Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tacoma Ranked on the "10 Hot Real Estate Markets to Watch in 2016"

Earlier this December, Trulia, named Tacoma 10th on their “10 Hot Real Estate Markets to Watch in 2016.” Trulia regards Tacoma for our natural beauty, the wide array of outdoor activities we have to offer, and a flourishing arts and culture community. 

Another highlight in our ranking is that while we are surrounded by major employers, we have kept the city an affordable place to call home, making Tacoma an “attractive destination for young professionals and families in the Pacific Northwest.” 
Tacoma was listed alongside some amazing cities such as, Grand Rapids, Charleston, Austin, Baton Rouge, San Antonio, and Colorado Springs, just to name a few. 

With the recent announcements of the Link extensions and the luxury hotels that are going to be opening in the next few years, Tacoma will be sure to rank even higher in the years to come.  

Check out the full article here and explore some of the real estate opportunities that Tacoma has to offer. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Tacoma's First Night Festival

Looking for amazing New Year Eve plans? Tacoma has your answer. For the 20th year, First Night will be hosted in downtown Tacoma. Full of family fun, art, music, fire, ice, and so much more; ringing in the New Year has never been better!

The $10 button required for entrance gives you access to 10 stages, over 50 artists, and all day activities such as, free access to the Museum of Glass, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma Children’s Museum, and free skate rentals at Franciscan Polar Plaza. If you don't purchase your button in advance, it will be $14 at the door. 

First night typically draws in anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 participants so you want to make sure to get there early and grab some parking. They are encouraging attendees to park at the Tacoma Dome and take the Link down to the festival. The Link will be running until 1:00AM and give you plenty of time to get back to your car as hassle free as possible. First Night runs from 6pm-12am on Thursday, December 31st.

There will be food trucks and restaurant deals happening all over town. Be sure to check out their website to get a full list of all the perks and packages available. 

To purchase your button click here and if you want to find out more click here

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

5th Anniversary of the CHI Franciscan Polar Plaza

CHI Franciscan Polar Plaza is here for their fifth year at Tollefson Plaza located at 17th and Pacific. While they are experts in all things fun and ice-skating, this year they have taken entertainment to a whole new level! 

This year CHI Franciscan partnered up with the Tacoma Art Museum, Metro Parks Tacoma and the City of Tacoma to bring you wonderful theme filled adventures. Including a nature skate on December 22nd, a blind date skate on the 23rd, Karaoke Night on the 26th, celebrate a teacher you know and love with Teacher’s Night Out on December 27th, and many more amazing themes! 

There will also be food, music, and art for the whole family to enjoy! Hometown Dogs food truck will be at the rink December 15-17, 19-20 and January 1-3 from 11:30am-9:00pm. 

The Polar Plaza will be open now until January 10th so be sure to skate on down!

For more information and hours click here

Monday, December 21, 2015

Two Big Wins for Tacoma Transit

Last week the Sound Transit Board approved their 2016 budget, which dedicated funds to Tacoma, Lakewood, Federal Way, Seattle, Everett and other transit systems. The Sound Transit Board approved an overall budget of $1.2 billion; $802.9 million of that was dedicated to expansions with an emphasis on light rail expansions. 

Some of the plans include $44 million to complete the final design and begin constructing the Tacoma Trestle, $7 million for the Tacoma Link extension, $11 million to complete final design and start construction of an expanded Sounder layover facility in Lakewood that will accommodate added south line service by 2017, $9 million to purchase new coaches for expanded Sounder service to Lakewood, and many other projects around Western Washington. 

More funding will be made available to Tacoma from the Federal Transit Administration's budget, as voted on last week by the House and Senate. Sound Transit reports $74.99 million in Small Starts funding will be dedicated to extending the Tacoma Link light rail line into the Hilltop neighborhood. The funding will go specifically towards the expansion voters approved in 2008. The expansion will create an additional 2.4 miles along Stadium Way to the Hilltop District. 

Moving forward with the strong support for continued expansions the Sound Transit Board will be placing a comprehensive package for voters to consider next November. The measure will be known as the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure and will be available as a draft in early 2016. 

Follow the links below for more information: 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hotels on the Horizon

With the announcement of McMenamins winning the bid a few weeks ago for the Old City Hall building, everyone seems to be making announcements for new and upcoming hotel projects for Tacoma's future. 

Almost eight years ago, Bellevue's Silver Cloud Inn and Hotels announced that they would be developing an 180 room hotel on Point Ruston, and it has just been announced that construction is finally underway. The delay can be attributed to a slow moving recession coupled with disputes over land-use permits with the City of Ruston. Bellevue's Silver Cloud Inn and Hotels is set to open in 2018 and planned to include one restaurant, a ballroom, meeting rooms, a pool, an exercise room, and a parking garage. 

