Wednesday, August 31, 2011

South 13th Street Completed

Last week we noted the improvements to S. 13th St. between A and Pacific, but also the lingering presence of construction materials. This week we saw the work wrapped up, materials returned to their warehouses, and a new west bound lane opened on S. 13th.

Several years ago, the City undertook a study evaluating the impacts of one way streets throughout downtown and the impacts on mobility and the economy. The message was clear: In a city Tacoma's size, one way routes result in more cars circling, confusion of visitors, and higher costs of doing business. Since that time, the City has slowly converted more and more of its downtown roads to accomodate two way traffic. (For those who may not remember, S. 13th St. used to be one way eastbound for much of its length through downtown.)

With S. 13th St. having a westbound lane for its full length this will allow drivers leaving I-705 at the ability to drive straight up 13th to their destination without extra circling. As BIA Maintenance Supervisor, Jim Burgess, noted this morning, "It was really nice. I came off the freeway, got the light at 13th and Pacific and was at the shop in no time."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Streetscape Improvements

With all the focus on the redesign of Pacific Avenue, you may have missed an important improvement elsewhere in downtown - the repair & reopening of South 13th Street.

A section of South 13th Street between Court A and Pacific Avenue began to sink into the underground parking garage some time ago. This resulted in the closure of the sidewalk and one lane of S. 13th St. on the south side of the road.

After several days of cranes and construction crews the structure has been reinforced, the road lifted & the sidewalk repaired the space has reopened to traffic. This should ease the daily back-up of commuters headed to the freeway down South 13th Street.

While the repair construction may be complete & the road open, the construction signage has simply been pushed to the side rather than entirely removed. We will be looking forward to what improvements are next at this location.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grand Opening: Downtown Tacoma’s Newest Bicycle Infrastructure

On Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011 at 8 a.m., Downtown On the Go and the City of Tacoma will be officially opening their Bike Cage in Park Plaza North Garage (923 Commerce) with a ribbon cutting and grand opening. The public is encouraged to attend.

Tacoma’s newest bike parking, the Park Plaza North Bike Cage, is conveniently located on the 5th floor of the garage, directly across from the skybridge to Broadway. Designed to remove barriers to bicycle commuting by providing a secure area to store bicycles, the bike cage was a collaboration of Downtown On the Go and City of Tacoma staff. Early studies found that many offices in downtown do not allow bicycles to sit in offices and do not provide bicycle parking, yet there are many downtown employees who like to commute by bike.

“Having options for potential bicycle commuters is crucial to increasing the number of cyclists downtown. And the more cyclists on the streets, the less cars, which means, less congestion. It’s a win-win for everyone,” says downtown business owner Judi Hyman of TwoKoi Restaurant and Chair of Downtown On the Go. Both the city and Downtown On the Go would like to install additional bicycle parking facilities if the demand is there for this one.

Those interested in using the cage can sign up with Downtown On the Go by downloading a form from the Downtown On the Go website, picking one up at the Grand Opening on Aug. 30 or by visiting Downtown On the Go (950 Pacific Ave, Suite 300, Tacoma, WA 98402). The cost of the cage is $8 per quarter or $25 per year. Users will receive a quarterly code and will be able to lock bikes to the bike racks at any time.

Contact Kristina Walker, Downtown On the Go Manager, 253-682-1739, for more information. Photos of the Bike Cage are available for viewing at the Downtown On the Go Facebook page.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Downtown Block Party

In case you missed the couple thousand door hangers, the blog posts, or the teasers, this is one last reminder about the free Downtown Block Party planned for tomorrow from 5-10PM on Opera Alley. (For the unfamiliar, Opera Alley is the portion of Court C lying between St. Helens Avenue and South 7th Street in the heart of the Theater District.)

The Downtown Tacoma Neighbors describes the event as "giving attendees the chance to feel what it would be like to make their neighborhood a better place by working collaboratively and creatively...It will be hard for them to leave at the end of the night without a sense of inspiration to think outside-the-box about their own neighborhood."

With activities ranging from board games to wall ball to duct tape art there is bound to be something for everyone. For more details on the event, activities and participants, please visit the Downtown Tacoma Neighbors' website.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

City Acquires $1M For Pacific

The News Tribune reported earlier this week that another $978,300 has been allocated to the renovation of Pacific Avenue. This brings total funds available to a little over $5M of the $8M needed to complete the project.

