Tacoma City Council approves Dome District property sale

Tacoma City Council Tuesday approved a resolution to sell a city-owned, 4,500 square foot parcel of land in the Dome District that had been deemed surplus. The property, located at 323 Puyallup Ave., was home to the old Durobilt Furniture and Upholstery store for many decades. It includes a two-story, 3,760 square foot building originally constructed in 1937. The property will be sold for $100,000.

The property was purchased by the City of Tacoma in 2005 as part of the $22.5 million D Street Overpass project. That project separated motor vehicle traffic from rail traffic and eliminated congestion in the area by raising the roadway near East D Street and East Dock Street. “Because the project primarily eliminated vehicular access to the business, the City was required to acquire the property and pay for business relocation expenses utilizing federal project funds,” wrote city staff in documents supporting the resolution. As a result, Durobilt Furniture and Upholstery relocated to 2507 Tacoma Ave. South.

“The property is vacant and only functionally accessible from the neighboring properties,” explained Conor McCarthy, assistant division manager in the city’s real property services department, during the city council meeting yesterday. “Lucky for the city, the neighbors have offered to buy the property and renovate the building.”

According to McCarthy, Rick Semple and Jori Adkins approached the city to express interest in buying the property. Semple and Adkins own several parcels along the same 300 block of Puyallup Avenue. Last week, McCarthy told city council’s economic development committee the property was appraised in December 2010 and valued at approximately $25 per square foot, or $115,000. The fair market value range was between 22 dollars and 31 dollars. In May, Adkins and Semple offered $100,000 for the property. The city had the property re-appraised in June. “Because we knew their offer was within the range of fair market value, we went back to our appraiser and said, ‘Can you at least take a look at this property and see whether or not the market has gone up or gone down?’” McCarthy told committee members last week. “He estimated somewhere around a 20 percent downward adjustment. It was a pretty significant adjustment. So we decided it would be wise, at least at the staff level, to accept the offer of $100,000 offered by Semple and Adkins.

“They are probably the most viable purchaser we think we could have for acquiring the property since they can establish access and create a functional business, which is their plan,” added McCarthy. The pair would purchase the property under an entity known as ‘SOTTOBOSCO, LLC.’ “Rick Semple is very excited about this and wants to re-design the building consistent with the original architecture,” added McCarthy. “I don’t believe that is required, but he’s pretty passionate about that. He’s improved the other buildings on the block. He has big plans for it.”

On Sept. 27, the committee approved a recommendation to the full city council to approve the resolution and sell the property.