Proctor Building Boom of 2008, Seven Years Late…

There are no specifics yet, but it is confirmed that the partners behind the Proctor Station mixed use development currently under construction in Tacoma's Proctor neighborhood have a second development planned just down the street.

The new project, planned for the 2500 block of Proctor across from Metropolitan Market, on the west side of Proctor, will be another mixed-use, apartments-and-retail building, like its sister development, Proctor Station, two blocks away.

It's a development we've been hearing whispers and grumblings about for years. This week The News Tribune has a story about the development group's early plans for the project. Bill Evans, Erling Kuester, and Rush Construction own the whole block, except for the New Era dry cleaner, but the TNT reports that the 75-year-old owner of that property is willing to sell - for the right price. 

Because the project would fall within the allowed uses and height limits for the district, which is zoned as one of Tacoma's mixed-use centers, it shouldn't require a variance. There may be nothing for the City Council to approve or turn down, or any required public comment.

This whole saga, particularly many of the comments we've read in various forums, reminds us of the very real importance of getting involved in planning processes, really understanding what's being agreed to, and voicing opinions - before final drafts are adopted.

Previously from Exit133 (2006): Not Your Mother's Proctor.


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Comments

Engineer

I am excited for the mixed use businesses to open in Proctor and am even more excited that more development is in the process of planning nearby.  I work nearby and frequent a few of the businesses in Proctor.  Adding some density in the area with more shopping and dining options may make it worth our while to sell our large cheap suburban house and upgrade to a smaller, more convenient, and more expensive house somewhere near Proctor.  Somebody in Proctor who wants to live in an exclusively residential neighborhood with no density can buy my house.  It’s nice to finally see this type of development in the South Sound, especially in Tacoma.

May 15, 2015 at 2:04 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Drizzle

I live 2 blocks from Proctor Station (I can see it from my front porch), and am (cautiously) optimistic about the added density, since more people living in the district means more support for local businesses, more energy and vibrancy in the business district, and that’s why we live here!  My primary concern is the parking situation, which is already a bit tight in Proctor.  I very much hope that the City will do a parking study and figure out some parking mitigation measures.

May 15, 2015 at 3:01 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jesse

It’s a lot utopian, but maybe all the new tax revenue created by these big apartment/condo/business buildings could be put in a special fund for the streetcar line that the city is hoping to one-day reach Proctor.  I would suspect that the 6th avenue line might be after the MLK line slated for 2018-2021(?). Proctor is about a mile or so away from the 6th avenue line.

http://cms.cityoftacoma.org/PublicWorks/Engineering/TMP/StreetcarHCTMap.pdf

May 18, 2015 at 9:24 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Terry

Ah, I’m not a 100% sure of all the numbers, but given the new Sound Transit price of what? 100 million ++ per mile for light rail? For the cost of getting rail to Proctor, we could repair every bad street in the North End.

May 18, 2015 at 10:29 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Chris

The first step to getting LINK to Proctor would be to get us to 6th Ave and Union.  That’s entirely possible to fund as a project in the upcoming Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.  Best way to do that would be to use 6th Avenue as a corridor to get to TCC.  S. 19th is another alternative to get to TCC, but that would likely preclude any spur to Proctor.

May 18, 2015 at 10:46 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Terry

And what if Sound Transit loses at the polls? Then what? Funny to be talking about 100 million per mile rail to only one small part of Tacoma as the roads fail and bus service to the rest of this fair city is slashed. Maybe it’s time to rise up and kick Sound Transit outta town? Tacoma taxes for Tacoma roads and Tacoma Buses! (to every part of the city). Support Pierce Transit and 100% local control.

May 18, 2015 at 11:14 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jesse

Sound Transit is a huge money waster.  Go look near Sea-Tac where they’re building an extension of Link all on a bridge.  The whole way.  They could probably build the Link all the way to Tacoma for the same cost if they built at grade down the center of HWY99.

May 18, 2015 at 11:57 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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tacoma1Registered

ST would have to buy the center lane of the Hwy from WSDOT, inevitable collisions with the train and cars going 50mph plus down 99 would rack up casualties, not to mention how many passengers ST would lose with people playing frogger trying to get to the train.

Pretty sure putting the train up in the air is the cheapest/safest/fastest option available.

