Tacoma Historic Preservation and Old City Hall

The situation at Tacoma’s Old City Hall has become as stagnant as the water rotting its wallboard (in case you missed the story, here’s everything you need to know). Aside from a conversation at yesterday’s City Council study session and reports of Tacoma Public Utility workers entering the building today, we seem no closer to comforting answers.

Two things are perfectly clear: 1. Money is probably not going to fall out of the sky, and 2. the City’s efforts to revise its approach to historic preservation – underway since the fall of the Luzon building – will be completed too far in the future to address the current neglect of Old City Hall.

At Exit133, we were curious about the changes being discussed for Tacoma’s Historic Preservation program. So, with a little digging through council commission report records, we uncovered some answers. On November 17th, the Planning Commission met to discuss public feedback on the proposed Historic Preservation Plan, which they had reviewed in conjunction with the Landmarks Preservation Commission in September. The meeting summary can be found here.. These changes will be applied to the 2006 Culture and History Element of the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The changes are intended to go into force in 2011.

For your convenience, we have posted below excerpts of the recommended code changes and the public comment.

The item to watch will be “prevention of demolition by neglect.” It is obvious – especially now – that prospective building owners have a broad choice of structures when considering purchases in Tacoma. Not all of those buildings are historic. When purchasing an historic property, it is understood that the site is a public resource as it relates to cultural value. It ought to be the responsibility of the owner, not only to comply with specialized modification and design review processes, but to actively engage in the preservation of the structure. We hope that the City makes significant headway toward defining how it will partner with building owners to guarantee adequate preservation.

A couple more thoughts on city/private partnership for preservation… Inspection and assessment of damage and potential sources of structural compromise must be key to genuine preservation efforts. One is left wondering what blocks the City from being able to inspect and assess Old City Hall when it is common knowledge that the structure is currently a fire hazard in imminent danger of severe water damage.

The plan should focus on increasing advocacy and outreach.
There should be some consideration of design standards that reflect site-specific history, not just surrounding architectural characteristics (for example, if a building is demolished, are there future opportunities to acknowledge the visual character of the former building?)
There should be more emphasis on the importance and potential of heritage tourism.
Policies relating to conservation districts should maintain some connection with history and historic character.
Improving the Conservation District tool should be a high priority.
Support for creating Neighborhood Conservation Districts coupled with tailored design standards
There should be a strong emphasis on the prevention of demolition by neglect. [emphasis added]

TMC 2.01 Minimum Buildings and Structures Code
Cross reference Landmarks Preservation Commission process with Minimum Buildings Code, including:
• Coordinated process for enforcement actions that involve City Landmarks
Coordination of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Historic Preservation Program with Code Enforcement is a high priority. The City is currently developing procedures to assist in the identification of and Streamlining of terminology regarding historic districts, buildings and City Landmarks
• Consideration of a prevention of demolition by neglect section
intervention for declining historic buildings; ensuring that the codes of these two areas are compatible is necessary. In addition, there are additional tools that could be utilitized to address “demolition by neglect” that are not currently in place.

TMC 2.02 Building Code
• Tailor City energy efficiency regulations to fit historic resources (See Action HP-5A)

Strengthen Landmarks compliance provisions (See Action HP-15A)
Enhance public awareness by creating a requirement that applicants post approvals on property conspicuously with other permit information.
This is part of a broader effort to streamline the City’s permit process into the Permit Intake Center, to increase efficiency and customer service, while more closely coordinating staff activities and removing administrative redundancy.
Certain “sustainable” or energy retrofitting projects should be approved through design review administratively or “by right.”
Conspicuous posting of Landmarks approvals will serve a public information purpose by informing neighbors as well as building inspectors of a landmarks approval.

