Monday, September 29, 2008

Downtown Plan Emphasizes: Vitality, Sustainability, Healthy Economy and the Arts

The Downtown Plan Update was presented at a public information session last Wednesday. The Update builds on the Destination Downtown Plan, while focusing on four primary visions for downtown: A Balanced, Healthy Economy; Achieving Vitality Downtown; Sustainable City; City of the Arts. These themes sound good, but what do they really mean for Tacoma?

A Balanced, Healthy Economy
The goal of this theme is to build on existing efforts to create downtown as a major employment, economic and cultural center developed around world-class companies. This will be accomplished by fostering an entrepreneurial culture for businesses particularly in the target sectors of:

  • Business and Professional Services
  • Creative Arts and Design
  • Financial Services
  • IT and Software Design
  • Trade and Logistics Services

The Plan calls for efforts that focus investment and redevelopment in the international financial services area (north end of downtown), the commercial core (between Tacoma Ave, Cliff Ave, S. 15th St. and S. 7th St.), and the Brewery District (south end of downtown).

The Plan also calls for implementing a comprehensive parking management strategy in downtown. This means developing a paid parking (on and off street) system that integrates with other viable transportation alternatives (biking, transit and walking among others).

Achieving Vitality
Essentially achieving this vision requires flexible regulations and design guidelines to encourage recognizably unique and desirable areas in downtown. This vision seeks to apply livability criteria, like walkability, access to adequate sunlight on the street, attractive and pedestrian scale fa├žade treatments to building designs. This effort will help ensure that downtown buildings intentionally create and define a sense of place rather than hamper it. Improving perceptions of downtown safety, integrating activities and plans with UWT and striving to preserve the historic character of downtown are other components of this theme.

Sustainable City
Emphasizing sustainability in downtown, means facilitating a coordinated approach to economic, environmental and social considerations. To achieve these diverse goals the Plan makes a number of diverse recommendations to encourage sustainability in downtown:

  • Plans for future housing should consider walking and high capacity transit and distances to employment centers.
  • Strive to create a family friendly downtown by planning for amenities that attract and benefit all ages.
  • Consider connections to adjacent neighborhoods.
  • Develop an urban agriculture or community garden program to increase access and knowledge of fresh foods.
  • Provide more alternative to driving alone into and around downtown via complete street designs that provide for walking, biking, transit riders and other non-car centric forms of transportation.

City of the Arts
This final vision builds off the City’s two established art clusters, the Theater District in the north and the museum area in the south end of downtown. Establishing the creative arts and design as a target sector for Tacoma helps to brand Tacoma as a desirable urban environment with a high quality of life. To build this cluster the Plan recommends the following efforts:

  • Establish a public-private partnership to assist the burgeoning creative class
    Support and incentivize artists to move downtown .
  • Fund and support public art.
  • Continue to revitalize the Theater District.
  • Formulize a master plan for a 15th Ave. “Glass Walk” to high light public art in downtown.
  • Create a post-secondary design curriculum at SOTA and UWT.

For more details on these visions for downtown Tacoma go to the City of Tacoma’s downtown plan website.


The Planning Commission will conduct a Public Hearing on October 1, 2008, at 5:00 p.m. to receive testimony on the proposed Downtown Plan Element of the Comprehensive Plan. The hearing will be held in the Council Chambers, 747 Market Street, Tacoma. Written comments may be submitted through October 10, 2008, via (a) U.S. mail to Planning Commission, 747 Market Street, Room 1036, Tacoma, WA 98402; (b) FAX to (253) 591-2002; or (c) e-mail to (enter "Downtown Plan" in the subject line).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What’s In Store for Downtown Tacoma? Find Out Tonight

An information session on the Downtown Element of the Comprehensive Plan will be held TONIGHT (September 24th), at 5:00 p.m. to provide an opportunity for interested citizens to learn more about the Downtown Plan Update and ask questions.

The City has been working with VIA Architects to update the Downtown Plan. The Plan is a component of Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan, which is developed in compliance with the Washington State Growth Management Act.

