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Mixed-Use Development in Hilltop: Ready to Try Again?
The Tacoma Housing Authority and a private developer are floating plans for developing a block of property near 11th and MLK in the Hilltop neighborhood. Private developer Kevin Grossan is interested in renovating the Pochert and Kellogg-Sicker (once home to the Browne’s Star Grill at 1114 MLK) buildings, while THA is considering building apartments on the adjacent property – two parcels containing a parking lot and a men’s clothing store.
According to the TNT, Grossman’s plan would be to rehabilitate the historic properties into their original mixed-uses, with apartments over ground-level retail spaces. The THA project would be mixed use as well, with affordable housing aimed at workers at nearby medical facilities. The two parties would collaborate on design to integrate the new construction into the neighborhood, and match the historic nature of the existing properties, which are under consideration for historic status.
The City has owned the properties in question since the early 2000s, and recently listed the block as high priority in an assessment of City-owned properties. These lots came at the top of the list of Tier 1 properties, among three identified by the City for active pursuit of near-term development.
Perhaps interestingly, this isn’t the first time that block has been considered for a major mixed-use/affordable housing development. Back when the economy was in full boom, the City acquired the property, with the intention of developing a mixed-use project that would “cure blight, and promote and preserve public order…” Back then they were calling it the Hilltop Renaissance Project, and looking for developers. The request this time would be for the City to sell the two historic buildings to Grossman, and transfer the other parcels to THA.
One of the top recommendations coming out of the recent Urban Land Institute visit to Tacoma’s Hilltop was that development focus on several hubs – beginning with the 11th and MLK intersection. The “new Community Healthcare project”: is going up nearby, and how could we forget that the City’s preferred Link expansion route would run nearby as well.
The TNT writes that THA and Grossman plan to ask Council this week to begin development negotiations. That would put any potential development at least a couple years out into the future, but the conversation is beginning. At the time the City purchased the properties, City documents described them as “a blighting influence on the core area of the Upper Tacoma Business District.” They’re not exactly glowing assets to the neighborhood now, but maybe they could be… Are we ready to try again?
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