suggests that the mall is at a crossroads, with a foot in its storied past and an uncertain future.
One of the most enduring features of the mall is its architecture. The wood finishes and Native American artwork adorned the mall at its inception are still present.
These elements offer a unique aesthetic experience that separates the mall from the sterile, cookie-cutter designs of many modern shopping centers. It is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for those visiting the mall since its early days.
Popular Stores and Dining
Among the mall’s popular stores are Amazon Fresh, a grocery store offering a modern shopping experience, and Anime Hub, a specialty store for anime enthusiasts. Bath & Body Works, Beauty Nails, and Champs Sports provide options for those interested in fashion and beauty.
Tech-savvy shoppers frequent Verizon Wireless and Game Stop, while shoes can be found at stores like Zumiez and Famous Footwear.
When it comes to dining, the mall offers many choices. Applebees and Buffalo Wild Wings are famous for casual dining, while Baskin Robbins and Wetzel’s Pretzels offer quick, sweet treats. Birrieria Gourmet and Gyro’s House provides a culinary journey for international flavors.
Cinemark Century Theatres at The Commons at Federal Way offers a modern cinematic experience for moviegoers. With its XD technology, the theater provides an enhanced visual and auditory experience, making each movie more engaging. The theater also offers amenities like Luxury Loungers.
The Economic Impact
The Commons serves as a significant employment hub in Federal Way, Washington. It offers jobs in various sectors, including retail, food services, and maintenance. The mall’s role in the local job market is crucial.
For decades, the mall has been a cornerstone of Federal Way’s economic and social landscape. It has hosted community events, offered space for local businesses, and provided a gathering place for residents.
The Commons: Federal Way’s Retail Pulse
The Commons at Federal Way is a dynamic space adapted to the changing retail landscape. Its rich history and unique architectural features make it a memorable place for many. While it has faced challenges, the mall has also shown resilience by diversifying its tenant mix and modernizing its facilities.
New tenants like Amazon Fresh and Save By The Day indicate a willingness to adapt and meet the needs of today’s consumers. The mall continues to serve as a significant employment hub and a community gathering place, contributing to the local economy and social fabric.
With diverse tenants and ongoing developments, The Commons at Federal Way remains a relevant and valuable asset to the community.
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