Is an urban village in Lacey’s future?

May 7th, 2013 by Ken

Lacey is still a relatively new city, at least compared to its sister cities of Olympia and Tumwater which are past 150 years old.  Lacey has yet to reach its 50 year mark.

But,  just because something is new, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have older sections that need review.

That’s the case with the Lacey Woodland District.  It’s been under review for nearly a year trying to determine if and how this section of the city should re-develop.

For many people, the Woodland District is the city’s downtown.  It encompasses South Sound Center, Fred Meyer and Huntamer Park.  It’s bounded College Street and the west city limits and Pacific Avenue and I-5.

It contains nearly 2.5 million square feet of commercial space, around 350 businesses and about 4800 people  who work in the district.

But, it also has some problems.  Since 2008 and the cutback in state government, it has 240,000 square feet of vacant office space and two of its major buildings are sitting empty.

That’s the situation facing the steering committee which is looking at the future of Lacey’s downtown core.

But, while it has problems, it also has some things going for it that makes it perfect for an Urban Village.

That’s something that planners love – – Urban Villages.  That’s the kind of place that make a planner’s heart sing.  The kind of place they can point to and say – – see – – you too can have an alternative lifestyle – – free from the confines of an automobile.

That’s an Urban Village  and planners love them, so local planners have fallen in love with Lacey’s Woodland District.

It has parks, businesses, jobs, two colleges and an Intercity Transit hub.  It’s perfect for a 21st Century Urban Village.

But, it has some problems.  It doesn’t have many people living in the area and it has too much concrete and asphalt.

So, urban planners have been working for a year to develop a plan which will make the Woodland District something to be proud of and maybe bring a song to your heart as well.

Wednesday night May 8 at 5:30 p.m. at Lacey City Hall, these planners, their consultants and the steering committee will  release their concept of what the Woodland District can become.

Is it destined to be an Urban Village or is it just a concept with no relationship to reality?

Posted in Government, Local Politics, The Real News

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