Monday, December 31, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Purchase of a First Night button provides all-access admission to entertainment spanning seven venues, including:
- Rhythms of Grammy Award winning recording artists in the Pantages Center;
- Antics of Nellie the Performing Pig--who dazzled Leno, Letterman and Oprah--as she takes the stage at the Rialto Theater;
- A scene from "Shakespeare in the Parking Lot" at Sanford & Son;
- The Club SOTA Instrument Petting Zoo;
- An opportunity to help create 1,000 cranes at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center.
The buttons also provide a free visit to the Museum of Glass and the Washington State History Museum between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. First Night button holders will also enjoy 15 percent savings while dining at Ravenous, Varsity Grill, India Mahal and Stadium Bistro. Appetizer specials are offered when showing the button at TwoKoi, El Toro or Galanga Thai, and Hello Cupcake is offering a two for one discount.Buttons may be purchased in advance for $7.00 at Museum of Glass, Leroy Jewelers, Glenna's Clothing and Sanford & Son; on Monday, remaining buttons will be available at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts box office (with the price then at $8.00). Kids ages 7 and under are admitted free to all venues.
The BIA is providing stepped up security patrols and cleaning to help make the evening brighter. The Tacoma Link light rail hours of operation will be extended until 1:00 a.m. Tuesday to accomodate First Night traffic.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Russell’s major leases in Tacoma expire in 2013--a strategic corporate move to consolidate operations. At that time, the company has three options:
- Add on to the current 'A' St. headquarters;
- Build a high-rise office tower elsewhere in Tacoma;
- Build a high-rise office tower or a low-rise corporate campus elsewhere in the Puget Sound region.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Local business leaders are also coming to the table with a new program--Destination Downtown Door-to-Door (DDDD or "D squared"). The program takes its name both from Tacoma’s current urban center plan (“Destination Downtown”) and from a repeated observation by City Manager Eric Anderson (derived from the ongoing series of public forums he has been facilitating around downtown parking and transit issues) that an effective transportation demand program will provide downtown stakeholders with a variety of travel choices “from door to door.”
Between now and May 31, 2009, Destination Downtown Door-to-Door will help eliminate 300 daily commute trips to and from downtown Tacoma. The new program will be coordinated by the Chamber but is a collaborative effort with Pierce Transit, Sound Transit, the City of Tacoma, and individual businesses and property owners. Funding for the program is derived from the Trip Reduction Performance Program (TRPP) of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
Destination Downtown Door-to-Door augment the resources of city government and local/regional transit agencies already dedicated to commute trip reduction with currently unavailable or underutilized resources from the private sector. The new program will add to existing commute trip reduction efforts in these ways:
- Provide incentives and transit subsidies to more downtown employees and residents;
- Build excitement and awareness through new venues such as monthly “Commuter Club” socials and educational meetings;
- Engage “buy in” from business leaders at the highest levels;
- Broaden the appeal of alternatives through use of highly visible promotions and expand marketing efforts to include non-affected employers.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Statewide, CTR programs--mandated for major employers (i.e., those with 100+ at a worksite)--remove approximately 20,000 vehicles from roadways every morning, reduce air pollution by 3,200 tons every year, and save 6.5 million gallons of petroleum annually. More than 1,100 worksites participate in programs. These companies encourage employees to find alternatives to driving alone, such as working from home, using an alternative work schedule, vanpooling, riding the bus, walking or riding a bicycle.
By 2020, Tacoma’s downtown area is expected to add 11,600 jobs (Puget Sound Regional Council estimate). Given current commute patterns, accommodating this growth will require creation of more than 11,000 new parking stalls (at a cost of more than $200 million); increasing transit use by 4% over the same period will save Tacoma more than $9 million.
