Wedge Historic District issue reaches City Council July 20 ***PART ONE***

Tacoma City Council will hold a public hearing Tues., July 20 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to take comment...

Tacoma City Council will hold a public hearing Tues., July 20 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to take comment on a proposal to designate the city’s “Wedge” neighborhood an historic district.

The proposal has worked its way through City Hall since June 2008, when three Wedge residents submitted the historic district nomination to the city’s historic preservation office. According to the nomination, the Wedge neighborhood is an area of Tacoma that boasts more than 50 homes dating back 80 years or more. It’s also where Tacoma pioneer Aaron Titlow, candy company entrepreneurs Frank and Ethel Mars, and Titanic survivor Anne Kincaid resided. And it is ringed by Wright Park, the North Slope Historic District, and many of the city’s oldest churches.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) began reviewing the nomination on Sept. 10, 2008. Since then, the commission has held a series of public meetings to discuss several elements of the application, such as district boundaries, buildings inventory, and the neighborhood’s historic significance. Last year, the LPC met Wedge residents, property owners, and other interested parties for a walking tour of the neighborhood.

If approved, the Wedge neighborhood will become the fourth historic district in Tacoma, and the second residential historic district, according to the city’s historic preservation office. The proposed district zoning overlay stretches north to south from Division Avenue to Sixth Avenue, and zig-zags in several places along the eastern border: the alley between South L Street and South M Street; the alley between South M Street and South Sheridan Avenue; and a portion of South M Street near Sixth Avenue. The proposal also includes several conservation districts.

After much discussion and a series of public meetings, on July 22, 2009, the LPC forwarded to the Planning Commission a recommendation to create the historic and conservation district overlay zones. The Planning Commission held a public hearing March 17 to collect feedback on the issue. During that meeting, many people testified for or against the historic district. Earlier this year, the Planning Commission voted four-to-two in favor of the proposed boundaries and recommended City Council adopt same.

For more information, visit http://www.tacomaculture.org/wedge.asp .

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The Tacoma Daily Index has covered the Wedge historic district nomination since the application was submitted to City Hall nearly two years ago. The Index has published nearly two-dozen articles about the issue, including interviews with the authors of the nomination and residents in the neighborhood, public testimony of people who support or oppose the nomination, and photographs of a walking tour of the neighborhood with Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. In light of this week’s City Council public hearing, we have reprinted below each of those articles.

SEPT. 5, 2008 – MARCH 27, 2009 (PART ONE) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1807429&more=0

APRIL 16, 2009 – MARCH 10, 2010 (PART TWO) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1809055&more=0

MARCH 24, 2010 – JUNE 17, 2010 (PART THREE) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1809059&more=0

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Will Tacoma’s Wedge neighborhood go historic?

By Todd Matthews

Sep 05 2008

It’s a part of Tacoma that boasts more than five dozen homes dating back 80 years and more. It’s also where Tacoma pioneer Aaron Titlow, candy company entrepreneurs Frank and Ethel Mars, and Titanic survivor Anne Kincaid resided. And its ringed by Wright Park, the North Slope Historic District, and many of the city’s oldest churches.

But is the neighborhood historic?

That question will begin to be answered next week, when the City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to learn more about a request made by a neighborhood association that wants to see the area that stretches from Sixth Avenue to Division Avenue, and L Street to Sprague Avenue (known as the “Wedge” neighborhood) receive historic district designation.

According to City of Tacoma historic preservation officer Reuben McKnight, an application completed by the Tacoma Wedge Association Historic Subcommittee reached his office June 27. The application, which the Index obtained this week, totals several hundred pages, and includes maps, photographs, archival news clippings, and a summary outlining the neighborhood’s historic significance. Among the highlights:

— The Wedge neighborhood includes 67 residential homes built between 1889 and 1928;

— The most unique residential home is the Titlow Mansion, which was built in 1899 and was home to Aaron Titlow, who built Washington State’s first tidewater hotel;

— Homes boast a range of architectural styles, such as Victorian, Craftsman, Foursquare, Dutch Colonial, and Cape Cod.

According to a cover letter prepared by the subcommittee and included with the application, the group is requesting district status for residential properties, and have asked that commercial and non-residential buildings be excluded should the area receive the designation.

“We believe that the Wedge area has historic relevance and should be considered to have merit in the establishment of a Tacoma Wedge Historical District,” the letter states. The Index attempted to contact two members of the subcommittee for further comment, but they could not be reached.

According to McKnight, the commission will discuss the topic as a non-action item during its meeting Sept. 10. “It’s been a long time since we designated a historic district,” he added. “We’re going to be presenting a recommended schedule for reviewing the application.”