There are two other major proposals on the table for the future of Tacoma's tourist and business industry. A Chinese investment group, who is still gathering investors, is interested in creating a 24-story, 300 room high rise. It is proposed that this would be a convention hotel along with a condominium complex. The second is coming from Hollander Investments and they have their eyes on the Thea Foss Waterway. Hollander and Investments is planning to build a hotel and an office complex. The first of the buildings to go up will be a nine-story Marriott Residence Inn that will provided 104 rooms. Ground breaking dates have not been set yet, Hollander and Investments are waiting to see how the other proposed hotels do before starting construction. 

If everything goes as planned Tacoma can expect to see five new hotels, at least one more condominium complex, and an increase in office spaces and store fronts in the next few years. Tacoma truly is the City of Destiny and is planning on making a large impact on Tacoma's small business and local economy. 

ead more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/business/article49463305.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/business/article49463305.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, December 07, 2015

Tacoma takes 4th in "Top 10 Best Places to Retire"

In a recent ranking conducted by Livability, Tacoma has been ranked 4th on their “Top 10 Best Places to Retire.” Tacoma was selected for having luxury condos, suburban neighborhoods, and a restored downtown that boasts a “collection of cultural amenities.” 

Tacoma also offers affordable health care, a wide array of wonderful hospitals, and over 10 retirement and assisted living facilities. We also have a high concentration of parks and golf courses, the Puget Sound, museums, a wide collection of performing art centers, and of course amazing food options. 

Livability had nothing but wonderful things to say about the Tacoma area and even gave a shout out to the fact that we are a wonderful place for young families to also find their place in all that Tacoma has to offer. 

Tacoma was also ranked 42nd in their most recent “Top 100 Best Places to Live.” This just proves that whether you are ready to retire or start a family, Tacoma is the perfect place to settle down and enjoy all we have to offer. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Six Years and Waiting

Announced almost six years ago was the purchasing of the Elks Lodge in downtown Tacoma. Roughly a month ago came the announcement that renovations were finally beginning. Why the six year lag you ask? Well, the purchasing company, McMenamins has your answer.

To find the answer you first need to know who is McMenamins? McMenamins is a Portland based entertainment company that holds properties throughout Oregon, Bothell and now Tacoma. They also only work on one project at a time, which explains the gap. With the Bothell building now complete, it is finally Tacoma’s turn.

Another recent announcement was that the City of Tacoma has awarded McMenamins with the bid for Old City Hall, located across the street from the Elks Lodge.

McMenamins has a thirty year history of turning historic buildings into entertainment and lodging locations. They are currently planning on renovating the Elks Lodge to feature an event space and a rooftop garden, accompanied by three restaurants, a bar, and a brewery. To top off this massive renovation, there will also be approximately 46 hotel rooms for guests to stay and play. The Old City Hall, which will be a few years behind the Elks Lodge, will be a complimentary experience for guests. The plan for Old City Hall is to have at least 60 hotel rooms, a gift shop, soaking pools, community and private meeting spaces, along with a jailhouse themed bar and a rooftop restaurant featuring a greenhouse. The Elks Lodge will have more of a unique floor plan with a labyrinth of different types of rooms, while the Old City Hall will keep its classic design consistent throughout the building.

This is looking to be two very large renovations with promising outcomes. These plans will not only take the burden of these two beautiful yet deteriorating buildings off the shoulders of the city but it will also be an amazing new opportunity for tourism and small businesses to flourish.

The Elks lodge has been purchased completely by McMenamins and due to it being a private selling process, no firm timelines were made mandatory for this building.  However, they are hopeful there will be an opening mid-2017. The Old City Hall is on a lease to potentially own status with firm deadlines so as not to experience a six year lag as with the Elks Lodge. Final details, deadlines, and costs have not yet been set but City Council is hoping to have everything approved by early next year. Decisions on if this will be a purchase to own property are still unclear and neither party is giving an indication on which way they are leaning.

With only a handful of historic buildings left to renovate in Tacoma, many people are looking to see what possible projects could be on the horizon for the companies who were outbid for the Old City Hall. Companies such as, Daniels Real Estate, a Seattle based company with experience in historical restorations, lost to McMenamins but is still interested in moving to Tacoma. Some are speculating that the Washington Building on Pacific Ave, the University-Union Club at 539 Broadway, and the Mansion on Broadway may be next to join the ranks of Tacoma’s beautiful historic renovations. Tacoma has a strong grip on their past and is not going to let changing times take away from the rich history that we have to offer. Restoring historic buildings is classically Tacoma and here to stay for many more generations to enjoy.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Downtown Tacoma: Monster Truck Takeover

In late September of this year, downtown Tacoma had experienced some unusual street closures and some may have noticed an extremely large black and green monster truck barreling down 17th or getting some air off the steps of Tollefson Plaza. It wasn't difficult to take a guess what this mysterious closure was up to because it certainly wasn't construction. It was clear that downtown Tacoma had been taken over by driver BJ Baldwin and his camera crew, along with a notorious Pacific Northwest resident, Sasquatch. 

