Tacoma Urbanist

Jun. 4, 2012 at 1:03am

After 40 Years of Requiring Strip Malls, Tacoma's New Regulations Allow Better Buildings in Proctor

For much of the last 40 years, Tacoma's building regulations allowed little more than suburban strip malls to be constructed in Tacoma's mixed use center and in the central business district.  The result has been disastrous, leaving downtown and many of Tacoma's mixed use centers vacant of life and buildings.

When an old building was razed, the new building constructed had to be set back from the sidewalk for multiple parking spaces creating a pedestrian unfriendly 7 -11 type urban form.

Finally, in the last Mixed Use Center code amendments, buildings can take up the entire building lot as the below building in Proctor does, being built right up to the sidewalk.

(Above: a new building in Proctor on 26th Street being built up right next to the curb in a pedestrian friendly manner. Photo taken on June 3, 2012 adjacent to Chalet Bowl.)

comments [11]  |  posted under tacoma


by Erik on 6/4/2012 @ 1:35am
Hopefully, as the economy recovers, Tacoma will see more of these types of developments.

Lively, walkable, and successful urban areas adhere to the principles among others:

1) Buildings fill up the building lot and are built up right next to the sidewalk.

2) Curb parking for cars is maximized.

by cisserosmiley on 6/4/2012 @ 8:03am
Does anyone know what's being built in the proctor photo above?

by Joel 413 on 6/4/2012 @ 8:54am
I believe it will be a 2-story building. The store will be a Fleet Feet Running store.

by Erik on 6/4/2012 @ 9:11am
Yep....here is their Facebook page:


by Erik on 6/4/2012 @ 9:14am
Check out the photos of the old building that was demolished:


by cisserosmiley on 6/4/2012 @ 10:31am
Welcome to Uptown Tacoma Fleet Feet Running Store! In the late 1980's there was a running gear store in the east west cafe building at 26th n proctor. It moved to where little ceasars is now on pearl n 26th, then closed. You guys will be a great convenience in Uptown, good luck!

by NineInchNachos on 6/4/2012 @ 12:33pm
nice demolition photos!

by L.S.Erhardt on 6/4/2012 @ 6:32pm
As I've said on FB already, this is a great step in the right direction.
But for proper "critical mass" in Proctor, we need to start seeing taller buildings. I mean like 5 or 6 stories with apartments above retail.

by Erik on 6/4/2012 @ 9:10pm
@Thorax: you are right on.

Proctor has not had significant housing built in decades.

The new Mixed Use Center regulations do allow for a far greater height.  However, no one has taken advantage of them yet. The "market" is apparently not there yet for it.

by L.S.Erhardt on 6/4/2012 @ 9:30pm
Proctor is filled with families. Not that it's a bad thing, but single people and small families often can't afford the 1800 sqft+ $400,000 houses in the neighborhood. Getting mid-end apartments on the N 26th and Proctor epicenter would bring a LOT more life and disposable $$$ into the area.

by Maria on 6/4/2012 @ 11:01pm
Good points, Erik. I've noticed that the downtown streets where buildings are set back from the road, with huge parking lots in front, are some of the deadest zones in the city (middle of Fawcett Avenue around the former Blackwater Cafe is a good example). Lots of concrete, few windows, not many invitations for interaction or social exchange.

I'm glad they changed these requirements.

Welcome, Fleet Feet Running. Lots of great track and field programs in this area, and lots of runners & active folks needing good quality gear.