Tacoma Dome, area projects moving along

Representatives from three departments updated the City Council on the latest news on the Tacoma Dome and projects in the Dome area during Tuesday’s study session.

Development in the Dome district, the Tacoma Dome itself, transportation and the LeMay Museum were all discussed.

“There are a number of active programs in that district,” said Martha Anderson, acting Economic Development Board director. “It’s exciting.”

In 2001, Tacoma published the Tacoma Dome Area Plan, an update of a plan that originally came out in 1995.

The project’s goals were to redevelop what is now mainly a commercial/industrial area to a mixed-use district including retail, entertainment and urban housing.

“We want to build on that urban-style development,” said Donna Stenger, a senior urban planner with the Growth Division of the Economic Development Board.

The plan is to connect this part of the city with the rest of downtown Tacoma and bring businesses to the area, she said.

Plans call for a phased, sustained implementation of such development.

“The most successful asset from the city’s perspective is the Tacoma Dome,” she noted.

Property Counselors Inc. of Seattle has completed a study on the economic impact of the Tacoma Dome, reported Mike Combs, manager of the Department of Public Assembly Facilities.

Preliminary results are very positive, he said. “A good portion of these patrons (to the Tacoma Dome) are coming from outside the region,” he told the council.

In January, officials from the Kansas City-based architect Ellerbe Becket Inc. addressed the council, providing a preliminary design for a renovated Tacoma Dome. A cost estimate for major upgrades to the 20-year-old structure came in at $42 million.

The results of a Dome improvement study will be presented to the Economic Development Board in mid-May, Combs said.

The Puyallup Tribe has funded a $41,000 feasibility study that would extend Tacoma Link approximately 1.5 miles to the Cascade Casino, which is being built by the Puyallup Tribe, said Steve Shanafelt, Public Works division manager.

“These are all preliminary discussions and concepts,” he stressed.

The extension of commuter rail to Lakewood should be completed by the end of 2007, he reported.

Shanafelt also provided some information on the $28 million “D” Street Overpass project, which will separate train and motor vehicle traffic by raising the roadway over the railroad tracks.

Construction is anticipated to begin in early October, he reported, with the project completed in May 2006.

Just across from the Tacoma Dome is the site of the future Harold E. LeMay Museum, a $100 million building that will house the largest privately-owned automobile collection in the world. Groundbreaking on the museum, which is to be built in two stages, is planned for 2005, with the museum open to the public in 2007.

Donna Datsko, a supervisor with the Economic Development Board, provided the council with some information on option agreements for replacement parking.

Some 1,200 parking stalls will be displaced by removing parking from two Tacoma Dome lots. The city is obligated for 970 stalls over the two phases of development, with the museum obligated for 230 parking stalls, Datsko said. The cost per replacement stall is between $12,000 and $25,000, she reported.

Another factor that has to be taken into consideration, Datsko said, is whether to build replacement lots or actual parking structures.

The face of the Dome district is in for some changes, Deputy Mayor Bill Evans noted.

“This, of course, represents tens of millions of dollars of investment,” he said.