Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of April 1, 2014

Public Safety Public Private Partnership

The main topic for conversation at this week's City Council study session will be a briefing from Tacoma Police and Tacoma Fire on the City's Public Private Partnership. The first quarterly briefing will include a discussion of major community partners and how those partnerships fit in to providing service.


The Proctor

An ordinance appearing on the consent agenda this week would vacate a portion of the alleyway air rights west of Proctor Street between North 27th and North 28th Streets, for the development of a mixed-use building. This vacation would allow plans for the mixed-use development known as The Proctor to move ahead, including a skybridge that would connect two portions of the project over the alley. The project, including this vacation of air rights, drew some negative reactions from Proctor area residents, some of whom testified at the initial hearing by the Hearing Examiner. The majority of complaints were over the general size of the project, which was not at issue, though some commenters argued that plans for the skybridge would not serve the public good. Despite their objections, the Hearing Examiner found that the vacation of air rights would not negatively impact the public good, as it would return the area to the tax rolls, and would have a positive impact on the overall design of the project, allowing for greater setbacks at the higher stories. A motion was made to reconsider the finding, but that too was denied, other than a requirement that the developers pave the alley, which was already part of the plans, along with burying utilities.


Hotel Wars

An item related to the long-standing ... disagreement over a proposed hotel on the Foss Waterway appears on this week's City Council meeting agenda. The Council may consider a motion to authorize a settlement with KS Tacoma Holdings (owners of the Murano) against the City. The claims relate to the development of a hotel on the Foss Waterfront at the location known as Site 4 (between the Commencement and Thea's Landing buildings). Hollander Investments, which owns the site, purchased it with the intent of locating a hotel there. That was way back before the real estate market tanked, but the deal was held up by the Murano's parent company with a long string of appeals.

In the deal on the table now, KS Tacoma Holdings would dismiss all claims agains the City, and agree not to bring future lawsuits related to either the Foss Waterway Site 4 hotel plans or plans for a new hotel at the Convention Center. In exchange for that, the City would sell the two parcels of property just south of the Hotel Murano, which currently hold two parking lots, to the hotel for $1.245 million, and would agree not to award any subsidy for the development of the proposed Convention Center hotel.



This week's regular City Council meeting agenda includes the final reading of two ordinances related to Tacoma's Downtown Business Improvement Area. The ordinances got their first reading at the March 18 Council meeting. The first would continue the BIA for its 27th year, and approve its work plan, budget, and assessment rates for 2014. The second would extend the BIA's boundaries to include the four parcels owned by McMenamins, which sit just north of the current BIA footprint, at the request of the property owner.


Homeless Camps

This week's Council meeting is also the date set for a public hearing on amendments to the Tacoma Municipal Code to establish a permitting process and development standards for temporary homeless camps within Tacoma. State law allows religious institutions to host the camps on their property for people experiencing homelessness. Tacoma has not had anyone propose such a camp, but in anticipation of the possiblity, the City is proposing standards outlining size, location, facilities, and other criteria for the camps. The proposal would allow no more than two camps at any time in the City, with a maximum occupancy of 100 residents. Camps would be expected to be at least 7,500 square feet for the first 50 residents, plus an additional 150 square feet for each additional resident, with one shower for every 33 residents. Camps would be allowed to operate for 93 days, with an exception of to 123 days for "hard surface or residential sites," and hosting organizations would have to allow at least two years between camps (18 months for the hard surface or non-residential sites). The camps would have to be located within one quarter mile of a transit stop, with a 10 foot setback from the property line. Tents would have to be two feet apart, with four feet between entrances and a six-foot sight-obsuring fence would be required. Crime prevention principles and background checks would be required, as would a 14-day public notice to 400 feet from the site.


Purchase Resolutions

This week's Council meeting agenda includes six purchase resolutions.

