• Oliver Scott

Hilltop's Business Crawl- Fighting Gentrification

Over the weekend we went to the Hilltop Business Crawl here in Tacoma to show our support to local small businesses as well as get a first-hand perspective into just how affected the area is/will be with the light-rail construction. Just trying to navigate the area, we did notice the construction poses a challenge to business owners as they walk out their front door and are faced with a slew of orange cones.

Mr. Mac Ltd.

Tacoma's light-rail will connect Hilltop to downtown Tacoma and eventually, will connect to Seattle by 2030. It has triggered a lot of uncertainty for most business owners in the area that have already seen gentrification take effect, watching locals they've known their entire lives getting pushed out due to rising housing and retail costs.

In an interview for KNKX Michael Mirra, executive director of the Tacoma housing authority, says it's a race against time.

"There are some suggestions to this trajectory that tell us in 10 or 15 years, the only affordable housing in the Hilltop, the only affordable retail space in the Hilltop, is what we and our partners succeed in building, buying or owning in the next five years," Mirra said. 

"Tacoma has a chance to succeed where many other cities have failed: bringing in new prosperity without sweeping away the people who have been waiting for it. It needs the personal investment that comes from growing up here, having raised your children here, knowing your neighbors. And if you lose that, the other kinds of financial investments feel incomplete."

The business crawl was an opportunity for community connection for Hilltop businesses impacted by the Hilltop Tacoma Link construction and COVID-19.

Sound Transit sponsored the Hilltop Business Crawl along with the City of Tacoma. Their support helped pay for the T-shirts and marketing for local businesses.

The meeting point was at the HAC Headquarters, where you pick up your stamp card and spin for some swag. Then, you stroll the neighborhood collecting stamps along the way so you can return for a prize.

Love By The Slice

Owner of Love By The Slice, Cassandra Williams, was already speaking to a couple when we walked in, but luckily her son Calvin was available to show us around. He was very informative and helpful, and proud to show off the blueprints of what to expect when they have their grand opening. COVID has slowed the progress for their remodel but the spirit and excitement you feel when you walk into their store shows great promise for a booming future in their store. We look forward to revisiting when they open, meanwhile one can still support them by ordering online.

Johnson Candy Co.

Brendan Nelson, the President of The Hilltop Action Coalition, started the group empowering the community with resources while working with city leaders like Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards to keep Hilltop affordable.

The Mayor says a once vacant building in the heart of the hilltop will now be turned into 200 affordable housing units while the city offers microloans to keep businesses in operation. Mayor Woodards herself even visited the business crawl with her family over the weekend showing her support.

We contacted the Hilltop Action Coalition for more information and they mentioned that they, along with the Tacoma Housing Authority, came together in partnership to create this opportunity when they heard the Hilltop Street fair was canceled.

"We care about our community, residents, businesses, and organizations and understand how they are linked together to create a strong resilient neighborhood. We hope the Crawl was positively embraced by the community and have intentions to plan another Crawl in the near future," says Kristine Coman, Office Manager of the HAC.

If you ever have a chance to make it to the Hilltop Neighborhood, we highly recommend popping over to Grit City Ciderworks for a growler, The Eleven Eleven for some lunch, Goodfellas Barbers to say hi to all the fellas, Bobs Bar-B-Q-Pit that has been in business since 1948, or Johnson's Candy to name a few.

Thanks to the HAC for their information and for putting together a great event for us to learn more about our city.

And thank YOU for visiting our blog and reading along.

-Urban Biz Media Team


HAC: http://www.hilltopactioncoalition.org/

Q13 Interview: https://www.q13fox.com/news/tacomas-hilltop-residents-fight-back-against-gentrification

KNKX: https://www.knkx.org/post/year-brings-change-hope-and-loss-tacomas-historically-black-hilltop-neighborhood

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