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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November 30, 2015 at 7:16 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I cant help but worry that McMenamins is taking on too much right now?  Aren’t they still trying to completely fund the Elk’s project?

November 30, 2015 at 7:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Sylvia Lawrence

I remember the old City Hall when it was renovated in the 70’s.  They had shops, a cafe, and I remember when my sons got to go up to the bell/clock tower.  It was a wonderful place to shop and visit. I’m glad it is being given new life.

November 30, 2015 at 8:10 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Yeehaw! I was able to see the jail section in the early 90’s and it will be so cool!

November 30, 2015 at 9:04 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Paula Rose Hebert

I am a life long resident of this great city called Tacoma.  Along with being a life long resident of Tacoma I am also a 5th generational family member.  I am so proud of my heritage here and excited people are taking an interest in restoring the buildings that my great grand father originally built with his crews.  Frank Kazda was a Brick Mason from the Midwest who came out to Tacoma to build a life with his young family.  Thank you to the people of this awesome city for putting this project on the map.  Sincerely Paula

November 30, 2015 at 11:58 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Frank Kazda was a brickmason from the Bohemia region of Austria who came out from the Midwest to build his life—originally in South Hilltop.  :)  I own Joseph Kazda’s home in Summit-Waller.  A friend had researched, then went around & photographed, all of the homes in Tacoma the Kazdas & Heberts built—would love to share that information with you.  Drop me a line at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Yay for Tacoma & McMenimins!!  This will be better than Hotel Oregon!

December 1, 2015 at 10:02 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Serni Solidarios

Restoring that top-notch club in the basement (“The Foundation”), and a Clock Tower restaurant (like Mama LeMoynes)? One of my favorite event creations was staging seven parties on seven floors…The Old City Ball. I still have the poster (and want to do it again).

December 1, 2015 at 12:25 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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