TDI -- Reporter's Blog

Apr. 29, 2009 at 3:15pm

Pacific Plaza Hillclimb

I'm working on an article for Friday's print edition of the Index regarding an update on Pacific Plaza (nee Park Plaza South).

During yesterday's Tacoma City Council Community and Economic Development (CED) meeting at City Hall, the focus was on the 12th Street hillclimb between Pacific Avenue and Commerce Street, located at the north end of the building/project.

Although the developers attending yesterday's meeting say more design changes are expected, here is their first pass at what's in store for the area (apologies in advance for the black-and-white image):



(Image by BLRB Architects)

Notes from yesterday's presentation:
  • The design would "screen" the loading dock and freight elevator (located on the left side of the image);
  • The center area with tables and chairs could be used for restaurant seating;
  • The design would also create a "straight shot" between Pacific Avenue and Commerce Street; the current zig-zag pattern of stairs would be removed;
  • The EDC approved a do-pass recommendation to amend the original $12.5 million development agreement; the $358,000 price tag would be paid through (a.) existing REET funds for the parking system, and (b.) re-appropriating funds from the North Park Plaza Garage to the South Park Plaza Garage; City Council is expected to vote on it at an upcoming meeting;
  • Installation of the green roof is expected to begin next week;
  • The project should be completed in June.
Also, it was nice to hear Erik Bjornson, Ko Wibowo, and David Boe were consulted on the design.

Earlier Index coverage here and here.

comments [9]  |  posted under Downtown, Pacific Ave, Tacoma

Comments

by morgan on 4/29/2009 @ 3:38pm
Did the city sell off its right-of-way or something?

This proposal looks dark and narrow - not inviting at all. Why wasn't the public involved in the design process?

What needs to happen with that space is the whole thing - current stairs and boxed up escalade - need to be opened completely up to create a narrow cross street with sidewalks. OR the current stairs and boxed up escalade need to be combine to create a more grand - and open - stair climb.

by Erik on 4/29/2009 @ 3:44pm
Thanks for the mention Todd.

Here was the 12th Street/Hillclimb presentation Ko and I gave at the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce a couple of years ago:

docs.google.com/Doc?id=dg445j9h_9f8ftm6

I think you took this picture of us at the time Todd:



Every architect who has tried to make the walkway work over the last 50 years has failed, often at great expense with the moving underground sidewalks. The back and forth staircase built years ago was a CPTED disaster.

The question will be whether the walkway will be open, wide, and clear enough for pedestrians to want to actually use it.

by Erik on 4/29/2009 @ 3:58pm
What needs to happen with that space is the whole thing - current stairs and boxed up escalade - need to be opened completely up to create a narrow cross street with sidewalks.

A proposed loading dock is what is purported to make the top end of the walkway relatively narrow.

The design would "screen" the loading dock and freight elevator (located on the left side of the image);

The screening from the street could be of a benefit. However, the screening from the stairs has the potential to turn the staircase into a partial tunnel.

by Erik on 4/29/2009 @ 4:09pm
Paul Ellis from the Chamber of Commerce also coverged the issue:

Combining the best methods for bringing success to a downtown with architectural drawings and illustrations, they discussed problems with the current design of the walkway, lack of use, blind spots, real and perceived safety issues, and the connection between the current problems with the walkways and their design. Some members of the Tacoma press have accurately described the area on Pacific Ave. near the walkway as a "dead zone" even though it is located between two of the largest commercial buildings downtown.

The pair discussed how an optimal design for the walkway adjacent to the garage could make it inviting and functional for pedestrians and comply with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) strategies. Bjornson and Wibowo suggested that the walkway design needs to be addressed at the same time the garage is being modified to increase the chance that the retail space in the garage and surrounding area can be successful.


tacomadowntown.blogspot.com/2007/02/easi...

by Erik on 4/29/2009 @ 4:12pm
Todd, here is your archived article from 2006: The Dead Zone.

www.tacomadailyindex.com:80/portals-code...

by KevinFreitas on 4/29/2009 @ 4:25pm
Seems to me outdoor seating like this is just a dead zone waiting to happen. If it's not covered and heated then forget it. We have weather here and it ain't often warm nor dry.

Thanks for the info Todd!

by boearc on 4/29/2009 @ 5:40pm
David Boe's involvement was to represent the owner who purchased the 1126 Building directly to the North - to assure that the existing windows of that building were not adversely impacted by the development AND to allow for additional windows to be created along the facade to allow for greater transparency to the stairway (i.e. more eyes on the street - or in this case more eyes on the stairway). Like Morgan, I beleived that this was right-of-way - but it is not - it is part of the Park Plaza property that has a public easement to maintain public access at this 12th Street alignment.

by Erik on 4/29/2009 @ 6:11pm
Here is the article you published as a Q and A Todd on the walkway of KO and I on or analysis:

docs.google.com/fileview?id=F.0c381898-4...

Great coverage by the Tacoma Daily Index.

I beleived that this was right-of-way - but it is not - it is part of the Park Plaza property that has a public easement to maintain public access at this 12th Street alignment.

Interesting. At any rate, the blocked passageway is essentially creating a destructive "superblock." If the new pathway does not improve the access enough, the area could be another dead zone especially since there is a a plan to remove the street parking in front of the renovated parking garage.

by Rith on 4/29/2009 @ 6:12pm
Yep, I hope it comes with heaters and umbrellas.

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A blog following news and features published in the Tacoma Daily Index newspaper.

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