MATT DRISCOLL: WHAT A $30 LUNCH BUYS YOU >>>
As happens every few months, the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber hosted one of their City Center Luncheons this afternoon at the Tacoma Club. The lunch consisted of chicken, peas and corn, a salad with cute little tangerine slices and cookies for desert. The business centric pep rally the lunch was based around was just about as exciting.
Three main themes dominated the discussion.
THE FUTURE OF DOWNTOWN
First off, Ryan Petty from the City of Tacomaâ€™s Economic Development Department and Peter Huffman from the City of Tacomaâ€™s Planning Department gave lunch-goers a rundown of the transformation of downtown Tacoma. As is continually touted at functions like the City Center Luncheon, Tacomaâ€™s downtown core has come a long way. Even so, Tacoma continues to look for new waves to promote growth and encourage business. Folks like Petty and Huffman are playing key roles in establishing an updated plan for the future of Tacomaâ€™s downtown.
According to Petty, the working definition of downtown Tacoma is now larger than itâ€™s ever been â€" thanks to the expansion of UWT, the resurgence of Hilltop, and efforts to revive the Foss Waterway.
While working to create an updated plan for Downtown Tacoma, several objectives are being kept in mind, including: retaining DaVita and Russell Investments, focusing on the most marketable areas of downtown, coordinating public and private investment, adhering to the complete streets mentality, aligning the Economic Development Board and the city better and having a good plan with enough wiggle room to be opportunistic when a chance for profit or city betterment arises.
Vitality, sustainability and cultivating Tacoma as a â€œCity of the Artsâ€ were also mentioned as priorities for Downtown. According to Huffman, itâ€™s important for Tacoma to â€œleverage our unique character,â€ as well as develop the arts in Tacoma as a possible economic opportunity.
UWTâ€™S MASTER PLAN
Milt Trembley, from the University of Washington Tacomaâ€™s Facilities and Campus Services Department discussed the future of UWT. Simply put, Trembley says the continued growth and success of UWT depends on a partnership between private and public investment â€" something UWT has done well so far.
Trembley said that many people with similar job titles as his at different universities have called to ask how they can do what UWT has been able to do. To this, Trembley points out with pride that â€œOnce you get as bad as (downtown Tacoma was), then you can do what we did.â€
With UWT's transformation to a 4-year university, look for the campuses footprint to continue to expand, but with the community as a whole in mind â€" capitalizing on the urban nature of the campus and continuing to emphasize mixed-use spaces and buildings.
Also, Trembley says you can expect the UWT to have a carbon neutral footprint by 2040. Hot damn! Only 32 more years!
THE LUZON BUILDING
Karsen Keever from the Gintz Group gave a brief talk about the future of the Luzon Building, which his company is nearly ready to start bringing back to life. He showed some nifty pictures and provided a brief play by play of what construction will entail. It was enough to get all the real estate and development types in the Tacoma Club a little wet, hot and bothered â€" but at this point I was more interested in my cookie.
PARKING IN TACOMA
Finally, aside from Jessica Holdenâ€™s brief talk on supporting alternatives to commuting from a business perspective and Joanne Buselmeierâ€™s ultra brief preview of Tollefest â€™08 (word on the street is thereâ€™ll be a clown, yo!), Marty Campbell of the Parking Implementation Committee and David Schroedel of Schroedel Planning Services gave the Tacoma Club an update on the research theyâ€™ve done regarding the future of parking in Tacoma.
Pay parking is coming to Tacoma. The decision has already been made. Luckily, before rushing into it, Tacoma gave folks like Campbell and Schroedel a chance to look into the matter, and â€" hopefully â€" devise a plan that will work best for everyone involved â€" business owners, consumers, and those who just like to park.
While itâ€™s ultimately up to the City to determine the future of parking in Tacoma, Campbellâ€™s Parking Implementation Committee will soon offer their suggestions on the matter to the Tacoma City Council. Those recommendations are expected to be based around: increasing convenience for customers trying to park downtown, increasing the time people are allowed to park in existing spots downtown (Tacoma currently has more 1/2 hour parking than Seattle and Portland combined), developing alternatives to commuting by car, and making sure 15% of parking spaces downtown are unoccupied at any one time.