Thursday, August 03, 2006

Needed: One Vision for Downtown Housing

Downtown Tacoma languished for decades; despite widespread public support and massive investment of public dollars, revitalization eluded community efforts. In the mid-1990s, a common vision was iterated that established new private investment as the benchmark for success, sparking the upwards tide that has carried us to today's renaissance. That's the power of a common vision.

It's what we lack today for urban housing, despite the boom that drives development of condos and apartments all over the city center. As blogger Derek Young asks in this week's edition of The Business Examiner, "Do we know where we want to go? Do we know how to get there? Would we even know if we had lost our way?"...

The BIA needs to be renewed again in 2008 if it is to continue. As its leaders contemplate the path to that goal, they want to include the broader downtown community in dialog over where the city center is going, what services will need to be in place to support continued growth, and what share of the common burden ought to be borne by property owners through the assessment vehicle. During the next few months, the BIA will sponsor a series of themed events and activities to help define downtown’s next decade of progress and the steps needed to get there, leading to the development of a strategic plan.

Downtown continues to boom with new housing units; the BIA will initiate discussion on how to continue that growth and what role the district should play in supporting its continuation.

1 comment:

  1. a common vision was iterated that established new private investment as the benchmark for success,

    The only problem is that "private investment" is not an output benefit which will necessarily benefit downtown or any of it's residents.

    Private investment, though likely necessary, is an input quantity that may or may not help downtown.

    A measure of success for downtown (output measures) are things such as:

    1) Low crime rate

    2) High perceived enjoyment of downtown.

    3) Low retail vacancy rate.

    4) Visually pleasing downtown with low blight factor (broken windows graffiti)

    5) High level of perceived safety of downtown for everyone.

    6) High use of downtown by city residents.

    7) Good paying jobs downtown.

    8) Enriching art and other programs of numerous variety downtown.

    9) High use of downtown by visitors.

    These are just some of the "benchmarks" that can be measured for success.

    As an example, Pacific Avenue between 8th and 11th street has a retail vacancy rate of around 30 percent.

    Reducing the vacancy rate to 15 percent over the next couple of years would be an objective measure of success.

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