South Downtown Subarea Plan and EIS: Ready For Your Review

The City of Tacoma has released a draft of the document that could guide the development of Tacoma’s south downtown for years to come. The draft of the South Downtown Subarea Plan and Environmental Impact Statement are available for public viewing and comment, and the City will hold a public hearing later this month.

The purpose of the South Downtown Subarea Plan is to anticipate, support, and guide the long-term redevelopment of the South Downtown area. The plan will serve as a statement of the City’s commitment to and direction for the area and as a resource for potential investors, property owners, the community, and other agencies.

The 600 acre subarea includes the Dome District, Foss Waterway, UW Tacoma campus, Brewery District, the museums on Pacific Avenue, and a portion of the Hillside District. The proposed plan would supplement existing City policies and regulations governing transportation, land use, affordable housing, open spaces, brownfields, capital facilities, and utilities, and conform to Growth Management Act requirements for the area. Goals for the subarea planning process include pre-approval of up to 30 million square feet of new development, prioritization of transportation investments; identification and prioritization of necessary infrastructure improvements; planning for parks, trails, and other open spaces; and development of potential funding strategies.

The EIS analyzes the cumulative impacts associated with future development and increases in employment and population in the identified area as a whole over the next 20 years. It considers environmental impacts and mitigation comprehensively and eliminates the need for subsequent environmental review for specific project proposals. If approved, the subarea plan will become a part of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, and the EIS will have laid the groundwork for development.

The lengthy subarea plan includes a long list of recommendations on a number of topics. These are just a few that caught our interest:

  • Convert the UCX-TD District in the Tacoma Dome District to DMU zoning
  • Expand the Transfer of Development Rights program, and pursue TDR projects
  • Promote and refine the live-work/work-live code
  • Expand the reduced parking area to include most of the South Downtown area
  • Designate South Jefferson Avenue between 21st and 25th; 25th Street between I-705 and Fawcett Avenue; East C Street; and South C Street as primary pedestrian streets
  • Eliminate roof design standards for the Downtown Residential District
  • Ensure that a sufficient portion of housing affordable to lower-income households is maintained
  • Adopt a policy that 25% of the total housing units in South Downtown shall be affordable to households earning up to 80% of the countywide median income
  • Submit an updated Historic Brewery District Federal Historic District Nomination Application
  • Proactively support renovation and adaptive reuse projects on key historic properties
  • Develop and implement an MOU with the Puyallup Tribe to establish supplemental protections for archeological resources in South Downtown.
  • Pursue strategies to remediate and develop brownfields
  • As appropriate, carry out planning, design, and construction of proposed open space projects including the Prairie Line Trail, Foss Waterway Esplanade, Central and Waterway parks on the Foss, bridge to the south end of the Foss, UWT central open space and stairs, Hillside shared-use street, Hillside-to-Brewery District pedestrian corridor, and others
  • Establish a program to provide area-wide parking management for South Downtown, including shared parking and pricing strategies
  • As the Subarea redevelops, consider the implementation of on-street parking management, Parking Benefi t Districts, requirements for unbundled parking, parking maximums, and a nonresidential off-street parking tax
  • Create a prioritized list of pedestrian crossing improvements along with a plan for implementing those improvements
  • Implement Complete Streets reconfigurations of Puyallup Avenue, and Jefferson Avenue, and South C Street, in that order of priority.
  • Engage Pierce Transit and UWT to develop a long-range plan for transforming Market Street into a transit priority street
  • Engage Sound Transit and the community to help select a LINK extension alignment that will best serve the significant growth anticipated for in South Downtown
  • Explore the potential for replacing Tacoma Dome parking in the surface lots west of the Dome with new, multi-level parking garages east of the Dome.
  • Consider LID “no protest” agreements
  • Consider “catalyst projects” to jumpstart development by attracting dynamic businesses and less conventional housing options

South Downtown is one of three subareas in Tacoma going through the subarea planning and non-project EIS processes. At nearly 200 pages, the South Downtown Subarea Plan makes for extensive reading, and the draft EIS is equally beefy. The proposed plan would cover development in the south downtown area for the next 20 years – 2014 through 2034, so it’s not an insignificant document. The City has scheduled a public hearing for the South Downtown Subarea Plan and EIS for Thursday, April 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the UWT Carwein Auditorium. For more information, view the public hearing announcement (pdf) or the South Downtown Subarea project page. Comments on the project will be accepted through Friday, May 3.

The list of recommendations is lengthy; what’s your priority?

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fred davie

The “South DT Subarea Plan” raises a major issue for Tacomans to consider.

Will adoption of the plan as described tend to <span class=“caps”>ENHANCE</span> the prospects for development of this area…or <span class=“caps”>RETARD</span> them?

I see a lot of expensive and cumbersome red tape in the bulleted items above. Who will bear these expenses? And regarding the issue of expenses, how will the subarea plan conform to the city mission statement which requires tax money to be spent on the provision of cost effective city services? Nothing in the subarea plan even remotely suggests that the plan is cost effective. There seems to be an overarching and unspoken assumption that anything the city proposes is <span class=“caps”>THEREFORE</span> cost effective.

April 3, 2013 at 9:19 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I like the idea of taxing surface level non-residential parking lots/spots.  Perhaps the county could do this as well and fund Pierce Transit with the money.  After all, because of these lots, things are spread out enough to require transit.

April 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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