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McMenamins Chosen to Develop Old City Hall

Late Monday the City of Tacoma announced McMenamins as its first choice to develop Tacoma's iconic Old City Hall. The Portland-based developer was one of four to submit a proposal when the City asked for ideas last month. 

The City chose the McMenamins proposal, and over the next few weeks will work to negotiate agreements for the development and lease/purchase of the historic building at the northern end of Pacific Avenue - just across the street from the Elks Lodge, where McMenamins plans to begin renovation work in earnest in the next couple months.

The proposal is, of course, pretty broad-stroke at this point, but here's what we know so far:

  • A 60-room boutique hotel
  • 4 small, "signature bars" showing off the historic jailhouse space, the clock tower (imagine the views!), and rooftop greenhouse
  • A rooftop restaurant (more views)
  • Soaking pools
  • Community/private meeting and event spaces
  • A gift shop

These plans meet the City's goals for the property it bought for $4 million from the previous owner to have greater control over its fate. Old City Hall redeveloped like this would certainly serve as a regional destination, and bring new life to that corner of downtown Tacoma.

For their part, McMenamins would get more hotel rooms to replace those that had originally been imagined in an addition to the Elks building. Plus, they would get a crack at a pretty special historic building. 

“We fell in love with Old City Hall while going through the process of purchasing and planning for the Elks Lodge,” said Chief Executive Officer Michael McMenamin. “It was challenging to fit in everything we wanted to provide to the community within the Elks building. The Old City Hall building will allow us to do just that. It is a natural complement to the Elks Lodge, and needless to say a great building.”

McMenamins is set to begin work on the Elks Lodge project in the next few months, with completion expected in 2017. The lease for Old City Hall could begin as early as sometime in 2016, with McMenamins possibly ready to consider a purchase of the building within three years of that. The timeline in the City announcement has Old City Hall renovations complete by fall 2019.

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