Tacoma Dome District: Building renovation begins for new charter high school

A major renovation is under way in Tacoma’s Dome District that will turn the former Salvation Army building into a new charter school.

Summit Public Schools’ Olympus campus is scheduled to open in the building, located at 409 Puyallup Ave., during fall 2015 and serve an inaugural class of approximately 120 ninth-grade students, according to information on the organization’s Web site. The school is expected to expand into a full high school with four grade levels by 2018.

The Tacoma Daily Index reached out on a couple of occasions this week to Olympus campus Executive Director Gina Wickstead, who in turn forwarded our request for more information about the new school and building renovation to Chief Regional Officer Jen Davis Wickens. Though the Index did not receive responses to our queries, this story will be updated should more information become available.

Meanwhile, public information available on the Pierce County Assessor’s Web site shows the two-story building was sold to Los Angeles, Calif.-based Pacific Charter Schools Development in August. Summit Public Schools announced the location of its new home in Facebook posts in October and November. The City of Tacoma issued a construction permit to John Korsmo Construction, Inc. in November.

The building is prominently situated near the intersection of Puyallup Avenue and East D Street. It sits across the street from the former Durobilt Furniture and Upholstery Building, which was recently renovated into a hub for five artisan furniture makers (see “5 artisan Tacoma furniture makers to open Dome District showroom,” Tacoma Daily Index, Dec. 10, 2014). Public information available online via Tacoma Public Library’s Northwest Room Tacoma-Pierce County Buildings Index shows the building served as a factory for Nalley’s Pure Food Products, as well as the Salvation Army Social Center.

Summit Public Schools has scheduled two informational sessions at 6:30 p.m. on Thurs., Jan. 8, and Thurs., Jan. 29, at the Peoples Community Center, located at 1602 S. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, to discuss the Olympus campus in Tacoma.

***UPDATE — Thurs., Jan. 8, 2015 @ 5:45 p.m. | Summit Public Schools Olympus campus Executive Director Gina Wickstead responds (in part) via e-mail:

“We are excited to locate in the Dome District, and to serve families across Tacoma. Mostly, we are looking forward to the opportunity to honor the community’s rich history and powerful diversity through our public high school. Community leaders and families have expressed an incredible amount of excitement about partnering to build a free, public and diverse high school in the Dome District that prepares all students for college success. In addition, we are thrilled that this school facility provides easy access to public transportation, which is just down the street, and therefore, makes it a true option for all families throughout Tacoma.”

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index, an award-winning journalist, and author of A Reporter At Large: A decade of Tacoma interviews, feature articles, and photographs. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.