Dome District building slated for historic register

The City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled Jan. 14 to review a nomination to place the former Carman Manufacturing Co. Building on the local register of historic places.

During an interview Friday, Heather Hammond, President of Seattle-based HammondLand, Inc. and a co-investor in the century-old Dome District building with Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Landmark Tacoma, LLC, said the property was purchased in fall 2006 with the intent of developing it into a 155-unit condominium complex. That plan later changed, and developers considered demolishing the building, located at 725 E. 25th St., and erecting a new structure. However, a turbulent economy disrupted those plans.

After looking into the history of the building, the developers decided to save the structure and scale down the project. Currently, they plan to renovate it into a $15 million, 71-unit loft-style apartment building with hardwood floors, wood beams, and a rooftop deck.

“We did some historical research on it and realized just how prominent the building was,” said Hammond. “We said, ‘OK, how can we save it?'”

In addition to presenting the nomination at Wednesday’s landmarks commission meeting, developers are also scheduled to meet with Tacoma City Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee Tuesday afternoon to discuss a $1.5- to $2-million loan to assist with the project.

Hammond said securing the landmark status will provide tax valuation benefits and help the project pencil out. According to Hammond, approval of a loan and landmark designation would allow the developers to break ground mid-summer, and complete the project 12 months later.

According to the nomination application, the building was home to Carman Manufacturing Co. for 95 years. The company specialized in making mattresses and furniture. In the 1950s, it adopted the trade name “Spring Air of the Northwest.”

The wood-framed, heavy-timber warehouse was designed by prominent Tacoma architect Carl August Darmer. And though the structure looks like one big building from the street, it is actually four connected buildings that were built between 1893 and 1899 — the result of growing from 12 to 200 employees over the years. On June 30, 1900, a fire nearly destroyed the building. But Darmer and Albert Miller repaired the building for $5,000. Four generations of the Carman family worked there until the business moved to Lacey in 1998.

On Wednesday, the landmarks commission is expected to receive a presentation from Hammond on the nomination. Staff have recommended a second meeting Feb. 11 to collect public testimony.

For interior photos of the building, click here:

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