For close to a decade-and-a-half, The Commons at Federal Way (formerly Sea-Tac Mall) has continued to struggle in-spite of numerous efforts by developers and other stakeholders in the South-King County area, to make it a viable avenue for commerce and family entertainment.
It remains an unresolved mystery as to why everything that has been tried, from a comprehensive renovation, to the relocation of the main downtown movie theater inside the mall, has failed to help revive the underlying bottom-line of majority of the businesses that call the Commons home.
For years, the City of Federal Way had been considered a transient community, but over time, it soon became home to a burgeoning middle-class as well as an extremely well-to-do class of families that had gotten tied of the congestion of Seattle and the East-side.
This transition from a transient community to one that was now home to all and sundry, including a well educated immigrant community, soon made Federal Way a complete city, hence the need for a befitting mall to cater to the taste and needs of residents and visitors alike.
The original Sea-Tac Mall opened for business in 1975 and the original developer was Harry Newman of Newman Properties. Noteworthy is also the fact that the very first Cinnabon opened on December 4, 1985 right inside the same Sea-Tac Mall.
While the afore-mentioned stores have managed to remain a mainstay inside the mall, it has consistently been a case of business musical chairs that has seen stores such as Gap and a host of other brands unable to establish a strong foothold, due to the lack of consistent traffic.
Most observers have noted that the problem may lie in the fact that there are at least two other malls (Southcenter Mall in Tukwila and the Supermall in Auburn) within no more than a 10-15 mile radius, thus portending a potential brand/business cannibalization.
While this may be the case, it does not however excuse why residents of Federal Way would prefer to travel to the other two malls, rather than shop primarily at The Commons. Perhaps, a more extensive renovation that focuses on improving the ambiance and aesthetic disposition of the mall, while also providing more convenient parking, would be a much needed step in the right direction.
The City of Federal Way is a progressive and highly regarded American city and it sure deserves a mall that complements its growing global stature.