TMC 13.06 Zoning
Revise zoning code to provide additional incentives for preservation, including removal of parking requirements for historic buildings.
Additional recommendations that may be beyond the scope of this amendment cycle include:
Develop Additional Tools for Neighborhood Conservation (other types of zoning overlays and conservation districts, form-based codes, etc.
Explore additional regulatory relief based incentives for historic preservation projects.
Many neighborhoods seek historic district status because it is the only available tool to address neighborhood character concerns (See Action HP-8A). In addition, there are inadvertent barriers to preservation in the zoning code that should be addressed…

Update and Clarify Designation Criteria for the Tacoma Register of Historic Places, including:
Identifying priorities for different levels of designation
Update criteria for designating individual landmarks
For potential historic districts, include consideration of historic significance, intent/purpose of designation, consideration of other community planning objectives, and alternative tools to achieve conservation goals for the proposed district
Clarify the role and level of protection for conservation districts, including procedures for establishing new conservation districts including their intent

Adding objectives of the design review process (maintaining historic integrity, preserving character-defining features, etc.)
Develop “green guidelines” to incorporate sustainability as a consideration into design guidelines

Develop criteria for relocating a threatened resource…
Include economic hardship criteria for design review and demolition…
Clarify how property owner votes are counted for an appeal of a historic district denial.


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Comments

RR Anderson

Can’t somebody wipe the cobwebs off our city attorney?

December 1, 2010 at 10:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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notme

I am curious RR as to exactly what it is you believe the City is empowered to do. Seizing private property because we covet it is actually not permitted in Washington. Even condemning the property requires a damn good reason and fair market value. Perhaps if the City Council hadn’t just reduced its own revenues chasing the fantasy that the B&O tax is what is holding Tacoma back there would have been money to offer on <span class=“caps”>OCH</span>. The City could try to find a willing buyer and bring the owner, the banker and a buyer together. But even that will probably result in the City being asked to pay for parking or something else as part of a deal.

December 1, 2010 at 10:45 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacomamama

The city’s got no problem coming in to turn off utilities, pretty much guaranteeing that buildings will end up vacant. You can turn off the utilities but you can’t do any immediate (which is much cheaper than after a week or two of damage) clean up and bill for it later?  Particularly since at the time of the initial call you have a valid justification for being on the premises.

Even if you never succeed in recovering payment, at least we wouldn’t end up with a vacant, rotting historic building in our downtown core.  I’m going to ask again because apparently nobody is hearing me but <span class=“caps”>WHAT</span> IS A <span class=“caps”>BUILDING</span> <span class=“caps”>OWNER</span>’S <span class=“caps”>REMEDY</span> <span class=“caps”>FOR</span> <span class=“caps”>FIXING</span> A <span class=“caps”>PROBLEM</span> IN <span class=“caps”>HIS</span> <span class=“caps”>BUILDING</span>?  Other than not paying the bill.  Let’s pretend this is the bar exam, and you have to actually spell out all of the possible scenarios.  Explain to me how it would be worse than this situation that we have now?

When a pipe burst at Mt Tahoma last winter, fire fighters were on the scene immediately, sweeping out the water.  Granted this is a more complicated building with a private owner, but if the newspaper reports are accurate there was a tenant in the building at the time who reported the leak.

Now that the tenants have moved out, it is a bit more complicated.  But I don’t see a good reason why we had to get to this point.

December 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacomamama

…and another thing: why do we still not know the insurance status of the building?  If the building is insured why has no one tipped off the insurance company, which will surely be in a worse position than they would be had the situation been mitigated immediately?

If the building is not insured…  how is that possible?  You have to show proof of a one million dollar policy in order to march in the Junior Daffodil Parade but you can own a multistory historic property in the middle of downtown without one?  Is nobody talking to the insurance company?  Is nobody doing anything but explaining why we can’t do anything?

December 1, 2010 at 11:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik B.

The situation at Tacoma’s Old City Hall has become as stagnant as the water rotting its wallboard

As councilmember Boe pointed Old City Hall is quickly deterioting and rated the problems a 5 out of 10.

The City of Tacoma need not sit by and watch Old City Hall “rot” and be destroyed like the Luzon. Nor are is the City of Tacoma’s hands tied.  If he city does not act, it is because it is choosing not to become involved.

1) They could cite the building for safety hazards:

Former Tacoma mayor Karen Vialle: “Make it a safety hazard. Its been done before.”

www.facebook.com/#

2) The City of Tacoma could buy Old City Hall from the owner.  The city once owned the building and probably should have not sold it in the first place. The building is worth a nominal amount and the city could sell off useless land it has been sitting for decades to make up for it.

3) The City of Tacoma could make phone calls and try to arrange for the building to be purchased by a third party.

4) The City of Tacoma could try to acquire Old City Hall from the bank who owns the note on the property or bid for the building if it goes to an auction.

