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Retail, Restaurants, Access in Plans for Point Defiance

Conversations continue about the future of Point Defiance, and Metro Parks has some big plans. At Tuesday's City Council Study Session the Metro Parks Board of Commissioners shared work so far on "Destination Point Defiance," the ongoing, comprehesive planning and vision of an enhanced experience at Point Defiance Park.

Highlights included:

  • Retail has gotten some serious attention - particularly seasonal retail for peak park use season - but possibly even some options at other times
  • Restaurants and other food and beverage service options are something the public has expressed interest in. The park could ultimately be home to up to half a dozen food/beverage options, ranging from a coffee shop to upscale dining.
  • Lodging is being considered as a way of retaining customers over night and extending use of the park through all four seasons
  • Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is going through an update to its master plan, which may include a second entrance to the zoo at the lower end, closer to the ferry
  • SAMI will be constructed in a unique way with facilties throughout the park, using the entire park as the classroom
  • Point Ruston and the Waterwalk will bring traffic in through a new corner, and provides partnership opportunities
  • The former Camp 6 site provides an opportunity for future activities
  • Ft Nisqually going through master plan process
  • Tacoma Yacht Club is renegotiating its lease with Metro Parks
  • Five Mile Drive will be closed to vehicle traffic during the week until 11 a.m. in a pilot effort to increase pedestrian access and reduce vehicle traffic in the park
  • A new 20 foot wide pedestrian and bike path will replace the new interim trail, entering the park at a more gentle slope, and crossing vehicle traffic on an elevated footbridge. That $11 milion project is now fuly funded, and expected to start work some time next year, with completion forecast for 2016
  • Salt water and fresh water estuaries and a boardwalk will replace the current bulkhead around the yacht club basin
  • Peninsula Park on the old slag heap that wraps around the yacht club basin will be a 12 acre park with public gathering spaces
  • Vehicle traffic flow and pedestrian and transportation connections will be improved with the messy intersections at the park entrance and the ferry boarding area getting cleaned up. Ferry traffic will be separated out at both locations and yacht club traffic will be rerouted.
  • A circular plaza over a parking garage, surrounded by buildings will replace the surface parking and go-karts space
  • Buildings mentioned reference historic park structures, including the colonnades and pavillion, and could be used for a variety of uses, including food and beverage space, retail, classes, event and meeting spaces, weddings, and more.
  • An improved visitor center, seasonal retail, SAMI space, and a 100 to 150 room boutique hotel are all envisioned as part of the central plaza area.

With the opening of the new interim trail connecting Point Defiance Park to the Ruston Way waterfront, Metro Parks expects use of the park to increase. With that increase in use will come an increase in demand for parking and other amenities as listed above. Other than the improved pedestrian connector to Ruston Way, no timeline is set yet. As a Metro Parks representative pointed out Tuesday, all these amenities go forward, or be put on hold at any stage.

It's a big vision. Are you feeling inspired?

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I would think that a Skamania lodge type resort would work right next to the park.  World class dining, lodging, with our world class Point Defiance Park next door would make a worthy destination resort IMHO.

October 3, 2013 at 7:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

Jenny JRegistered

I agree. I didn’t get the point of a lodge when I first read it, but on second thought, I know my out of town family members would love to stay at the park if it was an option. Walking on the waterfront, and a quick day trip over to Vashon - I’d barely have to entertain them.

October 3, 2013 at 9:29 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

Published Author RR AndersonRegistered

Frank Herbert Memorial Sandworm

October 3, 2013 at 7:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply


A hotel?  How about the recreation of the Tacoma Hotel that burnt in the 1930’s?  But put it on the bluff overlooking the bay, port, and Tacoma. This would be a huge point of pride for the city is think.

October 4, 2013 at 8:49 am / Reply / Quote and reply


“Five Mile Drive will be closed to vehicle traffic during the week until 11 a.m. in a pilot effort to increase pedestrian access and reduce vehicle traffic in the park”

My question is. “Why?”

I suspect that an ongoing small contingent, maybe six or seven people, has carried the banner of vehicle restriction since the inception of the first Point Defiance walking trail.

Representatives of the suspected anti-vehicle contingent, over the course of decades, may have negatively influenced the cityscape of downtown Tacoma. The restriction of vehicle traffic by aggressive methods including narrowing streets, or outright blocking them with buildings (Convention Center, fountain at 11th & Broadway), or by neglecting street maintenance to cause people to change habitual routes, has in effect stimulated nothing of significance. Is there now more or less pedestrian access? Is there now more or less vehicle traffic?

So again, my question is, with regards to restricting vehicle traffic (cars, bicycles, go-karts, whatever) within Point Defiance, “Why?”

October 5, 2013 at 1:05 am / Reply / Quote and reply


Why indeed.  After all, in 1888 when this land was first was set aside to become a park, the Parks main mission statement has always been to promote more and faster automobile use.

It’s a park, not a race track.  It’s purpose is for recreation. Walking, running, cycling, tricycling unicycling, rollerskating, and just enjoying the natural environment are all pleasurable forms of recreation.  Dodging speeding cars is not.

October 5, 2013 at 9:27 am / Reply / Quote and reply

Published Author RR AndersonRegistered

Hey how about go carts?

October 8, 2013 at 8:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply


Point Defiance Park: What is it? A natural sanctuary that should be protected from modernization?

Metro Parks future plans call for a high degree of economic exploitation of Point Defiance Park through the use of many forms of science and technology. The end result has little to do with peaceful repose in a simple and natural setting.

October 5, 2013 at 8:01 pm / Reply / Quote and reply


No one has suggested that Pt Defiance Park was a natural sanctuary.  It is a fabulous urban park with roads, formal gardens, beach access, picnic areas, and native forests with hiking trails.

The question is simply whether cars or people should be given priority in the park.  I vote to provide people the priority.  Don’t worry though, your car still can visit the park any afternoon of the week that it wants to.

October 5, 2013 at 10:10 pm / Reply / Quote and reply


Restricting vehicle traffic, whatever type of vehicle, is a dumb idea when expressed in time parameters within the normal hours of operation.

I doubt the sincerity of the suggestion, especially in relation to Metro Parks pretentious plans for a commercial theme park.

October 6, 2013 at 7:31 am / Reply / Quote and reply


That’s funny.  Not haha funny, just odd like funny.

If that was the metric that we were use to evaluate 5 mile drive, we should then remove most of the trees to improve sightlines, punch the road out to 4 lanes, plus a turn lane, have a minimum speed limit of 50 mph (no maximum limit) and strictly enforce a no loitering ordinance.  After all, why would anyone want to spend idle time at a park? 

October 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply


The thing that is odd is that a group of people who should be concerned with stewardship of Tacoma’s parks are instead concerned with promoting consumerism and traffic engineering.

As for travelling by vehicle, particularly by car, along the Five Mile Drive, the whole point of the single lane roadway is to offer access to the far reaches of the park.

Most of the park is not accessible by car, but car enthusiasts aren’t suggesting that the paved pedestrian pathways and the woodland hiking trails should be shared with cars.

Car enthusiasts aren’t suggesting closing the Five Mile Drive to pedestrians until 11am.


October 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

Published Author RR AndersonRegistered


October 8, 2013 at 8:38 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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