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Cleaning Up South Tacoma Way

South Tacoma Way is getting a lot of attention lately. 

Last month the City officially designated the stretch of car dealerships along South Tacoma Way as "Tacoma's Auto Row," giving the businesses the green light to apply to WSDOT for directional signage to the district along I-5. The City has also been gathering funds for improvements to roads and multi-modal transportation in the area, including the Water Ditch Trail. And the City Council identified investing in improvements to the area as one of its objectives for 2014.

The Business Examiner has more on efforts of local business owners to do their part to improve the appearance of the district. Three local car dealers in particular are exploring ways of making the South Tacoma Way more attractive to visitors, with a goal of not only drawing in and appealing to customers, but also creating a more unified appearance along the strip between South 37th and 80th.

Mary Byrne, general manager at Bruce Titus Automotive Group, Gary Gilchrist, dealer principal at Gilchrist Buick GMC Chevrolet, and Mo Aliabadi, owner of South Tacoma Auto have identified three smaller zones within the longer South Tacoma Way strip - 37th to about 48th streets, 56th to 66th streets, and 72nd to 80th streets.

The three leaders will be talking with other local businesses to determine interest in the creation of small Business Improvement Areas for these three pockets of businesses. A BIA would allow the businesses to collectively identify and fund improvements specifically for their areas. Tacoma's downtown BIA has been in operation for # years now, and seems to have had a pretty positive impact on the safety and cleanliness of the downtown core.

Full renovation of the district will probably be an ongoing project, but everyone involved is fully aware of the impending date of the US Open and all of its increased traffic. With that in mind, they hope would be to have some significant improvements to South Tacoma Way in place by the summer of 2015. Discussion of the creation of BIAs suggests the dealers are in it for a longer view as well.

Our goal, as the auto dealers in whole along South Tacoma Way, is to really clean this area up and make it — and not just for the auto dealers, but for all of the businesses along here — to make it a desirable location for people to come shop and feel safe and have a nice environment, just like you do in Puyallup, when you go on their auto row, or in Fife and some of these other locations.”

We're not sure about Fife and Puyallup as role models... but in this context, maybe it works? Either way, we're all for a new and improved South Tacoma Way. Can it be done by 2015?

Read more from the Business Examiner.

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Whenever I think South Tacoma Way, Steve’s Gay 90’s Restaurant comes to mind. I believe South Tacoma Way was the original Auto Row, from the 50’s and 60’s.  But this is good news. A bit of sprucing up will be most appreciated.

April 17, 2014 at 8:54 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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So this project will be called the “South Tacoma Way Corridor Multimodal Improvements Project”. 

How impressive.

April 17, 2014 at 9:04 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Auto Dealer

Give a complete support to this project.

April 17, 2014 at 9:43 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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In my opinion, any place that is dominated by wide roads and large parking lots, especially auto dealerships, is an generally unattractive and unwelcoming sort of place. Is there a consensus that the auto dealership areas in Fife and Puyallup are “safer” or in a “nice environment”? What are the improvements they could implement that would make it more attractive to customers? Planting trees is always wonderful, but what else could they do? Coax other types of businesses to move in? Re-stripe roads? Hang signs that declare that it is a cool car-shopping district?

April 18, 2014 at 9:30 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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That’s exactly what I was thinking Teri.  Planting trees, and having islands between lanes, better signs, and less low-scale looking businesses.  They could make an entire environment out of it with signs, or even some 50’s car related restaurants.  The South Tacoma Way district just seems to be falling apart with all of the luxury dealerships going to fife, and the cheap, high-percentage, used-dealers lurking around the entire street now days.  Also, for once, maybe make actual Bus Stops for busses so busses aren’t always blocking right lanes.  This is the only city I’ve lived in that doesn’t have actual side bus stops paved in.  Weird.  hehe.

May 28, 2014 at 8:23 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I agree that busses are a nuisance. But they often carry deadbeats to and from car dealerships, so maybe they serve some purpose. In all fairness, most of the roach coaches are basically mobile billboards, portraying crass messages that would make Hilltop Crips blush. So yeah, Teri and Cam, the real solution is more and better signs. And trees—tall trees, short trees, fat trees, skinny trees—super natural trees as far as the eye can see. Trees will beautify the centerline of South Tacoma Way, and I kid you not—Lady Bird Johnson, leaning over the balustrade of Heaven, will smile upon our murky atmosphere as we confront the moral ugliness and unjust acts that our predecessors never had to face.

May 28, 2014 at 11:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The South Tacoma car dealerships are sales and service businesses that require mostly face to face interaction. They sell cars, car accessories, car maintenance services, car warranties, car insurance, car financing; and beyond selling they buy daily, thousands of dollars of cars and car related products and services.

The intersection of 56th & South Tacoma Way is one of the most dynamic points in Tacoma. I’ve watched the traffic flow there, and the stretch of South Tacoma Way on either side of 56th ST—I work in the neighborhood at an independent used car lot—and I would challenge anyone to name another business district in Tacoma that generates the daily volume of customers and gross sales of South Tacoma Way from 37th ST to 80th ST.

Just for fun, try to find a vacant lot to lease on South Tacoma Way for the purpose of conducting car sales—year by year I’ve watched many small start-up independent dealers expand their volume of inventory and acreage to meet customer demand. In fact, car sales is one of the few business ventures open to anyone, with a fair amount of motivation and ability to serve, which offers the potential for contributing to a higher social and economic standard of living for the overall community.



April 19, 2014 at 1:57 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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