Washington State economic development funds slated for downtown Tacoma

Gov. Chris Gregoire Friday announced she would direct $700,000 in state funds to investments in Tacoma to retain and boost business in the city.

Funds awarded will be used to leverage Tacoma’s efforts to encourage business expansion and job growth in the city’s downtown neighborhood. Specifically, the money will go towards infrastructure investments aiding in the redevelopment of the old Sauro’s Cleanarama site located at 1401 S. Pacific Ave. in downtown Tacoma.

According to the Washington State Dept. of Ecology, the former dry cleaner’s operations contaminated the site with halogenated volatile organic compounds (HVOCs) — gases released by certain solids or liquids. On a polluted site, the liquids and solids can be present in soil and HVOC gases can be dissolved into groundwater. Sources include dry-cleaning chemicals, paints and paint strippers, and pesticides.

The cleanup site includes three vacant lots — 1401, 1407, and 1409 S. Pacific Ave. The lot at 1401 S. Pacific Ave. was first developed during the 1880s. The first structures were boarding houses and a hay and grain store. The site was then a bus terminal from the 1920s until 1957. In 1961, Sauro’s Cleanerama began a dry cleaning operation. The building was demolished after they went out of business in 2000.

A hotel and laundry occupied the lot at 1407 S. Pacific Ave. from the late 1800s until 1971. Sauro’s Cleanerama used the vacant hotel building for storage in the 1990s.
The lot at 1409 S. Pacific Ave. hosted several businesses, from a farm implement and seed store, to a tailor and clothes cleaner. The entire site has been vacant since 2000.

Together with other investments by the city, the funds pave the way for an expansion of DaVita Inc., which is expected to add more than 350 jobs in Tacoma. DaVita is one of the largest providers of dialysis services in the country.

Funds will be allocated from Washington’s Strategic Reserve Fund, which allows the state to rapidly respond to help make economic deals quickly and efficiently.

“We can rebuild our economic future by all working together,” Gregoire said. “With the infusion of these funds, Tacoma will be able to make investments that will help it keep and attract businesses.”

“Tacoma is open for business, and these funds will help us attract private investment,” Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland said. “With this money, we’ll be able to make our city center more attractive to business and create jobs.”