Tacoma, WA guides economic revitalization with LEED-ND

A rendering of the long-term vision community planners have for 25th and Pacific Ave (Dome/Brewery District). Photo from the Brewery District Development Concept Study.

The City of Tacoma currently has its sights on two major smart growth initiatives that will aide in the economic revitalization of two inner city neighborhoods: the Dome/Brewery District and the Martin Luther King Jr. neighborhood.

Due to the recession and budget constraints, however, the city currently lacks the tools needed to effectively set goals and benchmark, evaluate and recognize progress for the projects. Tacoma is therefore looking to leverage existing efforts and resources to successfully revitalize these two neighborhoods. In this vein, Tacoma applied for and received a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America funded by EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. The two day workshop focused on using LEED-ND to accelerate the development of sustainable communities.

Tacoma had already created subarea plans for the two neighborhoods, but wanted to ensure that sustainability elements were added into the plans. City officials took advantage of the LEED-ND workshop to help them establish a framework to set goals, measurements, and to eventually brand the two neighborhoods as “centers for green development.” Currently, Tacoma is using these two neighborhoods as pilot projects for LEED-ND. If successful, it will be incorporated into future subarea plans.

During the two half-day workshops April 5-6, led by Eliot Allen from Criterion Planners, community members and key stakeholders developed sustainability “scorecards” for each of the two subareas. Each subarea received a Gold rating, which shows that due to the subareas existing infrastructure, development patterns, public institutions, as well as a host of other assets, the Dome/Brewery District and the MLK Jr. Neighborhood are on the right path toward sustainable revitalization.

Tacoma is committed to leading the way on sustainability initiatives, which is obvious from the city’s already adopted smart growth policies and programs that include addressing climate change, affordable housing, complete streets, sustainability and transit-oriented development. A few of the next steps for Tacoma would be to implement ND criteria to planning processes throughout the city, assist developers in certifying smaller projects within the subareas, and to seek certification of the subarea plans. Following the workshop, Tacoma decided to establish sustainability as a core principle of the city, incorporate sustainability as a crucial component of future subarea plans, and explore how to utilize LEED-ND on a wider basis.

To learn more about the LEED-ND workshop and to view Tacoma’s progress, click through the workshop materials.

Workshop Materials:

Workshop Outcomes:

Technical assistance