Auburn Growth Strategy

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What are the target goals?

In the absence of any tax increment financing options (TIF) available under Washington State law, the City of Auburn sought to stimulate development in its city center with infrastructure projects financed through alternative means. Revitalization started with the construction of a new regional transportation center in 2000 to link the city with Sounder Transit trains that run between Seattle and Tacoma. BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) rail and Sounder Transit joined forces with the city to complete the project. City officials then drafted a comprehensive redevelopment plan, the result of which lead to the clearing of three blocks of downtown land in 2010 (formerly a shopping mall) and an overhaul of the city's zoning plan.

The city also used federal grants through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to replace its aging clay water pipe system and install a fiber optic telecommunications network. On its own, the city established small business assistance centers, invested approximately $100,000 in storefront façade improvement projects for existing businesses, and implemented certain tax and fee waivers for construction and new development to further promote growth. The program ultimately resulted in its crowning achievement - a large mixed-use development that includes a combination of market rate and subsidized housing units.

Who are the partners?

The City of Auburn largely relied on partnerships with local small businesses and federal agencies to implement this program. Business partnerships were formed through fiscal incentives offered by the city. The Economic Development Administration also worked with the city to complete infrastructure updates. The city offered tax cuts and construction fee waivers and EDA provided infrastructure grants.

Other Details

The city's next objective is to expand its transportation infrastructure by establishing an Amtrak stop at its Sounder Station.

Primary Author
Mayor Nancy Backus

NLC Staff Contact
James Brooks
City Solutions Director

(202) 626-3163