New signs to direct visitors to city’s downtown landmarks

The Tacoma Economic Development Department (TEDD) is leading an effort designed to help visitors to the city’s downtown core more easily find their way to key landmark destinations.

“We want to improve wayfinding to the various districts,” said Peter Huffman, Manager of TEDD’s Growth Management Division, who unveiled designs for new street signs at this week’s Economic Development Committee meeting. “We want people coming to the area to be directed to districts and parking.”

The signs will compliment existing signs visible from Interstate 5, and will point to the convention center, theaters, Foss waterway, museums, Tacoma Dome, and parking lots and garages.

The new signs have their roots in TEDD’s “Destination Downtown” — a plan that dates back several years and is designed to draw more visitors, shoppers, and residents to the downtown core. In 2003, the city hired the Seattle consulting firm Maestri Design, Inc. to make recommendations for improving downtown retail. One recommendation called for “rational signage.” According to Maestri president Paula Rees, the city’s signs confused visitors and were considered an “eyesore.”

According to Huffman, the first signs have been ordered: approximately 30 directing visitors to parking. The signs cost $32,000.

Tentative locations have been designated, and the signs will be installed in time for the Tall Ships Festival this summer. Huffman reported that TEDD is currently working with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce and the Thea Foss Waterway Development Authority to help fund the additional signage.