City sells 4 former Tacoma Power substation parcels

Land that was once home to four former Tacoma Power substations has been sold to a private developer who plans to build residential housing on the sites.

The substations – known as Ruston, Fairmount, Downing, and Lincoln Park – became obsolete after Tacoma Power upgraded its electrical distribution system, according to City of Tacoma staff and Tacoma Public Utilities staff. Four years ago, the properties were included in a list of nine former substations deemed surplus and no longer needed.

Earlier this year, local developer Reggie Brown, co-founder of Puyallup-based Puget Sound Builders Association, approached the City of Tacoma with an interest in purchasing the parcels for $317,000 and building five single-family homes on the four parcels of land, according to City of Tacoma staff and Tacoma Public Utilities staff.

The properties put up for sale included a .2-acre site at 5001 N. Visscher St. (Ruston Substation) for $87,000, a .3-acre site at 1801 N. Orchard St. (Downing Substation) for $123,000, a .14-acre site at 4924 N. 31st St. (Fairmount Substation) for $77,000, and a .19-acre site at 1009 S. 35th St. (Lincoln Park Substation) for $30,000.

In October, the Tacoma Public Utility Board approved a plan to sell the surplus properties. A public hearing on the issue was held last month at Tacoma City Hall.

Last week, Tacoma City Council adopted a resolution authorizing the sale.

“I support the surplus and the sale of these properties,” said Tacoma City Councilmember Ryan Mello. “Get them on the tax rolls and get single-family homes that are very appropriate in these neighborhoods.”

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengers; third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright; and second-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State. His work has also appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at