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Cautious Optimism for the Future of the Foss

Private and public investments in the curb appeal of the Foss Waterway continue, in anticipation of improved economic conditions. An annual report from the Foss Waterway Development Authority summarizes some of these investments.

The Executive Summary describes a tough development climate beginning to turn with the economy as a whole, with a particular mention of State Farm's arrival in downtown Tacoma. In this atmosphere, the FWDA seems cautiously optimistic, staying the course of continued improvements with an "if you build it, they will come" attitude.

If the City and Development Authority can source funds to continue with infrastructure upgrades and remediation, there will be a competitive advantage for private investment on the Foss.

The report, as shared with Council in last week's City Manager's report, summarizes recent and ongoing projects, both funded and looking for those funds.

  • A new Seaplane landing area opened May 2013.
  • The sale of the Johnny's Seafood property is expected to be finalized this December, with remodeling work beginning in January to include completion of the public esplanade on this site and adjoining parcel.
  • Remediation at Waterway Park is completed, with a portion of the site open to the public, including a human powered watercraft float. Future plans are for the entire site to become a park, when funds become available.
  • The sale of Site 1 is expected to close before year-end as well. Work on The Henry, a 167 unit multi-family project with 12,000 square feet of commercial space and 255 parking stalls, would then be able to begin in early 2014.
  • Hollander plans for a hotel on Site 4 are on hold.
  • Site 6 property sold to Pacific Seafood, which has plans for building improvements to the seafood market, including the addition of a bistro dining space.
  • The vacant building at Site 8 has a failing roof, and will be demolished when funds are available.
  • Design for the public esplanade and seawall at Site 9 is complete, with plans for soil remediation in 2013. A permit has been submitted for work on the esplanade and seawall.
  • The seawall at Site 9 has deteriorated, forcing the closure of the esplanade. Design for a new seawall and esplanade is complete, and funding has been identified to complete permitting.
  • Public and private efforts to fund esplanade improvements continue. Funding has been awarded and construction is expected to begin this November on the next phase of esplanade improvements to Site 11. More than $250,000 in grant and matching funds have been received for work on the esplanade at Site 10, and design and permitting are complete, and the City and FWDA are seeking other grant funding to complete the work.
  • Phased improvements to the Foss Waterway Seaport north building wall, wharf, and building stabilization have been completed, with future improvements planned for 2014.
  • 30,600 square feet of unimproved land at 1147 Dock Street was acquired by FWDA in December 2012, with plans to develop the site into a public park when funds become available.
  • Issues of maintenance and management of public spaces are increasing with increased use. This includes demand for use of the spaces, and dealing with issues of graffiti, vandalism, wire theft, and homelessness. The City, FWDA, and the Foss Waterway Owners Association are exploring options.
  • Permanent moorage revenue from the marinas was up 5% from 2011 to 2012, with a 94% occupancy rate, compared to 87% in 2011. Guest moorage also saw an 11% increase from 1,712 to 1,898

Can you feel the momentum building... again?


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