Thursday, February 19, 2009

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Recognize Outstanding Contributors to Downtown

Every year the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s New Tacoma Awards recognize businesses and individuals that make outstanding contributions to downtown Tacoma. This year the Chamber and Absher Construction will recognize 2009 New Tacoma Awards winners at the City Center Luncheon on April 17th, 2009. Nominate a community leader today!

The four award categories are:

Ghillarducci Award - recognizing successful new development, renovation or beautification. Past winners of this award include 505 Broadway- The Sirius Group and the Tacoma Art Museum

Union Station Award - recognizing leading organizations, companies or individuals that have built or sustained momentum for revitalization. Eric Cedarstrand for sustaining momentum for revitalizations and India Mahal Restaurant for their pioneering spirit and commitment to downtown are last year’s winners of this award.

Popham Award, in honor of the late News Tribune Columnist Art Popham. This award recognizes the individual that has done the most to build community spirit. Past winners include Layne Alfanso of Geo Engineers and Marty Campbell of Buzzard Records and Stadium Video.

Schoenfeld Award - recognizing exemplary performance and pizzazz as a retailer. Past winners include Grassi’s Flowers and Gifts and Urban Exchange.

Award nominations are due no later than 4:30 on March 23rd. Fill out the nomination form online on the Chamber’s website or print the form and return to Chelsea Levy, Metropolitan Development Manager, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber , PO Box 1933, Tacoma WA 98401, Fax:(253) 597-7305, Email:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Market Street (7th-9th) Closed Until Feb. 17th

Starting at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning, Market Street between 7th and 9th streets, will be closed to through traffic until Tuesday, Feb. 17. The closure is part of the Broadway LID and is necessary for concrete to be poured and cured for the pedestrian crossing near 9th Street, straight across from the entrance of the Municipal Building at 747 Market St.

Signs will be in place to notify traffic of the traffic revisions and detours throughout the area. The parking lots along Market Street, in between 9th and 7th streets, will remain open and accessible.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Karrie Spitzer, APRCommunity Relations Specialist,City of Tacoma, (253) 591-5790.

For more info go to:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Downtown Business Leaders Address Commuting Options

Leaders from more than 15 downtown businesses have formed the Downtown: On the Go! Transportation partnership to identify viable solutions to the parking and transportation challenges facing downtown businesses and commuters. On February 5, members of the partnership agreed to collaborate on strategies to reach a goal of 35 percent of employees using transit, walking, biking, and sharing rides.

The partnership has agreed to meet monthly and will address the following:

  • Transit routes, capacity, programs, and frequency.
  • Identifying downtown employee residential patterns to better understand primary commute routes and influence transit route planning and biking infrastructure alignments.
  • Biking and walking infrastructure and amenities.
  • Carsharing possibilities and opportunities for Tacoma

The group was convened by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and the City of Tacoma, in partnership with Pierce Transit. The Downtown: On the Go! Transportation partnership evolved from a series of CEO Transportation forums held last summer that featured regional transportation experts. This group will continue to work with parking and transportation expert Rick Williams, director of the Lloyd District Transportation Management Association of Portland, Oregon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pierce Transit Considers Service Cuts

In an effort to cut costs, Pierce Transit is considering cutting some low-use bus service.

The situation is a complicated one: Pierce Transit's largest revenue source is sales tax, so while the economy and high gas prices have contributed to considerable ridership increases in the past year, the agency's budget has shrunk as people spend less.

PierceTransit cut $5.7 million from its 2008 budget and is looking at a variety of ways to trim its 2009 budget.

Yesterday, staff presented three options to the Pierce Transit Board. Click here to read more from the News Tribune.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

BIA Board Reduces Rates for 2009-2010

At the January meeting of the Downtown Business Improvement Area Board of Directors the Board voted to reduce assessment rates by 5% for the 2009-2010 FY beginning in May 2009. This action will decrease the rate paid by commercial and residential properties from 10.94 cents per square foot to 10.39 cents per square foot. The rate for vacant properties and parking lots will be reduced from 5.35 cents per square foot to 5.08 cents per square foot.

Given the current state of the economy and the economic challenges facing both property owners and tenants the action of the Board seeks to provide some relief to ratepayers. In developing the budget for the next fiscal year the Board was cautious to keep expenses low while continuing to provide the high level of service that ratepayers, tenants and downtown users have come to expect. Total expenses for 2009-2010 are proposed to increase by only 0.03%.

The operating budget of the BIA is just over $842,000. For FY 2009-2010 approximately $63,000 will be applied from the BIA’s reserve fund to cover expenses.

In 2008 the Tacoma City Council approved residential properties to move from the low assessment rate to the high assessment rate. Due to a clerical error residents continued to be billed at the low rate in 2008-2009 despite the approved change. In 2009-2010 residential properties will be billed at the high rate as dictated by the 2008 Ordinance No. 27696.

The Tacoma City Council approves the assessment rates, budget and work plan proposed by the BIA Board annually. The City Council will hear the first reading of the ordinance on March 10th, 2009. The second reading of the ordinance for approval will occur on March 24th, 2009.

The BIA was founded by downtown property owners in 1988. Since then the BIA has provided additional maintenance and security services for the 84 block of the downtown core.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber Commute Trip Reduction News
Downtown: On the Go! – Reinvent Your Commute

The Chamber is proud to partner with the City of Tacoma, Pierce Transit, and Pierce County to be a resource for your downtown business and employees' transportation needs, and to promote transportation efficiency and economic vibrancy downtown. This monthly newsletter keeps you informed of our efforts, how we can assist you, and ways you can be involved.

