Lakewood, Washington

Rich in history and opportunity


American Lake Oct 2017

Diverse in culture, strong in leadership and rich in history, Lakewood, Washington is a community beaming with nature and abundant opportunity. Lakewood truly is and up-and-coming hidden gem in the Puget Sound region of Washington state, with target areas for development and significant investment opportunity.
Adjacent to major transportation networks with close connections to Seattle to the north, the ports of Tacoma and Seattle and military installations, Lakewood is the second-largest city in Pierce County. Incorporated in 1996, Lakewood is home to 60,000 residents and 5,000 businesses and is the host community to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the largest joint military base on the West Coast and one of the largest in the United States. The city is 19 square miles with 2 miles of beautiful lakes and 14 parks.

International District

Lakewood has a thriving International District that is predominantly Korean, yet boasts multiple cultures. Visitors come from outside the state to attend our annual International Festival and film festival, to shop at our one-of-a-kind markets and enjoy authentic cuisine from around the world.

Building a downtown

Lakewood does not have a true downtown, but the city recently completed a Downtown Subarea Plan with the goal to create a rich, urban central gathering place with civic amenities, walkable streets and a mix of uses including housing, entertainment, restaurants and retail. The new Downtown will include a central park, green street loop, and festival street to host outdoor farmers markets, concerts and serve as a backdrop to café patios and other specialty shops.

Woodbrook Business Park

Currently under development is a 160-acre industrial business park. A 467,000-square-foot spec building was permitted and built last year and is already fully leased. Another 1.2 million square feet are planned. The park will meet the high demand for industrial space in our region. Woodbrook, like the rest of the city, is included in foreign trade zone No. 86 which allows for free trade within the zone – one of the many incentives for locating to the area.
Lakewood industrial lands total 800 acres, including the Lakewood Industrial Park (LIP) with 150 acres and 2.5 Million square feet of leasable space. LIP employs more than 1,600 people and is the fourth largest for-profit employer in Pierce County.

Thornewood 2017

Living in Lakewood

Whether you are looking for affordable, or high-end lakeside living, there is a home for everyone in Lakewood. Our mature neighborhoods are filled with native Douglas fir and oak trees, offering beautiful and quiet settings that make you feel like you’re away from it all. Yet, shopping, entertainment and restaurants are only minutes – or walking distance – away. A favorite Lakewood destination for locals and visitors alike is Fort Steilacoom Park with its hiking trails, award-winning dog park, ball fields, historic barns and our new Pavilion in the Park, an outdoor amphitheater. The park is home to many great events including our annual Lakewood SummerFEST which drew 42,000 visitors in 2018. The city hosts numerous, family-friendly events at Fort Steilacoom, including our fall Truck and Tractor Day and our summer concert series at the pavilion. In 2019 we look forward to hosting the US Cyclocross National Championships, which is expected to draw up to 10,000 spectators and competitors from around the country. And of course, water sports on the lakes and fishing are also regional draws.

Incentives and Opportunities

Lakewood was recently granted three Opportunity Zones, a federal government designation to entice long-term investment in depressed areas. Want to build multifamily projects? There are parts of the city that offer a multifamily tax exemption for eight or 12 years, depending on the project scope. HUB Zone, New Market Tax Credit areas, and EB5-eligible areas are all available in Lakewood. Land prices are relatively low compared to neighboring cities, and while Lakewood is essentially built out, there are still tracts available and multiple areas ripe for redevelopment.

Rich in History

Before Lakewood was Lakewood, locals knew it as “The Prairie” because of its vast open fields. Steilacoom and Nisqually Indians used the prairie as a ready source of food and held gatherings before white hunters, trappers and settlers moved in. Located midway between the Columbia River and the city of Vancouver, B.C., this prairie land was chosen by the British in 1833 as the site of Fort Nisqually, one of the fur trading post operated by the Hudson's Bay Company.
Settlers soon set up farming in the area. One of these farms, now the site of state-owned Western State Hospital, was leased by the U.S. Army in 1849 to serve as a military post following an Indian attack on Fort Nisqually. The new fort, called Fort Steilacoom, was used to quell Indian uprisings.

Many Army lieutenants and captains who made names for themselves during the Civil War came to Fort Steilacoom, including Gen. George B. McClellan, Confederate Gen. George E. Pickett, Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan and Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who later became President.

During the late 1800's homes and roads took over the prairie. Indians and settlers were learning to live together, sometimes holding joint celebrations in the summertime on the natural picnic grounds of The Prairie. Contests of horseback riding often accompanied a traditional Native American salmon bake.

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Stately homes were built along the shorelines of the lakes, the most impressive being Thornewood Castle on American Lake. Now renovated into a spectacular bed and breakfast and event venue, the mansion was once considered one of the most beautiful estates and gardens in the nation. Another site dating to Lakewood’s early days is Lakewold Gardens and the Wagner Home located on Gravelly Lake. The home and surrounding gardens are a national attraction that are open for tours and events.

In its early days Lakewood was known as a weekend destination for Seattle elite. The Tacoma Country and Golf Club was built in 1894 to further attract the rich and famous. At the time, the club was the first golf club built west of the Mississippi. It featured trolley transportation from neighboring city of Tacoma to Lakewood.

In the early 1900's, the famed Tacoma Speedway was built. The mile-long wooden track circled the open prairie and drew racing greats, such as Barney Oldfield, Louis Chevrolet and Eddie Rickenbacker.

By 1923 the Oakes Pavilion on Lake Steilacoom opened offering more public amenities like boating, bathing and picnic grounds. In 1917 the military built Camp Lewis on land donated to the federal government by Pierce County. McChord Field, now part of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, was developed from the old County Air Field in 1938. In later years Camp Lewis and McChord Air Force Base merged to become Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The installation remains a prominent player in the local and state economies today and borders Lakewood to the east and south.

As the area grew, other amenities were added, including a regional hospital and two colleges – Clover Park Technical College which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary and Pierce College which was named in 2018 as one of 10 finalists for the national 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence by the prestigious Aspen Institute.


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