5) The City of Tacoma could voluntarily dry out Old City Hall with the permission of the owners to save the building.

Any other ideas?

December 2, 2010 at 1:35 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacomamama

2 snaps up and a high five, Erik.

December 2, 2010 at 2:02 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

If wikileaks proves anything it is that ‘rule of law’ is for suckers and the only thing that matters is might makes right.  That is why I propose a solution of <span class=“caps”>CIVIL</span> <span class=“caps”>INSURRECTION</span> as old as the hills…

<span class=“caps”>FIRSTLY</span> I propose a group of free-thinking Tacomans descend upon Old City Hall, enough people to form a human linked chain around the entire structure. 

<span class=“caps”>NEXT</span> all people in the human chain will be asked to focus their mental energies upon the building… enough focused thought should levitate the structure off the ground. 

<span class=“caps”>NEXT</span> if we all are focused enough (maybe 3-4 fourlokos) we can send the Old City Hall off these corrupt shores to the <span class=“caps”>UNDYING</span> <span class=“caps”>LANDS</span> where it cannot be harmed by any craft known to man.

December 2, 2010 at 11:44 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

Does holding hands/chanting levitate buildings?  Maybe I’m thinking of drum circles.

at any rate my method will be about as effective in saving <span class=“caps”>OCH</span> as the Eric Anderson+35K/Liz Pauli power combo

December 2, 2010 at 12:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Daniel

here’s a funny joke:

Maybe the City should consider this water situation as an unauthorized remodelling project out of character with the heritage of the building. That would justify stepping in and busting some noggins. If Webb intends to create a waterpark in <span class=“caps”>OCH</span>, surely that doesn’t fit with even the current preservation guidelines.

For God’s sake. I’m tired of reserving judgment on this situation.

December 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

I like your fighting spirit Mr. Rahe

December 2, 2010 at 12:33 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

<span class=“caps”>FROM</span> MY <span class=“caps”>FRIEND</span> <span class=“caps”>KEVIN</span> F.

Eric Anderson updated me via email:

  “The owners are doing the infrared inspection to assess the damage, and should complete their assessment and repair plan by early next week.  Then they get the repair permits and get going.  They don’t want to put heat into the building to dry it out because that can cause mold growth.”

December 2, 2010 at 12:50 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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NSHDscott

Maybe it would be a good thing if all the drywall in <span class=“caps”>OCH</span> got ruined. Then it would all have to be torn out, which is a great opportunity to inspect the wiring and plumbing behind the walls, and make fixes or updates as necessary. Then the walls could be reconfigured to create a better floorplan for its future use.

The biggest problem, as I see it, is that we don’t have a clue what its future use could be. <span class=“caps”>OCH</span> needs a plan desperately! In a perfect world, I think making it the hotel for the McMenamin’s Elks project would be the best use. It’s definitely a more interesting site than above a new parking garage structure next door. Who knows if that’s feasible, although it has been reported that <span class=“caps”>OCH</span> was the first target of McM’s and the Elks was their fallback plan.

I’d love to see a separate thread here on Exit133 just for throwing out ideas.

December 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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j feste

Thirty years ago, Tacoma business leaders, frustrated by the empty shell of the former Sears store at S. 13th and Broadway, asked Weyerhaeuser Company executive George Weyerhaeuser, Sr. whether his firm might have any ideas for how to reutilize the structure.  Weyerhaeuser Company had at that time a Seattle-based subsidiary, Cornerstone Development Company.  When Cornerstone’s head man, Paul Schell came to Tacoma and saw behind the cheap facade on the old Sears the beautiful hidden architectural details, he ramped up plans for the larger Tacoma Center project, which included the restoration of the Cornerstone Building.  Restoration of Old City Hall will take similar vision, with perhaps additional investors coming from Seattle, as is the case with the Elks Temple renovation of them coming from Portland.  Old City Hall is a rare icon of design in the West, on par with Union Station in uniqueness and quality of materials.  It’s preservation will require civic commitment by Tacoma boosters to accept nothing less than success-to find all business-oriented solutions to prevent its further decay.  Mr. Schell saw value in Tacoma—surely that same quality from the old Sears store is still evident in the classic architecture of Old City Hall. Hold off on the wrecking balls.

