Wednesday, December 13, 2006

City Manager Proposes New Downtown Strategy in 2007

Building upon comments he’s made in past weeks to downtown stakeholder groups, Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson yesterday asked City Councilmembers for authorization to begin a new strategic planning effort for downtown after the New Year.

Anderson outlined his expectations for the effort in a presentation to the Council’s Economic Development Committee. He cited pressure from development and the need to better respond to increasing opportunities as the impetus for amending the City’s five-year-old blueprint for the urban center: Destination Downtown. Anderson was quick to clarify that he wants to define better strategies for achieving goals set out in that document rather than starting a whole new downtown plan from scratch.

The City Manager outlined three primary goals for the effort, for which $200,000 has been set aside in the 2007 budget:

  • Protect the City’s residential neighborhoods;
  • Protect critical areas;
  • Densify downtown and other business districts.

Anderson also outlined the steps he foresees in the process of pursuing these three goals:

  1. Define a larger boundary for downtown than that encompassed in Destination Downtown;
  2. Recognize the neighborhoods that comprise the larger downtown area;
  3. Direct development to infill properties that are currently underutilized or vacant (e.g., the Winthrop Hotel and the former Elks’ Temple);
  4. Connect neighborhoods with an enhanced circulation system (elements to include streetcars, a true parking system, and expanded transit services);
  5. Incent development that furthers the three goals.

In the public comment period that followed Anderson’s presentation, the BIA spoke in favor of the effort, which builds upon discussions about improving downtown transportation services that began with the Committee’s trip to Portland earlier this year. The Committee adopted a “do pass” resolution supporting the expanded boundaries and embracing the three goals; this recommendations now moves to a vote of the full Council before year’s end.


  1. Does "protect" include protection from crime and nuisance behaviors?

    What are the tangible elements of this plan?

  2. Nice presentation by Anderson.

    The question is how to give greater incentives to developers to add greater density. Although it is counterintuitive, the city should consider Seattle's approach of reducing and eventually eliminating the parking requirement for developers.
    Presently, downtown Tacoma has a on street vacancy rate of 40 percent even through parking is free. Thus, the parking requirement is an unneeded requirement for developers.