After a little over a month of waiting, the video was released and this isn't just any ordinary commercial, this is "Recoil 3", the third installment of "Recoil" the mini-series. Recoils 1 and 2 have Baldwin in the same monster truck with a similar car chase theme through all three of them. 

Take a look at the video for yourself and let us know what you think! 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Help Brighten the Holidays

Question, how many Tacomans does it take to change hundreds of light bulbs? Just one, but it would take years! Every holiday season Tacoma is lit up with lights and shooting stars but over the years and the rain, the lights are shining  less and less. Which is why Spaceworks and the BIA are asking for your help to brighten the holidays with a Bulb Party!

BIA and Spaceworks will have all of the supplies necessary for a fantastic bulb party including refreshments and goodies, all we are missing is you! Many hands will turn this dark and dull task into a light and merry one, so come join us, and bring your friends!

The Bulb Party will be hosted November 10th and there are three times to choose from! We will be hosting shifts from 7:00-9:00 am, 11:00-1:00 pm, and 5:00-8:00 pm.  The Bulb Party will be at the downtown Post Office Building on the main floor. 

This event is a collaboration between the Downtown Merchants Group, Spaceworks, the Business Improvement Association, Post Hall, and you! 

To find out more information go to our Facebook page and join our event page! 

Location address: 
Post Hall 
Board Room
1102 A Street Tacoma, WA 98401 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Dia De Los Muertos: TAM's 11th Annual Day of the Dead Festival

The Tacoma Art Museum will be hosting their 11th Dia De Los Muertos festival this November 1st 10:00am-4:00pm. This year they will be hosting a Calavera Costume Contest where you can enter to win a $100 prize. There will be free face painting, sugar skull making, and you can create chalk memorials under the TAM's grand awning.

Artist Rene Julio will be featured along with community and partner made altars throughout the museum. Traditional foods will be served in the TAM cafe along with mariachi music to dance to.  

While the event does run from 10:00am-4:00pm, special times and events have been scheduled throughout the day. From 11:00-12:00pm there will be a mariachi performance by Mariachi Lucero, at 2:00pm Danza Quetzacoatl de Olympia will be performing. 3:00pm the winner of the Calavera costume contest will be announced and throughout the entire day PBS will be screening their series: Latino Americans. 

This event is free and open to the public. There are more activities yet to be announced so be sure to check out their Facebook and website links below.

 I hope to see you all there! 

Find out more on the TAM's Facebook Page or the the TAM website

Get inspired here for Calavera cosutme ideas! 

Film School Shorts is a production of KQED.

Written and directed by Ashley Graham, Kate Reynolds and Lindsey St. Pierre. The film won Gold Medal at the 2013 Student Academy Award for Best Animated Short.

Music by Corey Wallace 
Sound Department Mauricio d'Orey 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Last Farmer's Market Day 2015

Our northwest fall sun is making a rare appearance for the final day of the downtown Tacoma farmer's market.  As I walked through the set-up this morning I was reminded that this was my last chance for the earthy smell of carrots, homemade breads, & of course $5 flowers.  Don't miss this last chance to engage in your Thursday ritual.  

Don't forget to say goodbye to your favorite vendors and find out where you can find them November through April before they return to the market in May.

See you on Broadway!

Monday, October 26, 2015

$15 Mil. for Tacoma LINK Expansion

Today, Sen. Patty Murray announced the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the City of Tacoma $15 million for the Tacoma LINK Expansion through the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program Sen. Murray created in 2009.

The project will expand downtown Tacoma's existing streetcar line to more than double its current length, and add several stations with improved bicycle and pedestrian access.

“This is the kind of investment that can transform neighborhoods and help local economies grow and create jobs,” Senator Murray said. “As Tacoma continues to grow, it’s critical that all citizens-- including students, workers, and families-- have access to safe, reliable transit. I’m proud to keep fighting for the federal TIGER grant program because it continually reinvests in our communities, brings our transit systems into the 21st century, and helps our economy grow from the middle out, not the top down.”

Earlier this year in an official letter of support, Sen. Murray urged Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to consider the grant, citing the project’s ability to connect communities and spur economic activity. In addition to the Tacoma LINK Expansion grant, Sen. Murray also announced today that the Washington State Department of Transportation has been awarded $10 million to construct a new ferry terminal in Mukilteo.

Since Sen. Murray created the TIGER program, it has awarded $4.1 billion to 342 innovative, multimodal projects around the country, including $204 million going to 13 projects in Washington state. Past projects include the North Spokane Corridor, the Mercer Corridor Redevelopment, the South Park Bridge Replacement in King County, the West Vancouver Freight Access project at the Port of Vancouver, improvements to I-5 to relieve congestion around JBLM, and moderation of Terminal 46 at the Port of Seattle.

