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Lincoln District Revitalization
Work is underway to bring new vitality to the Lincoln District and its surrounding neighborhood, and plans include more than just a facelift for 38th Street.
The City is in the process of giving the neighborhood a facelift that has been a long time coming. The main activity right now centers around a streetscape upgrade that might remind you of the improvements done along Pacific Avenue in recent years. 38th Street between Tacoma Avenue South and Thompson Street will be getting improvements to pedestrian safety, ADA accessibility, appearance and infrastructure. The old iconic light fixtures have already been replaced with new, more energy-efficient versions, and improvements made to some of the street crossings. More such improvements are on their way, including bulbouts and other traffic-calming, mobility-improving infrastructure; landscape improvements, public art to mark the gateways to the business district, and (possibly) some measures to minimize some of the visual clutter of utility lines and signage.
But that's not where the revitalization ends. A leadership team made up of City of Tacoma staff has also been working on a more holistic action plan for the neighborhood - a plan that involves bringing together stakeholders, addressing challenges, and leveraging the strengths of one of Tacoma's most diverse neighborhoods.
The design process is still underway, and should be 60% complete, and ready for public feedback next month.
... and more revitalization ...
We're sure to hear more about it soon, as work continues with neighbors, business owners, and other stakeholders in the area between I-5 and South 48th, and Alaska and Pacific Avenue, but what we've heard so far sounds like good news for the neighborhood.
Staff presented early phases of the project to the city council at a study session on May 19, sharing the work done so far, and where the project will go next. Taking stock of where the neighborhood is now, staff identified assets and challenges - and some factors, like a diverse population of residents and business owners - that fall into both categories.
The neighborhood has a lower average income (nearly 60% of households make less than $50,000), and a higher percentage of non-white residents than the rest of Tacoma, including a large population that doesn't speak English as a primary language. The business district includes more parcels with open code violations than the rest of Tacoma (3%, compared to under 2% for the city as a whole), but also has a low vacancy rate (under 5%).
The City team is working on ways to get resources for tackling blight and building vacancy (residential and commercial) to property owners, and taking steps to improve behind the scenes interdepartmental coordination, to improve the experience for community members.
Improved walkability and pedestrian safety continue to be a goal, as do improved resources for education and employment training, and addressing challenges in communication. Staff are looking at developing a cultural competency training to improve communication between service providers, residents, and businesses. The neighborhood also looks like a good area to pilot some of the ideas from the Welcoming Cities initiative announced in 2014.
Another interesting recommendation is for some sort of physical presence for the City in the neighborhood - something along the lines of a storefront space where community members could drop in to learn about the latest developments and share their own thoughts and needs.
A "cross-functional team" has been established to deliver coordinated and enhanced City services to the area. This team will continue to work with the community to provide services and identify needs and opportunities going forward. Part of that will be an open house scheduled for August 17, and a streetscape public comment opportunity sometime in late fall. Staff described the revitalization as "a project we're doing with the community, not to the community," so we'll expect to see significant stakeholder input continue to be a part of the project.
If this project goes well, we could see it used as a model for future neighborhood revitalization efforts in other parts of Tacoma...
Learn more about the project and keep up with the latest on the City's project page.
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