City Council approves Pacific Plaza street-level office space

Tacoma City Council yesterday approved a resolution that changes the dynamics of leasable space at Pacific Plaza in downtown Tacoma.

The decision frees up 14,000 square feet of street-level space along Pacific Avenue originally slated for retail to now be used as commercial office space for the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.

Tacoma City Council voted 5 to 3 in favor of the resolution. Councilmembers Jake Fey, Rick Talbert, and Lauren Walker opposed the resolution. Councilmembers Connie Ladenburg, Mike Lonergan, Mayor-Elect Marilyn Strickland, and Mayor Bill Baarsma favored the resolution.

The original agreement between the co-owners — Pacific Plaza LLC and the City of Tacoma — stated the space “shall be used for commercial retail activity.” For nearly three years, as the project was being planned and developed, many (including the City and Pacific Plaza LLC) believed small retailers, a big-box merchant, or a grocery store would occupy the ground floor.

Finding retailers during a recession, along with more than 100,000 square feet of existing vacant retail space along Pacific Avenue, has made that goal difficult, according to Pacific Plaza LLC’s Dan Putnam. During City Council’s study session Dec. 8, Putnam laid out a plan for leasing a portion of the ground floor to the Attorney General’s Office. The attorney general would occupy approximately 18,000 square feet on the eighth floor of Pacific Plaza, and approximately 14,000 square feet on the ground floor. They are currently located in the Washington Building, 1019 Pacific Avenue, and plan to move to Pacific Plaza by July 1, 2010.

According to Putnam, securing the Attorney General’s Office as a tenant guarantees the City $2 million in long-term parking revenue over a 10-year period; stabilizes the financial situation so the developer can aggressively attract a grocer or large-format drug store to move into the remaining space (approximately 22,000 square feet); and removes the risk of “financial non-performance in this economy.”

The high-rise, located at 1250 Pacific Ave., is earning much praise for its environmental design. Developers turned the former parking garage into a state-of-the-art “green” building with an additional 102 parking stalls to complement the previous 381 stalls; two new floors of Class-A office space; the reconstruction of the public hill climb connecting Pacific Avenue and Commerce Street; a green roof covering approximately 85 percent of the roof top; and a cistern which reduces rainwater runoff from the site and directs water to be re-used in the facility.

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For earlier Tacoma Daily Index coverage of Pacific Plaza, click on the following links:

1. Office or Retail? City, developer try to agree on Pacific Plaza street-level occupancy (12/11/09) —

2. City leaders cut ribbon for downtown Pacific Plaza project (09/22/09) —

3. PHOTOS / Pacific Plaza Tour (09/02/09) —

4. Inside Pacific Plaza: From blight to beauty, a $30 million downtown high-rise sets a new standard (09/02/09) — or

5. Outside Pacific Plaza: A garden grows high above downtown Tacoma (09/03/09) — or