Design review discussion continues for historic downtown building

The City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled Oct. 13 to review a revised set of plans for exterior enhancements to the 100-year-old former Federal Building in downtown Tacoma.

On Aug. 11, the commission approved several key elements of a conceptual design that would add a mobile coffee cart, landscaping amenities, a fence and gates, and removable tables, chairs, and umbrellas to the building. The commission also approved a plan to add entry points to the existing single entrance on the east side of the building. It was originally constructed with three entrances, but modified when the U.S. Post Office purchased the building. Still, a request from the building’s owners to add a new entrance to the northeast corner of the building will require further review, according to the commission’s decision Aug. 11.

As part of that decision, the building owners agreed to provide updates on the project as specific design elements are clarified and the owners prepare to apply for building permits.

According to a packet of materials ( ) prepared for the meeting Wednesday, the commission will be briefed on a number of items, most notably a more detailed design of a new entry proposed for the northeast corner of the building, including stair, ramp and stepped seating areas; a desire to alter the existing building in order to connect the new northeast entry to the new northeast plaza; detailed drawings for new doors to be installed in the building’s existing three main entrances; and a landscape plan that accurately describes the plant types and locations.

According to the original proposal submitted to the commission June 28, the owners, George Heidgerken and Patrick Rhodes, hope to adaptively re-use the building for commercial and retail purposes, such as office space and a restaurant or a cafe. The pair purchased the four-story, 72,000-square-foot building, located at 1102 A Street, in May for approximately $1.4 million. The building, formally known as the Tacoma Federal Building, once housed the U.S. Courthouse and Customs offices. It is currently home to the U.S. Postal Service, which plans to relocate most of its operations in the future. Because the building is listed on the city, state, and national registers of historic places, the Landmarks Preservation Commission must review any modifications to the building.

On July 21, the commission conducted a site visit to learn more about the plan before approving elements of the conceptual design.

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

Landmarks Commission gives early-stage approval for Federal building project —

Landmarks Preservation Commission plans site visit to shed light on plan for historic federal building (07/19/10) —

Mobile coffee stand, outdoor seating planned for historic downtown Post Office building (07/09/10) —