In an annual joint meeting held on Monday, April 1, 2024, members of both the Burien City Council and the Business & Economic Development Partnership (BEDP) weighed in on priorities for the city.

With a 10-year horizon, the group discussed what Burien should prioritize in order to increase economic vitality in the community. A draft action plan had previously been created by consultants from EcoNorthwest, who will use input from this discussion to refine the final draft plan.

Economic Development Plan Priorities

It was explained by EcoNorthwest that this 10-year plan aims to uplift Burien’s residents as well as businesses, though it does not directly address concerns related to crime and homelessness. Instead it looks for ways to solidify Burien’s position as an Arts & Tourism destination, leveraging its local culture as well as proximity to the airport. In addition, the plan aims to build upon existing small business assistance programs to support Burien’s diverse business base, encouraging entrepreneurship and helping businesses to scale up. Finally, they want to support the vitality and redevelopment of Burien’s commercial corridors, utilizing strategies to attract investment and build on the distinctive character of different neighborhoods.

Specific Action Items

To bolster economic vitality, EcoNorthwest identified several key action items aimed at fostering growth and enhancing the city’s appeal. Foremost among these objectives is the endeavor to attract hotel development, recognizing the potential for increased tourism and revenue generation. In line with this, enhancing transportation options to and from the airport, such as offering Lyft credits or shuttle services, is identified as a priority to improve accessibility and connectivity. It was also agreed that the establishment of a performing arts or event center is essential to provide a high-quality physical space conducive to community and regional events.

The plan also seeks to alleviate barriers to business by facilitating increased access to childcare, working to provide low-cost retail space, and potentially streamlining regulatory processes. Furthermore, the utilization of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts is proposed as a means to incentivize development, drawing inspiration from successful implementations in other cities like Vancouver, WA. 

Beautification efforts for public areas are also emphasized to create a safe and welcoming environment, including more consistent code enforcement, prompt graffiti removal, and incentivizing utilization of vacant buildings. Additionally, efforts will be directed towards investing in branding and marketing initiatives to elevate Burien’s profile and attract visitors and investors alike. The construction of more sidewalks to enhance curb appeal and promote walkability was proposed as a measure to enhance the city’s infrastructure and pedestrian-friendly environment.

Further ideas put forth by those present include the development of a skateboard park and other youth programs and attractions, enhancing police services to improve public safety, promoting sustainable practices for a livable environment, increasing urban density, and exploring opportunities associated with the 2026 World Cup. In addition, alternate “anchor attractions,” such as an international market or a brewery district, could diversify Burien’s offerings and enhance its appeal. 

Councilmember Hugo Garcia mentioned that King County has already performed a feasibility study on a potential international public market. This would be something like Seattle’s Pike Place Market, which would attract locals and tourists alike. Burien is being considered as one of four potential sites for this market. The city council should be hearing an update on this project this spring.

EcoNorthwest will bring the final draft of the Economic Development Plan to a city council vote during an upcoming council meeting.

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors...

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