Ground broken for Pioneer Motorcycle Museum

Conservative business suits mixed with the leather attire favored by motorcycle riders during yesterday morning’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Pioneer Museum of Motorcycles & Conference Center.

Dapper waiters from Snuffin’s Catering and The Upper Crust Catering moved through the crowd, serving hors d’oeuvres on a warm and sunny fall day.

City and museum officials, bikers and members of the public turned out at 326 E. D Street – across the water from Thea’s Park – to witness the ceremonial kick-off of the Pioneer Motorcycle Museum.

On hand were CEO and founder of the Pioneer Museum Marty Moloney, Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma and a representative from the Puyallup Tribe, Connie McCloud, who offered a blessing for the new building.

“It all started because I wanted to have a place for my bikes. And it grew and grew and grew,” Moloney said. “I’m not only preserving a century of motorcycle history, but I am building a legacy for my family and a landmark for my city. I love Tacoma.”

Those in attendance enjoyed a self-guided tour of the footprint of the facility and got a chance to see some vintage motorcycles.

The first 100 guests received a souvenir poster.

Under a tent shielding them from the sun, city and museum officials each took a gold-plated shovel and simultaneously broke ground on the site that will be home to the city’s newest museum.

Plans call for a three-story 51,000-square foot museum.

The ground floor will feature a world-class collection of vintage motorcycles and memorabilia, as well as a working restoration shop where museum visitors can view the process.

A small theater, grand lobby, gift shop and beverage bar will occupy the rest of the first floor.

A conference center – including full kitchen and banquet facilities that will serve up to 700 seated guests – will make up the top two floors.

The building is meant to be a venue for corporate and special events.
It will also be a place for social occasions, like weddings, said Michele McGill, museum and conference center director.

Other features to be included are 200 paved parking stalls, freight elevator service to all floors and motor coach parking next to the museum.

The architect of the building is BCRA Tsang of Tacoma and the contractor is Edifice Construction Company, Inc. of Seattle.

The building, to offer an incredible view of the city’s skyline and the Thea Foss Waterway, will be constructed of brick and glass in order to compliment Tacoma’s industrial east side architecture.

The $8 million to $10 million project is a completely privately financed endeavor.

Set to open in the fall of 2003, the Pioneer Museum of Motorcycles & Conference Center is another addition to a city that is becoming know as a city of museums.

Tacoma is home to several recently opened, under construction and planned museums, including the Museum of Glass, the new Tacoma Art Museum and the LeMay car museum.

McGill said she hoped the Pioneer Motorcycle Museum would have an economic impact on the city and bring people to Tacoma.

“We’ll see you back here next year for the grand opening,” she said.