Vote clears way for UWT Joy Building early-phase renovations

The City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted Wednesday to approve design plans for the first two phases of a three-phase, $15 million renovation of the Russell T. Joy Building.

The building, located at 1716-1730 Pacific Ave. and on the University of Washington Tacoma’s downtown campus, was constructed in 1892 and is located within the Union Depot / Warehouse Historic District, which is listed on the Tacoma and National Registers of Historic Places. The building was once home to various wholesale and retail firms, but now sits vacant.

According to university officials, a renovation would help meet educational and faculty needs, and provide retail on the first floor which fronts Pacific Avenue. When completed in fall 2011, the building is expected to serve an additional 600 UWT students.

During the meeting Feb. 25, the landmarks commission approved the interior demolition and abatement, exterior/interior masonry restoration, and the removal of street level exterior plywood walls and windows along Pacific Avenue and Commerce Street. It also approved roof and interior structural demolition, and installation of new structural work.

A third phase would involve removing double-hung wood windows and replacing them with aluminum clad wood window. However, a report on the condition of the existing windows is currently pending. The third phase would also include installation of mechanical engineering, plumbing, and interior systems. This proposed phase will be reviewed by the commission at a later date.

Officials from UWT and THA Architecture, the Portland, Ore.-based firm designing the renovation, indicated they would seek permits for the first two phases of the project in March and late-May.

In December, Gov. Chris Gregoire submitted a capital budget to the Legislature that included $34 million for the third phase of UWT’s campus expansion, which includes the Joy Building renovation.

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