TACOMA, Wash. -- Most of us are drawn to the water, and around Tacoma, it's bringing more and more people to the Point Ruston area.
Leilani Jackson Lee remembers when the area was once a smelter plant and one of the most polluted sites in the country over the 20th Century.
Now, she proudly calls the former superfund site home.
“It’s just heaven on earth,” said Jackson-Lee. “It’s incredible, totally unbelievable.”
Jackson-Lee joins the thousands who are trekking on a trail system through Point Ruston that now stretches from downtown Tacoma to Point Defiance Park.
“There truly is something for everyone along the Ruston Way waterfront,” said Phedra Redifer with Metro Parks Tacoma.
The recent completion of the Dunes Peninsula Park connects that trail system and is bringing even more people to the Point Ruston area.
“We really think Point Ruston is positioned to be the starting and stopping point of a lot of those visits,” said developer Mike Cohen.
Cohen admits he initially thought Point Ruston would just be a housing development, but it’s become a lot more. It’s essentially another town in Pierce County, with shops, restaurants, and lots of condos.
“There is this magnetic draw to the waterfront, and people are willing to drive five, ten, fifteen minutes or more to buy a cup of coffee on the waterfront,” said Cohen.
Three huge cranes are still on site, changing the area to create a new hotel, a retirement community, more retail and perhaps the crown jewel of the community: a new public market.
“Even if Point Ruston wasn’t here, and we were able to just do this public market, I think it would become a huge draw,” said Cohen.
It's a draw into an area most people actively avoided over the last century because of the poison baked into the soil.
But now it’s a walking community with a trail system connecting it all, making it a place people actively travel to in order to get healthy.