Lakewood continues push to bring this missing component to the city: A downtown

Lakewood officials are pushing a plan that they hope will result in a proper downtown for the Pierce County city.
Lakewood officials are pushing a plan that they hope will result in a proper downtown for the Pierce County city. City of Lakewood

New parks, restaurants, store fronts and housing — a downtown district is in Lakewood’s future.

It won’t be there this week, but it might be in the next few decades.

More than 20 years after the city was incorporated, it’s pushing to solidify a plan for a downtown.

The plan would create a centralized area with parks, restaurants, shops and housing, accessible to drivers and pedestrians alike. The area being examined includes the Colonial district, the Town Center district and the East Commercial district around Bridgeport Way.

“A lot of Lakewood residents would agree we can do more to centralize our Lakewood core,” city spokeswoman Brynn Grimley said “We’ve seen a lot of support for this and a lot of people who are excited for the future, so down the road, people will begin to see changes.”

The project, dubbed the Lakewood Downtown Plan, focuses on two elements — the greater vision for the future downtown and restructuring the codes needed to help it get there.

The plan is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. Once it’s in place, businesses and developers can begin working with the city to bring it to life.

The city proposed several options for a downtown, with varying levels of expected growth and available housing in the area. After hearing from more than 600 people, the Planning Commission recommended to the City Council the plan with the highest expected growth with the most housing.

In the first major code revision, updates will make it simpler for future developers to get necessary permits and keep the downtown area a cohesive and unified development in the city.

Since getting the recommended plan June 20, the City Council has been reviewing it and making minor alterations, including shrinking the boundaries of the targeted area. The council is expected to adopt the plan at the end of the month.

Funding for the new developments will not be finalized until the plan is concrete. Grimley said that because the property to be developed is privately owned, it will be the developers’ responsibility to finance the updates.

The City Council will begin to look more at funding public transportation projects in the area after a plan is adopted, she said.

Responses from the public have been largely in support of the proposal, said Tiffany Speir, the city’s special projects manager.

“This is an area that has been developed for more than 100 years, so people are happy to see it become a more cohesive, recognizable downtown,” she said.

Meredith Spelbring: mspelbring@thenewstribune.com, 253-858-3524, @mere0415