As the City of Tacoma moves forward on parking & transit recommendations made by the City Manager--as well as the ongoing work of the Transit & Parking Advisory Committee--commute trip reduction efforts are essential to managing demand for parking and increasing mobility. CTR offers other benefits, including:
- Increased ability to strategically address new regulations from the state and federal levels (i.e., new, higher attainment standards for clean air);
- Building stakeholder support for new technologies and funding methods (e.g., pay stations);
- Allowing support for new development without raiding the general fund to build more parking structures;
- Helping to conserve road surfaces, parking spaces and fuel resources;
- Improving competitiveness versus other downtowns in the Northwest;
- Providing a foundation for introduction of new services (e.g., Flexcar);
- Reducing emission of greenhouse gases to help forestall global warming;
- Giving downtown workers the precious gift of more time and a better quality of life.
The City of Tacoma already sponsors a CTR program that includes transit and vanpool subsidies which employers can offer as an employee benefit. Another outgrowth of the City's program has been development of a Growth Transportation Efficiency Center (GTEC) plan for downtown to further reduce solo commute trips. Recently, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) approved $300,000 to fund implementation of the plan, which will focus on University of Washington Tacoma students and faculty, new residential development in the north end of downtown, and smaller clustered employers.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Workers will be installing concrete barriers around the building on Saturday from 7:30 a.m. until completion, which is expected by 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. Traffic will be flagged for short periods of time on 13th between Pacific and Commerce, and then on Pacific Avenue as the blocks are brought out to the street to set them. The crew will also be setting up temporary sidewalk closures, one to direct pedestrians across 13th at Commerce for foot traffic down Pacific, and the other at 14th & Pacific on the west side to direct pedestrians across since the walk will be blocked at 13th.
For more details about the project, contact Rich Barber at (253) 591-5497.
D Town has been an above average generator of calls for service to both police and BIA patrols for the past few years. Owners of the Winthrop Hotel evicted D Town from their property in 2005, after which the store moved across the street to its present location.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The BIA has worked with City staff to generate a number of changes, including:
- Reducing the number of businesses and/or property owners who must grant permission for vendors to operate;
- Simplifying and clarifying design standards for sidewalk vending units;
- Allowing vending from more than one location;
- Allowing vendors more opportunity to "cluster" their units;
- Loosening restrictions on height and prescribed type of vending unit;
- Adding a 30-day notice requirement for removal of permission by abutting property owners;
- Maintaining the $500,000 insurance requirement--most other jurisdictions require $1 million or more.
While those involved in the proposal believe that these changes will make it easier for vendors to operate, they do not constitute any "magic bullet" for sidewalk selling. The insurance requirement still poses a barrier for fledgling vendor, and significant issues still remain with requirements placed on food vendors by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. City officials have asked the BIA to consider service as the master vendor, holding licenses for all sidewalk sellers in downtown.Ultimately, the potential volume of customers on downtown sidewalks will drive the deployment of vendors--"more feet on the street," the focus of so much that the BIA does. The tweaks set out for review today will help lower the cost for those deployments.
Monday, November 26, 2007
First, the Council will hear a presentation on alternatives for routing Sounder service through the Dome District--an issue that's generated plenty of controversy during the past few months.
Later, the Council will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to Title 8 of the Municipal Code that may help control noise. During that same evening meeting, city leaders will consider whether or not to continue the curfew--originally put in place back in 1994--that regulates activities of juveniles from 12:01 to 6:00 a.m.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
The support columns are in place with the bridge deck on top. Half the soil earth walls have been constructed to meet the elevation of the bridge deck and the roadway surface is beginning to be placed on the southern approach from Puyallup Ave. Streetscape improvements have occurred along Puyallup Avenue, including new curbs, utilities, asphalt, sidewalks and trees. MidMountain Contractors, Inc. is currently creating traffic barriers for the overpass in the shape of tugboats to pay homage to the Thea Foss Waterway. Three overlooks will also be constructed to include interpretive panels that describe the history, geography and cultural richness of this area.
For the remaining months of this project, the contractor will work to open the first half of the overpass, two lanes of traffic going north and south, by the end of December or January. Once that has occurred, the contractor will begin final construction of the second half of the overpass, two more lanes, leading to completion.