Background on Tacoma LINK Expansion Project:
•         Project approved by voters in 2008 as part of Sound Transit 2 Plan
•         Supported by Tacoma City Council, Pierce County, Sound Transit, Tacoma Public Schools, Group Health, University of Washington-Tacoma, Evergreen State College, Tacoma Housing Authority, and more
•         With expansion, the existing 1.6 mile streetcar line will gain an additional 2.4 miles, for a total system length of 4 miles
•         The expansion includes six additional stations with service planned for 17 hours/day
•         The expansion would connect downtown Tacoma to the Stadium and Hilltop Districts, where 25 percent of residents are low-income and 30 percent of households have no vehicle
•         The expansion would provide access to Tacoma’s “Medical Mile,” which includes major hospitals and medical centers, and five educational facilities serving nearly 17,000 students
•         Transit trips are expected to increase from 1 million to 3.5 million annually, for a daily ridership increase of nearly 85 percent

Taking a Piece of History Home

In June, Tacoma welcomed the world into our backyard and for the first time in State history hosted the US Open. While many of us continued on with our regular routines, for that brief moment Golf was the highlight of our week. 

We watched and hoped for our champions to rise and watched as some of the greatest golfers were taken down by one of the hardest golf courses in the country. We witnessed a young man swing into the history books as the youngest person to ever win the US Open and we were right there beside him.

Take a piece of the history home with you by purchasing a US Open Banner. These banners were proudly displayed throughout Tacoma and are now available for purchase. There are a limited amount of banners and cost $20 each. These lightly used banners are roughly 30inX60in and are made of all weather vinyl.

They are available for pick up at the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber at 950 Pacific Ave #300, Tacoma, WA 98402.

Call the Chamber at (253)627-2175 if you have any questions.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Closing One Chapter and Beginning Another

 Last Friday, October 3rd, the University of Washington Tacoma said goodbye to their 25th anniversary, said hello to their 26th the new academic year.  The next 25 years are sure to bring bright minds and innovation to Tacoma and the South Sound area.

The newly appointed Chancellor Pagano welcomed the first year students with words of encouragement and advice. Many students in the crowd are Tacoma natives and are the first in their families to get the opportunity to go to college, making convocation an extremely special event to celebrate the students’ grand accomplishment. Last year the University was at 68% first generation with their student body population just around 4,500 students. This year is sure to increase in both size and in first generation college goers. 

The University prides itself on its Urban Serving mission, which is why Convocation runs through the Downtown area, to show incoming students not only the partnerships that the University has fostered but to show them how much their community supports them. The University is a member of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities. The University and the coalition define themselves as “a network of public, urban, research universities committed to creating an educated workforce, building strong communities and improving the health of diverse populations.

Tacoma is so unique in the way that it was the community who brought UW Tacoma to life and the community who has supported them in so many ways.  Not many Universities get to say that. Universities and their communities usually are going in two different directions but this is not the case for Tacoma and UW Tacoma. They have grown some much together and continue to grow side by side, serving the South Sound. With the University’s next building project in their sights, they are set to grow once again with the Urban Solutions Center, promising to bring with it more partnerships and students poised to become the future of Tacoma. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Time to Once Again Brush Up on Tacoma Arts Month

As many Tacoma locals know, the month of October brings many wonderful things to the downtown area. While most cities are hunkering down for the winter and the end of tourist season, Tacoma is still buzzing with so many things to offer. A little cold has never bothered the city with the most grit. Tacoma locals are tough, weather going people with a soft side for art. As you might have guessed it is time for Tacoma Arts Month.
While some exhibits are presented year round in local store fronts and in the plethora of museums that the downtown area has to offer, some of the exhibits are only here for the month of October so be sure to see what our local artists have to offer at this year’s festivities. This year’s 76 exhibits are sure to inspire the artist within us all.

Being the 14th anniversary for the Tacoma Arts Month, it promises to be a spectacular showcase of art, culture, dance and local businesses. One of the highlights to Tacoma Arts Month is that participants get the opportunity to take a studio tour October 17-18 at 35 locations featuring over 57 artists and a unique look into how their art comes to life. The tours run on both days from 11am-5pm. The tour is a free, self-guided tour and offers the opportunity to purchase art pieces from the artists directly. Be sure to get your Tacoma Studio Tour Passport to earn stamps and win prize packages. Tacoma Arts Month online website offers you a customized map with all tour locations to ensure you don’t miss out and have the opportunity to create your own art experience. Information regarding the passport, maps, and all that the month of October has to offer can be found on their website http://tacomaartmonth.wpengine.com/

Tacoma Arts Month kicks off this Thursday, October 1st at 6pm at the Historic Tacoma Armory. This is a free public event with no RSVP required. The kickoff will be featuring pop-up exhibits, aerial and cirque performances, dance, poetry, and food. This event is being sponsored by Tacoma Arts Commission, SpaceworksTacoma, Historic Tacoma Armory.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Community Development Practices - Defining Quality of Life

Quality of life – how do you define it and how do you measure it?

