Port of Tacoma: Commission to learn more about former Brown & Haley warehouse demolition project

Port of Tacoma Commissioners will learn more about a project under way to demolish a building on the tide flats that served as one of Brown & Haley’s warehouses for more than 40 years.

The Port of Tacoma purchased the property, located at 1940 East 11th Street, from Sound Mattress & Felt Co. for $3 million in October 2006. The property included a 116,000-square-foot building that served as a Brown & Haley beginning in 1964. The Port of Tacoma continued to lease the warehouse to the candy maker until August 2007, when the commission unanimously approved a decision to help relocate Brown & Haley’s operations to a facility in Fife.

The building was subsequently “red tagged” by the City of Tacoma after several structural failures were discovered. Additionally, contaminants such as asbestos, lead and universal wastes were discovered on the site. The Port of Tacoma determined the cost of repairs to the building outweighed the revenue generated by the building. A decision was made to raze the structure.

Last year, the commission unanimously approved a proposal to begin planning for the site demolition.

“Some Port-owned assets may have reached the end of their useful life,” Lou Paulsen, the Port of Tacoma’s senior director of facilities development, told commissioners during the meeting last year to propose the demolition. “I’m here to present one such building.” Paulsen told commissioners that portions of the building were 70 years old and major damage included two broken trusses and extensive roof leaks. He also noted the building was no longer marketable.

When asked if anything historically significant was left in the building after Brown & Haley, re-located, Port of Tacoma project manager David Myers said, “It’s basically just a shell of a building.” He added that a safe that was once built into the structure had been removed by Brown & Haley, the Tacoma candy-maker that produces Almond Roca and dates back to 1912.

This week, Port of Tacoma staff will update commissioners on the project, which includes the remediation of contaminants and hazardous materials, as well as the demolition of the existing warehouse and foundations on the 5.6-acre site. Staff is expected to ask for an additional $550,000 on top of the $300,000 authorized for the project earlier this year.

The Port of Tacoma Commission is scheduled to discuss the issue during its meeting on Thurs., Oct. 31, at 12 p.m. in Room 104 of The Fabulich Center, located at 3600 Port of Tacoma Road. Meetings are broadcast live and on demand at portoftacoma.com/webstreaming.

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 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 wahmee.com.