May 18, 2015 at 5:12 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jesse

Then why not along I-5?  Why not grade separated on HWY99 like Portland did on it’s HWY 99/Interstate Avenue MAX line?  There are better engineering options.  I mean, they’re building a bridge all the way (eventually) to Tacoma?  My god.  I don’t want to pay for that.

http://light-rail-big.blogspot.com/2009/06/portland-interstate-max.html

May 19, 2015 at 10:24 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jesse

As an example, Portland paid $70m a mile for the Clackamas Green Line expansion in 2009.  It is along I-205 at grade a lot of the way.  Interstate Avenue MAX cost about $60m a mile in 2004.  Sound Transit estimates, in 2008, it would cost $3.6B to build Link from SeaTac to Tacoma.  That’s about $180m per mile.  It’s because they insist on building it all on bridges even though this stretch is relatively flat.  There is nothing wrong with Portland’s buildout… in fact it’s the envy of many cities.

So, the real question is this; do you want Ferrari equivalent transit that goes one mile, or do you want Toyota equivalent transit that goes three miles?

http://www.debunkingportland.com/cost_of_max.html

May 19, 2015 at 10:40 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jesse

Right.  That’s what I’m saying.  ST3 might pay for a line to 6th and Union.  Proctor would need to get from 6th to the business district.  Really though, I think it would be cheaper to rebuild the entirety of TCC in downtown than to run a streetcar to the current TCC location.  I am a fan of connecting the close-in business districts with streetcar but not the far-out reaches of Tacoma.

May 18, 2015 at 11:53 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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ApitbullnamedPlug

This is going to sound a little far-fetched, but I don’t think there is going to be much need for a streetcar in the timeline you envision.  Self-driving cars are on the near horizon. 

You can find the internet abuzz with articles about it, but the summary situation is as follows:

Google and Tesla both have plans for fully automated cars to be available to the general public within 5 years.  Google’s test cars have already been driving through SF streets for the last 5+ years.  Mercedes is currently rolling out cars it describes as “90% automated” capable of steering, braking, navigating city streets, and parking.  Every single car manufacturer is working on this.  Even the most pessimistic estimates predict self-driving cars on the streets within 15 years. 

In the time it would take to plan, finance, and build a rail system through Tacoma, automated cars will already be rolling around.  Why take the streetcar when you can just buy into a carshare and get door to door service?  Why spend hundreds of millions of public money on an obsolete rail system?

May 18, 2015 at 10:58 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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RHTCCComedyfanRegistered

“Even the most pessimistic estimates predict self-driving cars on the streets within 15 years.”

Sure $20 per gallon of gasoline and $100,000 self driving passenger cars mere pocket change for your average Joe right?

May 19, 2015 at 9:38 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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ApitbullnamedPlug

Sure $20 per gallon of gasoline and $100,000 self driving passenger cars mere pocket change for your average Joe right?

Where do you get your numbers from?

Most self-driving cars will be electric, not gas.  Why buy a car when you can just go in on a car-share program?

May 20, 2015 at 8:10 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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RHTCCComedyfanRegistered

The problem about electric cars is if you replace all the gasoline cars with electric ones there won’t be enough electricity to power them.
Also the cost of electric power will become very high
Due to climate change (thank fossil fuel vehicles in large part for that) the rocky mountain glaciers that feeds the hydroelectric dams in Eastern Washington will be having less glacial melt every year due to disappearing glaciers.Eventually no Glaciers means no hydroelectric electricity and no Columbia or Snake river either too.
Tacoma power currently gets around 90% of its power from hydroelectric sources if you look it up on the Internet.
Without available electricity electric cars that use a lot of electricity to power them will become useless.

May 20, 2015 at 10:03 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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ApitbullnamedPlug

That’s funny.  I think you place too much confidence in your predictions of catastrophe.  Again, do you have any sources to cite or is this your own cynical speculation, like your previous predictions of $20/gal gas or $100,000 car?

You also got your facts wrong here.  Tacoma doesn’t get its power from Columbia River dams.  It owns 7 dams on 4 rivers, all in Western WA. 
Changing climate may change glaciers and therefore water flow, but the data available leaves a lot unanswered.  You speak with the confidence of someone jumping to conclusions. 