I spend quite a bit of time thinking about this question in my work as a community development consultant, working with communities all over the country who are unique and differentiated from one another in beautiful ways.

The optimistic part of me and the part of me that believes in some common universality within the human experience looks for important threads amidst all of that diversity.

Another part of me, the intellectual and philosophical, doesn’t believe we can make statements of objective or universal truth.

Even the image I have used at the top of the post reveals biases about what the artist thinks a quality of life is.

It isn’t that I don’t think there are universal truths, I just don’t think those truth's are ever objective truths, because our perspectives are always mediated through our own or someone else’s experiences and privilege. The bias of the mediation, the others or our own, shape our perspective in ways that can’t be divorced. No one is ever “speaking objectively”, whether I agree or disagree with them.

Something may be VERY true for me, but without a doubt, I will meet someone who can’t affirm that same truth. Still, I’ve never met a person – no matter how different – that I could not find one or two threads of commonality. In the midst of this dance is the art of community development work.

So in my work I try not to run too quickly to the common threads.

I’ll admit it can be hard, both because of timelines and also because of the way my mind works – moving quickly to synchronizing and looking for common elements. I’ve made many mistakes in this regard and I have to work hard to not make them again. I work hard to put my own biases on the table and to always be aware that I speak from a particular vantage point that cannot be separated from my privilege, fears, and personal pain.

So, I have to slow it down - listen deeply and allow for people to be heard.

Often my work is done in the context of community or neighborhood planning, where one of the tools we use is the process of creating an outcome based evaluation tool that starts with creating a baseline for the resident perceptions of the quality of life in the neighborhood.

That baseline is used as a way to prioritize community needs to be addressed by the coalition (usually residents, community groups, the city, etc…). As the work continues, we then re-survey the same residents over time and are able to see whether the quality of life is improving based on the standards that they set.

One of the most interesting parts of this process is getting to the definition of quality of life so that we can even create the baseline survey.

It is true, that the more homogeneous a neighborhood, particularly when it comes to socio-economics, race, and culture – generally the quicker quality of life definitions are arrived at. Still, in very homogeneous communities there can be deep divides around other areas of differentiation. For example single people, partnered people with no kids, and partnered people with kids might have very different priorities around issues affecting children in their neighborhood.

In communities with a great deal of socio-economic, racial, or cultural diversity – the quality of life definitions and perceptions may seem downright antithetical to one another. Yet, in these circumstances, with skilled facilitation, and mature and committed participants, I have often seen how people who seemed to be forever a part were able to come to consensus as they found a deeper understanding of their own perceptions and those of their neighbors.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not pie in the sky about any of this. Sometimes diverse communities aren’t able to come together.

Sometimes an effort breaks down because there isn’t enough common ground.

Sometimes the scope of a project gets limited to what can be agreed upon and often that is much less than everyone one was hoping for.

Sometimes factions break out that end up working for entirely different visions in the same community. That is also the beauty of grassroots advocacy in a democracy, the choice of differentiating, with each working and advocating for their vision in the public square.

Regardless, generally people gravitate towards very common issues related to quality of life in their community. Things like safety, beauty, economic opportunity, appropriate and affordable housing options, access to food, access to recreation, and many other things. In fact, there are studies and theories that put forth common elements of quality of life - the problem is still in definition of what those mean and how to get there.

The difficulty begins when you try to come to a common definition of something like safety or a consensus on how to create safety.

It is difficult, because an individual’s sense of safety is a very subjective and personal thing. While we might be able to find some threads, those particular differences are often held closely, emotionally, and tied deeply to personal experiences that are hard to question.

What IS common for all of us is that we think about and are invested in our quality of life. We all have the desire to live in a community that supports and reflects that definition of quality of life.

What I have found helpful is the process of examining my own definitions of quality of life.

Where do they come from? What definitions are most different from my neighbors and why? Are there any of my definitions that seem unreasonable? What are my non-negotiable (essential) and what are simply my preferences, but negotiable? On an issue of difference, what is the CORE concern I have – what is the ROOT fear I have that drives my perception?

Spending some time doing this self-reflection work better prepares us to engage in community development work with others. It also helps our awareness of what might be going on for others around their own definitions.

I encourage us to take the time to ask our neighbors some of the questions we’ve asked ourselves, so that we don’t assume we know where their opinions come from, but rather get at the root of their perspective and its genesis.

