Bass Pro Shop Ranger Tower Proposed

The new Bass Pro Shop at I-5 and 72nd in south Tacoma has gotten a lot of attention as a retail destination. Now they're asking to raise the visibility of their new store a little more with a rather large sign - and a dozen smaller signs.

A proposed free-standing sign, "designed in the style of a historic ranger tower in Washington," would stand at 65 feet tall next to I-5. Two proposed Bass Pro logos just below the ranger shelter at the top would each be 21 feet by nearly 14 feet, for an area of 287 square feet each. A sign of that size is outside the normal signage allowed, requiring that the City grant Bass Pro Shops variances.

Along with variances for number, distance between, heigh, and size of freestanding signs for the ranger tower, Bass Pro Shops is also requesting variances to the allowed number of wall signs and total square footage for wall signs. Those signs, the company says, are important to direct customers to the number of "activity centers" within the store, including one for Uncle Buck's Fishbowl Bar & Grill. We count about a dozen in the land use application documents. Apparently all these requests are actually reduced from initial proposals after discussions with the City. 

Read the public notice here (pdf). Public comment will be accepted on the proposal through April 29.

What we really want to know is whether they'll be renting out the ranger tower for camping...

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Ugh.  A structure in the guise of off-site signage.  What an abomination.  The problem with designs like this is that the commercial site becomes incredibly undesirable if Bass Pro Shops ever leaves the site/goes out of business (Form Based Code 101).  Then you get Hustler Hollywood next door moving in because the lease is cheap or buying the signage rights and hoisting up a giant sign (think the Lover’s signage in Tukwila that illuminates I-5 in a seductive purple glow).  Great that the business wants to locate here but the Cabelas in Lacey has far less roadside exposure and doesn’t require this level of ridiculous advertising.

Additionally, we aren’t the first city to fall prey to this type of behavior.  Bass Pro Shops pulled the same thing on Memphis to take over the Pyramid Arena.  It looks like the City was able to negotiate eliminating the yellow neon glowing signage for something more subtle.  If our code is prohibitive of it I don’t know why the variance should be granted.

April 18, 2014 at 1:27 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Or they could just have UWT students and faculty go out in the dead of night and under cloak of darkness paint Bass Pro logo on the sides of the overpass.  Six months later the City will give them exactly what they want and will raid the City maintenance budget to fund it.

April 18, 2014 at 10:58 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Better a big sign than another empty building and wasteland parking lot. Without the sign the business is not very obvious from the freeway.

April 21, 2014 at 6:36 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I don’t think the choice is a sign or no business.  Look at their other stores in cities with some semblance of planning and having a design code and they look like legitimate sensible stores .  We have such a code to prevent the area from looking like Disneyland.  I don’t know why a normal sign couldn’t suffice.  The City shouldn’t be granting variances to propagate a signage arms race to out do neighboring businesses.  It sets a bad precedent.

Why can’t they just make a sign like they have for all their other stores.  This is their flagship store set back and hidden by trees.  I don’t think this is necessarily unreasonable.,-93.295121,3a,75y,271.53h,83.8t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sr17ZJwSG4BOLBRNfiD45Ww!2e0

Altoona, IA,-93.515701,3a,75y,136.69h,80.75t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sOsABJOU67dnY43x2fUxUUQ!2e0

Concord, NC,-80.717032,3a,75y,340.7h,74.78t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sPxhLY-330gYZV6bJGbFQrw!2e0

Denham Springs, LA,-90.963286,3a,75y,181.21h,80.97t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sqOCz1NkQ5D1X8XNSvbuqSw!2e0

Those all seem somewhat reasonable.  Nothing in the range of a 65ft eye sore though.

Another fun fact is Bass Pro Shops typically are located on Bass Pro Lane.  Streets that they’ve either carved out themselves or completely renamed.  Curious if they want to rename Hosmer Street D:

April 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Here is a company coming in to Tacoma that is going to do more to attract people to come to Tacoma than the Convention Ctr & Glass Museum & State Historical Museum & Lemay Museum combined.  The proposed sign looks a lot better to me than the new baseball stadium or the Lemay museum, both of which are honest to God eyesores.

April 22, 2014 at 4:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Subjective comments and sign snobbery be damned. A mountain-top lookout cabin is appropriate for the northwest. It could even be kinda cool if the owners were to open it to the public as a functional lookout tower.

April 22, 2014 at 7:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Thanks, Stu, arbiter of objectivity.  That said, I’m not worried about the tower—that part of town is crassly commercial, strip-malled (mauled?), and auto-centric, and it won’t be changing anytime soon.

April 22, 2014 at 8:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I agree with you the area is not pretty, but I don’t think that means we throw out the baby with the bathwater.  We have minimal design code standards for the area, why must the bar be pushed lower based off of how flexible it is?

April 23, 2014 at 2:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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