My original point wasn’t to argue climate change with a Chicken Little, it was to point out that technology changes to cars might make public rail obsolete before it’s even built.  Let’s hold off spending millions of dollars to send a street car to Proctor and look at what options new transportation technology will give us. 

Self-driving cars are not fantasy, they’re closer than we realize, and they’ll be extremely disruptive to many of our old assumptions.

May 22, 2015 at 9:01 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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talus

Actually, Tacoma buys a large share of its power from the federal Columbia dams—about half if I remember correctly.  Our locally-owned dams aren’t big enough to do the trick alone.  The Columbia system will keep generating a lot of power even after climate change really kicks in (those dams will hold up better in the dry season than Tacoma’s will) because Canada will keep getting a decent snowpack a lot longer than our Cascades.  But the system will generally become less reliable and more dependent on changes in how we store water.  We can have plenty of electricity—hopefully more solar (with large scale battery storage) than hydro (our salmon are going to need a lot of help too)—to power transportation, whatever the mode.

May 23, 2015 at 9:13 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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ApitbullnamedPlug

From the Tacoma Power website:  “Our largest source of generation is hydro power from our seven dams on four rivers in Western Washington.” 
90% of our power comes from hydro.  I tried looking for a breakdown of which dams provide how much, but was unable to find it.  You may be right, that we buy a lot of power from BPA. 

Regardless, the broader point I was making still stands- Pollyanna predictions about the end of electricity like what ComedyFan was claiming are nonsense.  Climate change will have an effect on things, but it’s too uncertain to make extreme cynical predictions.

And this is all tangential to my original point- that big investments into public rail projects might be a mistake given developments in autonomous car technology.

May 24, 2015 at 7:54 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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thackerspeedRegistered

One new apartment complex near completion, and one in the planning stage. What’s the big idea? Are they mother-in-law apartments, or are they widower-grandpa meet & greet love lodges? Or maybe the buildings were designed to primarily house young families who have kids that may walk to school. I haven’t read about any sort of intended renters for the buildings. Even if the buildings housed a combination of all of the above types of people, then it seems that the personal character of the neighborhood wouldn’t change much.

I’m old enough to remember when one corner of North 25th & Proctor was a dirt mound. In the 1960’s Lucky Supermarket was built on that corner, and now that same remodeled building is called Metropolitan Market. Three blocks away, I was a home owner near 25th & Stevens for over twenty years, and the changes I witnessed yearly with the growing popularity of Proctor, matched the changes that have been documented along 6th Avenue as it has faced a higher number of transients. More traffic, aka the beloved buzzword density, brings an increased need for awareness of vehicle traffic, in all forms, which may be operated by drivers who are distracted, speeding, or both.

That concern is not new for the Proctor district; there were always speed demons. But something that is new, and personally disturbing, is the trend to build concrete barriers and flashing crosswalk lights and paint the streets with all kinds of white lines.
So, one effect or pattern that I’ve witnessed over and over, involves pedestrians who step into moving traffic without even first looking out for their own safety,

The concern of personal safety, as related to vehicle traffic, may be source of negative feelings which many locals have. If that’s imaginable, then there’s little point in building a speeding train through any neighborhood in Tacoma, especially the Proctor District. We know that neither “smart” cars nor “smart” public transit has ever improved the mind of any person with invincible ignorance.

There’s no real mystery about the future of “dense Proctorites.” Only unanswered questions looking for evidence.

May 18, 2015 at 4:15 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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BKing

I’m also a supporter or the development going on there, and yes a streetcar extension to Proctor would be great, but would be decades in the future. To alleviate car traffic, how about more frequent, direct bus service from there to downtown/Tacoma dome station? I think the few buses that run in the north end only run once an hour. Nobody wants to wait that long for a bus to commute to downtown or connection at the dome station. If buses were more frequent, ridership would go up.

May 19, 2015 at 4:54 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

“If buses were more frequent, ridership would go up.”

Yes it would.  The problem is that there is a finite amount of funding that the public is ever going to make available for public transportation and Light Rail is sucking up most of that funding and wasting it building light rail that there is no demand for.  If there were demand for it, people would be willing to pay to ride it, but there is no demand and people are not willing to pay to ride it. 

Light rail proponents know that there is not sufficient demand for light rail to even expand it another foot.  That is why they fight any and all efforts to put a fare box on Tacoma Link Light Rail.  They know that if there were a fare box that ridership would shrink to insignificance and with zero ridership there would be no political support for expanding light rail. 

