Imagine Tacoma – Waiting for LeMay

With the 31st Annual LeMay Car Show and Auction this last Saturday, and the recent news that the Starbucks across the street from the Tacoma Convention Center is closing (which I assume to mean that said Convention Center is not quite the economic generator envisioned), Imagine Tacoma considers what turning the Convention Center INTO the LeMay Museum might be:

Plenty of room to display a significant portion of the collection while still maintaining the ballroom for special functions – and the main convention floor was designed to support semi-trucks so there is plenty enough structural support. Instead of hanging bits of wood from the ceiling – maybe some cars (ala the SAM Lobby)?

EXTERIOR – (Just a few enhancements required)
15th Street Terminus
Because Downtown Tacoma did/does not have a Master Plan to guide its development, the bLINK , and thus the location of the Convention Center, were political decisions that did not accurately weigh the urban design consequences of terminating Broadway at South 15th Street (sort of like the Sounder Crossing of Pacific Avenue is today). So, at least improve this consequence by creating an appropriately scaled focus to the Broadway Avenue terminus (and maybe add some water fountains to improve the building’s feng shui).

Pedestrian Hillclimb Connection
Without the need for the large loading dock facility for the convention center off Market Street, envision a pedestrian connection from Market Street direct to Tollefson Plaza (for bus/streetcar access and additional parking).

Tollefson Plaza Fence
Given the deserted ‘arid’ condition of the existing plaza, how about a Tacoma spin on Cadillac Ranch? A line of 9 vehicles on-end (Toyota Tacomas?) along Pacific Avenue that will provide much needed ‘edge’ protection to the plaza.

With the cash from the sale of the Convention Center to the LeMay Museum, the City of Tacoma could re-invest into the necessary upgrades to the Tacoma Dome and Exhibition Center – and no more will we be Waiting for LeMay.

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RR Anderson

now that’s cooking with gas!  it gives the tacoma dome a reason for sticking around.  Also as a fan of Cadillac ranch, i’m with you 1000%. 

Tired the (un)convention center!

September 4, 2008 at 8:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

I take it back,  boe is cooking with <span class=“caps”>ROCKET</span> <span class=“caps”>SAUCE</span>!

September 4, 2008 at 8:38 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

maybe I spoke to soon.  the quilt show looks pretty good

September 4, 2008 at 8:50 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I appreciate all of David’s “Imagine Tacoma” creations.  This one seems especially practical <span class=“caps”>AND</span> economically viable. 

That said, the convention center has always appeared under utilized (and it probably is)… but I was surprised to see their calendar loaded with 33 events for an estimated 30,000 attendees over the next couple of months.  While the attendees is likely an overestimation by 2x, the number of events is far more than I would have guessed.  Still, probably an operational cash drain on the city, I suspect. 

Too bad that “Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals” event on 9/12 is closed to the public.  Sounds like a good time…

September 4, 2008 at 9:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I’ve loved every bit of the Imagine Tacoma series, but the only thing I find agreeable here is that the convention center is an awkward way to end Broadway. and the paint the crosswalks and do something with that damn plaza.

If the convention center is failing, then it would be good to move something in and lord knows the LeMay thing is taking forever, but I much prefer the separate area near the Tdome for the car meseaum.

September 4, 2008 at 10:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Dave L.

Hah – that’s a fun idea.  I have heard talk on the street about some wanting to break ground now, and others that don’t want a hole in the ground until all the pieces are in order.  I didn’t attend any of the LeMay planning sessions, but I have to say the <span class=“caps”>ONE</span> thing I hope the museum does right, that <span class=“caps”>SOME</span> museums have gotten wrong, is that automobiles should be viewed and appreciated there way they were intended.  Unless it strictly for artistic statement, a museum about cars should have cars sitting on the ground, on their wheels, not hanging in the air.  They should be seen they way they were used, and the way the likes of Exner and Loewy envisioned them .  Most of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum gets it right, and the Petersen Museum does it wonderfully.  Oh – why don’t we do a buried automobile under Tollefson Plaza.  In a better vault this time.  (Maybe RR still has that Mercury.)

