(Re)Planning the Tacoma Mall Area

This June the City of Tacoma will begin work on a master plan to guide development in the Tacoma Mall area. The City has been awarded a $250,000 National Estuary Program (NEP) Watershed Grant towards the development of a subarea plan and EIS for the area.

As an identified "Regional Growth Center," the Tacoma Mall area has been designated to accomodate growth - office, retail, and multi-family residential - over the coming years and decades at the next highest density after the downtown core. 

The subarea and EIS processes will open up the question of specific development plans and dimensions, but according to the PSRC profile, the area could see developments up to 10 stories tall. The PSRC profile describes an area that is younger, more diverse, and more affordable on average than the rest of the region. According to the profile, 81% of the 485 acres included in the Mall subarea is considered developable, and the area as a whole has been growing in both residents and jobs.

The planning process hasn't really kicked off yet, but we're guessing you can expect to see a heavy emphasis on transportation options, efforts aimed at improving streets and public spaces to be more attractive (attractive at all?) to pedestrians, and probably a focus on mixed-use development, as we've seen in the other subarea plans.

Like the other three now complete subarea planning and EIS processes for north and south downtown, and the Hilltop neighborhood, this subarea plan and EIS will set the groundwork for development on an areawide scale for decades to come.

The long-term vision for the Tacoma Mall area, as described in the EPA grant summary, has it continuing as the major retail center for Tacoma and the surrounding area, and a site for major infill development to accomodate increased growth, but improving in terms of walkability and general livability.

The Tacoma Mall Regional Growth Center represents a model opportunity for the redevelopment of an existing auto-oriented, low-density mall to become a compact and complete community center that supports local, regional and watershed scale best management practices.

To move towards doing that is certainly going to take some planning. 

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That’s why it made no sense in bringing the link there, awesome.

May 20, 2014 at 4:12 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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This is how we empower the people that have to go to work in that district and how we build equity with them.  By denying them a service they could have used to get to work and instead we approve a route to nowhere.

May 20, 2014 at 4:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Attractive? Walkable? Joking, right? This mall was built as an island, a concrete retail island and the roads are the canals with which you motor your vehicle to the dock. If the city is trying to restructure this area as a living center or something they will have to condemn and demolish a lot of single-family houses, smaller apartments and small strip malls. I don’t see that happening. Why is the money not spent somewhere that won’t require a giant do-over?  I am no civil engineer, could someone out there come up with better ways to spend this cash?

May 21, 2014 at 10:48 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The Tacoma Mall at first was something like an island, like an oasis. It provided a safe, clean, controlled environment that transformed people’s dull and drudgery-oriented lives into lives that were full of entertainment and light, and possibilities and alternatives.

The barbarians have passed through the gates.

May 26, 2014 at 10:34 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Make it an auto mall or something else entirely.  For retail, it’s currently old and without room for all the tenants that might want to be there.  The layout of the area currently is situated so it kills off the ability for a rebirth of 56th/S. Tacoma Way and Lincoln business districts to ever become anything great without a HUGE injection of density.

Then, start fresh and rebuild a modern mall at I-5 and Hwy 512 in the suburbs where a mall like this belongs.  Build a second city mall in the downtown core.  Tacoma has room for this level of retail.

May 21, 2014 at 3:34 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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With 10 story multi family housing where will people park their motor vehicles?
If it’s self contained it might work (except for insane local area auto dependant gridlock traffic)
With a massive increase in Motor Vehicles due to increased density it will be difficult to cross any street in the area without street lights,crosswalks with signals etc.
The only way to mitigate this would be to eliminate the motor vehicles or limit them somehow.
Eventually in several decades petroleum fuels will be so exorbitantly costly that it might work sometime in the future.Then again there will be a strong need for mass transit and people will either have to do this or else ride a Human Powered/maybe and or hybrid electric Vehicle or else walk.The world will be a much different place (bleaker in many ways by the mid 21st century).

May 21, 2014 at 5:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Actually it’s pretty easy to ride your bike or walk to the Tacoma Mall, and could made much easier with a little more planning. Americans love cars, and there isn’t any way to get rid of them, so we’re going to have to all get along. I say put in a couple MUPs, bike lanes and sidewalks and start building around the Mall. The growth is coming anyway. The Tac Mall has a lot going for it.

May 21, 2014 at 7:07 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Already there is a lot of on street (Motor Vehicle) parking on those fairly narrow streets in that multi family/single family home part (the orange/yellow colored map section) area so a bicycle lane would be futile without banning on street parking.
Biking is not too bad right now as long as there is not a lot of motor vehicle traffic.

May 22, 2014 at 8:15 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Talking about density and planning, here is an article about what Portland is doing to maintain roads and support density.  How do you think this road fee would support Tacoma’s classic business districts and downtown density?  http://www.wweek.com/portland/mobile/blogs/blogView/id:31648

May 22, 2014 at 10:02 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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“The PSRC profile describes an area that is younger, more diverse, and more affordable on average than the rest of the region.”
“The Tacoma Mall Regional Growth Center represents a model opportunity for the redevelopment of an existing auto-oriented, low-density mall to become a compact and complete community center that supports local, regional and watershed scale best management practices.”

The assumption is that the area should be reshaped to accommodate the public transportation and buying habits of uneducated and poor third world immigrants.

10 story apartment buildings surrounded by community food gardens and walking paths—that’s something the Tacoma City Council has been pushing for years. It’s a blissful vision from the standpoint of poverty, or from the social realm of ex-felons.

There’s your younger, more diverse, and more affordable vision for economic disaster. Forget about transforming Tacoma through modern science and technology. Why use intellect and will, when surrendering one’s objectivity to solidarity with the pragmatists is so much easier?


May 23, 2014 at 12:43 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma Mall?  Don’t go there it is a headache anytime I go near it.  Terrible traffic.  I would rather drive to downtown Seattle to go shopping then to get anywhere near Tacoma mall.  Get a clue Tacoma, there is a great spot right in the center of downtown for a nice “Pacific Place” type mall and theater with underground park, etc.

May 24, 2014 at 1:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Traffic at Tacoma Mall? Maybe at Christmas, but I’d guess our mall has less traffic than any other mall in the area. I do understand the anti-mall crowd, but the fact is the Tacoma Mall makes our fair city money (a lot of money). I’d love to see some private developers put in a “Pacific Place” type of mall downtown! But with 100% private money and zero tax breaks. Love it or hate it, the Tacoma Mall is the heart of this town and who wants get stabbed in heart?

May 24, 2014 at 4:16 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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If it were not for Ben Bridge and Nordstrom I would not have set foot in Tacoma Mallone time in the last two decades.  I used to trade at Osborn and Ulland and FGF and there was a variety store with a really good little fishing tackle department in it at one time, but they have been gone for decades now.

May 29, 2014 at 12:58 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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