Part 1: Project Overview

This planning project explores how we can improve the design, function, and programming of public spaces and streets in the Theater District.

The project's goal is to engage residents, workers, businesses, and transit users in shaping the future of the Theater District.

CLIENT: Pierce Transit with Project Partners: Broadway Center for the Performing Arts & City of Tacoma
DESIGN TEAM: Walker | Macy (planners, urban designers, and landscape architects)

More information

Question Title

Over the last year we hosted events, activities, surveys, and interviews to understand the community's ideas and collective vision for the neighborhood, Theater Square, and Commerce Street.

The recurring themes that emerged from our outreach process have informed the project's Neighborhood Vision and preliminary design concepts for Theater Square and Commerce Street.

We need to support the people and businesses who are already here and who make the Theater District what it is. But, we want to see positive change here.

The Theater District is distinguished by its history, the performances and events that take place here, and its creative culture.

The theaters, historic architecture, and the open space here are precious.

We want the Theater District to be active and vibrant, all the time.

Transit is important to the vitality of the district. More options for getting here, especially nights and weekends, are necessary. And we want to feel comfortable and safe on Commerce Street.

Feeling comfortable and safe in the district requires more people out and about–day and night, on foot or by bike. We also want streets and public space to be more inviting and be better cared for.

We want to see more amenities, events, and programming, for all ages and a wide range of interests.

We want to see more neighborhood-focused businesses, like grocery stores, and more restaurants and shops.

We want to see more people living here and more housing options for a diverse community. But we are worried about gentrification, displacement, and maintaining affordability.

Artists, musicians, and other creatives are key to strengthening the community and economic base of the District.

Theater Square and Commerce Street require design changes to meet the vision for the neighborhood.

Theater Square should host both large events and regular activities. It should also be an appealing and comfortable place to go on a daily basis, and be well used throughout the day, all week, all year.

Theater Square would benefit from having flexible spaces that can be used in different ways.

In particular we want to see more park elements, activities, and programming oriented to children and families.

To draw more people and give them reasons to stay, we want to see more buildings with commercial uses on the ground floor (like shops and restaurants)–especially on Commerce Street.

We want to see more opportunities for live performing arts and site-specific art, throughout the area.

The Farmer’s Market is an important part of neighborhood life. The new design for Theater Square should not only support the market as it is today, but allow it to expand–potentially to be a year-round market.