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Old City Hall on the Market

Old City Hall is on the market again after being purchased by the Stratford Group a few years ago.

First it was going to be high end condos, then Class A commercial space. Now it’s on the market for $6.95 million. Here’s the key quote from the Mark Isner:

We had this opportunity to lease full floors with big open floor plans. For that whole thing to play out, it would probably take us two years. We’ve already been into it for two-and-a-half years. … We are going to list it and sell it to somebody who understands that and is willing to spend those two years, and start getting in there with the fresh enthusiasm.

It’s right across from the Suite133 offices … anyone want to be our neighbor?

Online listing with Colliers International

Link to the Daily Index

(Thanks, Todd!)

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Erik B.

At least they are not camping on the property like the Elks and are willing to let someone else take a shot at it.

Interestingly, it is still on the Gintz web site.

January 7, 2008 at 12:08 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Republican (By Default)

So what’s holding all of this up?  I thought that downtown Tacoma was big on both condo’s and Class A office space? 

It just seems that Tacoma is working against itself.  We want investors and businesses to move in and make something of our downtown, then when they do they get stonewalled?  Is this another example of that?

January 7, 2008 at 12:09 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik S

R(BD) – I believe that you are correct about Tacoma working against itself at times, but I don’t think this is one of those.  Frankly, I think this has much more to do with the hangover from the big residential real estate party (~2002-2007).  I think that it’s tougher for developers to believe that they’re going to be able to charge a half million plus for a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment.

Plan B, using the building for offices, seems to have hit a snag in that it’s going to be hard to find a company willing to pay a premium for 30-foot tall offices with great big windows.  I think that they’re going to have to find a business that needs an impressive hall for meeting, dining, or something else – not a ballroom to fill with cubicles.  And they need to be willing to (a) wait and (b) pay for it.

Anybody have any clever ideas?

January 7, 2008 at 1:34 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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public space

January 7, 2008 at 1:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik S

That makes more sense than anything I’ve dreamt up, Donovan.  But what kind of public space?  A municipal ballroom, a new council chamber, a junior varsity basketball court for Stadium High?

January 7, 2008 at 2:09 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Sassy McButterpants

Well now that my dream of <span class=“caps”>LIVING</span> in the tower can never come true, I second Erik S’s emotion about a Ballroom!

January 7, 2008 at 2:44 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Let’s give it to The Russell Investment Group as a good gesture gift.

“Here you go guys… see? … we love you.”

January 7, 2008 at 4:17 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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a live music venue/grocery store.

January 7, 2008 at 4:23 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik S

Rockin’ in the aisles, eh?  I’m pretty sure there’s a Jonathan Richman/Modern Lovers song about that.

I’m with you, Sparkrobot, but how about this revision: Could this city perhaps buy the old city hall and trade to <span class=“caps”>TRA</span> (or whoever it was) for the Century Ballroom? 

There’s something perverse about turning the old city hall into a live music venue while the city’s historic concert hall gets turned into a parking garage. Ordinarily, such a perversion might appeal to me but in this case it hurts my head and offends my sense of history.  I would also argue that allowing <span class=“caps”>TRA</span> to turn the old hall into a parking garage would be more appropriate given the current council’s obsession with downtown parking.

Sassy McButterpants, save the last dance for me.

(Apologies to any Drifters fans out there.)

January 7, 2008 at 4:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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How about stage two of the Suite133 build out.

January 7, 2008 at 5:10 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Mofo from the Hood

Oh yeah. I think the Drifters did a song that related to this Euro-warehouse price tag—-“Up on the roof”

January 7, 2008 at 5:12 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Russell would seem like the best option given its proximity to their current building, but I think they’d be better off under one roof in the future Haub development.

I still think a single commercial occupant is the best use. It would be like Amazon’s reuse of that historic building they are in now, but on a smaller scale. We just need to find the right business, which probably means recruiting one to relocate in Tacoma. We all know the City needs more corporate offices (and jobs).

Now that the Luzon building has apparently been saved, this should become the City’s second-highest priority in the commercial sphere, after the Russell/Haub project.

January 7, 2008 at 5:16 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Republican (By Default)

I believe that you are correct about Tacoma working against itself at times, but I don’t think this is one of those.

The reason that I thought that this was the same situation was how it related to the big push to attract people from the outside, all the while pricing locals out of the condo and office space markets.

Personally, I think the solution to a stagnant downtown is going to be homegrown, rather than transplanted from somewhere like Seattle.  And the more we push for transplants and tourists, the more we neglect our own.

But I’m sure by now ‘Project Destiny’ is considering this as a solution.  In fact, I have to wonder about the timing.  It appears back on the market just as Russell is looking for space.  Coincidence?

