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The Future of Tacoma’s Brewery District
Tacoma’s Economic Development Committee recently heard a presentation on possibilities for the future of the city’s Brewery District. A Technical Assistance Panel from Urban Land Institute (ULI) Northwest presented recommendations on how to transform the Brewery District into a “high-density, mixed use Urban Center.” The City worked with ULI to obtain practical advice on methods to achieve the vision of transforming the Brewery District into a high-density, mixed-use urban center.
Key recommendations from the Executive Summary focus on creating an identity for the district with an emphasis on the area’s history and “showcasing existing assets and building upon [the] production-based environment.” Other suggestions emphasize preservation of key streetscapes and iconic features (Heidelberg tower, anyone?), while promoting connections with UWT, museums, the waterfront and Dome District. The report suggests populating the area with food production, distilling, arts, and entertainment-based activities. Another key recommendation is the creation of an independent entity (a Public Development Authority or Community Development Corporation) – focused, equipped with expertise, and able to assume financial risk – to make things happen.
Since the City received an initial report from ULI last year, several related projects have been moving forward. The South Downtown Sub Area Plan has been initiated, including an Environmental Impact Statement designed to help expedite development in the area. Other projects are either complete, or substantially on their way to completion, including the LeMay Museum, the new Tioga Library Building at UWT, the Holiday Inn Express on 21st Street, and the Sounder extension to Lakewood. Infrastructure improvements are also being made, and an LID is being considered for the area.
Although there is no timeline yet, the ULI report makes recommendations for implementation, beginning with the City-owned property in the district, including the Stables Building. The report suggests concentrating initial development on the Public Works Blocks between South 23rd and 25th streets, with a strategic mix of public and private development. For the Stables Building, the suggestion is live/work lofts, artist studios, gallery space, restaurants, etc. For the middle and upper blocks owned by the City, the report suggests UWT joint use, performance space, fabrication space, etc.; and more live/work lofts, workforce housing, art fabrication, etc. That would be phase one…
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