I have learned to my great dismay that the University of Washington Tacoma, having secured $15 million of taxpayer money for renovating the Joy Building in downtown Tacoma, is seeking to significantly reduce the first-floor retail space along Pacific Avenue. Having retail on the first floor of commercial buildings is essential for the success of a business district.
UWT’s shortsighted plan to place faculty offices on the first floor would be destructive and thwart the future vibrancy of the neighborhood.
Ironically, UWT offers an Urban Studies program for students. Yet UWT’s plan for the Joy Building is contrary to the most basic urban design principles. UWT needs to do more than teach students abstract idea about urban design principles; it needs to implement them.
As a UW graduate, downtown business owner and taxpayer, I expect UWT to do the right thing and adopt the recommendations of the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission and build retail on Pacific Avenue as originally designed.