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Annexing Point Ruston

Ruston is generally a pretty sleepy little town, but this week things are really heating up. Frustrated with trying to work with city officials in Ruston, the developers of Point Ruston have taken a step toward asking Tacoma to annex the portion of their property that falls in the smaller city's borders.

42 acres of the 97-acre mixed use development that sits on top of the former Asarco Superfund site lies on the Ruston side of the dividing line. All substantial development to this point has occurred on the Tacoma side. 

Last summer the developer threatened Ruston with a $150 million lawsuit for not holding up its end of the deal relating to Superfund site cleanup. Then we received the following press release this Thursday:

Point Ruston files Notice of Intent to initiate partial annexation of project site into City of Tacoma

Developer cites lack of cooperation and lengthy delays by the Town of Ruston

Tacoma, Washington – Today, Point Ruston LLC filed a Notice of Intent to Initiate Annexation with the City of Tacoma that begins a process to move the portion of the Point Ruston project site within the Town of Ruston into the City of Tacoma.  Point Ruston LLC is currently redeveloping the 97-acre former Asarco Smelter Superfund Site that straddles the Ruston/Tacoma jurisdictional line. The annexation would move approximately 42 acres of Point Ruston owned property into the City of Tacoma’s jurisdiction.

The first phase of this $1.2 billion mixed-use project is located on the Tacoma-side of the site, where the Point Ruston neighborhood is currently home to more than 215 residential homes and various commercial businesses, including a health care provider, restaurant, health club and the mile-long public Waterwalk esplanade that is enjoyed by thousands on a daily basis.  To date nearly $200 million in private financing has been invested in the cleanup and redevelopment of this Superfund site, with $31 million from the City of Tacoma for the reconstruction of the public infrastructure within both jurisdictions.  Currently, work is underway on the next phase of the project that features hundreds of additional residential homes, a 9-screen multiplex theatre, multiple restaurants and retail space, along with The Grand Plaza, a one-acre, centrally located public gathering area with a large public fountain and children’s spray-ground and splash-pad.

“We have exhausted every option to move this project forward in the Town of Ruston,” stated Loren Cohen, a director of the Point Ruston project. “After months and months of negotiations and an apparent solution, we find ourselves at a standstill because the Mayor of Ruston refuses to honor our agreements.”

The Point Ruston project has been underway for eight years. Other than single-family dwellings in the new Stack Hill neighborhood above the waterfront property, all completed construction has been limited to the Tacoma portion of the project.  Multiple attempts have been made to negotiate a mutual agreement with the Town of Ruston on the issues commonly associated with such a project. Numerous stakeholders have participated in the process including local, state and federal elected officials, as well as government and business leaders.  “Everybody has been at the table,” continued Cohen. “We all walked away with the clear understanding that we had an agreement on how to proceed.  But without further discussion or explanation, the Mayor attempted to unilaterally stop all construction at the site, including the required environmental cleanup that has been continuously underway since we took ownership in 2006.  A project of this size, that will provide so many benefits to the citizens of Ruston and Tacoma, should not be held up by ever-changing, arbitrary demands.”

Point Ruston is one of the largest private developments currently underway in the state of Washington. Tens of millions of dollars have been invested in the cleanup of the former Asarco Smelter Site, and numerous other public improvements have been made, including the mile-long Waterwalk esplanade, an extension of the popular waterfront walkway along Commencement Bay.  Cohen added, “If the status quo continues, even Tacoma Metro Parks’ grand vision for the permanent pedestrian waterfront connection to Pt. Defiance Park will be at risk, as will the millions of dollars the state has identified for public shoreline access.”  In addition, the City of Tacoma funded a $31 million Local Improvement District that was used for public infrastructure improvements, upgrading the severely dilapidated roadway and utility systems in both the Town of Ruston and City of Tacoma.

A successful public-private partnership has emerged with the City of Tacoma. “When you look at the site and see that all of the progress has been made on the Tacoma side, you understand what we’re talking about,” said Cohen. “We had looked forward to working with the Town to turn this former Superfund clean-up site into a first-class, mixed-use neighborhood. Instead, we have had every imaginable roadblock - some literally - thrown at us.  Annexation is now our best option to ensure the completion of this project.  Nevertheless, we stand ready with the City of Tacoma, our Congressional delegation and our State Legislators to re-engage in comprehensive discussions that will provide meaningful benefits and certainty to the public. But this can’t be done with the Mayor of Ruston’s steadfast refusal to return to the table and negotiate in good faith.”

Point Ruston’s Notice of Intent to Initiate Annexation will be considered by the Tacoma City Council, with final approval by the Town of Ruston Council required before the annexation is finalized.

About Point Ruston, LLC

Currently under construction along a mile of waterfront in Tacoma, Point Ruston, LLC is developing a waterfront mixed-use neighborhood with housing for up to 3,000 residents and approximately 2,000,000 total square feet of mixed-use real estate featuring shopping, dining, entertainment, and recreation. For more information visit: http://www.PointRuston.com

The News Tribune has responses from Ruston Mayor Bruce Hopkins, who, not surprisingly, points the finger back at the developer. This is shaping up to be quite interesting to watch ... Who has popcorn?

While we're annexing things, what else do you want? Ideas? 


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Comments

Carl

This is a start.  Now for the rest.

January 23, 2015 at 8:31 am / Reply / Quote and reply

7 | 0

Leonard C.

First we take Point Ruston, then we take Fircrest.

January 23, 2015 at 8:45 am / Reply / Quote and reply

12 | 1

Jake

Midland: Tacoma to 512, Waller/Summit: Portland Ave to Canyon.