December 2, 2010 at 3:49 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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dolly varden

Great ideas @5 and @13.

December 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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tom waits

@14.  Funny you should mention Cornerstone and Paul Schell…

December 2, 2010 at 4:41 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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David Boe

@ 16 Tom Waits – thought the same thing exactly…

December 2, 2010 at 5:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

What!  is something good happening!?

December 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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offbroadway

@14, 16, & 17

Uh-huh.

December 2, 2010 at 7:41 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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offbroadway

Some background from Sir Callaghan again.

December 2, 2010 at 7:54 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik B.

News Tribune weighs in on Old City Hall:

____________

Get aggressive, creative to save iconic Old City Hall

A handful of buildings in Tacoma are worth going to the wall for to ensure that they aren’t lost to history.

At the top of that list is Old City Hall, the 117-year-old former civic building whose elegant Italianate lines have graced many a tourist’s postcards over the years. The very idea that this iconic landmark is being so badly abused by its current owner should have every true Tacoman’s hackles up.

The building has been neglected for years, but last month’s deep freeze was the coup de grace. On Nov. 24, a frozen pipe ruptured, flooding the building with an estimated 30,000 gallons of water.

Since then, almost nothing has been done to clean up the mess. Any homeowner who has experienced water damage knows what can happen: Mold can become a problem, wood rots and can become dangerously sodden, and water can damage electrical wiring, creating a fire hazard…

www.thenewstribune.c…

December 3, 2010 at 2:20 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Rick Jones

Take the time to visit this website: http:

//www.cityoftacoma.org/Default.aspx

It has a montage of photos that show Tacoma at its best. The largest photo, in the center of the montage is <span class=“caps”>OCH</span>.

<span class=“caps”>OCH</span> is not going to be destroyed. Here’s a possible solution:

It is probable that by January 7 Union Bank will own the building. Why doesn’t Union just move its offices from the completely disgusting concrete prison tower at 1102 Commerce and move into <span class=“caps”>OCH</span>. What a great piece of marketing for a bank trying to retain and grow the customer base of Frontier Bank (the bank they took over from <span class=“caps”>FDIC</span>)? Banks have been know to own buildings before and lease out what they can’t use.

I have emailed William Dunningan at Union with this idea (‘william.dunnigan@unionbank.com’). He is in charge of Special Assets.

Is anyone else talking to Union?

December 3, 2010 at 9:03 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

Yes we can!

December 3, 2010 at 9:30 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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low bar

fuk banks. they do nothing but take from the community. put in a school you filthy cretins

December 3, 2010 at 9:48 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Rick Jones

low bar, why didn’t you name yourself high bar?’

December 3, 2010 at 10:49 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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j feste

Maybe John Oppenheimer and Paul Schell, the backers of Seattle’s Columbia Hospitality Group, should examine hotel development opportunities at Old City Hall.  Oppenheimer is a University of Puget Sound graduate who has put together a small chain of boutique hotels. As for preservation, look back to the 1930s when historic St. Luke’s Church built in 1883 at S. 7th and Broadway was slated for demolition until those sentimental for the past removed its elegant presence stone-by-stone to N. 38th and Gove.  Even then, the City of Destiny’s boomtown past mattered.  There have got to be solutions to the Old City Hall crisis—too much public money has been invested in downtown Tacoma to make private-sector work on Old City Hall seem like an exercise in futility.  City Hall is going to have to involve the private sector in the preservation efforts and make the bureaucratic rules function to support common sense (private sector-oriented) positive business climate solutions to the preservation cause.  Success in the only option.

As for Union Bank of California, it’s original root institution in Tacoma, the London and San Francisco Banking Company, opened its first Puget Sound office in Tacoma in the 1880s and, ironically for a time, operated at the late great “Make No Little Plans” Luzon Building.  Bank of Calfornia bought L & SF in 1905.  The firm has deep historical ties to Tacoma.  It is part of the solution.

December 3, 2010 at 11:04 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik B.

<span class=“caps”>OCH</span> is not going to be destroyed.

It seems unfathomable that Tacoma would lose Old City Hall.

However, the fact remains that the building continues to head toward it’s demise on it’s current trajectory.  There remains a massive amount of water in the building which is destroying it and the City has so far taken no action.

