TRANSFORM Project Overview

Transforming public space for a functional, vibrant, creative center

In 2016, the City of Tacoma, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts and Pierce Transit received a prestigious Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This grant invests in creative placemaking projects that contribute to the livability of communities who place the arts at their core.

The Project Partners intend to establish a vision for a more robust and active downtown, and they see the Theater District as a core part of this vision. By engaging the Tacoma community they want to work together on developing a “Theater District Culture and Transportation Plan” which will be used to guide further design work, public investment and planned private development over the next decade.

Project Focus Area

The Tacoma Theater District is a key asset at the historic center of the City, and includes major entertainment venues, retail and restaurants, a public transit hub, and public spaces that are programmed and used by many organizations. The development will focus on the neighborhood surrounding the historic theaters near the intersection of Broadway with Ninth Street.

Theater Square is the largest outdoor performance & event space in the district and it is placed next to one of the major transportation hubs in Tacoma, the Commerce Street Transit Center. The waterfall staircase between those two areas, as well as sidewalks on 9th and 11th streets facilitate the connection between transportation and cultural activities that can take place there. By focusing on transforming these three areas, we can create a magnet of activity with functional and attractive solutions to improve the service for the performance venues throughout the district as well as for the visitors and residents of the area.

Your Input Will Influence Transformation

TRANSFORM is the title of the Theater District culture and transportation plan, with community engagement component and focusing on the area between 9th and 11th Streets, and between Broadway and Pacific Avenue.

Through a series of public events, TRANSFORM aims to expose the multitude of possible uses of these spaces as well as reveal problem areas. The gathered ideas and feedback may be used to form transportation and cultural plan for the Theater District.

By highlighting various spaces within this area, we want to learn about community’s needs to develop functional concepts for the three key assets: Theater Square, Commerce Street between 9th and 11th, and the connecting walkway and waterfall in between.

Goals of the Project

  • Utilize a variety of community engagement strategies to inform the planning and design concepts for the Theater District, with an emphasis on the Project Focus Area described above.
  • Highlight a variety of possible uses of the public space including opportunities for performances and community events.
  • Develop conceptual design and function plans, in coordination with the consultant team, for Commerce Street, the Commerce Street, and Theater Square.

The following consultants are engaged to assist on the project:

  • Walker Macy (urban design and planning)
  • Fehr & Peers (Traffic Engineering)
  • AHBL (Civil and Structural Engineer)
  • Owen Richards Associates (Architecture)
  • 3 Square Blocks (Public Involvement)
  • Ellen Sollod, Sollod Studio (Arts Planner)
  • Leland Consulting Group (Economics)

Placemaking Plan Area

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Tacoma's Theater District

Downtown Tacoma houses many theatrical and performance venues and schools. While there is no formally designated boundary for the district, the plan will serve the needs of this area to provide support to the thriving, artistic district.

Project Area - Walker MacyCR

Transform Project Focus Area

The project partners are focusing their effort on developing a culture and transportation plan in the neighborhood surrounding the historic theaters near the intersection of Broadway with Ninth Street.
This placemaking plan will be created with community input to bring a functional and thriving public space that serves the visitors and residents of the district.

Plan Development Updates

To inform the planning process, the project partners (Pierce Transit, City of Tacoma and Broadway Center for Performing Arts) held a stakeholder workshop on July 19 at Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. The purpose of the workshop was to provide interested folks an overview of the project area, approach, and process; and to solicit high-level input from community members about the Theater District’s < greatest assets, challenges, and opportunities.

The stakeholder group at this July 19th meeting was comprised of members of the public and representatives from neighborhood associations, community organizations, local businesses, local business associations, as well as Pierce Transit, the City of Tacoma, and Broadway Center staff.

Lots of great ideas and comments came out of the meeting! We called this a “stakeholder” meeting – so we tried to round up folks who have a “stake” in, or care about, Tacoma’s Theater District. We hope you also care about this district and would love to hear from you, too! Please Sign Up to receive surveys and invitations to events.

Lots of great ideas and comments came out of the meeting, Click Here to learn more.

The purpose of this Stakeholder Workshop—the second of three planned workshops—was to share with
stakeholders and solicit their feedback on a preliminary District Vision, a list of Defining Characteristics
of the District in a future state, and a list of long-term Strategies for achieving this Vision. The Consultant
Team presented these draft materials to the group and planned to collect feedback through sticky note
exercises and small, facilitator-led group discussions. The results of this process would be incorporated
into the final District Vision and inform the Public Realm Framework Plan.

Click Here to view Meeting Summary.

Want to stay informed? Sign up below

Thanks for your interest in the TRANSFORM Project! Please sign up for updates, feedback opportunities and  event notifications. And once the Tacoma Theater District Placemaking Plan is developed, you will be the first to know.