City of Tacoma releases RFI for Old City Hall

Who's looking for a project? We've got one conveniently located near the light rail and a some-day-in-our-lifetime McMenamins project at the Elks Building? Interested?

The City of Tacoma today issued a Request for Interest (RFI) for the adaptive reuse of Old City Hall in downtown Tacoma. Developers are invited to express their interest in purchasing, leasing/purchasing, or master leasing the iconic building located at 625 S. Commerce Street for the purpose of converting it into a high quality development that contributes to the vitality of the Old City Hall Historic District.  Responses are due by 5 pm on October 30, 2015.

Download the RFI (3.5 mb pdf)

View the press release

What do you hope to see in the responses, Tacoma?

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I propose they sell it for one dollar and be happy with any developer that wants to do something nice with the place.  Just give the darn thing away already and move on.

September 8, 2015 at 4:45 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Agreed. One thing that is often lost in City finance are gains in property taxes. Every minute Old City Hall is owned by the City, we’re losing money by not collecting property taxes. Give the place away to somebody who will do a nice remodel and double or triple the tax value and get the 4 million + the City spend back ASAP.

September 8, 2015 at 6:10 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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About the only idea that makes sense anymore.  I don’t see folks lining up to move here let alone spend money and invest.  If someone is actually interested the city should encourage and incent them as best they can and hope to reap the benefits in the future.

September 10, 2015 at 12:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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altered chords

If we provide incentives to development via tax breaks we’ll need to mail flyers to every knuckhead in Tacoma that believes all tax breaks only serve “rich” developers, “rich” people, “evil rich” corporations….basically anyone that is not them.  The arithmetically challenged in Tacoma with no understanding of finance prefer a downtown ghost town over vibrant economic policies. 

September 10, 2015 at 2:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Forty years ago in efforts to revive the flailing Old City Hall (vertical) Mall of arts shops, city government demolished two buildings nearby across Commerce Street to create surface-lot parking.  Owners of those lots today should be the ones primarily interested to see how restoration of Old City Hall might enhance the values of those properties as job-generating/tax-producing development sites.  The big challenge in the area is parking.  Even with light rail, is city government requiring developers of new buildings in a cramped downtown to put in certain numbers of parking spaces per certain amounts of employees?  Quality transit (i.e. link light rail) was to make for a more livable/pedestrian friendly downtown.  To go with the sleek new Umpqua Bank Building at S. 15th and Pacific is an ugly adjacent parking structure that blights the block next to light rail—not much has changed.  City government now has a big investment now in the Old City Hall National Historic District.  Can city government find a developer who can leverage a big renewal project who will also be given some flexibility to address the needs for nearby dedicated parking in exchange for the first-class renovation/restoration of Old City Hall?  City economic development staff certainly botched design requirements for the Courtyard by Marriott built on city-owned property.  A Seattle design critic praised the architecture of the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center but felt the nearby Courtyard, with its cheap upper floor apricot-colored drivet walls and plain-jane windows diminished the impact of that redevelopment. City staff apparently bought hotel developer Holland’s claims that Marriott’s cheap design standards were relatively inflexible.  Are city economic development staffers going to tolerate such mediocrity near Old City Hall with the hackneyed phrase lessened design is the best that can be achieved for a Tacoma not as vibrant as Seattle.  That attitude would have meant Old City Hall would have never been built.  Tacoma can do better.  As a side note, one wonders whether Holland’s hotel projects proposed for Thea Foss Waterway will have some better-quality design features that break the corporate playbook.  A fancy Inn-at-the-Market boutique hotel could not pencil-out financially for that area like its Seattle original but one hopes Holland’s new designs better honor Tacoma’s architectural history.

September 9, 2015 at 5:17 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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A cramped downtown?  Ever been to or lived in a real, vibrant city?  Tacoma’s downtown is far from what I’d call cramped.

September 11, 2015 at 9:46 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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