Thursday, September 27, 2007

'Town Hall' Meeting on Downtown Development

Development in downtown Tacoma is the topic of Pierce County Councilmember Tim Farrell's second "town hall" meeting of the year October 3rd from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Tacoma City Councilmember Rick Talbert will join Farrell (District 4) at the meeting, which will be held in the 505 Broadway showroom at 711 St. Helens. Developers, City of Tacoma and Pierce County economic development staff and other leaders will also participate in this event. The meeting will be informal and interactive and allow for discussion about present and future development projects in Tacoma's urban center.

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.

Getting the North End's 'Bad Boys' In Order - Reprise'

Two months after we posted about plans put in action to improve the Winthrop and Olympus low-income housing developments--which we characterized as "bad boys" in the north end of downtown--the community is giving a reality check to that activity.

Tuesday, the Tacoma City Council's Economic Development Committee heard a report from the Prium Companies, current owners of the Winthrop, about replacement low-income housing (part of their loan agreement with the City of Tacoma). The good news is that two replacement sites are being considered by Prium: one at 34th & Pacific (50 units) and another on Tyler (80 units). The bad news may be that the former Browne’s Star Grill in Upper Tacoma was also considered until local opposition killed the idea--hopefully not the beginning of NIMBYism against relocation of the 170 low-income residents from the Winthrop.

Next Monday afternoon, the Tacoma City Council's Neighborhoods & Housing Committee will hear from the Korean Women's Association about their intentions concerning the purchase of the Olympus. A drastic change is needed in how this building is currently managed because of the significant impact this historic building has on surrounding businesses and the general environment of the north end. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. in Room 248 of the Tacoma Municipal Building.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Live From New York...

Posting today from New York City, where BIA staff is participating in the 53rd Annual Conference & World Congress of the International Downtown Association. This blog and were discussed during a lively session on blogging and downtown redevelopment this morning.

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

New York, Washington (DC), Philadelphia, and...Tacoma?

At today's City Center Luncheon, Tacoma Art Museum director Stephanie Stebich made an interesting observation about Tacoma's position as a center for culture and the arts.

Her observation was that there are only a handful of cities in America where there are three or more significant museums within walking distance of each other--and that those cities include New York (Manhattan), Washington (the federal capital), Philadelphia, Fort Worth and Tacoma. It's a thought-provoking observation.

The three museums in Tacoma are the Museum of Glass, the Washington History Museum, and (of course) Stebich's charge--the Tacoma Art Museum.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

An Intersection of Arts & Parking

What's the connection between the arts and downtown parking? One connection, at least, is that both will be topics for presentation as the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber hosts its quarterly City Center Luncheon next Friday between 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. at the Tacoma Club.

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.
Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson will discuss his vision for a new streetcar network — created in conjunction with new strategically-placed commuter parking garages ringing downtown and eliminating parking requirements for new downtown buildings — as part of a far-reaching discussion of the city center's future.

Cost for the event is $25 for members pre-paid and $30 for non-members pre-paid. To reserve space, e-mail

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Run, Don't Walk Downtown This Weekend

KeyBank and the City of Tacoma will host the eighth annual Bank to Bay 10K Run, 5K Run/Walk and 1K Kids' Run this coming Sunday, Sept. 9th, in downtown Tacoma.

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!