Federal Way
The Commons at Federal Way shopping center, pictured in 2016
The Commons at Federal Way shopping center, pictured in 2016
"It's all within reach",
"Centered on opportunity"
Location in Washington
Location in Washington
Coordinates: 47°18′54″N 122°20′24″W / 47.31500°N 122.34000°W / 47.31500; -122.34000
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedFebruary 28, 1990
 • TypeMayor–council
 • MayorJim Ferrell
 • Deputy mayorSusan Honda
 • Total23.70 sq mi (61.39 km2)
 • Land22.30 sq mi (57.74 km2)
 • Water1.41 sq mi (3.64 km2)
Elevation463 ft (141 m)
 • Total101,030
 • Estimate 
 • RankUS: 340th
WA: 10th
 • Density4,300/sq mi (1,600/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
98001, 98003, 98023, 98063, 98093
Area code253
FIPS code53-23515
GNIS feature ID1534582[2]

Federal Way is a city in King County, Washington, United States and part of the Seattle metropolitan area. One of the most recently incorporated cities in the county,[5] its population was 101,030 at the 2020 census.[3] Federal Way is the 10th most populous city in Washington and the 5th most populous in King County.


Originally a logging settlement, the area was first called "Federal Way" in 1929 to refer to a school district.[6] The name derived from U.S. Route 99 (now State Route 99 or Pacific Highway South), a federally-designated highway which ran through the state and connected Seattle to Tacoma.[6][7] Five existing schools consolidated operations into School District No. 210 in 1929 and planned construction of Federal Way High School, which opened in 1930 and gave its name to the school district.[8] The local chamber of commerce adopted the name in the early 1950s.[5]

Attempts to incorporate the city were voted down in 1971, 1981 and 1985.[9] The voters eventually approved incorporation as a city on February 28, 1990;[5] the official act of incorporation was held at the Sportsworld Lanes bowling complex.[9]

Growth since incorporation

As part of the Washington State Growth Management Act of 1990 (GMA), Federal Way has identified areas of unincorporated King County as Potential Annexation Areas (PAAs) to be annexed to the city. Federal Way's current PAAs include the Star Lake and Camelot neighborhoods in Lakeland North and the neighborhoods of Parkland, Lakeland, and Jovita in Lakeland South. All of these neighborhoods are located east of the city proper. In 2004, the city annexed the Northlake, East Redondo, and Parkway neighborhoods, adding over 2,700 people and nearly 1 square mile (2.6 km2) of area. While Federal Way had previously considered Auburn's West Hill, Auburn annexed that along with Lea Hill in 2007.

In February 2007, the city announced formal plans to annex the majority of unincorporated land on its east border as one PAA named East Federal Way, comprising the Star Lake, Camelot, Lakeland, and Jovita neighborhoods,[10][11] and a strip of Peasley Canyon Road connecting the two areas. Annexation of the area would add 20,000 people and nearly 7 square miles (18.1 km2) to the city, creating the sixth largest city in Washington by population, at over 106,000 residents and nearly 29 square miles (75 km2).[12]

On August 21, 2007, residents of the proposed East Federal Way annexation area rejected annexation to Federal Way by a 66% to 34% margin.[13] Opponents of the plan, favoring remaining under direct King County government, asserted fears that increased density and higher taxes would result from annexation despite proponents showing studies that taxes and fees would be unchanged.[14]

In 2011, opponents of annexation petitioned King County to designate this same area as a township, an undefined municipal structure that does not currently exist anywhere else in the state but which the state constitution provides for. Under the plan, township status would prevent the annexation of the area, which would be named Peasley Canyon Township.[15] The King County Council declined to act on the proposal, and the county elections board denied the group a ballot item.[16]


Federal Way is located in the southwest corner of King County at 47°18′47″N 122°20′21″W / 47.31306°N 122.33917°W / 47.31306; -122.33917 (47.312960, −122.339173).[17]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.46 sq mi (58.17 km2), of which 22.26 sq mi (57.65 km2) are land and 0.20 sq mi (0.52 km2) are water.[18]

The city is home to several lakes, including Steel Lake and Lake Killarney.

Major city and state parks

The beach at Dash Point State Park in western Federal Way


This region experiences warm (but not hot) and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Federal Way has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.[23]

Economy and attractions

The former Weyerhaeuser headquarters

Until 2014, Federal Way was home to Weyerhaeuser, the largest private owner of softwood timberland in the world. Weyerhaeuser had opened much of its land in Federal Way to the public, including two botanical gardens: the Rhododendron Species Foundation and Botanical Garden, and the Pacific Bonsai Museum. In 2014, the company announced it would vacate its Federal Way headquarters. City leaders suggested promoting the location for a potential community college campus. Federal Way is also home to the US headquarters of World Vision International.

