Monday, December 31, 2007
Downtown Tacoma: Filling the Gaps
The Tacoma City Council envisions a broader but denser development pattern, linked by streetcars. Project Destiny looks forward to the Russell Investment Group occupying 1.2 million square feet in a new corporate headquarters, the jewel in a "re-positioned" downtown that is attractive and affordable to other corporate offices, as well. The BIA continues to encourage "more feet on the street" as the district prepares to kick off its third decade of service.
These are all facets of the same goal--to fill in the "dead spots" in downtown's built environment with more housing, shopping, offices and visitor attractions. Despite the very real success of local leaders since the mid-1990s, that remains a challenging assignment.
The superheated (some now are suggesting the term "overheated") downtown housing market of the past few years is finally cooling, but there's no consensus yet on how cold that trend will turn. There are some recent signs that at least a small rally may be developing, but sales have plummeted.
Next week's City Center Luncheon will present a panel discussion that may shed more light on future trends in the market but, for now, John Gillie's comprehensive feature in Sunday's edition of The News Tribune is a good snapshot of the current state of key developments. Gillie's "status check" of downtown projects tells him that 2008 can expect"a more measured pace of development,...more rental units instead of condos,...more office space construction and...more affordable condo conversions."
Tighter credit and slowing absorption of unsold units, Gillie contends, have caused developers "to slow down projects, redesign them to better fit market realities in Tacoma, and to slim the designs to make those projects more affordable in a market where construction costs have climbed steeply."