City of Tacoma Greater Tacoma Convention Center and Parking System Expansion Project PROJECT SUMMARY In March of 1999 the City of Tacoma selected a roughly four square block area in the center of the city for revitalization. The ambitious plan included development of a new convention center and public plaza, infrastructure redevelopment, private hotel and retail. In 2000 the scope of the revitalization effort was broadened to include expansion of the downtown parking system to add I 000 new parking stalls. Referred to by city planners as the "hole in the doughnut" the site contained a number of vacant buildings and stood in stark contrast to adjacent redevelopment. In addition to dilapidated and empty buildings the area was marked by the presence of several charitable organizations serving a large homeless population. The concentration of these services, coupled with the worn out buildings and infrastructure, had frustrated earlier efforts by the community to revitalize the area. Community leaders recognized the strategic importance of the site. Prominently located on the 1500 block of Pacific Avenue the site serves as a main point of entry for visitors arriving to the City from 1-705. In the north/south direction the site was a linchpin in connecting redevelopment in the Union Station historic warehouse district to the south with the financial district and theatre district to the north. In the east/west direction the site plays a key role in connecting the downtown to new museums sod waterfront development along the Thea Foss Waterway. The challenge to the community was to continue to support the charitable organizations and essential services they provided, while at the same time fostering redevelopment and revitalization of the downtown core. Community leaders also recognized the need to act quickly to coordinate the project with other ongoing development. At the time the master planning for the site was initiated Phase I of the University of Washington Tacoma campus, along the southern boundary of the site, had been completed and master planning for the second phase was underway. Design of the Link light rail system and the new Tacoma Art Museum, along the eastern edge of the site, were both near completion. The site was uniquely positioned to serve as a hub to coordinate surrounding redevelopment. Taking advantage of this opportunity paid dividends. Coordination of the site development with the light rail system resulted in construction of a light rail stop servicing the convention center at 15th and Commerce Street. The strategic decision to place the stop near the convention center offers the opportunity for visitors to the convention center to use satellite parking and arrive to the center by light rail. Alternatively, for large events requiring multiple facilities the light rail can be used to shuttle visitors between the convention center and the Tacoma Dome. Timeliness and close coordination with other projects also created opportunities that may have otherwise been missed. Joint planning with the UWT master plan effort resulted in the coordinated use and development of parking resources, and coordination with the design of the Art Museum has created opportunities for public art and a more significant public plaza for community gatherings and special events. Recognition of the importance of the revitalization effort to not only the city but also the larger region led to the formation of a Public Facilities District. In October of 1999 the City of Tacoma, together with the cities of Fife, Lakewood, and University Place formed a Public Facilities District (PFD) to help fund the construction of the Greater Tacoma Convention Center. In June of 2001 the Tacoma City Council authorized funding in an amount up to $120,700,000 for the convention center and related projects, and expansion of the downtown parking system. The total funding package included a contribution of $26,000,000 from the PFD, earmarked for development of the convention center. The PFD was expanded in 2003 to include Pierce County. The new convention center was completed in November of 2004 and will have a regional impact in terms of attracting visitors to the area, job creation, annual economic impact. The new center is expected to over 275,000 visitors yearly, create 350 new permanent jobs and have an annual economic impact of over $55,000,000. In addition to public investment in the revitalization effort the city encouraged private investment. In 2001 the city entered into a development agreement with Hollendar Investments, of Bellingham Washington, for construction of a new 160 room hotel. The $20,000,000 hotel development, located at the comer of Pacific Ave and 15th Street includes two restaurants, a bank, and a spa. The project broke ground in 2003 and is slated for opening in the summer of 2005. One of the restaurants and the bank are located in the historic Wadell building, restored by the city in the first phase of the project. At this time the revitalization effort is largely complete. The new Tacoma Rescue Mission and Nativity House, charitable organizations that formerly served the large transient population in the revitalization area, were relocated into new and expanded facilities in 2001 and 2003 respectively. The construction of the convention center and expansion of the downtown parking system was completed in November of 2004, Phase I of the infrastructure redevelopment project for new street and utility improvements was completed in December of 2004, and the opening of the new hotel is planned for this summer. The capstone project for the revitalization effort is a new public plaza that will be completed early next year. Related projects have also been largely completed. Both the new art museum and the new light rail were completed in 2003. The UWT technology center was completed in 2004 and a new structured parking/housing development by the UWT is currently under construction. Both projects border the project site to the south and include participation by the city. In just over 5 years the city of Tacoma, working closely with its neighbors, has transformed an area that had frustrated revitalization for years into a long term strategic asset for economic growth throughout the region.