Other attractions in the city include the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, which features an Olympic-size swimming pool which has been used for the 1990 Goodwill Games and 2012 US Olympic Swim & Dive Trials. Celebration Park includes sports fields, a playground, and wooded trails. The city has also developed many lakefront and neighborhood parks, playgrounds, and trails.

The 40-acre (16 ha) PowellsWood Garden, known for its outstanding structural plantings and perennial borders, is located off South Dash Point Road. This land, on a portion of the Cold Creek ravine, was purchased by Monte and Diane Powell in 1993 in order to preserve green space in an increasingly urbanized area.

Wild Waves Theme & Water Park, the largest amusement park in the region, opened in 1977 on the south side of the city. It is the Seattle area's only permanent amusement park. Six Flags purchased Wild Waves in December 2000. However, after low sales, Six Flags sold the park in April 2007 to Parc Management LLC of Jacksonville, Florida, for $31.75 million.

Federal Way is locally identified by its 1990s semi-urban development, characterized by landscaped off-street multi-structure apartment complexes and shopping centers. The Commons at Federal Way, the city's only indoor shopping mall, is located on South 320th Street and Pacific Highway South (State Route 99) near the city's main Interstate 5 exit.

Largest employers

According to Federal Way's 2022 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the largest employers in Federal Way are:[24]

# Employer # of Employees
1 Federal Way Public Schools 2,349
2 World Vision International 1,712
3 CHI Franciscan Health - St. Francis Hospital 996
4 United States Postal Service 600
5 Washington Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists 500
6 Walmart Supercenter #3794 376
7 Community Integrated Services 364
8 Costco 352
9 City of Federal Way 339
10 Virginia Mason Federal Way Medical Center 325
11 Fred Meyer 303
12 Korean Women's Association 267
13 Walmart Discount Store #2571 228
14 MAKSU Inc. 220
15 The Home Depot 196

Downtown tower projects

In 2007, the city of Federal Way purchased a downtown lot formerly used by a defunct AMC Theatres cinema, and invited proposals from two developers, United Properties and Alpert Capital, to develop a multi-use tower project in the downtown core, adjacent to the recently built transit center. Such a project follows in the steps of similar multi-use developments such as Kent Station in nearby Kent. The city awarded the contract to United Properties' "Symphony" project, comprising four 15–22 story towers, including 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) of retail and office space, 900 housing units, and a large downtown park which would be relinquished to the city. Transfer of the land to United Properties followed by construction of the first tower was scheduled to start in mid-2008.[citation needed] However, in July 2008, United Properties requested a one-year extension on the terms of the purchase agreement, citing difficulties in the credit and housing markets to acquire the necessary funds.[25] In August 2009, United suggested scrapping the Symphony plan and instead building a performing arts center on the property, a proposal the city rejected.[26]

In September 2009 the South Korean development firm Lander Korus joined onto the project with United.[27] Korus proposed adding Asian elements to the building in order to attract investment and interest from the city's influential Korean population and foreign investment. However, by July 2010, after having granted United and Korus five extensions to close on the project, the city transferred the deal to another Korean developer, Twin Development,[28] which had planned a similar project on another lot. The new developer brought a new design, with two 45-story and one 35-story mixed-use towers. As of 2011 the new developers had yet to close on the property, citing financing difficulties, and had received the seventh extension on the land from the city, which expired in March 2011.[29] The developers were banking on the city's recently granted EB-5 visa qualification to encourage foreign investment in exchange for permanent resident status.[30] As of February 1, 2011, this deal was also dead, as the developer had failed to make a required escrow deposit by the end of January.[31]

In 2011 the city renewed its Request for Quotes for the undeveloped site, and received three proposals. The city ultimately chose a proposal by Arcadd known as the "Crystal Palace", a densely packed glass multi-tower structure where some of the towers bend outward near the top under 20 stories with a larger retail and public space pavilion at the base.[32] The developers, however, were unable to obtain the funds by the initial deadline. After extending the deadline eight months to allow Arcadd to obtain the necessary earnest money, and still seeing no progress, the city decided to move on with a different plan.[33] As of May 2013, plans for a downtown park and plaza complex were underway.[34] In 2014, the lot was repaved, leaving the AMC Theatres building foundation in place, but filling inside its perimeter with sod. The lot was rechristened Town Square Park and opened in early 2014. A plan for a more permanent park design on the site is being considered.