Once completed, the $24.5 million project will separate train and motor vehicle traffic by raising the roadway over the railroad tracks. The overpass will provide for realignment of the railroad tracks to ease the curve around the end of the Thea Foss Waterway—allowing train traffic to move at a higher speed. Vehicle traffic, which includes trucks carrying freight, no longer will need to wait for the trains that presently close off 'D' St. to traffic. The project also will create a pedestrian connection between the Dome District and the Thea Foss Waterway esplanade and parks.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
- Crossing Pacific Avenue on an overpass, displacing six businesses, lowering Pacific and several lesser streets;
- Crossing Pacific at street level, displacing seven businesses, and raise Pacific and several other streets.
Both options would involve closing part of 'A' St. between 25th and 26th.
Timing is not the only factor at risk. Track and signal work on the Tacoma Dome to Lakewood extension originally was estimated to cost $148 million; however, because of the debate over the route and construction delays, the cost is expected to rise $65 million to $75 million.
Those opposing the recommended options believe that an extenuated public process will bring out better ideas for what will be a "once in our lifetimes" decision.
Sound Transit will hold an open house Thursday to answer questions about the Sounder route and other proposed service changes. The open house will run from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Phoenix Room at Freighthouse Square (440 E. 26th St.).
Monday, November 12, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
The Transit & Parking Committee organized by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber has released the latest version of its white paper offering stakeholder suggestions on how to improve transportation services downtown. This report augments the recommendations made last week by City Manager Eric Anderson.
The Committee is also working with the Chamber to launch a new program: Destination Downtown Door-to-Door. This program will build momentum—augmenting current CTR programs that already promote use of excellent local and regional transit services—to promote awareness and utilization of commute options. A long-term goal for this project is to establish the organizational foundation for a sustainable transportation management program serving downtown Tacoma’s various stakeholders, envisioned as a cooperative effort between the Chamber, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit, the City of Tacoma, and individual businesses and property owners.One key commute option for downtown employees, residents and visitors--and one that has enjoyed record-breaking success since its deployment--is the Link. One of Link's weaknesses, however, is that it has stopped running by 8:00 p.m., making it a poor choice for students (classes generally run until 9:00) or for patrons of restaurants, bars and/or cultural centers.
Until now, that is. Earlier this week, Sound Transit announced that it is looking to expand the light rail system's hours until 10:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Public comment is needed to secure this service change.
Friday, November 02, 2007
A rumor has begun making the rounds that merchants and others downtown should close for the day and board up windows--this is decidedly not the case. What is recommended by Tacoma Police and other security professionals is for stakeholders to be especially aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious happenings to Tacoma Police at (253) 798-4721 or the BIA at (253) 383-1131. Stakeholders should also report any suspicious items that may be laying around--such as lumber, pipes (especially pipes with bolts inside), chains, or weapons; protest preparation may be hidden downtown up to a week in advance of the scheduled activities.
TPD specifically asks that loose items such as sandwich boards, signs, tables and chairs, be put away during Friday and Saturday to alleviate any opportunity for destruction.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The Transit & Parking Committee has reworked its stakeholder recommendations, and the most important findings are as follows:
- As downtown Tacoma continues to grow and increase in development density, the City needs to maximize the effective deployment of transit services and other commute options, and to maximize coordination between transit services and parking operations;
- An effective downtown transportation plan should be developed that considers pedestrian, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, bus, rail, Flexcar and parking as coordinated elements of a strategic transportation system;
- Consistent, robust communication with stakeholders—the users of transit and parking services downtown, as well as equally strong communication between agencies and between City departments—will be critical to successful implementation of such policies; the City, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and downtown stakeholders should institute a Downtown Transit & Parking Panel to foster regular communication and facilitate collaborative decision-making among parking facilities managers, parking enforcement personnel, commute trip reduction specialists, transit providers, security professionals and a broad representation of stakeholders;
- By 2020, Tacoma’s downtown area is projected to add 11,600 jobs (an estimate from the Puget Sound Regional Council); at the current level (roughly 5%) of transit use, accommodating this growth will require creation of 11,020 new parking stalls--by way of comparison, this is nearly five times the number of spaces currently existing at Tacoma Dome Station--but increasing transit use by just 4% over the same period would save the community more than $9 million.
