Tacoma City Council will decide Carman Building landmark nomination

The City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission Wednesday unanimously approved a recommendation place the 1890s-era Carman Manufacturing Co. Building on the local historic register.

According to the nomination application, the building was home to Carman Manufacturing Co. for 95 years. The wood-framed, heavy-timber warehouse, located at 725 E. 25th St., 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 property. But Darmer and Albert Miller repaired it for $5,000.

The company specialized in making mattresses and furniture. In the 1950s, it adopted the trade name “Spring Air of the Northwest.” Four generations of the Carman family worked there until the business moved to Lacey in 1998.

“We want to bring it back to its heyday,” Heather Hammond, President of Seattle-based HammondLand, Inc. and a co-investor in the century-old Dome District property along with Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Landmark Tacoma, told commissioners during a presentation last month. “We want to celebrate its past and what the Carman family did for Tacoma.”

In January, developers asked the City of Tacoma for a $1.5 million Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) loan toward the overall $11.2 million project. The developer has lined up approximately $9.7 million from Bank of America, and is looking for the $1.5 million UDAG loan to help the project pencil out. The bank loan is contingent upon whether the $1.5 million hole can be funded. The UDAG loan would be paid back in five years with four per cent interest and one per cent due at closing.

The current plan is to renovate the structure into a 71-unit loft-style apartment building with hardwood floors, wood beams, and a rooftop deck.

Hammond told commissioners the plan is to re-use as much of the existing material as possible in order to preserve the building’s historic character.

The commission’s recommendation to add the building to the local register will now be forwarded to Tacoma City Council. The council is expected to vote on the issue in March.

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For earlier Index coverage of the Carman Building, click on the following links:

1. Dome District building slated for historic register (01/10/09) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1467430&more=0

2. Developer seeks $1.5 million UDAG loan for Carman Building renovation (01/14/09) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1469951&more=0

3. Public hearing Feb. 11 for Carman Building historic nomination (01/21/09) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1474279&more=0

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For additional additional information, including interior photos of the building, visit the Index’s blog at http://i.feedtacoma.com/TDI-Reporters-Notebook/dome-district-building-slated-historic/