Will $2M city investment spur resurgence in Lakewood? Colonial Plaza opens Saturday

Lakewood’s “Downtown Plan” has hit its first benchmark.

The city will hold a ribbon cutting for the opening of Colonial Plaza, with festivities scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, including kids karaoke, live music, food trucks, family activities, a car show and night market.

“This is the first project completed in our downtown since we adopted our Downtown Plan in 2018,” said Brynn Grimley, communications manager for the city. “Ultimately, the city sees its investment, roughly $2 million of combined city and state funds, as a catalyst to spur private investment in this area.”

The plan calls for a centralized area with parks, restaurants, shops and housing including the Colonial district, the Towne Center district and the East Commercial district around Bridgeport Way.

The Lakewood Historical Society already has moved its museum to the former Terrace Restaurant and front lobby of the Lakewood Theatre, according to Grimley.

The Colonial Center originally was built in the late 1930s and was the first of its kind west of the Mississippi River. A second section of the center was built across Motor Avenue in the 1950s.

The latest redevelopment has created a “festival street” along Motor Avenue between Whitman Avenue and Gravelly Lake Drive. The redesigned Motor Avenue street corridor still allows traffic to pass between Whitman Avenue and the intersection of Gravelly Lake Drive, but now offers more pedestrian amenities, hence a new “plaza.”

Motor Avenue reopened to vehicle traffic in mid-August.

More might be ahead.

Emmert Lakewood Center LLC of Oregon purchased the building that was the former home of QFC for $2.5 million. The sale closed in early September.

As for new tenants for the properties of the Colonial Center, no formal plans have been received, according to Becky Newton, economic development manager for the city, via email.

Newton added that the city had seen a “significant uptick in inquiries from business owners/developers interested ... as a result of the Colonial Plaza redevelopment.”

Those inquiries have included people looking to open a wine tasting room, tap room, restaurant and boutique retail,” Newton said. “We are working hard to facilitate new private development in this area to see our vision for the Colonial Plaza realized.”

There are a total of 19 projects confirmed within the entire Lakewood Downtown Plan, according to Newton.

“Dutch Brothers’ new store on Gravelly Lake Drive is nearly complete and they just razed the property on Steilacoom Boulevard for their second Lakewood location,” she said.

As for Lakewood Towne Center, it now has a newly opened ULTA, with a Jamba Juice to open soon, “and BBQ Pete’s is moving forward on the end cap across from Wingstop,” Newton noted.