Lakewood fun center planned for site next to Gissberg Park
August 28, 2008 · Updated 9:49 AM
TUKWILA The newest piece of the Lakewood puzzle looks to be a be a lot of fun, at least thats what Scott Huish hopes.
The Huish family owns a Family Fun Center in Tukwila and plans to break ground on a similar center just south of Gissberg Twin Lakes Park near the new Costco and Target stores. The 17-acre plot owned by the Huish family will also feature 120,000-square-feet of retail space at the intersection of Twin Lakes Avenue and 156th Street NE.
A main structure of 63,000-square-feet will house the inside attractions like arcade games, rides and laser tag, while an outdoor go-cart track will sit next to a miniature golf course and a pool for bumper boats. The building will be 50 feet tall and sit right next to Twin Lakes Avenue by the southbound freeway lanes.
The Huish family runs another similar park in Wilsonville, Ore. and owns a hotel next to their Tukwila property. That location at the intersection of I-5 and I-405 attracts about half-a-million visitors annually; Huish anticipates the Lakewood facility will draw 300,000 visitors at first. Groundbreaking is set for this fall with completion of the fun center nine or 10 months later. Four more retail buildings will come on-line later, and the combined properties will have 599 parking spots. The fun center is the crux of the business plan and marquee attraction. According to the owner its much more than just an arcade.
We are not a kiddie park, Huish exclaimed during a tour of his Tukwila property.
Upstairs a team of executives from T-Mobile were conducting a team-building exercise in the 1,200-square-foot meeting room. Companies like Oh, Boy Oberto, Pepsi and Discount Tires meet there all the time, according to Huish.
We get teams of accountants and lawyers up here, Huish explained.
The Tukwila store is 36,000-square-feet but has many large outdoor attractions such as a huge swing that catapults riders up and down, reaching 4 Gs, and a row of batting cages and other attractions that wont be duplicated at Lakewood. Inside a two-story warren of video consoles, arcades, rides and carnival games holds sway under a glittering sky of neon and bright paint. The family originally planned on a location at Quil Ceda Village on the Tulalip Reservation but bought the Lakewood land in 2003. The Tukwila center was built eight years ago.
It will be considerably bigger than this, Huish said. Well be doing more indoor than outdoor.
The fun centers draw patrons from a 50-mile radius with perks like two extravagant miniature golf courses set up with elaborate displays, obstacles and challenges, with brightly colored synthetic putting greens surrounded by waterfalls, miniature old west towns and other distractions. The fairways are lined with real grass and landscaping, although Huish winces when he sees the damage to the real flowers lining one of the golf course holes.
Darn rabbits, he smiles.
Nearby bumper boats line a pool next to a monster swing. The place is immaculate inside and out, and general manager Rich Yee nodded at the brightly painted interior that could be part of Willie Wonkas factory.
Most people think we are brand new, Yee said. The Huishes dont hold back on making the customer experience the best it can be.
Yee pointed to a prize redemption center next to the Bullwinkle Restaurant. More than 65 percent of the attractions yield prize redemption tokens or points, and the operation won two industry awards for the way they display and hand out goodies, which range from trinkets to remote controlled cars, boom boxes and electric guitars.
We want the guest to get something to take home, Yee explained enthusiastically. As he points out different games in the warren of fun with his wide grin, its hard to imagine he has been in the industry for three decades. Yee said that having employees with a good attitude for fun is essential and one thing the Huish team focuses on in weekly critiques.
If they dont have a good experience they dont come back, Huish added.
Staff at the Tukwila center number up to 160 to 180, but the Lakewood operation should employ 120 locals, mostly high school and college students working part-time. About 40 positions will be full-time, but the park operates year round, and since most of the 14 major attractions are indoors, the weather doesnt effect the crowds that much. Yee notes that it rains in the northwest and people still play golf, soccer and other sports.