Among the definitions of the word “vision” are: the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be; a vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation.
The problem with “the vision thing” is that it isn’t equally shared. One person’s vision is another’s really bad idea. When it comes to public policy, an envisioned idea that might take years to become reality – especially if it involves tax dollars – is almost guaranteed to generate controversy.
So it’s been with two major projects envisioned in University Place: Town Center and Chambers Bay Golf Course. They came from different sources – the University Place City Council and former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, respectively – and both encountered bumps along the way. Most significantly, they were taking shape in the shadow of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Serendipitously, they are coming to fruition nearly at the same time – just as the young city nears its 20th birthday this summer. The synchronicity was unplanned, but still lovely.
Town Center has been slowly coming together – it already includes a library, sandwich shop, cafe, one apartment building and another under construction. Today it reaches a significant tipping point: the opening of a widely courted grocer, Whole Foods.
The new store is sure to draw customers from a wide area; it’s the only Whole Foods between downtown Seattle and Vancouver, Clark County. Having a Whole Foods go in close to the existing Trader Joe’s gives the city a “foodie” cachet, despite its shortage of dining options.
If Town Center hasn’t exactly matched what city officials envisioned when they started down the path 17 years ago, it’s pretty close. The idea was to broaden the city’s tax base. It’s doing that; now that Whole Foods is in the mix, other companies likely will be interested in coming to University Place, either to Town Center or to other commercial areas.
Although the Whole Foods location in University Place is unrelated to the Chambers Bay Golf Course and is several miles from it, store executives obviously know a hot brand when they see one. Hence, the store is called Whole Foods at Chambers Bay.
Like Town Center, 8-year-old Chambers Bay has had its detractors – mainly because it needed to be subsidized for several years by Pierce County sewage ratepayers. But now the Scottish links-style course is making money and about to have the golf world descend on it for the U.S. Open June 18-21.
These days the complaints about the course seem mostly about how much it costs to play and how difficult it is without the benefit of a cart.
University Place may be an unknown quantity outside the South Sound, but that’s about to change thanks to the Open. This 20-year-old is growing up fast.