City Manager Eric Anderson presented his final set of recommendations regarding future parking and transit needs, including:
- Streetcars designed to share the streets with cars and bikes and buses, unlike Sound Transit's Link, which is separated from other vehicles;
- A citywide system of dedicated paths for bicycles and pedestrians;
- Pay stations levying “market rate” charges to park on the street, with prices varying based on the section of downtown and the time of day;
- More parking garages spread around the fringes of downtown rather than taking up valuable real estate in the city’s core;
- Parking revenues directed into a separate enterprise fund, rather than the city's general fund;
- Elimination of city-mandated parking requirements--or at least a cap on the number of parking spaces required.
Anderson’s report lacked specifics about funding, timing and other details. If the City Council approves of the broad outline, he recommended forming an advisory committee to figure out how to implement the ideas. It could be nine months to a year before anything final comes to the City Council for approval.Following the transit and parking report, Anderson laid out the costs to Tacoma of cutting off the access between downtown and the Tideflats via the decaying Murray Morgan Bridge--and he made it clear that he expects the state to pay for them.
It used to take a police cruiser five minutes to get from downtown Tacoma to the Tideflats; since the emergency closure of the bridge last week, the length of that journey has increased by seven minutes and by more than three miles. The city has added one fire engine and an extra police officer to limit the bridge closure’s effect on emergency response times, but the extra units will cost the city about $190,000 a month in overtime pay and equipment costs.Residents and property owners on both sides of a controversial proposal to raise the allowed building height along a portion of the Thea Foss Waterway testified later in the day before the City Council. The proposal would allow a tall, skinny approach dubbed a “tower/podium” building form. Approved by the Tacoma Planning Commission following a lengthy public process, the proposal would allow only one tower in a project to be 180 feet tall; additional towers would get progressively shorter by 20 feet. It also would require an average 100 feet of space between towers to preserve view corridors.
The council is scheduled to hear a first reading of a proposed ordinance November 13th and could finalize action on November 27th.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
- City Manager Eric Anderson will offer his final recommendations regarding downtown parking and transit at the weekly Study Session today, beginning at 12 Noon; that meeting is also scheduled to include an update from the police and fire departments regarding the impact of the closure of the Murray Morgan Bridge on emergency response times;
- Tonight's City Council meeting will include a public hearing regarding height limits for new construction on the Thea Foss Waterway--the first test of the Council's intent to pursue their policy decision last year to densify downtown; that portion of the meeting is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.;
- Later, City Council members will consider a resolution that could enable an option agreement and development agreement with Winthrop Hotel LLC to sell City-owned property at S. 35th St. & Pacific Ave. for the construction of mixed-income housing--the first step in disaggregating the concentrated low income housing project at 9th & Commerce;
- City Council members are also scheduled to consider a resolution that would approve a development agreement and $1.65 million loan agreement with the Gintz Group LLC to help facilitate the acquisition and renovation of the historic Luzon Building at S. 13th St. & Pacific Ave.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
The City of Tacoma has regulatory zoning--unlike many other cities (such as Seattle)--that allows then City great discretion over business' licensing. Well-run businesses are always concerned about their impact upon neighboring properties and the community in general. Tacoma Police and other city officials should examine McCabe's situation carefully--hopefully with the unflinching cooperation of the current owners--and take action to maintain a safe but vital downtown.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
- It has been observed by residents and businesses alike that transients and “bad element” people get off the Link (light rail) at the end-of-the-line stop at 9th & Commerce and start being a nuisance after 8:00 p.m. Has Sound Transit given any thought to discontinuing free rides on the Link?
- Laura Hanan, owner of the Rowland Building on Pacific, asked if BIA could change its late shift to end at 4:00 a.m. (currently, it ends at 3:00 a.m.). BIA committed to look into ending the shift at a later time based upon review of incidents reported between 3:00 and 4:00 during weeks when patrols were out then.
- Pierce Transit and Sound Transit are negotiating regarding ridership exclusion--individuals who have been expelled from either agency's public transportation will be excluded from both through a communication and identification process. When will this safeguard be (back) in place?
