Friday, January 05, 2007

The Eclectic Kool-Aid Acid Test?

Ed Murrieta's blog Ed's Diner over at The News Tribune has started a very lively dialog about downtown parking, dining and retail that is worth reviewing. His January 4th post, entitled Mommy, that downtown Kool-Aid tastes funny, unleashed a torrent of responses from an eclectic mix of readers.

Murrieta quotes an e-mail from a (unnamed) downtown restauranteur who is "angry for having drunk the Downtown Revival Kool-Aid." The implication is that the promises of revitalization have been a hallucination--at least for some segments of the community:
The restaurants came. Where's the retail? More condos are coming. Where's
the retail?

It's well-established in real estate circles that restaurants are often the pioneers in districts on the rebound. It's equally clear that they can't survive indefinitely without a broader mix of stores and activities.

One respondent to Murietta's post cites a lack of available on street parking as the deterrent; Murietta rejects that explanation and so do most experts. Parking and transit are services that can support retail growth either well or poorly, but they don't drive that growth.

Murietta's readers offer lots of good suggestions for types of retail that ought to blossom downtown, but they and he don't ask the seminal question: What group is charged with enticing that new retail downtown?


  1. I Drank it Too

    No one has addressed the street people and drug dealers that I think are keeping people from the area. The Theter District, which is supposedly the "heart of the city" has terrible drug dealing and ongoing nuisance activity going on and people don't want to come here after dark or on the weekends. Twice In the past week I have watched people smoke crack on Pacific Ave. across the street from my building in broad daylight. I took pictures.

    People have written letters recently to the editor of the TNT regarding experiencing car break ins and undesirable people they encounter when in downtown Tacoma after dark. The police department is functioning in a reactive mode instead of a proactive, preventative mode, only responding after crime happens.

    I live downtown and the ratio of undesirable people to non-street people and non-drug addicts is terribly skewed in favor of undesirables. Yesterday alone I saw and photograped more than fifty street people and drug dealers on my block alone. I saw maybe ten people that didn't fall into that category. Does anybody get the connection?

    Laura Hanan

  2. I don't think "I'm not going down there because of the scary street people" I think "why am I not going down there? oh because there is nothing there for me". I think most people don't go downtown because there isn't anything down there for them. I can say the only reason I go there is to eat. That is it.

    People can hate big names retail all they want. They can complain how Tacoma "shouldn't become Seattle" but let me tell you most people don't shop for antiques!

    From reading our EDB 2006 business plan it looks as though Mr. Petty is still all about getting small biz downtown. Small biz is great but it does not get people downtown. I still think the city should buy a one way plane ticket back to Rockford (where?)Illinois.

  3. The restaurants came. Where's the retail? More condos are coming. Where's the retail?

    There is some retail downtown. However, more will come when they perceive there is a market for retail downtown.

    The city cannot directly place retail downtown, but they can continue to improve and repair the basic grid of downtown Tacoma so that businesses and retail can start and thrive.

    Thus, repairing the north and south parking garages should be very high priorities for the city.

    By the way, there is a new significant retailer downtown Moroccan Treasures at 906 Broadway located across from the Pantages Theater. Stop by and tell them hello.

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