None of this is magic. But, the process of defining quality of life with our neighbors is a powerful tool that deepens our understanding of our differences and also creates an opportunity to find threads of commonality with which to build consensus in moving forward.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Walk Tacoma - Museum Walk & Kid Walk - Wednesday July 15

Mark your calendars for July 15th. There are two great events brought to you by Downtown On the Go and their various partners – Walk Tacoma Museums and Family Walk. Detailed information below about both events from a press release put out by Downtown on the Go.

Tacoma, Wash. – Come downtown to experience the Museum District on Wednesday, July 15 at noon for the Walk Tacoma Museum/Family Walk.  These two concurrent walks have something for every age.  The 1.8 mile Museum Walk, led by Council Member Robert Thoms, will showcase our downtown museums with stops at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, Tacoma Art Museum, WA State History Museum, Museum of Glass, and LeMay America’s Car Museum. 

The 1 mile Family Walk, geared toward children elementary school age and younger, will include fun activities for kids, a visit by Rhubarb, goodie bags, and a ride on the Tacoma Link.  It will be led by Dianna Kielian, Sr. Vice President for Mission with Walk Tacoma series sponsor CHI Franciscan Health.  The Museum/Family Walk, sponsored by the Tacoma Rainiers, will start outside the Children’s Museum at S. 15th & Pacific Avenue.  There is no need to pre-register for the event, simply join Downtown On the Go at the meeting spot. 

Downtown On the Go will be collaborating with the United Way of Pierce County and the Children’s Museum of Tacoma to offer the Family Walk.  “The museum is so excited to be a partner in the Museum/Family Walk again this year.  We love to see young families exploring downtown Tacoma and enjoying all of the great parks, museums, and sites that our city has to offer,” said Brenda Morrison, Tacoma Children’s Museum Deputy Director.

Walk Tacoma 2015, sponsored by CHI Franciscan Health, is a nine-event walking series held on first and third Wednesdays, from April through August. The fun, themed walks, now in their sixth year, encourage people to enjoy downtown on foot by introducing new walking routes and sharing information about the community and its history through the guided tours. The walks are scheduled at the lunch hour and just after work to encourage downtown employees to walk during their workday, whether it is to and from work or at a lunch break.

Log your walks on the Trip Calendar at PierceTrips.com to earn prizes and be a part of the 24,859 mile community challenge to Walk Around the World.

For more information on the full Walk Tacoma Series or the Walk Around the World campaign, visit www.downtownonthego.org or find us on Facebook orTwitter.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Resident Engagement this Week - Be Informed, Give Input, and Have Some Fun!

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

That phrase is actually an old proverb, but you probably know it as the sentence that Jack types over and over again during his psychotic break in the movie The Shining. If you are the literary type, you might remember the phrase shows up in Jack Kerouac’s novel Big Sur.

Well, don’t worry, nothing that heavy or scary here - just a full week of ways to have fun and to “go to work” as an engaged citizen in downtown Tacoma.

Because, all play and no work make Tacoma a dull place.

Bike Train: Bike Me Out to the Ballgame
June 24, 2015 at 5:30 pm

​The Bike Committee is going to bike train from downtown to Cheney Stadium to watch the Tacoma Rainiers play the Reno Aces. The game starts at 7:05 and anyone who bikes to the game gets a special ticket rate of $11.50, which gets you a seat, a hot dog, a bag of chips, and a bottle of water.  Just tell them at the ticket counter that you biked to the game. If you want to join the bike train, meet at S. 11th and Pacific Avenue.

ST-3 Tacoma Open House
June 24, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Good and plenty of public transit is an important factor for a thriving urban region. You can show up at this open house and give your input to The Sound Transit Board on which projects they should study as final candidates for the ST3 public vote that could be happening as soon as November 2016. The presentation will begin at 6 pm and the open house will take place at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center at 1500 Broadway.

Public Hearing on Draft of Paid Leave Rules
June 25, 2015 at 10:00 am

You have probably heard by now and I will likely be writing more about this soon, but beginning  in February 2016, Tacoma employers will be required to provide up to 24 hours of Paid Leave annually to employees within the City of Tacoma. You can read about the paid leave rules and regulations that have been drafted for review at cityoftacoma.org/paidleave. You can attend the public hearing, and provide your feedback at the Tacoma Public Library Main Branch – Olympic Room at 1102 Tacoma Avenue South.

1st Annual Tacoma Waterfront Crab Feed
June 25, 2015 at 5:30 pm

If you are allergic to crab, well, I feel really bad for you and you definitely shouldn’t go to this event. But, for the rest of you – strap on your bib and join the Tacoma Waterfront Association (TWA) this Friday for the first ever Waterfront Crab Feed fundraiser at the Foss Waterway Seaport at 705 Dock Street.