For information or questions about the Chamber’s Commute Trip Reduction efforts, contact Jessica Holden at 253-627-2175 or

Be sure to check out the winners of this month's Chamber Commute Rewards program and find out how you and your employees can enter to win great prizes!

Upcoming Events
RESCHEDULED! Downtown Commuter Social: February 12, 5:30-7 pm – Due to weather, we postponed this event originally scheduled for December. Join us at The Hub Restaurant to socialize with other downtown commuters and sample their tasty appetizers as our way of saying “thanks!” for your smart commuting. Please let Jessica know if you plan to attend.

Mini-Grant Recipients
In December we announced the availability of funds to help start or improve an employer transportation program. Three downtown businesses received these mini-grants to help them build their employer transportation programs. Here are snapshots of what they are doing.

Would your business like a little help getting started? Funds are still available! Contact us if you are interested.

Courtyard by Marriott
With a staff of more than 100 employees and limited parking, the Marriott staff already has quite a few dedicated bicyclists and bus riders. Transportation Specialist Rijya York is using their funds for monthly prizes and incentives to support employees who use commute options and encourage others to give them a try. Employees log their trips on the calendar, so Rijya is able to conduct all of their drawings from the comfort of her own computer. Rijya has also met with Pierce Transit to learn about the resources they provide and is partnering with their Relax Rewards program.

United Way of Pierce County
After surveying employees, Transportation Specialist Breanne Compton learned that United Way staff would be more inclined to use public transit if bus passes could simply be picked up at their work place. United Way plans to use their funds from the Chamber to help subsidize transit passes for their employees, as well as conduct raffles and prize drawings for staff who use to log their commutes. Breanne will be providing free bus tickets to new transit riders at staff meetings, and they are working with Pierce Transit to facilitate ridesharing. They will also be installing a bike rack outside their building this month – just in time for spring!

The YWCA started an employer transportation program this fall but with a little financial help they were able to get things moving even more. Transportation Specialist Donna Levin applied for a mini-grant to provide a monthly bus pass to an employee who pledges to take the bus at least twice a week, as well as monthly incentives and a grand prize in June. They are also promoting ridesharing by offering a reserved parking space for approved carpools. The YWCA partners with Pierce Transit's Emergency Ride Home and Relax Rewards programs.

Downtown: On the Go! Transportation Partnership
Last month, downtown business leaders formed this partnership to develop and implement solutions to parking and transportation challenges downtown. The group will meet during the next six months and commit to internal policy changes to decrease single occupancy commute trips. They will assist in developing tools, resources and products for downtown businesses and commuters, provide a better understanding of downtown commute routes, and explore the potential of an ongoing partnership to continue coordinating activities and programs and services.

Watch for more news from this exciting partnership!

FREE! February Bus Passes
Are you or your employees interested in trying out the bus this month – for free? The Chamber is excited to offer prospective bus riders a monthly Puget Pass. Please contact Jessica at the Chamber if you are interested.

Are YOU signed up for
If you ever carpool, vanpool, take the bus, walk, or bike to work - even occasionally - you should check out the trip-tracking calendar. It calculates your pollution and cost savings and enters you into great prize drawings. It only takes a few minutes to sign up and fill out the calendar. And if you’re thinking about leaving your car at home (or sharing it with others), is a great place to learn about your commute options!

December Chamber Commute Rewards Prize Winners
Downtown Chamber commuters who log their trips on are automatically entered to win great prizes each month. In January, commuters who logged at least SIX smart commutes (biking, walking, ridesharing, or transit) were eligible!

In February, downtown employees who log at least SIX non-drive alone commute trips will be eligible.

$100.00 Gift Certificate to Merende Restaurant: Kathy Weller, Brown and Brown Insurance

$20.00 Gift Certificate to Puget Sound Pizza: Cathy Weisenbach, Courtyard Marriott & Jesse Chavez, Prium Companies

$20.00 Gift Certificate to Meta Books: Joan Rucker, American Cancer Society & April keys, Courtyard by Marriott

For more information or help using, please contact us or visit

*Special January Drawing!*
Downtown commuters who logged at least ten bus commutes on in January were entered to win one of ten FREE February Puget Passes. Congratulations to these winners as well!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Mysterious Barrels Get Cleaned Up

Cleanup work has begun on the old dry cleaners site at the southeast corner of South 14th Street and Pacific Avenue. This follows the City of Tacoma's acquisition of the site and City Council approval of an environmental remediation and indemnity agreement with an adjacent property owner, the Haub Brothers Enterprises Trust.

On Jan. 27, 2009, City Council members authorized an agreed order with the Washington State Department of Ecology for cleanup and groundwater monitoring of the property, formerly the site of Sauro's dry cleaning operation. The City's agreement and acquisition of the property will allow Haub to proceed with acquiring the U.S. Post Office site, located directly northeast of the former Sauro site, because it removes a development barrier related to groundwater contamination. Haub's acquisition will create a larger, developable parcel, when combined with its property between South 13th and South 14th streets and between Court A Street and Pacific Avenue, which will accommodate a potential new headquarters for Russell Investments.

The agreements approved by the City Council do not make the City liable for Haub's obligations, but rather they establish a roadmap for cooperation and coordination on future development on the site.

The property is within the International Financial Services Area in the downtown core.