Over the next several months, the city of Tacoma will plant approximately 200 trees in the heart of the Hilltop business district thanks to anonymous donors.
The aim of the project, called Diversitree, is more than beautification, said Carol Wolfe, a community and economic development specialist with the city. Wolfe said people linger more in areas with trees and tend to spend more money.
“We want that business district to thrive,” Wolfe said. “We want it to be attractive to retailers and small business owners.”
Rose Lincoln Hamilton, president and CEO of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, said an anonymous husband and wife donated $100,000 toward the project. The couple has contributed a total of $135,000 to several projects to plant trees and remove invasive plants in Tacoma and Gig Harbor, she said.
Lincoln Hamilton said the couple wants to see a tree planted for every one that’s taken down.
“They were sad every time they went and saw parking lots being built or ground being paved and trees not being planted,” she said.
The Hilltop trees will be no taller than 25 feet at maturity in about 10 to 15 years, said urban forester Raimie Pierce. Shorter trees require less or no pruning by utility companies, which will save ratepayers money over time, she said.
The plantings are the city’s first demonstration project to showcase these smaller trees — such as triumph elm, katsura and willow oak — in neighborhood business districts. Evergreens also will be in the mix, she said.
Trees will be planted mostly along 11th Street and Earnest S. Brazill Street, with some planted along 10th and Ninth streets.
Hilltop was one of several business districts the city considered for the project, Pierce said. Hilltop qualified for Tacoma’s Diversitree project partly because it’s a lower-income area and has less of what foresters call “canopy cover.”
As part of the project, the city could build four medians in which to plant trees on South 11th Street between South J Street and South Sheridan Avenue. Pierce said the medians — which could block left-turn access to alleys and a lesser-used route to the Hilltop Safeway — were a late addition to the project and could change.
In all, the project could cost between $175,000 and $200,000, with the city chipping in between $45,000 and $70,000. Another $30,000 from the Donald R. and Mary E. Williams Horticulture Fund will pay to water and maintain the trees for the next three years. The fund, managed by the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, aims to support the arts, youth and horticulture.
The Hilltop trees will have signs nearby to help residents identify them.
“I think it will look beautiful. It will be diverse,” Pierce said. “It will have a range of trees that flower and trees that provide shade. … It’s going to have that neighborhood feel that people want, or say they want.”
The first tree will be planted at a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 11 near the Tacoma Housing Authority headquarters at 902 S. L St.Kate Martin: 253-597-8542 kate.martin@ thenewstribune.com