Wednesday, March 11, 2009

LeMay Museum Moving Forward?

Phase I of the Harold E. LeMay Museum is looking for funding opportunities for the $28,441,070 project.

Yesterday representatives from the LeMay Museum asked the City Council’s Economic Development Committee to consider financing support for the museum through the City’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Entitlement. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 108 loan program allows CDBG Entitlement communities, like Tacoma to borrow money for certain community development activities. The LeMay project qualifies as an economic development activity within the Section 108 program.

The $3,500,000 of Section 108 loan proceeds will be leveraged with New Market Tax Credits, a conventional loan from US Bank and equity to build phase I of the LeMay Museum on a site provided by the City of Tacoma near the Tacoma Dome.

Phase I, which will begin the permit process this spring, is anticipated to create 90 jobs and will consist of:

  • 150,000 square foot Collector Car Center displaying 600 cars

  • 8 Galleries

  • Theater in the round

  • 1 kilometer road displaying vehicles and exhibits

  • CafĂ©

  • Banquet hall

  • Councours Club

  • Club Auto

  • Education Center with library and classrooms

  • Auto maintenance facility

  • Four-acre show field

The museum anticipates future private retail development and a dining complex housing a multiplex theater.

The full council will hear the financing proposal at the April 15th City Council meeting.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tacoma School Bond - Vote TODAY

Today is your last chance to vote for the Tacoma School Bond.

The money from this bond is for capital facilities improvements that will renovate school buildings and improve facilities used by students and community members. For more information please visit the Tacoma Citizens for Schools website.

Major capital projects include:

  • Renovation of Stewart Middle School

  • Replacement of Baker Middle School

  • Replacement of Hunt Middle School

  • Wilson Phase II

Other small capital projects that would be completed district wide include: HVAC upgrades, roof replacements, carpet replacements, energy conservation, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, playground equipment upgrades and site improvements for parking and traffic flow.

School Bonds are particularly challenging to pass because they first require 40% participation rate of the last regular election (i.e., November 2008). Once validated bond approval requires a super majority of 60% yes votes. As of yesterday 25,379 ballots have been returned or about 74% of turnout goal.

This election is being conducted entirely by mail. Your ballot must be post-marked by today, March 10th to count. If you have not received your ballot please contact the Pierce County Auditor. Pierce County Auditor's election site.

Tuesday, March 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.

To subscribe to this newsletter, or 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
LUNCHTIME Downtown Commuter Social: Friday, March 20, 12-1 – Some of you were unable to attend our first commuter social after work because of your vanpool or bus schedule. We hope you will join us on the 20th for lunch downtown as our way of saying “thanks” for your smart commuting! Please let Jessica know if you plan to attend by Tuesday, March 17 so we can choose our venue accordingly.

It’s Vanpool Time!
Did you know that Pierce Transit has more than 100 vanpools serving a variety of employers in Pierce County? Twenty of those vanpools serve downtown Tacoma. Vanpooling offers a safe and comfortable ride to work, saves fuel and operating costs for your vehicle, and helps reduce carbon emissions by eliminating single occupant vehicles on our roadways. Employees who vanpool enjoy a stress-free trip to work. It is a win-win commute solution for employees and employers alike! Learn more about vanpooling on Pierce Transit’s website.

Want to give it a try? We thought you might, so in partnership with Pierce Transit’s great vanpool staff, the Chamber is offering a special vanpool promotion during March, April, and May:
  • Try it and win prizes: Contact us to find out how you can try a vanpool near you 5 times for free. When you try vanpooling and log your trips on, we’ll give you a $10.00 coffee card! AND you’ll be entered into a grand prize drawing held at the end of May.

  • Join and save even more: If you’re new to vanpooling and decide to join one, the Chamber will cover your first month’s fare, as long as it’s in April or May – so don’t wait!
    Contact Jessica at the Chamber for more information and to find out how you can get started with this special promotion.

If you or your staff are interested in learning more about Pierce Transit’s vanpool program, email Heidi or Kim from Pierce Transit’s vanpool team. They can provide onsite presentations and consultations for you and your staff.

ORCA is Coming…
ORCA (One Regional Card for All) is coming soon to transportation agencies near you. For more information and current updates, please visit

FREE! March 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.

Featured Business: Goodwill Industries
Each month, we feature a downtown business and their Employer Transportation Program. Let us know if you have a program you’d like to share.