- Cheryl Gorsuch (co-owner of Sanford & Son, has lived above the store for almost 20 years) reports that after the Link stops running--any night of the week--is when the street disorder becomes visible. She regularly calls 911 or TPD non-emergency number to report suspicious activity. Gorsuch suggested a 50-cent charge for riding the Link, thinking this will eliminate last riders staying in the residential/business end of downtown and keep them nearer the Tacoma Rescue Mission at night. Is this feasible for Sound transit to implement?
- Though Sound Transit has installed dusk-to-dawn lights on its Link stations, some building owners refuse to do so; consequently, it is pitch black in areas along Commerce at night. Lt. Darlington will revisit building owners along the stretch of Commerce to talk to them about crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) improvements.
- Sound Transit is currently planning to install video surveillance equipment at all stations; all trains have taped video surveillance. Pierce Transit has CCTV installed throughout the downtown transit center. BIA is working with the City of Tacoma and private property owners to fund cameras at corners where nuisance complaints are high, adding real-time video to enforcement efforts.
- Lt. Darlington explained that “non-traditional policing” is necessary due to the low number of patrol officers (no more than five at any given time in his sector, which includes downtown, the Tideflats, Northest Tacoma and Hilltop). From time to time, TPD may deploy Special Emphasis Teams (SET) whereby units are focused to one problem area at a time instead of sweeping the whole area. BIA is negotiating with the City of Tacoma to fund one additional dedicated officer, which would allow for more robust swing shift coverage.
Thanks to Kala Dralle, City of Tacoma Community & Economic Development Department, for her notes which are the basis for this post and yesterday's post.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Opened to traffic in 1913, the bridge was built to provide access from the downtown area to the industrial area in the Tideflats. As early as 1997, the City of Tacoma and WSDOT began discussions about the future of this corridor and whether to replace, rehabilitate or remove this structure. In 2002, WSDOT reduced the bridge from four lanes to two lanes and imposed a 10-ton weight limit to prohibit all heavy vehicles, except emergency response vehicles, from crossing the bridge.
Several items generated comments:
- Lt. Corey Darlington (District 1 Commander) observed that pay phones owned by tenants and/or property owners should only be placed in a location with continuous security monitoring, lest they become a nuisance; he reported that the phones at the Pantages and Theater on the Square have been removed;
- An attorney representing homeless and low income residents in Tacoma maintained that pay phones are the only means of communication for his clients and others like them, and he opposed the suggestion that all pay phones should be removed;
- A representative from Safe Streets announced that both the Winthrop and the Olympus are organizing crime watch activities in their respective buildings;
- Deanna Neidlinger of Brick CITY took offense at the suggestion that Club Friday kids use intimidation, but BIA indicated that this problem has completely gone away since the report was done;
- Erica Valley, on site manager for the Winthrop, complained that calling up to residents continues to be a nuisance, and reported that she has asked her tenants to organize and help abate the problem—this effort received acknowledgement.
Assistant Chief Sheehan referred to a draft “Downtown Strategic Plan” created by Lt. Darlington recommending strategies to reduce or eliminate criminal and nuisance behavior in the 9th & Pacific area. It mentions the Martin Luther King Jr. Center as a contributing element to ongoing security problems.
A document showing the volume of BIA security calls for service in early 2006, compared against current incidents, was also shared. It showed a significant drop in calls for service in the area.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Anderson plans to submit his final recommendations to members of the Tacoma City Council at their Study Session on October 30th.
A set of recommendations from the Transit & Parking Advisory Committee organized by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber is expected to be released prior to that date; it will update stakeholder recommendations regarding parking and transit issues.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Meanwhile, several cities across America are using new technology and new approaches to effect what amounts to a virtual revolution in parking. The BIA Blog's sister site On RAMP has the details.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The event will run between 12 noon and 2:00 p.m. tomorrow--and it represents the community’s final opportunity to win prizes, with one lucky person taking home the end-of-season grand prize.
The Go Local! Passport idea was conceived by Leadership Tacoma 2007. The Passport was a successful collaboration between the BIA, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, Pierce Transit, the Downtown Merchants Group, and Tacoma Farmers Market. Additional thanks are due to Simpson Tacoma Kraft, the gurus, Franciscan Health System, United Way of Pierce County, and Venture Bank for their support.
