Tacoma learned long ago that it will always be second to Seattle, but the city is now embracing that as a positive. The money the city is leveraging from all the action in Seattle is a vital part of Tacoma’s game plan.
“I can’t compete with Goliath,” City Economic Development Director Ricardo Noguera said. “It’s feeding off of the beast. Seattle-Bellevue is the beast.”
Noguera said Tacoma is more than happy riding the economic coattails.
“You’re seeing more and more folks that are being priced-out of King County moving here and other folks who are empty-nesters who are moving here from other parts of Pierce County and beyond,” he said.
Tacoma has been planning for this building boom for years, putting public projects in the works to attract developers.
“We have over 1,700 units that will break ground this year,” Noguera said. “We had over 600 units that broke ground last year.”
There are 19 capital projects in the works in the city, including new sidewalks and crosswalks and even a new Puyallup River Bridge that will give people another option to I-5 or State Route 509. But that will mean congestion. Not a great revelation for a city that has endured more than 20 years of nearly non-stop construction on I-5.
But Noguera said the pain will be worth the gain.
“2016 was the year of the planning and the permits, 2017 is the year of the crane,” he said.
By fall, there should be at least 10 cranes working around downtown Tacoma. It’s not a competition with Seattle and Bellevue, Noguera said, but he is more than happy to profit from everything that’s happening up the freeway in King County.