January 23, 2015 at 9:23 am / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 3

Published Author RR AndersonRegistered

the people of Tacoma would be welcomed as liberators! flowers and parades!  the people of Ruston cry out for freedom!  We should start sending supplies and weapons to moderate rebel fighters

January 23, 2015 at 9:58 am / Reply / Quote and reply

10 | 1

James

“Ruston isn’t just a bunch of podunk ninnies that they’d have you believe,” Hopkins said.

I don’t know what that means exactly, but it doesn’t instill any greater faith in Ruston’s leadership.

For the sake of everyone involved, I hope for a expedient annexation. There’s an important role for government to play in the execution of Point Ruston and the “Town” of Ruston isn’t willing or capable to be partner in this. Regardless of their motivations, they’re failing in their obligations.

January 23, 2015 at 11:31 am / Reply / Quote and reply

10 | 1

Christine

I’m going to start out by calling Ruston quaint. A cute little village of less than 750 inhabitants that has been known to want no changes whatsoever in their borders.

I do think that they are being foolish because the development at Pt. Ruston could have been their ticket to enough tax revenue to make the little town hum with upgrades and fixed potholes. Let’s look back at past decisions made by this town. Have they made similar decisions in the past? Have they blocked construction or business permits for no reason other than obstinance?

Tacoma already has in place the personnel and rules to handle large-scale projects, did we offer to help Ruston with the permitting and oversight? If we don’t annex the Ruston portion can we require Ruston to pay Tacoma back for the infrastructure upgrades making all of this possible?
How is this situation similar or dissimilar to the annexed properties at Westridge Avenue (which should be UP) and the retail complexes off of 72nd and Portland Avenue?

I have a lot of questions and quite a few opinions on this, does anyone have answers?

January 23, 2015 at 11:35 am / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 1

Paul

Please check your facts before you respond so quickly. To date the City of Ruston has not received a penny from the City of Tacoma for infrastructure upgrades and improvements.
In regard to the gentleman that commented about the potholes, have you driven in Ruston lately? My experience has been that all the roads are nice and smooth and clean, not a pot hole to be found. Could it be that Ruston is a finely tuned, run town that only wants the best for its residents. Don’t be fooled by what you read in the Tacoma News Tribune. The information has been fed by the developer who only has his best interest at heart. Where will he be ten years from now? The people of Ruston will be there dealing with shoddy workmanship. He probably hasn’t divulged to the media about the 30,000 gal propane tank he is trying to install in a mix used area. In case you aren’t aware, that size of tank is only installed in rural areas away from residential areas let alone a marina.
His permitting issue are due to the fact that he is trying to do something outside the guidelines of the Master Development Plan and the law.
Poor Tacoma pouring good money after bad towards this developer. They bought a strip of land from the developer to maintain access to the shoreline when by law the developer had to maintain that access anyway.

January 23, 2015 at 6:14 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 13

RHTCCComedyfanRegistered

Due to projected Sea Level rise this area will likely be underwater in 100 years anyway.It already is at risk if there is an Earthquake caused Tsunami too.
Even with Dikes (Sea Walls) it will certainly be a doomed underwater area by 200 years.
So Sea rise will annex this and be laughing at the developers in the end.

January 23, 2015 at 6:16 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 3

Jesse

Annex them… and Fircrest!!  Let’s stop this rediculous breeding war with Spokane so Tacoma can finally prove it is number two.  :)

January 23, 2015 at 7:01 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

10 | 2

thackerspeedRegistered

The great thing about Tacoma? It’s always looking for a new Superfund Site to add to its collection.

January 25, 2015 at 9:14 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 5

ApitbullnamedPlug

Mayor Hopkins appears incompetent.  The outside voices in this story (Mayor Stickland and Rep Kilmer) seem to agree with Cohen, that this impasse is the result of Mayor Hopkins. 

Ruston has taken 4 years to approve permits that Tacoma approved in 2 months.  Hopkins apparently lied about his intention to follow through on his promised actions.  He failed to show up for meetings and ignored communications.  All construction has been on the Tacoma side.  Ruston is even trying to stop construction of a Federally mandated parking garage.

Perhaps Herr Mayor has let his position of authority go to his head?

January 26, 2015 at 9:25 am / Reply / Quote and reply

7 | 0

thackerspeedRegistered

PROBLEM: A city loans a private developer $31 million dollars. The payback term is 30 years. The financial means of payback is contingent on the success and future profits from the developer’s proposed high density commercial and residential project.

AXIOM: Value is not a statement of material fact.

REMEMBER: The main principle in structuring liabilities is to match the repayment of debt with the borrower’s ability to repay.

PROBLEM: Density can signify both a place and a state of mind.

January 26, 2015 at 7:07 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 3

RCW

I am new to the area, living in Ruston and the lack of input from the Mayor on this issue doesnt look good.

January 29, 2015 at 4:48 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 0

Paul

I encourage RCW and everybody else to attend the Ruston City Council meeting tonight at the Mary Joyce Community Center at 5219 N. Shirley St. at 7PM.  This is a chance to be enlightened and to hear Ruston’s side of the story. You will have a chance to see that the Mayor and council members form an extremely capable team. One that is high above the mud slinging.
This capable group of individuals are not in it for re-election, retaining jobs, or for the money as their tiny stipends can attest. They have what’s best for their community at heart. Can you say the same for the Pt. Ruston Developer or even the politicos that he has drug into this and contributed to? 
Ruston employs professional planners, engineers and code inspectors. By virtue of being small, they form a cohesive group that is able to monitor what is happening on the development site. Is that happening in Tacoma?

February 3, 2015 at 3:36 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 1

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