September 4, 2008 at 10:52 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Im usually a big proponent for the building of news structures, but this is not a bad idea at all. actually im convinced that with the money they save, there is a good chance leMay might invest in the city in other ways. the convention center is a nice building that doesn’t see near as much activity as it deserves.

September 4, 2008 at 11:12 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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and by news i definitely meant new.

September 4, 2008 at 11:16 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Douglas Tooley

RE:  Toyota Tacoma, Etc

Construction to industrial weight loads is a good thing, this is only one example.

Artist live work studio compatible warehouse space would be another.  <span class=“caps”>FWIW</span>, the Seattle Company ActivSpace has built several, with auto oriented uses as part of the design – on the ground floor only.

Designing parking garages for possible conversion to commercial or residential would be a third, though I don’t think anyone has tried that.

Oh, on the Toyota Tacoma thing, perhaps that company would kick in a few bucks for ‘naming’ rights???

-Douglas Tooley

September 5, 2008 at 1:22 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Can you start by buying my Toyota Tacoma?  I never drive it anymore…

But, cool idea!  Maybe the convention center really belongs at the T-Dome anyways. The city (or whoever does these things) could add more convention space by the dome.  Dome plus convention equals “value added”.  You know?  Plus it’s right at the end of the Sounder.  This idea sort of puts “like” items together.  This way the museums are all together and close enough to attract actual tourists in that area.

Now, if Tacoma only had an <span class=“caps”>ACTUAL</span> shopping district downtown, we may be set. 

On a completely seperate note, can you do an “Imagine Tacoma” with a shopping mall and district, where it would be, and such.  That’d be fun.  Crush the suburban mall!  Bring back shopping downtown!

Love your articles!

September 5, 2008 at 1:47 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Mofo from the Hood

The convention center is a very high profile building. I always look for it while driving west towards town on the 705.

Car museum? Tacoma, the Detroit of the West?

I think it looks like a sports complex. Like maybe the future home of Tacoma’s pro basketball team—-The Tacoma Toyotas.

September 5, 2008 at 3:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

i have a better basketball team name Mr. Mofo….  <span class=“caps”>THE</span> <span class=“caps”>TOLLEFSON</span> <span class=“caps”>SQUARES</span>!

September 5, 2008 at 4:49 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The only large-scale re-use car museum is the Peterson, and they are even struggling with the space and trying to raise another nine figures to fix it. The LeMay Museum is pretty much as slowed down as any of the capital campaigns in this national economy. How long did <span class=“caps”>MOG</span> take?

September 6, 2008 at 11:41 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Use the money to fix up the TDome?  NO.

Use it to fix our streets, sidewalks, and hire a crew to paint crosswalks in the City.

The Council and Mayor would be like a bunch of drunken sailors going to a whore house if the City sold the <span class=“caps”>TCC</span> to LeMay museum. 

I like the idea of putting LeMay there and get the City out of convention center business.  Oh wait, they’d have to hire a “consultant” to tell them what to do.

September 7, 2008 at 11:52 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Mofo from the Hood

Mr. Anderson @12:

Yeah, I’ve already suggested chain link fence and hoops for Tollefson Square but I didn’t generate any interest. So if team Tollefson Squares plays against team Tacoma Toyotas anytime soon then I’m thinkin’ the game is gonna go down at Wright Park. The victory celebration with liquid refreshments and all that can take place in front of the convention center. Plus day long free rides and mobile victory party on the Link.

And there’s the beauty of the convention center as it is right now. I often ride my bike past the place and no one is around. A full-on party in front of it with spill-over into Tollefson Square wouldn’t even be noticed.

Now here’s a theory about the convention center that may prove true: I think it’s probable that the convention center with its prominent contemporary design and high profile location was part of a covert plan to relocate city hall in a grand way that the public would never agree to. You might recall that the initial plans for the center included an observation tower. If that had been built then Tacoma would have had a monument that strongly alluded to the federal power symbol, the Washington Monument.

Mr. Anderson, I have a passing familiarity with your extensive writings and I trust that you understand the nature of conspiracy theories. As you may agree, we cannot know all mysteries that transpire in the hidden councils of Tacoma.

Furthermore, I would welcome your insight as to the real intent of Mr. Boe’s car musuem fantasy.

