Port of Tacoma Commission OKs $325K for warehouse rehabilitation project

An aging warehouse on the Port of Tacoma tide flats will soon be repaired in order to continue to meet the needs of Port operations.

The warehouse at Terminal 7, located at 710 Port of Tacoma Road, was built approximately 70 years ago and currently serves as a temporary storage site for Ports America and Westwood Shipping Lines, the Japanese Self-Defense Force, and other military operations moving cargo through the area, according to Port of Tacoma Business Development Director Tom Bellerud.

Bellerud and Rick Unruh, an engineering project manager at the Port, appeared before Port commissioners last week to request $325,000 to complete the $355,000 project. The Port has already spent $30,000 on design work related to the warehouse improvement project.

Bellerud told commissioners the facility generates approximately $700,000 in revenue annually for the Port. He also noted it was the most recent arrival of Westwood Shipping Lines, which moved from the Port of Seattle to the Port of Tacoma this summer, that “kind of brought increased awareness to the condition of this warehouse, what it can do for us going forward, and what some of the deterioration has caused over the years.”

According to Bellerud and Unruh, age and use have deteriorated the warehouse’s canopies and some interior framing. When it rains, water leaks into the warehouse, endangering the cargo and impacting the structure of the warehouse. The project will remove the canopies, add new gutters, and repair damage to the siding and structure of the building. The design phase is expected to be completed by the end of this month. The overall project is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Looking ahead, the Port will need to replace the roof in approximately five years, according to Unruh.

“I see this as a maintenance project,” said Port of Tacoma Commissioner Don Johnson before he joined other commissioners in approving the spending request. “We have to maintain it or tear the building down. I’m glad it does make $700,000 per year because it does help pay for the maintenance. The building is in good shape.

“So we spend a couple three-hundred-thousand-dollars here, and we might spend a million dollars to replace the roof, but we’re not spending fifteen million dollars to replace a building that needed to be torn down and replaced,” added Johnson. “If you take care of an old building, an old building will last a long time.”

Port of Tacoma Commissioner Richard Marzano stressed the significance of the warehouse to overall Port operations. “One of the things that I think is important to understand is that without that warehouse, I don’t know if Westwood would have been here,” he said.

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 first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengerssecond-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State; third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; and third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright. His work has 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 wahmee.com.