Pacific Avenue in ruins

Pacific Avenue Trees removed
Photo of old Pacific Avenue trees lining the street Dec. 2012

It’s hard to pass through the northern end of Pacific Avenue right now without feeling like excrement. After driving through earlier, I am unable to fully comprehend what is happening down there. It has been puzzling for awhile now and I’ve been doing my best to keep quiet, not judge, wait and see..

But I can’t be completely silent! It looks awful and there are a lot of missing trees and ginormous trenches in the sidewalks! Tomorrow I plan to take some pictures of the whole mess and try to figure out what I’m seeing. Immediately afterwards I plan to cheer myself up with a visit to RR at Tinkertopia. Maybe he can help me understand?

What’s with Puget Sound area banks?

Washington Mutual and now Rainier Pacific. Both have gone from riches to rags and both originated in our backyard. While not as spooky as the WaMu debacle, the Rainier Pacific dissolution seems to be exactly what this region needs to avoid. This pattern of 1 step forward and 2 steps back is not going to take our economy where it needs to go anytime soon.

Rather than a bank named Umpqua, I sincerely hope that something fun will go into the corner space at N 26th & Proctor previously used by Rainier Pacific Bank. North Tacoma needs more places to have fun and less places to do business, in my opinion. Take your business downtown!

The global economy still wavers. The stock markets are as fickle as my 5 day old daughter. Real estate may or may not be picking up steam. What are your thoughts on the economic health of the region? I give up trying to make my own predictions. Hopefully some of you will step up and risk an opinion.

Tacoma Union Bank of California building for sale

The Bank of California Building at 1011 Pacific Ave in downtown Tacoma is for sale. I had the privilege of meeting owner Jay Yi last week and he allowed us a full tour of the historic site. The impressive structure is packed with an arsenal of equally impressive contents. Never having been used for anything other than a bank, the facility is uniquely tailored for a certain purpose. Like housing millions of dollars in cash, jewels and other valuables for decades.

You pass through the giant, classic pillars on the outside and into an expansive lobby where your eye is immediately drawn 40 feet upward to the cathedral ceiling. The ornate wood and plaster detail overhead is unlike anything you will find in new construction today. Gold carvings tell a story that wraps around the top of the room. Solid granite walls line the staircase leading downstairs.

An old bank manager’s office at the front of the building is luxuriously decorated with gorgeous wood paneling and feels like something out of Scooby-Doo. We could not find any of the secret compartments in the walls, but I’m certain they are there somewhere. If I had an office, I would want it to look just like this one.

We took the old world elevator to the basement and that is where things really got interesting. Exiting the elevator, I suddenly felt as though I were thrust headlong into the middle of a scene from Ocean’s Eleven. I’ve never had free run of a giant vault before. Have you? There were thousands of old, empty safety deposit boxes and multiple safes for the storage of exactly who knows what.

Movie set. That’s all I kept thinking. Well, that and the fact the building may have access to the old tunnels under Tacoma. Stay tuned.

Let’s give ‘em something to talk about


The Dock Street/Downtown waterfront of Tacoma is in trouble. The museum restaurant has closed, following the Blue Olive on their way out of town. The pedestrian bridge over I-705 is proving to be insufficient in fueling foot traffic from Pacific Avenue to Dock Street. Even before these closures, Dock Street has been a ghost town, but for construction workers, condo residents and the occasional boutique employee coming and going. A constant flow between Pacific Ave and Dock Street must be developed somehow, some way. It’s easier said than done, but necessary. If things don’t improve, this shiny, new area will continue to die like a limb with poor circulation. Surely, the urban planners have something up their sleeves!? There are currently a couple stealth ways to get from Pacific Ave to Dock Street by car, but they aren’t accessible to newcomers to the area. Those of us who have lived here know how to access Dock Street a few different ways. However, the train tracks and I-705 present quite a barrier to entry for those on the Pacific Ave side. Is it simply these logistics that hold the Tacoma Museum of Glass district down, or is it something more? Perhaps Tacoma needs to focus on getting more high-quality attractions in there. With all due respect, pet stores, sandwich shops and condos are great, but they don’t necessarily do much to attract visitors. I love the sandwich shop. Do you think I’d get in my car and drive down there JUST to have lunch there? I think not. I love the dog shop, too. Again, I’m not going to drive down there just to buy my dog a leash. There are plenty of places closer to home for that. So I ask you Tacoma, what is it going to take to get this area going??