That schedule includes a series of meetings to discuss several elements of the application, such as district boundaries, buildings inventory, and the neighborhood’s historic significance. The public will be notified of all meetings throughout the process, which is expected to extend through next spring, according to McKnight. The city’s planning commission will also review the request.

“All of the documentation for the historic district was completed by the neighborhood association,” says McKnight. Though a consideration of a new historic district is spurred by either the landmarks commission or City Council, the initial request must come from residents.

Historic district designation could provide some protection against demolition in and around the neighborhood.

In May 2006, the congregation of First United Methodist Church sold its 1916 church building to MultiCare Health System for $8 million. It was later demolished to make room for the hospital’s expansion. The building was located one block from the Wedge neighborhood’s eastern border, at 423 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Five historic districts exist in Tacoma. Three are listed on the local Tacoma Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, and North Slope); four are listed on the National Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, North Slope, and Stadium / Seminary); and four are listed on the Washington Heritage Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, North Slope, and Salmon Beach).

In 1999, an effort to create a historic district in the city’s Old Town neighborhood failed after some homeowners feared the designation would limit their abilities to modify or develop their properties.

Last year, a small group of homeowners in the city’s Whitman area began an effort to create a historic district in their neighborhood (see TDI, “Status Seekers,” 07/03/07).

The landmarks preservation commission will discuss the Wedge area historic district application during its meeting Weds., Sept. 10 at 5:00 p.m. at 728 St. Helens, Tacoma Municipal Building North, Room 16. For more information, visit http://www.tacomaculture.org/historic/home.asp .

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A Slice of History: Two meetings will explore Wedge historic district nomination

By Todd Matthews

Sep 23 2008

A nomination to designate Tacoma’s “Wedge” neighborhood as the city’s next historic district will be reviewed for the second time this month by the City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The commission is expected Wednesday to discuss a schedule for reviewing various elements of the application, as well as a plan to begin providing public notice of meetings related to the nomination. The commission is expected to review the nomination through next spring in a process that will involve the planning commission and include public meetings to review proposed district boundaries, buildings inventory, and the neighborhood’s historic significance.

Members of the Tacoma Wedge Association Historic Subcommittee submitted the nomination on June 27 to the City of Tacoma’s historic preservation office. The group would like to see the area, which stretches from Sixth Avenue to Division Avenue, and L Street to Sprague Avenue — known as the “Wedge” neighborhood — receive historic district designation and special protection against demolition in and around the neighborhood.

The application, which the Index obtained earlier this month, totals several hundred pages, and includes maps, photographs, archival news clippings, and a summary outlining the neighborhood’s historic significance. Among the highlights:

— The Wedge neighborhood includes 67 residential homes built between 1889 and 1928;

— The most unique residential home is the Titlow Mansion, which was built in 1899 and was home to Aaron Titlow, who built Washington State’s first tidewater hotel;

— Homes boast a range of architectural styles, such as Victorian, Craftsman, Foursquare, Dutch Colonial, and Cape Cod;

— The neighborhood was once home to candy company entrepreneurs Frank and Ethel Mars, and Titanic survivor Anne Kincaid.

The neighborhood of quaint homes and tree-lined streets rests against the growing campus of MultiCare Health System, a non-profit network of hospitals and clinics. The nomination is partly aimed at preserving the neighborhood’s character and history in light of a recent demolition of a 90-year-old church, and concern over future demolition and development.

In May 2006, the congregation of First United Methodist Church sold its 1916 church building to MultiCare for $8 million. It was later demolished to make room for the hospital’s expansion. The building was located one block from the Wedge neighborhood’s eastern border, at 423 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

On Sept. 10, the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission received its first briefing on the topic by authors of the nomination. The issue of whether Wedge neighbors would battle against MultiCare and its expansion plans was one notable item of discussion.

“I’m sure the hospital has huge influence,” said landmarks preservation commissioner Fred King during the meeting. “They can be a formidable opponent.” King wondered if there was another way to preserve the neighborhood “without getting into a head-on dogfight.”

Commissioner and Wedge resident Ross Buffington responded that the neighborhood has developed a good working relationship with MultiCare in recent years. He added that MultiCare’s expansion plans do not include the proposed historic district — though the company does own four homes within the area. “They have listened to our concerns about parking and houses they currently own,” said Buffington, who has excused himself from voting on the issue because he serves on the landmarks preservation commission and lives in the Wedge neighborhood. “I don’t think it’s all us against them. I appreciate the concern, but I don’t see it as David-versus-Goliath.”

