Contractor selected for Spanish Steps rehab

Tacoma City Council approved a resolution Tuesday that awards a $394,992 contract to Pease Construction, Inc. for the rehabilitation of historic Spanish Steps. The project will repair and restore the urns, baluster, newels, post, railing and streetlights along the staircase, and include the installation of pedestrian furnishings, signage, and a new retaining wall to support the steps.

The City received nine bids for the project. They ranged from $394,992 to $772,694. The project is expected to begin later this month and be completed by mid-September.

Located near South Seventh Street and Broadway, the Spanish Steps were built in 1916 and connect Commerce Street to Broadway within the Old City Hall Historic District — an area listed on local, state, and national historic registers.

In the 1950s, the steps started to degrade. Shoddy patchwork, deferred maintenance, and vandalism contributed to its continued decline. Decorative urns have been toppled and smashed. Several years ago, a driver lost control of his vehicle and drove down the steps, knocking out a grill of colonnades that fronted a landing with views of Tacoma’s tide flats. And police officers have long complained the steps serve as an entry point for homeless people seeking shelter inside the adjacent and abandoned former Elks Temple building.

In May 2007, the City received a Transportations Enhancement grant totalling $944,000 from the Washington State Department of Transportation for design and repair work. Additional federal funding brings the total purse to $1.2 million.

Developers recently announced the Elks Temple building would be restored and renovated by McMenamins into a combination brewpub, music venue, and hotel. Construction is slated to begin this fall, with an opening scheduled for the spring of 2012. Similarly, the City announced it will build a public garage of approximately 280 stalls, in conjunction with a private mixed-use development above the garage that will include a grocery store, retail space and apartments.

For earlier Tacoma Daily Index coverage of the Spanish Steps, click here:

Opening doors to history (05/03/10) —

Open Houses this weekend for historic sites competing for preservation grants (04/28/10) —

Tacoma’s Spanish Steps to vie for $125K historic preservation grant (04/15/10) —

Tacoma moves closer to Spanish Steps rehab (04/01/10) —

The Notes of Spanish Steps (09/30/09) — and

Momentum continues for Spanish Steps rehabilitation (07/27/07) —