Monday, October 15, 2007
The current owner--Oakland-based Horizon Partners--is reportedly ready to part with the Luzon for $75,000 and throw in a 14-foot-wide strip of the parking lot next door as a buyer bonus. Horizon currently has one potential buyer expressing interest: the Gintz Group, a Tacoma development company currently restoring the former Mecca Theater building on Broadway.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Here are three opportunities available this week:
- Meet those who already live downtown at the Block Tie Affair from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. tomorrow night at the Washington State History Museum (1911 Pacific Ave.)--this is an opportunity for downtowners to meet face-to-face while enjoying appetizers and entertainment from local musicians, and the Tacoma Link will continue to operate until 10:00 p.m.;
- The annual Tour of Urban Living this weekend can get potential residents inside sixteen urban properties currently for sale or lease; the free, self-guided tour runs from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days;
- Visit CondoCompare online--this is a relatively new website dedicated to the condominium market across the Northwest; the site allows visitors to compare interesting properties (although it lacks the designation for Tacoma - Downtown that most local customers will no doubt want to see).
Friday, October 05, 2007
The New Tacoma Neighborhood Council and the Downtown Merchants Group have taken up the challenge by organizing a community forum where they will be examining the current conditions and their social and economic impacts:
Sanford & Son Antiques (734 Broadway) - Library Room
Attendees will be asked to explore both short and long term solutions--the goal will be the elimination of nuisance behavior in the neighborhood.
Please RSVP to:
Chair, New Tacoma Neighborhood Council
Phone: (253) 376-3774
President, Downtown Merchants Group
Thursday, October 04, 2007
What's different this time is that we have yet to have all parties agree on a concerted strategy for addressing the problem. The flurry of e-mails and meetings that continue to fire demands at various parties are more a cry for help than a proposed course of action--that takes engagement from everyone who wants to be part of the solution. Some would discount the real progress already made by the new ownership at the Winthrop Hotel, disparage the efforts of Tacoma Police and the BIA to manage street activity, or cynically suggest that the Olympus Hotel is unmanageable no matter who is the owner.
It's time to get past all that. We need a renewed commitment from residents, property owners, clubs and bars, Brick CITY, merchants and others to come to the table, honestly explore differences, and form a consensus on how to take back this area from the undesirable elements that currently seem to have a majority some hours of the day. The discussion needs to progress from "we could move forward if only THEY were gone" to "here's how we can help all of US move forward"--and it needs to progress now.
Here's one vote for a common strategy--and one hand up to commit to its implementation. Are there others?
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Tacoma's most popular new and renovated condominiums, town homes and apartments are throwing open their doors and rolling out their red carpets on Saturday and Sunday, October 13 and 14. Potential downtown residents can tour the properties, see the views and get a feel for the downtown Tacoma lifestyle from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Shops, galleries, museums, restaurants, theaters and the Link light rail will all be open to provide a comprehensive urban living experience.
Official event sponsors for the Tour of Urban Living include Click! Network, Rusty George Creative, The News Tribune, the BIA and the featured properties. A map of the self-guided tour, including a list of participating properties and sponsors, is available online or by calling (253) 591-5117.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Respondents to Councilmember Farrell's survey earlier this year said downtown development was an issue they wanted to learn more about--his district contains 100,000 residents, covering most of north and central Tacoma including the downtown corridor and the Hilltop area, a portion of south Tacoma, and Ruston.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Hundreds of downtown managers from around the world are gathered here to share best practices and gain from one another's expertise and experiences. Lots of information is changing hands--here are some brief examples:
- By far the most common use for blogging by downtown organizations at present seems to be retail promotion for downtown merchants--promoting special offers and unique sales to the widest possible constituency;
- The BIA and other downtown Tacoma stakeholders are currently promoting the idea of letting the market drive parking costs on the street, but two downtowns (Redwood City, CA and Denver, CO) have embarked on an even more radical experiment--eliminating time limits.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Stephanie Stebich, director of the Tacoma Art Museum, and Amy McBride, Tacoma Arts Program Coordinator, will share the results of a study conducted by Americans for the Arts in cooperation with 156 communities and regions across the nation, showing that communities that support the arts and culture not only enhance their quality of life but also invest in their economic well-being.