January 7, 2008 at 5:17 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik Hanberg

<span class=“caps”>RBD</span>,

No reason to jump on tourism now. Tourism is just about the only way for a city to earn more revenue without increasing taxes—I would have thought you (based on your handle) would be down with that.

January 7, 2008 at 5:20 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik S

Yeah, Russell came to mind due to the timing but I can’t see why they’d want the old hall (and here we’re assuming that they’ll stay) unless they could big a much bigger building as an addition of sorts.  The big first floor space would make a great lobby and/or conference/board room, but there’s no way they’d use it if they had to walk down the street a couple of blocks after every meeting.

And, Mofo, I agree with your assessment of the price.  I guess they’re charging $3.19 million for trouble getting the previous tenants to leave and their demo work on the first floor.

January 7, 2008 at 5:43 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Republican (By Default)

Tourism is just one industry.  There are a lot of other options for bringing revenues into a city that don’t involve tourism or transplants.  Tacoma has a rich heritage of hard working people.  That’s worth more to this city than all the tourists who will ever show up.

I think Tacoma needs to support all of it’s industries, especially the homegrown variety, if it wants to remain viable.

January 7, 2008 at 5:48 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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To play devil’s advocate to my previous post, what if the Russell plans shifted away from the Haub parcels to look in this neighborhood instead?

Remember, across from Old City Hall is a parking lot, then the Spanish Steps, then the Elks Ruins, then another parking lot, then David’s/Twisted Cue. Next to Old City Hall is a short, squat building of little value. Also remember, the Winthrop is a short walk away (for now, forget that it’s down a seedy street more heavily populated by trash cans than people).

Now picture this:

• A shiny tall new HQ building across from Old City Hall.

• A refurbished Elks for the Russell trading floors. (Is it big enough? I don’t know)

• Another building next to the Elks for more offices, but maybe this one not so shiny, more in context with the Elks.

• A refurbished Old City Hall for yet more offices. (They need a lot of space, right?)

• Another new building next to Old City Hall, or perhaps a parking garage. (I know garages are hated, but really, it wouldn’t be much downgrade to what’s there.)

• A fancy historic Hotel Winthrop for visiting big-wigs to stay in.

• An <span class=“caps”>LID</span> for the length of Commerce from the 705 ramp to the Winthrop on 9th. Bonus points for extending it up Stadium Way to the high school.

• A streetcar running from the current Link terminal to somewhere around this big development, and then up Stadium Way and Division to the 6th Ave restaurant district.

That seems like enough room for Russell as long as the new buildings can be built tall, doesn’t it? The City of Tacoma would have ample reason to facilitate the master plan because it saves three historic icons (Old City Hall, Elks, and Winthrop) plus boosts the seediest part of downtown and helps spark the streetcar’s start. And talk about easy access to the freeways! What’s not to like?

January 8, 2008 at 12:02 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik S

Not a bad idea, I have to say.  Depending on Russell’s total space requirements, the trading floor might also fit on the first floor of the city hall.  Not that I’m opposed to Russell occupying the Elks.

I’d still happily swap the old city hall for the Century, but I suspect that I am in the minority here.  Fair enough.

January 8, 2008 at 2:16 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Crenshaw Sepulveda

I’m pretty sure if Russell wanted the old City Hall and the Elks they would have bought them years ago.  Russell has done all it can do for Tacoma.  Tacoma did nothing to reciprocate.  We had our shot.  If Russell leaves it will be the city’s fault that we didn’t make hay while the sun shined.  To keep thinking that Russell will save Tacoma is absurd.  We couldn’t save Tacoma with Russell I’m not certain how we will fare if they leave.  I am certain that Russell has done all it can do, no regrets on my part if they head out of town.If Russell stays it will be a gift but the city better start convincing Russell it means business with a capital B.

January 8, 2008 at 8:50 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik S

It’s pretty tough to argue against anything Crenshaw said right there in #19. 

Sad but true.

January 9, 2008 at 10:06 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Oh, I don’t know about that, CS and Erik. This is such a wacky, out-of-the-box idea, I bet Russell (and the City) probably haven’t even thought of it. If you would have suggested to me even a month ago that Russell should buy the Elks and Old City Hall, I would have laughed too, but when you put the whole package together, it actually makes a sort of sense.

My idea wasn’t really about Russell saving Tacoma, it was about finding a second possible downtown solution for Russell that would appeal to the City and historical preservationists everywhere so much that it might be more politically (and financially?) doable than simply building a really tall building on parking lots. And perhaps Russell would find the idea of a truly unique, only-in-Tacoma new headquarters complex more appealing than a rather generic shiny tall building like the world already has thousands of. If so, the “saving Tacoma” part is a bonus consequence, certainly not the primary impetus to do it.

January 10, 2008 at 12:49 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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