Got any ideas for Tacoma’s beloved Old City Hall?

Envisioning a high quality development that further enhances the vitality of Downtown Tacoma, the City of Tacoma has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the purchase of Old City Hall at 625 S. Commerce St.

“Tacoma continues to evolve at a dramatic pace, with more than $1 billion being invested into development projects in downtown alone,” said Mayor Victoria Woodards. “With Old City Hall, the City of Tacoma would like to consider proposals for projects that complement surrounding development downtown, foster even more vibrancy in the downtown core, and re-establish the building’s preeminence in Tacoma.”

It is not just the clock that has stopped for Tacoma's Old City Hall. Photo: Morf Morford

It is not just the clock that has stopped for Tacoma’s Old City Hall. Photo: Morf Morford

In the Old City Hall RFP, the City indicates that residential development, hotels and/or offices that support companies/organizations with financial strength, growth potential and career-ladder, livable wage jobs are strongly preferred. Street-level, pedestrian-friendly uses, such as restaurants and retail venues, are highly desirable.

Just a few blocks from Old City Hall, Portland-based McMenamins continues its $34 million restoration of the former Elks Temple. The new property is projected to open in the spring of 2019.

Adjacent to the Elks, Tacoma-based developer Eli Moreno recently renovated the Union Club into event and co-working spaces. Seattle-based AxoWorks, LLC acquired a nearby property at 725 Broadway and is in the process of developing co-working spaces there.

RFP responses must be submitted by 5 PM, Pacific Standard Time, on July 31, 2018.

Over $1 billion are being invested into development projects in downtown Tacoma and its environs.  Most notably within the Old City Hall District, McMenamins of Portland, Oregon, known for their destination-style brew pubs and entertainment centers, is under construction with its $34 million restoration of the former Elks Temple, projected to open in spring 2019. Developer Eli Moreno of Tacoma recently renovated the Union Club, adjacent to the Elks, for co-working space. AxoWorks LLC of Seattle acquired 725 Broadway and is in process of developing co-working space there.

The City seeks a project that will create synergy with surrounding development, enable vibrancy and re-establish the building’s preeminence in community life. Residential development, hotels and/or offices that support companies/organizations with financial strength, growth potential and career-ladder, livable wage jobs are strongly preferred. Street-level, pedestrian-friendly uses, such as restaurants and retail venues, are highly desirable.

Rain or shine, Old City Hall stands glorious. Photo: Morf Morford

Rain or shine, Old City Hall stands glorious. Photo: Morf Morford

More information about the City’s Community and Economic Development Department is available at makeittacoma.com or cityoftacoma.org/CED. More information about the City’s progress toward its Tacoma2025 strategic visioning goals is available on the Results253 page at data.cityoftacoma.org.

– City of Tacoma

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By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

It’s one of the most recognizable pieces of historic architecture on Tacoma’s landscape, but in spite of its prominence and grandeur, it has fallen into an extended period of neglect and potentially destructive abandonment.

Various businesses from gift shops and restaurants have filled its walls with movement and music. Its halls were once occupied by courts and one of Tacoma’s first jails.

Many residents of Tacoma have only seen it from the outside – and have only seen it in its forlorn empty state.

But even now, empty and bereft, with only wind and pigeons (and some say the spirits of the past) it is still an irreplaceable, beautiful, crafted piece of Tacoma’s history and identity.

Old City Hall, built in 1892, reflects and embodies the grand, almost infinite ambitions of Tacoma in the late 1880s and early 1890s. This was Tacoma’s first formative, defining historic era, when people used the term “City of Destiny” and meant it.

Tacoma was going places and anybody who was anybody, from Mark Twain to Rudyard Kipling came through Tacoma to see the “boomiest of boomtowns” for themselves.

Tacoma’s Old City Hall is a striking example of the traditional Italianate style then popular in America as a sign of sophistication and progress at a time when Tacoma sought to be a city that embodied and embraced both the past and the future.

There are other buildings in Tacoma's Old City Hall Historic District that call for help.  Photo: Morf Morford

There are other buildings in Tacoma’s Old City Hall Historic District that call for help. Photo: Morf Morford

Other historically significant buildings are found throughout the surrounding district, including the Northern Pacific Headquarters, just across the street (built in 1888), the Beaux Arts Elks Temple, built in 1916 and currently being rehabilitated by McMenamins, and the Winthrop Hotel, built in 1925.

Smaller brick and stone buildings  remain as reminders of Whiskey Row, the district that, for better or worse, once thrived on the wages of dock workers and politicians. Most of these  buildings have been or are in the process of being rehabilitated in the spirit of creative re-use for office, retail, or one-of-a-kind urban residences reflecting the historic character of old Tacoma.

For more details on Tacoma’s historic districts, keep an eye on this website – http://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_departments/planning_and_development_services/historic_preservation/tacomas_historic_districts/.