For Goodwill Industries, reducing commute trips is an important component of being an environmentally responsible company. Dylan Lippert shared with us about their efforts:

Why did Goodwill Industries decide to create an Employer Transportation Program?
Tacoma Goodwill is committed to being an excellent steward of our environment. Our Green Team is always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and other impacts on the environment. One facet we are working on is reducing our commute trips made in single passenger vehicles. Our line of thought went kind of like this:

I personally drive a clean diesel car. My car gets 46.5mpg, which is excellent! However, with only one person in it I am just getting 46.5mpg.

I could carpool with 3 other individuals. If the average car gets 25mpg, then that carpool is effectively getting 100 miles per person per gallon. We have promoted carpools in the past and continue to do so, but it really gets exciting when folks take public transportation! A city bus gets and average of 3.8 mpg and has a capacity of 44 people on average. So at capacity, busses get 167.2 miles per gallon per person. WOW!
It is easy to see that with fewer gallons of fuel being converted to CO2 that a real benefit is had for our environment.

Looking at it another way, the average bus takes up the road space of 4 regular vehicles, and so displaces 41 vehicles on the road. This reduces traffic and the need to build new roads, and it protects our valuable green space.

What efforts have you made so far?
We promote the use of and are looking into other incentives for our employees choosing greener methods of commuting. We have offered the option for a four day work week in cases where it fits into employees’ job duties.

What kind of feedback have you received from your employees about your program?
Many employees have commented that they appreciate the fact that we are doing this. While not all employees can take advantage of our various commute trip reduction methods, the fact that we are making an effort is much appreciated.

What have been some of your challenges, and how have you addressed them?
The main challenge centers on work and life schedules. However, provides a fun incentive, and the Emergency Ride Program helps provide an important safety net. Our goal is to persuade those who are not committed currently to a certain type of commute, i.e. someone who would take either their own personal vehicle or public transportation. Some folks will always drive and some will always bike or use other green methods of commuting; we mainly focus on those between the two extremes.

About how much time do you spend on your efforts?
Not much time, probably 5 hours a month total.

Do you have any advice for other downtown businesses who may be thinking about starting an employer transportation program?
There are many reasons to promote alternative commuting options. Spreading knowledge about the impact our commute has on the environment is an effective way to motivate people to make personal changes. Any change, big or small, is better than doing nothing.

Spring Campaigns on – are YOU signed up?
Spring means the arrival of Wheel Options, RideshareOnline promotions, and more! Check it out here.

Plus - 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 the ride with others, is a great place to learn about your commute options!

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

$100.00 Gift Certificate to Indochine Restaurant: Cindy Westling, Brown and Brown Insurance
$20.00 Gift Certificate to Embellish Salon: Deb Abraham, Rainier Pacific Bank & Becci Grant, Brown and Brown Insurance
$20.00 Gift Certificate Metro Coffee: Donna Levin, YWCA & Lynn Thorson Mourer, United Way of Pierce County

In March, downtown employees who log at least EIGHT non-drive alone commute trips will be eligible. That’s right - we’re upping the ante a little with the longer days and warmer weather. It’s a great time to try something new!

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

Monday, March 02, 2009

Chairs and Tables, a First Step for Tollefson Plaza

For too long Tollefson Plaza has been a black mark on the hard fought efforts to revitalize and breathe life into downtown Tacoma. Rather than enumerate all the disappointments associated with the Plaza let’s change course…

In February the Economic Development Committee of the Tacoma City Council reviewed recommendations from the Tollefson Plaza/ Century Park Planning Group. The Group comprised of representatives from the City, Save Our Station, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, UWT, Tacoma Art Museum, the Tollefson Family and other stakeholders has been meeting for the past two years to discuss strategies to turn the Plaza into a more inviting and active destination.

Building on recommendations from architect Lars Gemzoe, the planning group has proposed a series of recommendations some believe will make Tollefson Plaza/ Century Park a livelier place. The elements in the first phase of the recommendations include tables, chairs, umbrellas, garbage bins and planters.

Along with warmer weather and leaves on the trees, this spring will bring opportunity to Tollefson Plaza. The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, which manages the Plaza is working with the City to bring this list of amenities onto Tollefson Plaza by May 1st.

What to expect:
  • Tables, chairs and umbrellas: Metal with a modern design that reflects the angles and simple architecture of the Convention Center and Tacoma Art Museum.
  • Planters: Similar to the black ceramic planters in front of the Marriott Hotel adjacent to the Plaza.

Check back soon for pictures of the tables, chairs, umbrellas and planters that will be ordered... (the ones in this picture are not what will be in Tollefson)