To the north of the downtown park, an elevated lot which was formerly the location of a Toys "R" Us store has been purchased by the city, which is slated to host a planned performing arts and civic center (PACC). The PACC proposal has been controversial, largely over funding and self-sustaining concerns (a similar city project, the Federal Way Community Center, opened in 2007 and ran for most of its operational history in the red), but has the support of most city leaders. It opened as the Performing Arts & Event Center (PAEC) in August 2017.[35]

Also in 2014, ahead of Veterans Day, the city introduced a 60-foot (18 m) flagpole on South 320th Street between Pacific Highway South and Pete von Reichbauer Way South.[36] The pole holds a 15 by 25 ft (4.6 by 7.6 m) flag.[37] While intended to be officially raised on Veterans Day, a smaller flag was raised to half mast on the pole in late October, in memory of State Representative Roger Freeman who died October 29 of that year. The portion of South 320th Street from Pacific Highway to Interstate 5 was dual-named "Veterans Way" in honor of veterans.


Historical population
2022 (est.)97,863[4]−3.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[38]
2020 Census[3]

As of 2022, the population estimate for Federal Way, WA was 97,863 people, 36,053 households. The median household income was $72,969.[39] 29.7% persons age 25 years and over had a bachelor's degree or higher.

2020 census

As of the 2020 census, there were 101,030 people, 36,005 households in the city.

Federal Way, Washington – Racial and ethnic composition
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity (NH = Non-Hispanic) Pop 2000[40] Pop 2010[41] Pop 2020[42] % 2000 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 55,050 46,102 38,897 66.12% 51.62% 38.50%
Black or African American alone (NH) 6,439 8,406 14,177 7.73% 9.41% 14.03%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 639 625 582 0.77% 0.70% 0.58%
Asian alone (NH) 10,156 12,521 15,469 12.20% 14.02% 15.31%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 840 2,331 4,031 1.01% 2.61% 3.99%
Other race alone (NH) 168 207 570 0.20% 0.23% 0.56%
Mixed Race or Multi-Racial (NH) 3,701 4,638 7,038 4.45% 5.19% 6.97%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 6,266 14,476 20,266 7.53% 16.21% 20.06%
Total 83,259 89,306 101,030 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, there were 89,306 people, 33,188 households, and 22,026 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,011.9/sq mi (1,549.0/km2). There were 35,444 housing units at an average density of 1,592.3/sq mi (614.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 57.5% White (51.6% Non-Hispanic White), 9.7% African American, 0.9% Native American, 14.2% Asian, 2.7% Pacific Islander, 8.3% from other races, and 6.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.2% of the population.

There were 33,188 households, of which 35.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.6% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.24.

The median age in the city was 34.9 years. 25.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.7% were from 25 to 44; 26.1% were from 45 to 64; and 10.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.0% male and 51.0% female. Federal Way has a large Korean American population at more than 5.5%, or 4,978 in the 2013 estimates.

In the city the population was spread out, with 28.2% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 33.1% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $49,278, and the median income for a family was $55,833. Males had a median income of $41,504 versus $30,448 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,451. About 6.9% of families and 9.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.5% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.


Federal Way has mayor–council form of government with a seven-member city council whose members are elected at-large to staggered four-year terms.[43] The city initially had a council–manager government with an appointed city manager, but changed to the mayor–council system after a referendum in November 2009.[44] Former councilmember Jim Ferrell was elected as mayor in 2013 and re-elected in 2017 and 2021.[45]


One newspaper is published within Federal Way, the Federal Way Mirror.[46] The city receives additional coverage from most major media sources in both Seattle and Tacoma.



The Federal Way Transit Center, pictured in 2017

Federal Way is served by Interstate 5 (I-5) via exits at 348th Street, 320th Street, and 272nd Street; and State Route 99 (SR 99), also known as the Pacific Highway.

The Federal Way Transit Center, located on 23rd Ave S, was opened in 2006 and provides bus services.[47] There is an ongoing project (Federal Way Link Extension) to extend Sound Transit's Link light rail system from Angle Lake station in SeaTac to the Federal Way Transit Center. The final route was approved in 2017 and construction began in 2020. The line is expected to open for service in either 2025 or 2026.[48]

Notable people

Sister cities

Federal Way has the following sister cities:[55]


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