Beyond eating all the crab you can, there will be chances to bid on or win prizes at the silent auction, raffles, and a ring toss. This fundraiser will be an opportunity to highlight Tacoma’s waterfront and the community and businesses within it. The event will feature prominent figures in the waterfront speaking to the latest activities and plans for the future of Tacoma’s waterfront. This fundraiser will help TWA continue its mission of making the waterfront enjoyable and accessible.

You can get your tickets now at: TWA-CrabFeed.brownpapertickets.com!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pop-Up Art Putt! in Downtown Tacoma

It’s finally here – the U.S. Open Golf Championship has come to the 253. For many, the anticipation has been building for years.

There has been word of Tiger Woods sightings as he played some practice rounds in the weeks leading up to the tournament. Some are hoping that practice might lead to a Tiger return to glory. It seems doubtful.

Others dream of a local boy like Michael Putnam or Ryan Moore coming out of nowhere to win their first major. That also seems unlikely, but would be really cool.

Whatever happens with the actual golf, we are all hoping for a nice economic boost for the city, county, and region. We can anticipate the world will fall in love with the pure aesthetic beauty of the course and its surroundings, as they watch the tournament unfold later this week.

I will not be heading out to Chamber’s Bay for the tournament. I’ve never played the golf course because, well, I’m terrible at and easily frustrated by the game of golf. Why pay all that money to be pissed off and when I can enjoy the course and the view for free by walking the trail? I’ll track the tournament and the coverage on T.V. this week.

If I actually grab a golf club this week, it will be to play something a little more my speed – like the Pop-Up Art Put mini golf course being brought to downtown Tacoma by the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) and the Tacoma Arts Commission.

Ten local artists have been commissioned to create ten sculptural miniature golf holes for a course that will span TAM’s Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Plaza, Tollefson Plaza, and the Prairie Line Trail.

You can get your club, golf balls, and score cards at the TAM and when you are finished playing the course you can vote for your favorite artist-designed hole. Unlike Chamber’s Bay – this course is FREE to play.

As the first day of play is winding up at Chambers Bay, the party will just be getting started at the Pop-Up Art Putt course in downtown Tacoma.

The Opening Party for the exhibit will be this Thursday June 18 from 5-8 pm. You can dance along the course to tracks spun by a live DJ. There will be food trucks along the course and of course a beer garden, because this is Tacoma.

Come on – go ahead and check this out! This is one hell of a cool idea. Bravo TAM and Tacoma Arts Commission!

Pop-Up Art Putt! Hours will be…

Thursday, June 18, 5 pm – 8 pm
Friday, June 19, 10 am – 8 pm
Saturday, June 20, 10 am – 8 pm
Sunday, June 21, 10 am – 4 pm

New Tacoma Awards 2015 Nominations Open

Each year the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber works with the downtown community to recognize outstanding individuals, organizations and events.  Well, it is that time of year again.  

Next month, on July 10th, downtown standouts will be honored at the New Tacoma Awards luncheon.  Last year's award recipients include:

Ghilarducci Award: Foss Waterway Seaport’s Rehabilitation
Popham Award: Justin Mayfield of Downtown Block Party
Public Places Award: Downtown On the Go’s Walk Tacoma
Schoenfeld Award: Tinkertopia
Union Station Award: Children’s Museum of Tacoma 

For more on last year's recipients:

Who will be nominated to receive the awards this year is up to you.  Nominations are now open: http://bit.ly/NewTacomaAwards

If you love what someone is doing downtown, nominate them for an award:

  • Popham Award: Building community spirit

  • Schoenfeld Award: Retail/Restaurant pizzazz

  • Ghilarducci Award: New development or renovation

  • Union Station Award: Building momentum for revitalization

  • Public Places Award: Activation of a public space
The online nomination form can be found http://bit.ly/NewTacomaAwards

Monday, June 08, 2015

I love trains.

I just took the Amtrak down to Portland a few weeks back for a work trip. It is my favorite way to travel to PDX, which I do for work and pleasure at least a few times a year. Portland’s walk-ability and transit system also make it really easy to be without a car.

You may have heard by now that WSDOT will be breaking ground on the new Amtrak station at Freighthouse Square this next year and that new station is schedule to open in 2017.

Parts of the plans for the new station include a clock tower that WSDOT and the Citizens Advisory Committee on the project have hopes will be an iconic addition to the Tacoma landscape.

The proposed clock tower will stand 80 to 90 feet tall and be located on 25th Street, in front of the Freighthouse Square building and across the street from the commuter parking garage.

Whenever someone uses the word iconic – I’ll admit I get a little nervous.

Not because I’m against iconic structures. No, in fact, I think iconic design and architectural elements are an important factor in a community’s identification with its city.

I get nervous because sometimes what gets produced in the service of iconic is something ugly, something out of place, something that isn’t functional, or something that is trying entirely too hard.