September 7, 2008 at 3:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

cant beat the art deco styling of our current city hall, though the idea of conventioncenter cityhall is intriguing.

i suspect Boe is no fan of parking garages, and the LeMay Museum is essentially one giant expensive parking garage with every stall pre-filled. 

I believe the convention center to be a criminal waste of taxpayer money.  Whatismore, when they had the quasi-millitary/security contractor weapons/gear convention that attracted blackwater-goon types and freedom loving activists alike it was our faithful <span class=“caps”>RIOT</span> <span class=“caps”>RAINBOW</span> <span class=“caps”>SUCCESS</span> <span class=“caps”>POSITIVE</span> <span class=“caps”>TPD</span> out in force.

Will the quilting convention draw as much opportunity for the global goon exchange index (<span class=“caps”>GGEI</span>)? That remains to be seen. 

We’ve got to stop these silly pet projects and get back to basics.  we’ve got to make fixing roads and providing a stable backdrop of city services <span class=“caps”>THE</span> sexy thing to do. 

maybe this is the first step? Recycling failed pet projects and moving on?

September 8, 2008 at 7:33 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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It will be interesting to see what they build after the hyping by former city leaders.

September 8, 2008 at 9:43 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I like the car museum idea, but take it a step further. Consider a LeMay lease/multipurpose use of the Convention Center. Part of the building is the museum, part can be used for convention events and still generate income on a more realistic scale. A partnership, if you will, between LeMay and the city. We’d get another cool museum, the city would get income and still have a place to host hordes of out-of-towners. Everybody wins.

Oh and as for the Cadillac Ranch — been there walked the field. Seen the destruction of the cars over time. Very cool, very vulnerable. But Tollefson no doubt very much in need of an art installation, not to mention trees.

September 10, 2008 at 4:08 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Mofo from the Hood

Convention Center / Car Museum / Driver Training School / Driver Licensing Bureau / Park-N-Sell / Car Themed Apparel / Gas Station / Tire Store / Oil Change Depot…

September 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I work for the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center (<span class=“caps”>GTCTC</span>) and would like to address some of the comments and concerns in relation to the center itself. The attendance numbers of events represented on our website are derived from our contractual commitments with our client(s) in which the client discloses the anticipated attendance. They are updated as the event approaches (within 30 days of the event) if the client indicates that the attendance will increase or decrease from their original request. We make every effort to ensure that we have realistic numbers since the retail community relies on this information for their hours of operation and staffing levels if they provide a service to our guests.

The <span class=“caps”>GTCTC</span> makes concerted efforts to act as a catalyst for local businesses to maximize their profits. The local business community is notified of events taking place at the <span class=“caps”>GTCTC</span> for the upcoming quarter via email on a regular basis. This past weekend (September 6-7, 2008) serves as an excellent example. Between the National Indian Council on Aging Biennial Conference with 1,600 attendees, and 2,000 registered participants of the Bank to Bay event (this number does not include spectators) there was a minimum of 3,600 people downtown. Starbucks and Tully’s/Quiznos (on 15th) were both closed. Although we make every effort to communicate information about events taking place here at the <span class=“caps”>GTCTC</span>, how the individual businesses respond or do not respond is up to them.

What most people don’t realize is that the size of the facility is an ideal setting for conventions that require 500-600 guestrooms per night, but unfortunately, we don’t have that number of guestrooms within walking distance of the convention center. For many groups, this is a deal breaker as it is costly and inconvenient for the group to provide ground transportation to move attendees from hotels to the convention center.  Typically, between the Hotel Murano and the Courtyard by Marriott, the available guestrooms (within walking distance) for groups here at the <span class=“caps”>GTCTC</span> are only 230-300 per night. This is dependent upon the hotels availability and other factors such as, not already having contractual commitments to other groups and/or not displacing individual corporate business which produces a higher room rate for the hotels. Without a sufficient inventory of guestrooms, we unfortunately lose group opportunities to other cities. We make every effort to supplement that loss with local events. 

The staff at the <span class=“caps”>GTCTC</span> is open to answering any questions. Feel free to contact us at 253-830-6601 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

September 11, 2008 at 10:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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