On the Market: Plenty of Potential at 11th & MLK

The State of Washington and the City of Tacoma are feeling optimistic about development in Hilltop. Together they have issued a request for proposals to develop the site at the corner of 11th and MLK in the next couple years.

The site is owned by the state since it took the vacant lots back from the MLK Housing Development Authority after its planned mixed-use development... didn't happen. The RFP process will be run by the City in order to better align development with City plans.

Despite a somewhat troubled development history, the property is well-situated in the long-term development plans for the neighborhood. It's located along the preferred corridor for the eventual expansion of Tacoma's Link light rail, and it was identified in an Urban Land Institute report as a priority site for development of the Hilltop.

The 1.5-acre property covers most of the block between 10th and 11th at MLK, including the vacant lot and one unoccupied building. Development on the site could be anywhere between four and and eight stories, and will need to be "transit-oriented." 

The minimum RFP price is $920,000, which should just about cover the back taxes, existing debts, and environmental clean-up, which the state has already coverd for the site. Would-be developers won't be allowed to buy the property and sit on it - any plans must be occupancy-ready no more than two years after the purchase date. Read the full RFP here (pdf).

The lots are vacant. The one building can be rehabbed or torn down. It's a blank canvas. Nothing but potential...

What would you hope to see pop up there?

Read more from the TNT.

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“The state has delegated the selection process to the city for its local expertise.”

We would be far better off auctioning it off to the highest bidder regardless of who they are, what they plan to do with it or what they pay for the property even if the high bid is a six-pack of beer and a roll of duct tape. The City cannot point to any project that they have had anything to do with that is not currently on the public dole. All thy have to show for all of the blather and BS that comes out of City Hall is condos that residents are receiving tax abatement or “economic development” schemes that rely on federal, State or local government money to make their “business model” pencil out.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/12/04/2929791/tacoma-seeks-developer-for-empty.html

December 5, 2013 at 11:50 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The highest bidder at auction isn’t necessarily the best choice.
Would you rather get $1m for the property and see it vacant for ten more years or would you rather see it sell for $800k and have an eight story building built on it right away? 
Would you rather offer no tax abatements and get nothing built on a particular piece of property or would you rather offer them, get something built with frozen taxes for ten years, and collect another 90 years of multiplied property taxes?
For me, the choices are obvious.  It’s the difference between a give away and an investment.  Know how to identify the difference.  In fact, tax abatements coupled with awesome transit is how Portland is flush with money.  Look below on the e133 main page to the article about Americas biggest cities recovering from the recession.  This is how Portland in #1 on the list with more revenue than pre-recession.

December 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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So tired of giving away money disguised as ‘economic devl’ on the backs of taxpayers.  At one time giving of public monies land fix deals for pennies were once unconstitutional and considered gifting of public assets.  But that’s when we had checks and balances and public accountability.

December 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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To think of it differently, when suburban neighborhoods are built out, who picks up the tab for the infrastructure improvements to make those developments happen?  The further out, the more road and improvements are needed.  Who pays for that?  Isn’t that subsidizing developers too?  Why doesn’t anyone complain about that?  At least with a mixed use project with tax abatements, there’s almost always top end infrastructure already there.

December 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tax abatement is for 10 years and is enticing for developers.  It works in every other city and it has worked for projects in this city.  Auctions have been the worst. Look at the Swan Creek Library auction/bid sale.  I think the City recovered like 5% of what it cost to build that facility to turn a place of learning into a check cashing business.

December 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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fred davieRegistered

why can’t you have an auction AND a tax abatement?

also, there’s no check cashing business in the old Swan Creek library. I was just there last week and it’s a vacant building.

December 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I don’t think anyone said you couldn’t have both.  What’s would be the point is my question?

Also, the business at Swan Creek only recently got approved this year.  You may have missed the story.

December 6, 2013 at 10:08 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The Seattle Transit Blog has a very concise description of what “transit oriented development” really means. 


It boils down to dense mixed use with fewer parking spaces than you would find comparably. That kind of development allows more affordable residential/office units to be built.

December 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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fred davieRegistered

“nothing but potential”

That’s how real estate people describe a property that has lots of problems.

December 6, 2013 at 2:38 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Lot's of potential

Recent City Sales:
-MLK library - Doctors offices specialing in prosthetic limbs for wounded soldiers and others.
-Swan Creek Library - Sold for private development of Day Care business.
-Sector Four substation - Sold to local business ‘Chuckals Office Supplies’ that allows them to grow and remain in Tacoma.
-4 old powerstation sites - Sold for infill home development.

December 6, 2013 at 7:43 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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This site has a lot of potential…But you need to get rid of that odd soup kitchen across the street on 11th. I’m not actually entirely sure what it is, but the crowd it attracts would scare off most middle income users.

December 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Kevin M

Does anyone know what the status of this RFP is?  The deadline was Jan. 14 so we should already have a better idea on the future of this property.

January 24, 2014 at 2:17 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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