Cost for the event is $25 for members pre-paid and $30 for non-members pre-paid. To reserve space, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
For the eighth consecutive year, Bank to Bay will provide $10,000 to the Tacoma Public Schools Help-A-Student Fund, which furnishes necessities such as school supplies, clothing and shoes to students.The USA Track and Field-certified course, which is closed to traffic, begins in the Museum District between South 15th and 17th streets on Pacific Avenue and runs past Old City Hall and along Schuster Parkway to Ruston Way.
Registration opens at 8:00 a.m., the 1K Kids' Run begins at 9:00 a.m., followed by the 10K Run at 9:20 a.m. and the 5K Run/Walk at 9:35 a.m. Registration is $25 for those who sign up before close of business on Saturday and $30 on the day of race.
It's about putting more "feet on the street"--this time, just at a little faster pace!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The cards are the size of regular business cards, and come either as a magnet or as a vinyl cling sticker, and they are available (singly or in quantity) for no charge from the BIA office.
Monday, August 20, 2007
During this series of parking discussions, Anderson will share his proposed recommendations for moving forward with a strategic downtown parking and transit plan and will garner feedback from citizens about his suggestions.
For the meeting schedule, as well as copies of the questions and answers from the first and second round of meetings, visit the City of Tacoma's website.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Eric Jacobsen is one person who's thoughtfully engaged this question, and he's recently moved to Tacoma to assume the pastorate of First Presbyterian Church. Jacobsen is author of the nationally-recognized book Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith (Brazos, 2003), which explores how Christians can have a positive impact in America’s cities, as well as numerous articles exploring connections between the Christian community, the church, and traditional neighborhoods. He has been interviewed by The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and other national media, and he has presented lectures for various secular and religious institutions including Calvin College, the University of Virginia, the Christian Community Development Association, the American Planning Institute, the American Academy of Architects, and the Congress for the New Urbanism.
A recognized New Urbanist, Jacobsen argues that if the movement aspires to be more than just a short-term economic success or a market correction it is going to have to take the church more seriously as a conversation partner in its cultural project. In particular, he maintains that the church can help the New Urbanist movement grapple with some of the powers and forces, which have an impact upon communities in ways that are more profound and enduring than economic factors alone.
Jacobsen will be speaking tonight at 7:00 at King's Books--he's well worth hearing.
Monday, August 13, 2007
...there’s no question that skate parks in general are a good thing. Earlier generations built ball fields; the parks are their modern equivalent for quirky but highly skilled athletes who are never going to join the high school tennis team.
Will the responsible skateboarders please stand up?
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
The BIA only counted responses from private property owners in establishing that the statutory mark of 51% has been attained (actually, it was exceeded), since public entities such as the City of Tacoma, University of Washington Tacoma, and Union Station--which represent more than 30% of the total ratepayer base--can opt out of the assessment.
Expect the renewal petition to be on the City Council docket in early November; in the interim, BIA leaders will be heard at work crafting agreements and finalizing a budget to put the terms of the prospectus into reality beginning May, 2008.
Friday, July 27, 2007
The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee was the driving factor for increased enforcement of downtown parking policies; as a result, considerable on-street parking has become available to visitors, customers and clients of downtown businesses. The committee’s comprehensive report now recommends not only consistent enforcement, but also flexible parking strategies in response to special events and the selective deployment of parking meters.
The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee has identified general recommendations:
- Maximize efficiency of current transit & parking operations
Create a strong transit & parking system business plan
- Enhance communications about the transit & parking system
- Implement new technology—and use it effectively
- Institute a “customer care” program
- Provide flexibility to respond to special events and changing needs
Coordination & Collaboration
An effective downtown transportation plan should be developed that considers pedestrian, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, bus, rail, Flexcar and parking as coordinated elements of a strategic transportation system. The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee will continue to work with the Commute Trip Reduction programs of both Tacoma and Pierce County to encourage participation from both large and small employers.
