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What's Tacoma's appeal?  

by The Associated Press - 11/22/00

bulletCommercial real-estate prices that average about half Seattle's.  Prime downtown commercial space leases for as low as $19 per square foot, compared to about $45 in Seattle; and sells for $50-$60 per square foot in Tacoma.  On the residential side, the average single-family home price in Seattle was $288,000 in September, up from $223,000 a year ago.  In Tacoma, the price this fall averages $206,000 - up from $144,000 a year ago.
bulletThe nation's largest city-owned high-speed telecommunications system, Tacoma Power's Click! Network, a $100 million investment conceived in 1992 that went on line in 1998.  It offers five applications:  cable television, broad-band services for business, Internet-over-cable modem, individual monitoring of electrical usage and an institutional network for city government and schools.  Tacoma bought its electrical utility back in 1893 - the year the Great Northern Railroad reached Seattle and trumped Tacoma's 1887 coup as northern terminus of the Northern Pacific.
bulletA book of city building codes that has been slimmed down from 70 pages to seven, and a city pledge that if building permits aren't processed within 90 days - and city officials hold developers' hands throughout the process - you get your money back.
bulletManageable scale, with a population of 187,000 for the city proper and 700,000 for the greater metropolitan area.  Seattle's population now is 540,000 - 3.2 million for the metro area.
bulletJust 30 miles from Seattle, 15 miles from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
bulletAn inclusive and enthusiastic local business community, with networking groups including the Chamber of Commerce, the Tacoma Technology Consortium, the Tacoma Network and its own chapter of the Washington Software Alliance.
bulletView of Commencement Bay and other reaches of Puget Sound, as well as the Olympic and Cascade mountains and looming Mount Rainier, known to the region's Puyallup and Nisqually tribes as "Tahoma," roughly translated as "the source of water and life."
bulletEnhancing the downtown core are the new Washington State History Museum and a revamped Union Station - its arched windows decorated with Chihuly glass - that now serves as the federal courthouse.  Still to come are a $58 million Museum of Glass with a 500-foot, $16 million "Chihuly Bridge of Glass" linking the site on the Thea Foss Waterway with downtown (due for completion in 2002) and a new $25 million home of the Tacoma Art Museum (2003.)  Plans also are in the works for the city's Asia-Pacific Cultural Center and the Harold E. LeMay Museum, which will house 2,400 vintage cars collected by a late local businessman.
bulletThe growing downtown satellite campus of the University of Washington, and two venerable private colleges, the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University .
bulletA new downtown convention center, a public-private project scheduled for completion in 2002.
bulletTacoma Link's planned light-rail system, which will offer free downtown service  by 2002.
bulletThea Foss Waterway development, which began with the city's $6.8 million acquisition of 27 acres of downtown waterfront in 1991.  Area waters qualify for Superfund clean-up.   An $88 million facelift - a 1.5-mile city-built esplanade with private retail, housing, commercial and hotel development on city land that now totals 42 acres -  is scheduled for completion in 2002. 
 
Media coverage and background reading
bullet
City of Destiny warms to cultural life 
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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On the wired front 
Inc. Technology Magazine
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Tacoma may have finally nailed revival together 
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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Digital economy may spark Tacoma's renaissance  
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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Smell of success is new Tacoma aroma 
Seattle Times
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Newsletter: Things are looking up in Tacoma 
Seattle Times
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Developers seem content to redevelop downtown Tacoma 
Puget Sound Business Journal
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Tech Towns: Top Places for Engineering Companies 
The Standard