Tacoma Urbanist

Mar. 3, 2008 at 12:04am

Downtown Tacoma Will Miss Paul *Mr. Downtown* Ellis

As many of you know, Paul Ellis known as "Mr. Downtown" is leaving his postion with the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber for Illinois.

Chamber of Commerce groups are not know for going against the status quo. Chambers often conjure up images of bankers and martini lunches.

Yet, Paul took the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber along about as fast as it would go.  He became a regular blogger.  He reached out to small scrappy businesses.  In the last year, he came to be a leader on progressive parking theories to try to break Tacoma out of its inertia.  Thus, Paul will be difficult to replace.

Paul was very encouraging in some earlier projects and is responsible for much of my involvement downtown as well as many others.  Paul introduced me to architect Ko Wibowo.  Together we ended up presenting at a Chamber event on how the walkway by the South Park Plaza Parking Garage needed to be opened up if the area of downtown was ever going to function well again.  Here's the presentation we gave.

Paul wrote about the event on his BIA blog:

Last Friday, Ko Wibowo from McGranahan Architects and local attorney Erik Bjornson gave a fascinating presentation on the importance of safe, attractive and usable mid-block walkways in downtown Tacoma and how they are critical to the success of the City Center. Wibowo and Bjornson were inspired by last year's Project for Public Spaces workshop to examine downtown's hillclimbs for several months, noting obstacles to pedestrian activity. On Friday, the pair focused their comments on the walkway adjacent to the South Park Plaza garage, which is slated for retrofitting soon.

Thanks for the encouragement and platform Paul.  Unfortunately, with the South Park Plaza Parking garage still being worked on, the fate of the walkway where an open walkway will be is not yet decided.  The city escalator remains entombed between Pacific and Commerce.

Because he had much of the Chamber's resources, Paul's replacement will greatly effect the future of downtown Tacoma.  I hope it is someone very knowledgeable, with local connections and not seen as a partison.  The fate of retaining Russell and many other issues depends on it.

comments [1]  |  posted under tacoma, washington


by Erik on 3/6/2008 @ 12:17pm
The last words of Paul Ellis before leaving he emailed today:

It is with mixed feelings that I need to inform you of my impending departure--after 23 years--from the BIA and from Tacoma. I have accepted a position as the Community