The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee encourages the City of Tacoma to more aggressively pursue enforcement against “chain” parking (now termed “moving to evade”) while at the same time encouraging broader support for use of transit and other commute alternatives by employees of member firms in the downtown Tacoma area. A more robust, employer-based transportation demand management (TDM) program should be pursued to provide effective, customer focused alternatives to parking.
Meters—Charging for On-Street Parking
The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee believes that selectively deploying pay stations or other forms of on-street metering has merit for “inventory control” purposes as well as for establishing a stronger revenue package as security for bonding. In the few areas that have sufficient demand consistently with occupancy significantly above 85 percent, the City could install parking meters and begin charging a very minimal amount.
Expenditure of Funds Gathered from On-Street Metering
The City of Tacoma should direct the funds gathered from metering in a distinct neighborhood or subarea of downtown into amenities that will benefit that specific neighborhood. Funds earned in excess of the real costs of operating the metering system should be expended upon clearly-related public improvements such as a streetcar line and/or streetscape improvements. The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee recommends that a stakeholder group be formed or tasked to direct the investment of these funds in the local neighborhood.
Removal of Off-Street Parking Required for New Construction
Removing the off-street parking requirement may allow developers the flexibility to build the amount of parking that the market requires. This step should only be considered, however, within the context of a more robust transportation demand management program than currently exists.
The document was endorsed yesterday morning by the Chamber; previous endorsements were made by the BIA, the Downtown Merchants Group, and the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council.
Monday, July 23, 2007
First, let's review what the article said. Gillie rightly observes how several economic factors are combining to create a slow-down in downtown redevelopment:
...emerging competition, changing market conditions and national trends...plus tighter financing, a deflating national housing market, a local oversupply of condominiums and new caution even among high-flying developers [has] put the brakes on what was a kind of gold-rush development market in Tacoma.Gillie then goes on to detail how these factors have played out in a number of projects to either slow down or stop them:
- Crosswater Condominiums (dead)
- Hanna Heights (renovated and re-opened)
- Jay Heights [pictured] (on hold)
- The Luzon (plans under renovation)
- Old City Hall Condominiums (stalled)
As usual, Gillie's tabulation is accurate and even-handed. What's missing from this feature is a sense of what's unique about Tacoma's downtown market. Specifically--with vacancy rates at a historic low, why isn't Tacoma's city center filled with cranes the way that, say, downtown Bellevue is? How has a project like The Esplanade been structured, managed and marketed that gave it a leg up on a project like the Crosswater Condos?
Friday, July 20, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
“In the era of Auto Row, there was excitement and activity downtown--shopping, entertainment, enterprise--and a number of car dealers,” recalls Brett Santhuff, President of the American Institute of Architecture Students. “Masses would gather in the streets outside papered showroom windows for the unveiling of new cars. Over a season, dealers would roll out the new models--Buick, Studebaker, Ford, Pontiac, Chrysler, Chevrolet, Plymouth, Hupmobile, Packard, Dodge, Lincoln, Oldsmobile.”
The event is co-sponsored by Historic Tacoma and the Tacoma Historical Society with participation by members of the Puget Sound Chapter of the Buick Club of America, other local car clubs, and the LeMay Museum.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Since the Project for Public Spaces workshop in May 2006, a small committee has been formualting recommendations, which will be presented to the EDC today:
- Reduce the insurance requirement (the current requirement for $500,000 is too high);
- Require vendors to demonstrate permission from the business owner (and property owner, if different) on whose sidewalk they would be vending--rather than having to secure permission from everyone within 100 feet, which may include as many as five separate parties;
- Rewrite requirements for the carts--current wording is confusing, even conflicting.
Committee members have also concluded that it will be helpful to review the requirements that the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department places on vendors--they need, at minimum, to be streamlined.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Corrections leaders released a preliminary list Monday of potential work-release sites that ranked Washington’s 39 counties in order of need. Pierce County was among eight counties classified as “low need”; nine other counties--including Snohomish, which currently has no work-release sites--were classified as “high need.”