The Downtown Plan has not been updated since 2001. Downtown has changed considerably since then including new housing, the development of the convention center, museums, offices and the LINK light rail corridor. This draft update considers the research and recommendations proposed by Angelou Economics in the recently completed economic development strategy for the downtown.

The downtown plan update is intended to:

  • Coordinate land use, transportation, economic development and parking strategies
    Create a walkable downtown through application of best practices such as “complete streets”
  • Establish urban design principles with an emphasis on the public realm
  • Link economic vitality and environmental quality through an awareness of the regional effects of growth management, land use and transportation decisions
  • Promote partnerships to promote infill development and link land use policy and economic revitalization strategies
  • Foster collaborative relationships among the community, city and “city builders” and encourage property owners to think beyond the property boundary to achieve mutual benefit
  • Responsibly increase density while laying the groundwork for creating a high quality environment and retaining Tacoma’s character

The Planning Commission will conduct a Public Hearing on October 1, 2008, at 5:00 p.m. to receive testimony on the proposed Downtown Plan Element of the Comprehensive Plan.

Both meetings will be held in the Council Chambers, 747 Market Street, Tacoma.Written comments may be submitted through October 10, 2008, via (a) U.S. mail to Planning Commission, 747 Market Street, Room 1036, Tacoma, WA 98402; (b) FAX to (253) 591-2002; or (c) e-mail to (enter "Downtown Plan" in the subject line).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reinvent Your Commute in Tollefson Plaza on Oct 1st

Join fellow downtown commuters, as we kickoff the "Downtown: On the Go!" campaign, a collaborative effort by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, the City of Tacoma, Pierce Transit, and Pierce County aimed at reducing traffic congestion and parking challenges in downtown Tacoma by getting commuters, students and residents onto buses and bikes, walking, and sharing rides instead of driving alone.

WHEN: October 1st, 11am-2pm

WHERE: Tollefson Plaza

This will be a fun event with lots of transportation resources for commuters, residents, students and employers including lunchtime vendors, prizes from local shops, free bus passes, games, live music, and more.

Here are some of the opportunities and activities available to you in Tollefson Plaza on October 1st:

  • Get lunch from local food vendors – receive $1 off just for coming!

  • Sip coffee or tea from Mad Hat Tea Company and Blackwater Coffee

  • Listen to the Brazilian jazz of Olympia music group, Ocho Pies

  • Learn about commute options: Transit, Carpool, Vanpool, Walk, Bike

  • Pick up the new downtown walking map

  • Tour the Pierce Transit Vanpool, Bus and Bus Plus vehicles and practice putting a bike on the front bus rack

  • Talk to Vanpool riders and learn a new way to get to work

  • Play games to win prizes from local vendors, including free monthly bus passes

  • Give input on downtown plans with VIA architecture

  • Learn how businesses downtown are encouraging alternative transportation options and how your business can create a transportation plan

  • Sign up for to begin logging your commutes, entering to win great prizes, and calculating cost and pollution savings

  • Give us your input on a car-sharing survey and receive a two-for-one cupcake coupon for Hello, Cupcake

  • Practice your chalk skills as you explore the art of transportation

  • Pick up a Pierce County Bike Map and learn new routes to ride

  • Plus: Special prizes and information especially for UWT students, including the chance to win a Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit bundle if you sign of for the new student version of


Monday, September 15, 2008

Tacoma Downtown Parking Survey Needs Your Input

Make your voice heard. Fill out the Downtown Parking Survey right now!

Parking is vital to the success of Tacoma’s downtown. The City of Tacoma is engaged in a project to examine current parking conditions and explore future solutions, including paid on-street parking.

As an early step, the City wants to capture the views of downtown employers, employees, residents, students and visitors in the central business district. Please provide your assessment of the current situation, and your ideas about effective parking management strategies for the future.

Please take a moment to complete the survey by September 26.
The survey is available on-line at

Spread the word, and encourage your business neighbors and coworkers to respond to make this survey as representative as possible.