The amount of money that has already been pissed down the light rail rat hole would have been sufficient to provide first rate bus service to all developed areas of Pierce County for the next century.  That money is gone and now the proponents of lightrail are clamoring for another iteration of the lies and deceit that have defined Sound Move ‘96 and ST2.     

May 20, 2015 at 8:43 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

“If buses were more frequent, ridership would go up.”

Yes it would.  The problem is that there is a finite amount of funding that the public is ever going to make available for public transportation and Light Rail is sucking up most of that funding and wasting it building light rail that there is no demand for.  If there were demand for it, people would be willing to pay to ride it, but there is no demand and people are not willing to pay to ride it. 

Light rail proponents know that there is not sufficient demand for light rail to even expand it another foot.  That is why they fight any and all efforts to put a fare box on Tacoma Link Light Rail.  They know that if there were a fare box that ridership would shrink to insignificance and with zero ridership there would be no political support for expanding light rail. 

The amount of money that has already been pissed down the light rail rat hole would have been sufficient to provide first rate bus service to all developed areas of Pierce County for the next century.  That money is gone and now the proponents of lightrail are clamoring for another iteration of the lies and deceit that have defined Sound Move ‘96 and ST2.     

May 20, 2015 at 8:43 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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BKing

Yes, that is a point I meant to state. Buses are far, far cheaper to increase the number and frequency of, and is a nearly instant fix for the transit problem. Agreed, light rail is orders of magnitude more expensive to build, takes decades to implement, and really is only appropriate for a few metropolitan areas in the county. Some places just do not have the geography to make light rail feasible. Nice in concept but not realistic. It is a shame that the powers that be wasted so much of our money on light rail, and for a small fraction of that cost could have simply purchased more buses and drivers and make bus service as frequent as light rail and run to far more places.

May 20, 2015 at 12:16 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jim C

Proctor has been a neighborhood business district since before most of us posting here were born. It was “mixed-use” before the buzzword was coined, long before our esteemed city council decided to write trendy zoning regs to prove how trendy Tacoma is. What I see happening now is not progress, it’s apartments. As far as I can tell the developers have replaced established retail with less net leasable space (check the floor plan on their website) and if you caught the letter to the TNT from the owner of Cafe Brosseau a while back you’d know that the leasing agents probably don’t plan to accommodate any local businesses.  Since there is already a Starbucks and a Subway on the block I’m not sure what they have in mind (2nd Starbucks lol).

If Evans and Kuester really wanted better for the community they could have demonstrated that instead of planning a cash cow to the maximum allowable limits of the zoning. They could have developed condos or townhouses but no, they want the money so we get mostly studio and one-bedroom rental units. Note that this negates the concept of “cool Seattle professionals will want to come live here” since most professionals make enough money to not have to live in a one-bedroom apartment. Welcome to the world of the One Percent, where the new style in “desirable” urban planning is Iron Curtain style high-rise apartment blocks for the service employees.

May 20, 2015 at 11:30 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Kyle

Jim- Just to make sure all facts are in, the owners of the new development actually doubled the amount of SF that was previously there.

May 21, 2015 at 1:46 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jim C

Thanks for the correction. There used to be an outbuilding on the lot which is where I was making my assumption. Until there are tenants in those spaces my larger point still stands.

Found an interesting quote in one of the old TNT articles on the zoning; pre-Council Boe from 2006: “‘One size doesn’t necessarily fit all,’ said David Boe, principal of BOE Architects and a Planning Commission member. ‘Sixty-five feet in Proctor would be a huge building. On Martin Luther King Way, maybe it’s not.’”

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2006/09/17/3800958/skys-the-limit-or-not-for-tacoma.html

May 21, 2015 at 4:54 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

It is the Tacoma rendition of Cabrini Green.  It will not attract professional couples for ecactly the reason you state. 

It is also going to be a wanna be hipster, but ten years too late, magnet.  And it is going to fundamentally transform The Proctor District from being a stable, owner occupied neighborhood that people move to to raise a family in, into a Godforsaken hellhole that will resemble the seedy areas around Powell’s in Portland that are all night tattoo parlors and hipster pickup spots. 

