Former Brown & Haley headquarters now just a sweet memory

The former Brown & Haley headquarters and warehouse on Tacoma’s tide flats has been razed.

The sprawling, abandoned, and boarded up Port of Tacoma-owned property — located at 1940 E. 11th St., near the corner of East 11th Street and Thorne Road — was once a hub of economic activity and the headquarters for one of Tacoma’s most prominent businesses.

In 1965, Brown & Haley — the world-famous Tacoma candy-maker that produces Almond Roca and dates back to 1912 — moved into the 116,000-square-foot building and remained there for more than 40 years. Nearly a decade ago, the Port of Tacoma purchased the property for $3 million and continued to lease the warehouse to the candy maker until August of 2007, when a building inspector “red tagged” the structure, which was built in 1948, citing two broken trusses and extensive roof leaks.

Evidence of the candy maker’s presence still existed in some places during a site visit three years ago. Although windows were boarded over and the entire 5.6-acre property was ringed by a chain-link fence, the building trim was painted the familiar pink color of Almond Roca tins, and a faded sign that once directed delivery drivers to the receiving department was still visible. According to Port of Tacoma staff, however, the building reached the end of its useful life, and any historic significance was stripped away, essentially leaving behind a building shell.

The Port of Tacoma began to make public its plans to demolish the building at least three years ago. In 2013, the Port of Tacoma Commission directed $71,000 to board up the vacant building, and $850,000 to prepare the site for demolition. Last summer, commissioners directed approximately $3.24 million to complete the demolition. In September, the Port began to accept bids on the demolition project. According to bid documents prepared by Port staff, the work involved a high level of abatement due to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and asbestos contamination found within the building and nearby soil. A steel manufacturing company was headquartered on the site prior to Brown & Haley. A contract to complete the project was awarded to TITAN Earthwork in October.

Once the demolition is completed, the Port of Tacoma is expected to use the site to expand its operations.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the demolition of the former Brown & Haley warehouse, click on the following links:

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index, an award-winning journalist, and author of A Reporter At Large and Wah Mee. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.