Having a Safeway grocery store isn’t enough for residents of Frederickson.
John Marshall, a 50-year resident of the unincorporated area southeast of Tacoma, said the population there is exploding and commercial development isn’t keeping pace with that growth.
“I can’t buy a pair of socks in Frederickson,” he said, stressing that the area needs to strike a balanced approach to development. “I want to see everybody win.”
The Pierce County Council on Tuesday paved the way for large-scale retail development in Frederickson.
The council voted 4-3 to approve a zoning change to the Frederickson Community Plan that will allow big-box stores up to 175,000-square-feet.
The decision was one of many changes to the county comprehensive plan, all approved in one collective vote at the end of a nearly six-hour meeting during which each individual component was separately deliberated.
Many Frederickson residents, including Marshall, spoke in favor of expanded retail uses.
They pointed to the area’s Safeway at 176th Street East and Canyon Road East as an example of a successful retail operation that has attracted other commercial tenants and provided needed services.
But they want more.
Frederickson is primarily an industrial area, but the number of residents has boomed by more than 225 percent during the last decade. The population grew from 5,758 to 18,719 between the 2000 and 2010 censuses.
Chris Pallis, of Pallis Properties, spoke about his vision for the area. His company was responsible for the Canyon Crossing Shopping Center development, completed in 2008, that includes the Safeway.
He wants to move ahead with a long-awaited Frederickson Town Center project, but said without an “anchor” retailer it won’t come to fruition, he said.
“We will build a high-quality, well-received project,” Pallis said.
Joan Cross, a member of the Frederickson Community Council, said she was impressed with the developer’s approach when the Safeway was built. The shopping center followed the community plan as preferred by the people who live in the community, she said.
“This is the kind of person we want to work with,” Cross said. “They’re local people.”
Others on Tuesday expressed concern that allowing large-scale retail would negatively affect industrial operations and freight mobility.
Denise Dyer, the county’s economic development director, said the 65,000-square-foot Safeway has proven successful. She said expanding retail uses to 175,000 square feet is excessive and would have negative impacts on the industrial area.
Council members Jim McCune, Joyce McDonald, Dan Roach and Doug Richardson favored the proposal, while Connie Ladenburg, Rick Talbert and Derek Young opposed it.
Ladenburg said she’s confused why a “massively large building” is necessary when the moderately sized Safeway has proven so successful.
Young said he doesn’t oppose retail changes in the area, but stressed that it needs to be carefully thought out.
“The community clearly wants retail development on site,” he said. “Our job is to make sure it fits and doesn’t impact the Frederickson industrial center.”
Talbert said the attempt to expand retail there could mirror the “poor planning decisions” that created problems with sprawl along Meridian Avenue East in nearby Puyallup and South Hill.
“It could be the start of the downfall of the investments we’ve already made in (the Frederickson) corridor,” Talbert said.
But McCune said concerns about traffic and negative effects on the industrial sector are overblown.
He pointed to part of the proposal that would require a conditional use permit for any project 75,000 square feet and larger.
“It’s not like they’re just going to go out and build,” McCune said.