May 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jesse

So, what you’re saying here is that you haven’t been to Portland in about 20 years.  You should go check it out.  If you need some recommendations on places to eat, let me know.

May 22, 2015 at 10:48 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

I have been in Portland and in the very area I referenced after dark within the last two months.  It is simply not a savory area.  And as far as resteraunts, if I wanted your advice, I would ask for it.

May 23, 2015 at 11:54 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Terry

Well, the only reason the new buildings aren’t condos is there wasn’t a strong enough market to sell them. I don’t think it would have made the neighborhood feel any different about the project however. I’d guess the builders had handshake deals with retail renters before they broke ground… national chains have a lot of money behind them that mom and pop outfits can’t match. Cafe Brosseau can’t really expect to waltz in on the most prime comm. real estate in Tacoma, can they? They should buy a building in the Lincoln District or the East Side and grow with the neighborhood. Going Big Time has it growing pains, that’s for sure.

May 20, 2015 at 12:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Xeno

They will eventually be condos, they just have to go through the 8 year tax abatement program with city.  Sort of like the Commencement transitioned.

May 24, 2015 at 4:22 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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joe-nate

If the city agreed to allow parts of the wide median on North Mason Avenue to be converted into P-Patch areas, is there incentive for city government to then work with a developer to construct a building with some affordable apartments on the city-owned lot at N. 21st and Proctor that had once been proposed as a location for a new fire station but now serves as P-Patch.  It seems fair that where possible to use public policy to advance important social goals that the P-Patch site on Proctor could bring economic diversity to Proctor and provide needed decent housing.  The same goes for vacant parts of the nearby Cushman Dam power station property along N. 21st Street—could safe (i.e., next to a substation facility) affordable housing be constructed there on that Tacoma Public Utilities site, helping to create more neighborhood cohesion?  Would city government have the courage float a trial balloon regarding means within its authority as a property owner to advance such an important city-wide public policy position in that upscale area or would the idea be potentially too controversial—to bring affordable housing into the Proctor-area, in a mixed-income project pursuant to a development agreement for the land(s)?  I guess the question is whether the scruffy P-Patch lot at N. 21st and Proctor is viewed as a undeveloped neighborhood amenity for Proctor-area residents in particular or a city-wide asset in general meant for enhanced uses, as reflected in the one-time fire station project slated for the site.

May 20, 2015 at 12:57 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

“Affordable” is code word for section-eight housing.  It is going to be pot vendors occupying the first floor retail.  Keep you homeowner’s policies up to date and better have Protection 1 or ADT come out and make sure your home security system is maxed out too.  Welcome to the jungle

May 20, 2015 at 3:55 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jesse

The Proctor District is getting what is technically a great few projects; dense housing, INSIDE the Business District, built to the curb, parking entrance in the back, with continuous storefront retail, etc.

The Lincoln Neighborhood is getting what is technically a horrible project in the County General Services Building; nine stories bordered by houses, OUTSIDE of their Business District, built like a “corporate campus” not far from the city, no retail, a draw to pull businesses toward it instead of expand inside the Business District, etc.

Proctor hates their technically great project while Lincoln loves their technically horrible project.

May 21, 2015 at 9:37 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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talus

I wish somebody would build a six story condo or apt. building with retail on the ground floor on the lots at 6th/Sprague/Division where the Walgreens and Jiffy Lube currently are.  Also where O’Reilly Autoparts currently resides on 6th.

Proctor was probably first because it’s seen as safe and desirable relative to other neighborhoods, but density in that neighborhood is less meaningful for equitable development in this city than would be similar development along Sixth.  And the argument about scale in Proctor is legit—more big residential makes sense there, but probably a bit smaller and more sensitively designed than what’s currently under construction.  That would be much less of an issue at 6th/Division/Sprague,

I agree with Jesse that a county building in the Lincoln Business District proper—maybe combined with some residential—would be cool.  As would using the county’s (or city’s, or anyone’s) need for new space to save Old City Hall.

May 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jesse

Yes.  Let’s say that the County decided to build the new County building in the Lincoln Business District proper, to the curb, with retail on the first floor, and a garage for use in the evenings by the public patronizing businesses there, I would be excited for the project.  It could have been done so much better but the needed vision, leadership, and effort wasn’t there.

May 21, 2015 at 2:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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