Opus Northwest Selected for Pacific Avenue Development in Heart of Downtown Tacoma

“About one year after standing in a vacant lot to announce plans for marketing Pierce County-owned property on Pacific Avenue to developers, representatives from area government and business gathered in an office overlooking that lot as it was announced that Opus Northwest LLC was chosen as developer for the site.While the County owned the property, the City of Tacoma had been involved with marketing the site. A committee composed of representatives from both governmental entities reviewed several proposals for the development prior to choosing that submitted by Opus.Opus was selected to purchase and develop the Pacific Avenue Block site, which lies on the west side of the avenue between 13th and 15th streets in downtown Tacoma. The site consists of 1.15 acres with a purchase price of $1.9 million. The sale price has a kicker however.The purchase price is tied to development of 350,000 square feet or less. Should Opus decide to develop the property beyond that level, the price increases at a rate of $5 per square foot.Development was presented as a mix of office, retail and restaurant space, including approximately 600 parking spaces and possibly some entertainment facilities, with the possibility of a multi-screen theater mentioned during the announcement. There would be 10 stories of office space, at approximately 200,000 square feet, coupled with two to four stories of retail, restaurant and entertainment space, at 50,000 to 100,000 square feet.Pierce County Executive Doug Sutherland said City of Tacoma Mayor Brian Ebersole, the Tacoma City Council and City staff had worked with County government in a collaborative process to market and sell the site. Sutherland said he was pleased with the three “significant proposals” the county received, and with the ability of the County to recover its investment in the property.“This fits well with other projects and with the scale of the city,” Sutherland said. “It is a beautiful opportunity.”“About a year ago, we stood on the property vacant and envisioned a day like this,” Ebersole said. “King County is getting built up, and the stars are lined up right [for Tacoma].Ebersole said that reasons for choosing the Opus proposal included the Opus team’s local involvement, their project design, which involved more uses for the property than strictly an office tower, and the fact that the developer did not want any money, incentives or tax breaks for the purchase and development. He said the City has made a large amount of infrastructure improvements, and had invested a great deal in making the downtown area attractive. All that was lacking, Ebersole said, was private sector investment.Bart Brynestad, senior real estate director for Opus Northwest, said the firm was honored to be entrusted with the development of the block. Opus would “move forward immediately,” he said, with planning for the site. A tentative timeline for construction would have groundbreaking in early 2001, with completion in mid to late 2002, Brynestad said.Brynestad ranked the probability of Opus building the project after the purchase is complete, at or above 95 percent. The Opus Northwest Washington State office has over 6 million square feet of commercial space under development in the Puget Sound Region, with just over another 2 million square feet under construction.The Opus Group of Companies has 26 offices nationwide, and functions as a fully integrated development organization with in-house development, construction, architecture, financing and property management capability.”