I’m not an architect or a designer, but like most of you, I know when something works and doesn’t work. It’s a fine line – trying to create something iconic

In some ways there are a lot of things out of the control of the designers and decision makers that end up making something iconic. Sometimes it is just about timing. Sometimes it’s about the cultural evolution of a place that can’t be anticipated in the moment.

Interestingly enough, we already have an iconic structure in the vicinity of the new Amtrak station – the Tacoma Dome.

The T-Dome is a good example. I’m not sure anyone would call it attractive and in fact many people might call it an eye sore. Nevertheless, it is iconic and you can’t think about the Tacoma landscape without calling to mind the dome.

The structure itself is iconic and that doesn’t even take into account the history that it holds. I wore out my Sonic’s T-Shirt that had the Tacoma landscape worked into the Sonic’s logo from their time playing in the Woodshed in the 1994-95 season. That’s just one of my many favorite pieces of T-Dome history.

One of the things that will make the Tacoma dome even more iconic (in my opinion) is the Warhol Flower being painted on the top of the dome. I know that everyone doesn’t share that opinion, but what I like about it is that it takes something that is already a known quantity and connects it even more deeply to a significant part of our identity as strong artistically oriented city.

Plus, it takes a bit of a risk – which sometimes is needed when trying to create something iconic.

WSDOT put a call out for residents to weigh in on three proposed designs for the clock tower. Today was the deadline for input. I will be interested to see what the feedback is.

I won’t get into the proposed designs, but if you want to read more about them you can check out Matt Driscoll’s article in The News Tribune. Like Matt, I think the clock tower is a good idea, but I’m not sold on any of the current designs either.

Here is the thing about creating something iconic – you can’t let the limitations get in the way.

There are plenty of potential limitations – cost, the limitations of the location, and trying to meet particular deadlines.

Taking a risk is not the same thing as settling for something less the desirable because we lack the will, the imagination, and the determination to create something that really works.

I vote that we take our time.

Matt points out that City Councilman David Boe (an architect) has some ideas, including a city run open design competition – after all Tacoma is full of many great artists, designers, and architects that I believe have the capacity to imagine something that will indeed be iconic.

In my opinion it would be worth the time and effort – let’s get this right.

If at this late hour you still want to weigh in. You can access the survey here - online survey .

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spaceworks Tacoma - Activating Space

Activated space.

It’s one of the most important elements of community development and neighborhood revitalization. It’s importance is understood by both high level urban planners and grass roots community organizers. It speaks both to architectural design and the importance of third spaces for people to gather, and it speaks to everything in between.

In Tacoma we have an inventive and robust effort that understands the importance of activated space - it’s called Spaceworks Tacoma.

Spaceworks is a partnership between the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce that is designed to activate empty storefronts and vacant spaces in the city with art and creative enterprise.

Property owners donate their vacant spaces and Spaceworks makes those low-cost temporary spaces available to artists, entrepreneurs, organizations, and community groups who transform those spaces with creative business, art installations, short term community based projects, or pop-up events.

Spaceworks also provides training, professional development and technical assistance to the participants in the program. 

Have you seen a Spaceworks installation around town? Have you visited a Spaceworks business? Have you attended one of a plethora of creative events and parties held in a Spaceworks activated spaces?

If not, what are you waiting for? They are all around you - in the downtown neighborhood, the Hilltop, the 6th Avenue corridor, and throughout the city.

On June 3rd from noon - 1pm, Spaceworks Tacoma will be highlighted in the Walk Tacoma series for 2015. Spaceworks is hosting a free, guided Public Art Walk that will be lead by Public Art Specialist Rebecca Solverson with the City of Tacoma.

This particular art walk will be 1.5 miles and will explore the local public art and murals found throughout the Hilltop neighborhood. The walk will start at People’s Park on S. 9th and MLK Jr. Way.

One of the more whacky and fun projects that Spaceworks will be involved with is in partnership with the Cartoonist League of Absurd Washingtonians (CLAW) and Downtown on the Go (DOTG).

CLAW has their Open Swim event tonight, May 27th, 7:30 pm at King’s Books. DOTG is sponsoring this open swim event by providing ten blank white bike helmets to be drawn on and decorated by attendees.

The plan is to have the decorated helmets serve as a traveling exhibit for DOTG to be orchestrated by Spaceworks. Rumor has it these helmets might end up on the heads of some well known Tacoma personalities during the Downtown to Defiance event in September. Finally, the helmets will be auctioned off and the proceeds split between DOTG and the CLAW Student Scholarship Fund.

Now that is some creative partnership if you ask me.

The thing about activated space - it is both a function of the space itself and the people that populate it. Spaceworks is doing it’s part. Let’s do ours and populate these spaces with our presence and our dollars.