December 3, 2010 at 11:11 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

how much can $700K + $75K in free money get us for <span class=“caps”>OLD</span> <span class=“caps”>CITY</span> <span class=“caps”>HALL</span> ?  we could blow it all and still send a bill to ol’deadbeat Webb!

December 3, 2010 at 11:23 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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low bar

@25 idk, why not change yours to rick james? ..since you are ok with a bank putting it’s boots on the <span class=“caps”>OCH</span>’s couch right now. no but you are right, tacoma’s culture could use another human centipede maker on the corner of 7th and pacific. but if getting a bank in there saves the place for now..getrdone.

December 3, 2010 at 11:36 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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artifacts

I’m thinking the <span class=“caps”>PDA</span> idea needs serious investigation. It came up during the Luzon debacle and got dropped in the chaos. If there is a project to do and you don’t have a tool to do it with you can either walk away and use the excuse that you don’t have the right tool or you can make the tool. I feel like we are being led away from the project as a community by a tool less City government.

December 3, 2010 at 12:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik B.

Former Mayor Bill Baarsma weighs in on the Old City Hall issue on FB in response to Ander’s post:

Anders Ibsen: Ok, time for a blunt question: why doesn’t the City of Tacoma just use eminent domain on the Old City Hall? The Seattle owner clearly has no regard for the property, and it’s already turning into a safety hazard as well. We could then re-sell the property to a responsible private owner <span class=“caps”>FROM</span> <span class=“caps”>TACOMA</span> who could help revitalize it. What are your thoughts?

Bill Baarsma: We did this with the Elks Building when it was under ownership of the senior Zimmersman. I might note that the roof leaked and water collected in pools in the building. We were in court when Zimmersman died and his son Steve took control. T…he roof was sealed, the building secured and Steve sold it to Williams Dane of Portland. That company, in turn, sold it to the brothers for a considerable loss. The legal option is possible but we are looking at years of litigation unless a deal can be worked out with the owner. (That did happen with the medical building across Market from City Hall—which the City purchaed then sold to break even.) You need proactive thinking and real leadership to pull something like this off

www.facebook.com/#

December 3, 2010 at 1:27 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

the Baarsma speaks!  you see.. they just don’t want to be sued.  The Lawyers don’t want the extra work. <span class=“caps”>APATHY</span>!!!  <span class=“caps”>CONSPIRACY</span>!!!  <span class=“caps”>BUY</span> <span class=“caps”>NOW</span> <span class=“caps”>INVEST</span>!!

December 3, 2010 at 1:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Rick Jones

@29 low bar. Thanks. It’s better thsn letting <span class=“caps”>OCH</span> go down. I don’t change to Rick James because…it’s not my name.

December 3, 2010 at 3:54 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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why me?

I think I just saw some city engineers looking at the foundation.

Earlier in the week I saw code enforcement in the building. And of course utilties / fire and police swarming around the day it broke.

I want to know how many tax dollars are being spent on a privatly owned property and will we recover it?

Also does anybody know how much really leaked ( I heard an early guess and nobody has verified the number) and how much needs to be cleaned up still? I saw some pouring out of the first floor and with evaporation and other remediation there may only be a handful gallons left.

I say take a mop and bucket and a couple of hours. I’ll charge few hundred dollars and we are good. Better than paying the swarm of city inspectors or city laborers. I’m sure the city would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to do a job a man and a bucket can do.

December 3, 2010 at 5:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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why me?

And can someone show me where in the state constition is says the city can’t just take it awya from an irresponsible property owner and give it some one with development expirance. I know the <span class=“caps”>MLKHDA</span> never built thier project. Although the exe director misspent thousands the development assocation still exists and still has couple of million to spend on development. Let’s have the City seize the property and give it to them because they have the money, have demonstrated vision and ability to aquire funding that may be required.

Just as long as felix is not involved.

December 3, 2010 at 5:34 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

today I observed a broken window on the third floor.  vandalism has begun!

December 3, 2010 at 6:51 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Point.Dexter

Mob.Rule.in.Tacoma!

December 4, 2010 at 8:42 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

If it is a war they want, it is a war we shall give them!

December 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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notme

To Why me? @35: Not the constitution. Try <span class=“caps”>RCW</span> 8.12 and 8.25. The city may have the authority, but as these two sections and lots of case law make demonstrate it isn’t easy and it isn’t free.

