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. 

Next Steps

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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I ran into this last week, looks like great things are happening in the district:

July 22, 2015 at 4:18 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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altered chords

I lived in that area for about 4 years.  There is alot of blight but so much potential in that area.  It took me 30 seconds to get to the freeway, 7 minutes to get from my front door to my desk at work, 5 minutes to walk to Gari of Sushi.  2 minutes to drive to Lincoln hardware.  It’s also got great Community Liason officer who eradicated 3 different gangs from 3 different houses during the 4 years I was there.  The city has been and continues to do a great job with this neighborhood.

July 22, 2015 at 4:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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This Is a very good neighborhood.  Been here since 99 and have loved it. I graduated from Lincoln high school and have the opportunity to get to know some very nice people. I remember when Frisbys doughnuts was on 38th and little Ceasars pizza was were the lincoln beauty school is now. However I am very confused about the old pool place that is no we’d boarded up and gets graffiti over it once every other week. What are the plans for this building?  Will it to rebuilt,  or torn down? Also the parking lot across the street from flying boots cafe on the north side of 38th st were the food truck is. That’s some what of an eye sore. I think with major improvements to the roads and street signs we can make this a better place. However.  We still need the better part of our community to be involved in every thin aspect of this growing community.

July 23, 2015 at 8:56 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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“The food truck” serves what are probably the best tacos in Tacoma. Not to say there isn’t anything that could enhance the appearance of that lot as long as whoever owns it isn’t building on it, but it’s worth noting that people travel to the Lincoln District specifically to get food there.

July 23, 2015 at 1:41 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Comes to find out That there will be a Starbucks in that Lot. Starting In Aug 2017. 2000 Square Foot Lot with Drive Thru.

January 18, 2017 at 11:21 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I hope they’re involving the business owners and not just the landlords in this process.  Portland did a LID for it’s “Chinatown” and neglected to involve business owners.  While landlords were all for the LID because of property values, the businesses viewed it as an assault to their slice of Portland and feared much increased rents - you can now find most of these businesses way out on 82nd Ave and a “Chinatown” that’s a shadow of itself even as it’s surrounded on three sides by the Pearl District.

July 24, 2015 at 10:15 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Business owners, which are the landlords have had decades to clean up our district, now it’s the homeowners turn to decide what goes in to a business district that does not represent the people that actually have to live with the blight and filth.

July 24, 2015 at 12:17 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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altered chords

The business owners are keeping everything dirty because they don’t want their rents to increase?  If there area were cleaner, people would actually go there. 

What does business owner “involvement” look like?  What needs to be done to ensure their “involvement”?  Pick up trash, hose down the sidewalk, sweep up, paint, get rid of graffiti the second it appears.  These are the things that need to be done to attract people to the area.

July 27, 2015 at 1:54 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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You have a very good point. I would never have thought about that. It doesn’t take much to clean up the area and make it look good. A little pressure washing, Paint, and New signage is all it takes… well and maybe some effort to.

January 18, 2017 at 11:25 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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You have a very good point. I would never have thought about that. It doesn’t take much to clean up the area and make it look good. A little pressure washing, Paint, and New signage is all it takes… well and maybe some effort to.

January 18, 2017 at 11:26 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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