Pierce County Council approves new $127M headquarters

Pierce County Council voted Tuesday 4 to 3 in favor of moving forward on a plan to build a nine-story,...

Pierce County Council voted Tuesday 4 to 3 in favor of moving forward on a plan to build a nine-story, 330,000-square-foot, $126.9 million general services building on the County-owned, 13-acre site of the former Puget Sound Hospital campus in Tacoma.

According to Pierce County officials, the building, which will be located at 3580 Pacific Ave., will house approximately 1,300 employees, including approximately 250 employees from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, located at 3629 S. D St., an independent agency that is joining the County as a tenant in the new building. Other tenants will include the four departments in the Pierce County Annex, located at 2401 S. 35th St. The Annex site likely will be sold.

The project will be paid for using existing resources, such as the money currently spent on eight commercial office leases that serve 19 departments and divisions currently housed in 14 locations throughout the county, as well as savings gained through efficiencies created by consolidating employees within the new general services building and campus, according to Pierce County officials. A development agreement between Pierce County and Seattle-based developer Wright Runstad & Co. shows $103.8 million would be spent on total construction, including fixtures and furniture; $17.4 million would be spent on parking facilities; and $3.9 million would be spent on building, parking, and tenant contingencies, added Pierce County officials.

Pierce County’s existing downtown campus, anchored by the County-City Building, located at 930 Tacoma Ave. S., will continue to house about 1,000 employees from the law and justice sectors in what will be redeveloped with existing resources over time as the Pierce County Justice Center.

Councilmembers Rick Talbert, Connie Ladenburg, Derek Young, and Joyce McDonald voted for the plan.

“This business plan will save taxpayers millions of dollars in leases, staffing, and maintenance costs,” said Councilmember Talbert, who represents the area in Tacoma’s South End that will house the new campus. “We have carefully analyzed current and future costs, asset values, risk, and more. An independent consultant verified our staff savings through consolidation. This pencils out in the taxpayers’ interest.”

Councilmembers Dan Roach, Doug Richardson, and Jim McCune voted against it.

“In order to make the mortgage payments, 38.1 jobs would have to stay eliminated for the duration of the mortgage, and we can’t promise that future councils and executives would adhere to that,” said Councilmember Roach. “I sincerely hope I’m proven wrong and everything works out for the best, but I couldn’t in good conscience ask our taxpayers to shoulder that risk. I wouldn’t make that commitment with my own money, and I don’t think we should make it with their money either.”

Construction of the new general services building will begin next month, with occupancy expected in fall 2016.

More information is available online at piercecountywa.org/gsb.

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To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the proposed Pierce County General Services Building, click on the following links:

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