Fifty years from now, will the descendants of today’s Tacomans understand what the fuss was all about in the Proctor District over two mixed-use projects – one under construction and another on the drawing board?
Not likely, because many of them probably will be living in exactly that kind of development. It will be their norm. And if city officials have done their job right, similar projects will be sprinkled all over Tacoma in the 18 areas currently zoned for mixed-used buildings.
Many residents undoubtedly will still live in single-family homes. But if Tacoma is to absorb its share of the population growth that is predicted to come to Western Washington in the next several decades, then the only choice is to grow vertically.
Tacoma’s Vision 2040 statement looks at how the city will make room for an estimated 127,000 new residents. There’s not a lot of vacant land, so projects like Proctor Station – multistory buildings near existing shopping and transit routes – must be encouraged. The idea is to build in places where residents can easily walk to the grocery store, library, restaurants and other amenities. The fewer people having to drive places helps the traffic problem.
The fact that the Proctor District has so many services in a fairly compact area makes it attractive to current residents – as well as to people who would like to live there but perhaps either can’t afford a home or no longer want the bother of one. For a wave of aging baby boomers tired of mowing lawns and looking to downsize their living situation, places like Proctor Station and mixed-use developments downtown and at Point Ruston hold appeal.
Current residents chose to live there because of its character, and it’s a natural reaction to want it to stay that way. But of course, nothing stays the same.
Even Proctor residents who “get” the whole idea of density may object to Proctor Station due its size – at six stories it will be by far the tallest building in the neighborhood – and to the prospect of greater pressures on parking availability.
Those are valid concerns; although to be fair, the building is at about its ugliest stage right now during construction. And given the perspective of time, it might not seem as out of place in 10 years or so.
As for parking, that will be a growing concern in any business district that is successful. The only thing merchants hate more than not enough parking spaces is too many of them not being filled with patrons.
Certainly, other business districts in Tacoma would love to have the “problems” that Proctor is having: too many shoppers, too many people wanting to live there, too much development activity – and too many people who care very deeply about their neighborhood.
That, by the way, includes the developers of Proctor Station and a planned mixed-use project near Metropolitan Market. They’re not carpetbaggers from Seattle looking to make a quick buck; they’re longtime Proctor residents and business people. They’re not about to trash their own neighborhood.