Have you noticed more construction activity in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater’s city centers and along the urban corridors that link them? This is part of a collaborative effort to reinvest in these areas and provide a wider range of housing and active-transportation options.
Back in 2011, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the Thurston County region a $750,000 Sustainable Communities Challenge Grant, which local governments matched with more than $500,000 of dollars and staff hours. The cities of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater worked with the Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC), Thurston Economic Development Council and other partners to plan the future of four “districts” along the region’s urban corridors: Woodland District, Martin Way District, Brewery District and Capitol Corridor.
In just five years, the initial investments have helped catalyze about $50 million in public- and private-sector investments within the districts. Meanwhile, about $180 million has been invested in the corridor hub — downtown Olympia. The combined $230 million has been used for:
- Property acquisitions;
- Building construction and redevelopment projects;
- Multimodal (bicycle, automobile, pedestrian, transit) transportation design and construction projects;
- Economic development coordinator positions;
- Stormwater infrastructure planning and construction projects;
- Economic studies and planning projects.
Such investments are consistent with several of the landmark Sustainable Thurston plan’s goals — notably, creating vibrant centers, corridors and neighborhoods while providing a wide range of housing and active-transportation options to meet the needs of a changing population. Such smart-growth investments also save money — dollars spent on building new infrastructure and filling up gas tanks. You might just say the region is walking, busing and biking the talk when it comes to its urban corridor.
You can read this story and others in the latest edition of The Main Street Journal — TRPC’s annual newsletter that reports Sustainable Thurston-related activities around the region.