And to j feste @14: Cornerstone lost its shirt on the Sears/Court C/Financial Center project. It was an altruistic undertaking for George’s hometown. Any business leaders like him still around?

December 4, 2010 at 11:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Point.Dexter

Photo@39:Tacoma.Private.Property.Owners.Reconcilation.Park.

December 4, 2010 at 11:40 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Franklin Stove

I believe anyone can nominate a building to be historically registered… even if they’re not the owner.  Someone should apply for historic status for <span class=“caps”>OCH</span> and, if accepted, then the owners might have to comply with historic standards.  Landmark Preservation (city funded department) should be all over this.

December 5, 2010 at 7:04 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Point.Dexter

Comrades!

Life,Liberty,and.the.Pursuit.of.Happiness.is.an.unproved.theory!

Personal.design,Will,and.Intent.is.a.myth!

December 5, 2010 at 10:14 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Rick Jones

low bar @ 34 – have we met before? On a recent weekend?

December 5, 2010 at 11:37 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Sweet Jean

@ 42

That should be done for the houses MultiCare is hoping will rot away in the Wedge District, then, too…

December 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Point.Dexter

…and.Old.City.Hall.as.an.historic.preservation.swimming.hole.

December 5, 2010 at 10:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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low bar

throw.some.trout.fry.in.that.bitch

December 6, 2010 at 10:41 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

from my inbox!

__Old City Hall: An Update

and What You Can Do__

City Council to receive an update

at their Dec. 14, 12:30pm Council Study Session at the Pantages Theatre, 901 Broadway.  No public comment will be taken.  The session will be broadcast at www.tvtacoma.com

Old City Hall may be sold at public auction

According to reporting by Todd Matthews in the Dec. 9th, Tacoma Daily Index, Old City Hall will be publicly auctioned on the steps of the County/City Building on January 7th @ 10am if the ownership group fails to make more than $320,000 in missed mortgage payments.  Details at www.tacomadailyindex…

Public Development Authority may be considered

Though not applicable to the Old City Hall situation, Councilman David Boe raised the <span class=“caps”>PDA</span> option related to at-risk historic properties at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting of City Council.  For details and to read what the city manager, city attorney, and mayor said during that discussion, see www.tacomadailyindex… and scroll down to the story.

We’ve been trying to get traction on the idea of a Public Development Authority devoted to preservation since our founding 4+ years ago.  We believe the model used by Historic Seattle for the past 30 years is well-suited to Tacoma’s situation: under-utilized and deteriorating buildings that developers can’t get to pencil-out.  Tacoma needs a long term, proactive approach rather than a reactionary one.  Some in City Hall are gun-shy on the <span class=“caps”>PDA</span> concept given that the Thea Foss Development Authority has cost the City mightily.  Historic Seattle’s model has been self-funding for years.  To learn more about <span class=“caps”>PDA</span>s, visit the Municipal Research and Services Center page, with linked articles.

For more recent stories and our commentary on the situation, visit our homepage at www.historictacoma.o…

What you can do

Contact your City Council representative, at-large Council members, and the City Manager’s office at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to express your concern.  If you believe that the formation of a public development authority is a good longterm solution, urge those officials to begin study and set timelines for action.

December 11, 2010 at 3:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tim Smith

We need to add an Embeded Energy Credit for preserving historic building to the current Property Tax off-set in the Historic Preservation plan. This will allow non-taxable entities (non-profits, churches) to receive and incentive for preservation.

December 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Sharon Winters

<span class=“caps”>OCH</span> is already on the Register, but we haven’t been able to find a city in the state that takes a proactive approach when Register-listed properties fall into substandard condition.  Tacoma may be the first to do so later this winter.  The key is in being proactive, rather than reactive which is what we’re all doing right now.

Preservationists are often chasing ambulances… Albers Mill, Murray Morgan Bridge, the Luzon and now <span class=“caps”>OCH</span>.

I believe that the best longterm solution is establishing a <span class=“caps”>PDA</span>, similar to Historic Seattle’s.  They’ve been in existence for 30 years, were given the Good Shepherd Center and some cash by the City of Seattle and, with good management, have been self-funding since

December 14, 2010 at 4:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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