Mello and Boe: “Just what Tacoma needs, another parking lot”

By Zach Powers on April 11, 2011

Four months ago the Tacoma City Council voted 6-3 to build a surface parking lot at the vacant property on the corner of Pacific Avenue and 12th Avenue. The parking lot is being constructed at the request of DaVita Inc. with the help of state grants from Governor Christine Gregoire originally intended to help keep Russell Investments in Tacoma. The site, formerly Sauro's Cleanerama, is unique because of its prime location and also because it is dug out, sitting nearly 25 feet underground - a feature that might have been appealing to developers despite the site's history as an unintentional toxic dump for perchloroethylene, a dry cleaning chemical found there in dangerous levels until a joint effort between Tacoma and the Washington State Department of Ecology to clean up the mess. Last week construction crews began filling the enormous hole with dirt. Once the hole is filled, the surface parking lot will be installed.

Throughout the process of approving the parking lot project councilmen Ryan Mello and David Boe have been vocal in their opposition of the plan and what they perceive as a lack of economic and urban design foresight by fellow council members and City Manager Eric Anderson. As crews worked to fill the hole Friday the two men stopped by to marvel at what they see as a travesty and a blown opportunity.

"Here we have a site that has alley access that's right off the 705 exit, (with) an entrance onto 705 a half block away, a light rail station a block away, a convention center and a hotel," observes Boe. "This place is screaming out for development. This is an urban design crime."

To read the full interview by Zach Powers, click here.