The first would award a $300,000 contract, budgeted from the General Fund, to Brian Douglas Scott Planning and Urban Design, for the creation of a Citywide Strategic Plan and Visioning document. BDS will guide the development of the action plan for the next five years in Tacoma, and a longer-term vision for the city. The City Council envisions a long-term comprehensive Strategic Plan that will align with the City Council's Five Policy Priorities, establish the City'S long-term vision for Tacoma, and guide decision making and resource allocation, with the goal of making Tacoma a leader in providing high-quality services for its residents and offering an enjoyable and sustainable quality of life.

A second purchase resolution would award a $6 million contract, budgeted from the Wastewater Fund, for flood protection improvements at the Central Treatment Plant. Located on the West bank of the Puyallup River, the CTP is within that river's flood plain. It is protected from routine flooding by levees, but as sediment has accumulated on the floor of the river over the years, and increased frequency of storms, there is a risk of flooding. The project to further protect the CTP from that risk will be partially funded by the Pierce County Flood Control Zone District, up to $6 million in annual $1 million installments over the next six years.

The third purchase resolution would award a $290,000 contract, budgeted from the Wastewater Fund, for cleaning and recoating exposed metal on two clarifiers located at the North End Wastewater Treatment Plant 3. The surfaces in question, originally coated in 1988, are corroding, and in need of maintenance, which should extend their life by 15 to 20 years.

A fourth purchase resolution would award a $1.9 million contract to Tucci and Sons, Inc., budgeted from the Transportation Capital Fund, for bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements from South 96th Street and Park Avenue in South Tacoma, to North 26th and Pearl Streets in North Tacoma. The improvements will include improvements to roadway surfaces and markings for non-motorized access along the 13-mile bike corridor. The Tacoma Top 4 Bikeways improvements as adopted with the Mobility Master Plan is intended to make biking and walking safer and more practical options for travel from one end of Tacoma to another. The thermoplastic paint to be used for the markings funded by this resolution is anticipated to last five to 10 years.

The fifth purhase resolution on the agenda this week would award a $357,546 contract to BCRA, Inc., budgeted from the Paths & Trails and Surface Water Funds, for the design of Phase 1 of the Prairie Line Trail between South 17th Street and Dock Street. The Prairie Line Trail runs north from South 25th along the historic Northern Pacific rail line, through the UW Tacoma campus, across Pacific, and on down to the Foss Waterfront. It was the final stretch of track in the line to make Tacoma the western terminus for the railway. UWT is ready to start work on the first phase of its section of the trail, with an anticipated completion date before classes begin in the fall. The City has been in ongoing negotiations with BNSF to acquire the rest of the trail, which it hopes to resolve soon. Preliminary design work has been completed and approved by Council. This contract would allow BCRA, Inc., and their team, to continue the development of the design, including landscape architecture, civil,  structural and geotechnical engineering, lighting, cost estimating, environmental investigation and remediation design, and support during the construction phase, resulting in bid~ready construction documents for the Phase I portion of the trail that extends from South 171h Street to Dock Street sometime this year, dependent on the final transfer of property from BNSF. 

The final purchase resolution on the agenda this week would award an $800,000 contract, budgeted from the General Fund, for mobile computers, hardware and accessories for Tacoma Police patrol officers, for an initial three-year term with the option to renew for two additional one-year periods, for a projected contract total of $1,257,101. TPD officers are currently using outdated laptops that are only compatible with older versions of Microsoft Windows, and pose a potential network security risk.


Other Items

The 2014 Daffodil Festival Royal Court will be officially introduced at this week's Council meeting. Mayor Strickland will also proclaim April 1, 2014 as National Service Recognition Day. 

A resolution adopting the 2014 Washington State Department of Transportation Standard Specifications for Road, Bridge, and Municipal Construction. Every two years WSDOT publishes an update to its standard specifications for construction projects. The specifications must be followed for a project to be eligible for FHWA grant funds. The City of Tacoma uses the standards in the majority of its projects. April 1 is the deadline for adoption of the standards.

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Wow, that’s quite the agenda.  Great to see forward momentum on the bike boulevards. 

I’m not at all a fan of the Murano (Wintergrass grudges die hard, among other things), but the hotel gridlock needs to be broken for the greater good of the city—I reluctantly hope the Council supports the settlement.

April 1, 2014 at 1:01 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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