“Tacoma’s Auto Row” Becoming Official

As a part of ongoing efforts to support Tacoma businesses, the City has been working with car dealerships on South Tacoma Way to identify ways to promote their businesses and increase auto sales in Tacoma.

The auto dealers, who collectively generate significant tax revenue for Tacoma, as well as more than 1,000 jobs, expressed interest in their district being designated an official commercial district, and in applying to the State for signage along I-5 directing drivers from I-5 their way. Most of Tacoma's car dealerships have been located on South Tacoma Way since that road was the major north-south corridor, before I-5 was built in 1960.

A resolution on next week's City Council meeting agenda would establish “Tacoma’s Auto Row” on South Tacoma Way as a commercial district and to allow the auto dealers to submit an application to WSDOT for directional signage on I-5.

Not just anyone can post signs along I-5; to do that a business must fit into one of WSDOT's approved categories of gas, food, lodging, camping, recreation, tourist activities or 24 hour pharmacy. It sounds like the car dealers would be going for the "tourist activity" category, under the WSDOT definition.

Be a commercial district as adopted by a city ordinance or resolution with a minimum of one million square feet of leasable commercial space located within one square mile. The commercial district must provide a unique commercial activity where the majority of the district's customers do not reside in the city where the commercial district is located. The commercial district shall be located within one mile of the nearest state highway. Only the name of the commercial district will be displayed on the business sign, corporate logos may not be displayed. 

If approved, the signage would be installed at no cost the City, whereas any additional sales gained from drivers directed to the strip would bring in revenue. 

Do you want to help the folks at Exit133 pay our bills and keep up with of all things Tacoma? Do you want to see even more coverage? Exit133 has always been free to read and comment, and it will stay that way. However, over the years, readers have contributed to the bank account to help us keep up our coverage of goings-on around town. Contribute and this message disappears!

Support Exit133



What stops dealerships from moving to Fife where they can have freeway frontage and zero B&O tax?  The B&O tax on new car, with it’s high cost and somewhat low profit margin, can eat up a lot of money when a dealer is selling a few thousand of them a year.  Used cars, however, have larger profit margins as a percent of sales price.  So, long term, what kind of dealerships will be on South Tacoma Way?  Used cars… while the (nicer) new car dealerships will continue to locate to Fife and simply call themselves a Tacoma dealership.  If the city wants new car dealerships in a certain area, they’ll have to do more than just this.

March 24, 2014 at 7:39 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0


In my perfect utopian world, the current mall gets turned into a new car auto mall similar to the one in Vancouver, Wa.  Then two malls are built to replace the current one - one in downtown and one at the corner of 512 and I-5.  A mall at 512 and I-5 is more likely far enough away from downtown, South Tacoma and 56th, and Lincoln as to not canabalize their shopping districts while drawing more from Lacey, Lakewood, and Puyallup.  Sorry… I’m off on a tangent…

March 24, 2014 at 7:47 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0


Leisure travel by private car is an all-consuming passion for millions of people.

South Tacoma car dealerships as a destination, and as an all-points export commercial district is a self-evident fact.

Freedom to travel, plus capitalism, equals the potential for a higher standard of living for everyone.

I sell cars on South Tacoma Way. Look me up.

March 24, 2014 at 12:40 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0

Published Author RR AndersonRegistered

hell will freeze over before I buy a new car from those scumbags who killed prop 1

March 25, 2014 at 9:23 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0


“If approved the signage would be installed at no cost to the City, whereas any additional sales gained from driver’s [or anyone] directed to the strip would bring in revenue.”—Exit133

Sounds great. Someone’s got to bankroll society.

“People shouldn’t squander money on unneeded possessions when they ought to be spending it on public works.”—paraphrase from Professor John Kenneth Galbraith, Harvard.

March 26, 2014 at 11:15 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0

Post A New Comment

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Potentially Related Articles