As the City continues to work towards a final design, concerns continue to be raised about how to accomodate all users of Tacoma's "Main Street." The City is challenged to balance the needs of drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit while still maintaining an attractive street and integrating innovative stormwater features.

For more information on the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project, please visit the City of Tacoma's page for the project here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

City Manager Priorities

The City of Tacoma is asking for feedback from people throughout the City about the next City Manager. Specifically, they want to know priorities, goals, personality, & management style.

To take part in the survey and influence the beginning of the search, please visit the City's survey site at

Friday, August 12, 2011

Homebuying Downtown

Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported on a study by Fiserv identifying Tacoma as the best place to buy a home over the next two years:

"Despite the gloomy picture for the national economy and housing market, residents of [Tacoma], on Washington's Puget Sound, are in for a 25% increase in home prices by spring 2013...David Stiff, Fistserv's chief economist, says cities like Tacoma and Seattle have strong, diverse economies and should fare well over the next two years."

In addition to the prospect of increasing property values, Downtown On The Go has developed additional buyer incentives that could reduce the cost of buying downtown by several thousand dollars by partnering with businesses providing reduced closing costs and down payment assistance.

If owning a home isn't right for you, Downtown On The Go's "Live Downtown" program has also teamed with rental properties offering discounted rents of $100-200 per month.

Visit Downtown On The Go's website for more information on these great opportunities.

UPDATE (3:30PM):
Also of note, the Puget Sound Business Journal just reported that "mortgage rates fell to new lows this week. Freddie Mac says a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to an average of 4.32 percent."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

SB I-705 to Close

Southbound I-705 (onto I-5) will close around S. 11th St. every evening from 8PM until 6AM the next morning from Monday, August 15th through Friday, August 19th.

This means southbound traffic from Schuster Parkway, Stadium Way and the 9th Street on-ramps will be re-routed onto Pacific Avenue and onto I-705 via the South 13th Street on-ramps.

The closure is intended to allow work to continue on the Murray Morgan Bridge. To re-open the bridge to vehicular traffic, construction will continue through 2012.

For more information on the Murary Morgan Bridge Rehabilitation Project, please visit the City of Tacoma's website.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Saturday at Tollefson Plaza

This Saturday will be a busy for Tollefson Plaza with shuttles arriving at 5:15AM to take participants to the start of the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon in Gig Harbor. With the race starting at 7:30AM, the winners will likely be returning to Tollefson a little over an hour later while some of the 1,000+ participants will take four hours. Don't be surprised to see runners coming down Jefferson from Center Street in the early hours.

A few hours later, at 12-noon, the Tacoma Convention Center will open its doors to the public for General John M. Shalikasvili's Memorial Service. The service for the former Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff (1993-1997) will begin at 1PM and is expected to draw 1,700 people including several dignitaries.

Before the service is completed, Tollefson Plaza will see James Grayson Sinding's interactive art installation "Words" delivered. At 2PM, refrigerator-magnet-style words will be dumped into the plaza allowing the public to create their own pithy plaza poetry. Across the street, the Tacoma Art Museum will be celebrating with free admission all day.

With all of this attention to the area, it will be a big day for the Plaza. Don't be suprised if the surrounding blocks seem to have a few more people, cars and closures. Hopefully, you can take part in one or more of the festivities and enjoy a Saturday downtown.

For more information on the above events, please see:
-Tacoma-Narrows Half-Marathon
-General John Shalikashvili Memorial Service

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

National Farmers Market Week

With the sun shining, you're probably looking for a place to have lunch outside or even take a break and do some shopping. Why not visit the Broadway Farmers Market this week during National Farmers Market Week?

Come one, come all. We're celebrating! The Tacoma Farmers Market is honoring healthy food, economic value and community importance of shopping local. Want to see what the hype is about, organic or natural? Well gather the family and meet a farmer today. Also, enjoy an open mic with a performance by Billy Farmer!

For more information on the Broadway Farmers Market, including a list of vendors, please visit them online.

Thursdays, including 8/4

10:30 - 4PM
900 Broadway; 98402