Port Commission authorizes $10.3 million purchase, sale agreement for 20.5-acres of Foss Waterway property

It is a matter of smart growth, according Timothy J. Farrell, acting executive director of the Port of Tacoma. “Tacoma’s revitalized downtown core and waterfront is becoming a visitor destination and at the same time, the port – our region’s economic engine – continues to expand,” he said. “With vision and smart land-use planning, both of these trends will continue to benefit our region.”

On July 16, the Port of Tacoma Commission took a step toward this vision by authorizing a $10.3 million purchase and sale agreement for 20.5-acres (8.3 hectares) on the east shore of the Thea Foss Waterway – across the water from downtown Tacoma.

“This purchase underscores our commitment to strengthen the Port of Tacoma’s involvement in the continued development of Tacoma’s Foss Waterway and its nearby industrial areas,” said Port Commissioner Dick Marzano. “This waterway is an important community asset, and we are proud to now be playing a key role in its future.”

Farrell described the purchase and sale agreement as a strategic acquisition. “It gives the port the opportunity to model how transitional development can be accomplished between Tacoma’s downtown waterfront area and the Tideflats industrial area, allowing both to thrive.”

The port, said Farrell, must now focus on developing an appropriate transportation corridor to serve the Foss Waterway area and a corridor to serve the port industrial area. “We will continue to work with the City of Tacoma, the Foss Waterway Development Authority and others to participate in the development of the Foss Waterway and the industrial area west of the Puyallup River.”

Located at 1203 East “D” Street in Tacoma, the parcel includes more than 16 acres (6.5 hectares) of industrial uplands in addition to waterfront land on the Foss Waterway. The parcel is one of the largest single tracts of land on the Puyallup Peninsula, which is bordered on the west by the Foss and on the east, by the Puyallup River.

Under the terms reached between port staff and property owner, Craig Wattles, the purchase will be structured to allow the seller ample time to demolish most of the existing structures and deliver a developable site to the port in January 2007. The property currently has a variety of small businesses with short terms remaining on leases for land and buildings. The majority of the Wattles property is zoned for industrial use, while the remainder is zoned S-8 (Foss commercial shoreline district).

“Most of the buildings located on the property were built in the between 1910 and 1953, and they are reaching the end of their useful life,” said Bob Emerson, the port’s acting senior director of industrial development and real estate. “It opens up a variety of exciting development options for us to explore for the future.”

The Port Commission authorization allows the parties to structure a due diligence process and finalize the scope of work that the seller would be required to complete before closing.