Does the hospital oppose the historic district nomination?

“Not having seen the application and the details of it, I want to reserve an answer for that for now,” says MultiCare spokesperson Todd Kelley. “We can’t really say one way or another.”

Still, the company owns four homes dating back to the late-1880s and early-1990s in the proposed historic district.

“One home is rented out to a family, and three are currently empty,” says Kelley. “Two of them, we’re sort of trying to find a good use for. We don’t have any concrete plans.”

Kelley said he will host a public meeting between MultiCare and Wedge residents Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. at Mary Bridge Hospital, 311 S. L St., in the basement Audio-Visual room to discuss the hospital’s master plan. He will also field questions from people concerned about the four homes MultiCare currently owns within the proposed historic district boundary.

“I’m hoping the meeting on the 29th can open that dialogue in the neighborhood,” says Kelley. “That’s why we’re having that meeting. Not only do we want to show them what we’re thinking about [in terms of the master plan], but we want to hear what they are thinking as well.”

Following the preservation commission meeting Sept. 10, the Index spoke with Char Cooper, Jean Carter, and Laurie Hunger — three Wedge neighborhood residents who authored and submitted the nomination to create a historic district.

TACOMA DAILY INDEX: What was the initial motivation for wanting to designate the Wedge neighborhood historic?

CHAR COOPER: As we started to meet as a group, the conversation went on. There were certain parties that would attend a neighborhood meeting and say, ‘I really want to do this.’ As we talked, wanting to preserve the whole area historically. Once we started that, then it was kind of like we sub-divided into groups and attacked it.

INDEX: When was that?

LAURIE HUNGER: I would say last year, around September.

INDEX: The application is several-hundred pages. How long did it take to put it together?

COOPER: Over a year.

HUNGER: It was a joint effort. We did quite a bit of research down at the Tacoma Public Library. There’s a wonderful wealth of information down there in the Northwest Room.

INDEX: How much of a factor is MultiCare going to be in getting this historic district created?

COOPER: I don’t think they’re going to oppose it. I think they are good neighbors. I think they have so much open land that is not utilized to its fullest right now. We might get push back on the four houses they own [within the proposed district]. I might be naive, but I don’t think we will get the push back that some people are anticipating.

HUNGER: They have really been working hard with us. They solved the problems with traffic.

CARTER: But to answer your question, we don’t know how they are going to feel 25 years from now. They are going to be around, we may not be. They have been involved in a lot of our neighborhood things and listening to concerns. But nobody has been involved in the actual historic development of this application except us.

INDEX: It seems like it’s easy to fall into what one of the landmarks commissioner described as a David vs. Goliath scenario. Do you see it that way?

HUNGER: I don’t think so. They have been really good neighbors. They have really tried to listen to our concerns and really worked with us to try and solve them.

CARTER: But when you bring it up, 25 years from now, who knows?

INDEX: Was MultiCare’s expansion a motivation to create the historic district?

COOPER: I think at one point, when you are looking at our parking issues and the traffic issues and seeing their long-term plans in regards to how they were handling parking, that the parking structures going up are in the future, not more immediate — I think you start to think, OK, someone needs to just be the conscience and say whoa-whoa-whoa and protect ourselves.

INDEX: If I understand it correctly, the last historic district effort was in Old Town in 1999 and it failed. Have you looked into that effort and compared it to your own effort to see how you could make it succeed?

HUNGER: All of our homes in the area, there are two phases — 1880 to 1910; and then the next phase was around 1926. They are all well over the 50-year factor. Most of them are significantly contributing homes in the area. Very few of them — maybe a handful or so — are not.

COOPER: And I think that in [Old Town’s] process, from my understanding, not everybody was aware and onboard as the process was going. I’m feeling pretty comfortable that the majority of residents in our area has at least a broad understanding.

HUNGER: We want to see this happen. We want to work together [with the landmarks commission] to make this happen and get their feedback.

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MultiCare, Wedge residents discuss hospital expansion, historic district effort

By Todd Matthews

Oct 02 2008

For a small group of Wedge neighborhood residents who met this week with representatives of MultiCare Health System, the news was bitter-sweet.

The good news: looking ahead 25 years, the hospital does not plan to expand its campus beyond its current footprint. That information was outlined during a 30-minute presentation that highlighted a project-by-project summary for the hospital’s $400 million expansion.

For years, many residents of the so-called “Wedge” neighborhood — a community of older, single-family homes that butts up against MultiCare’s sprawling medical campus — have tried to protect the neighborhood’s character against the demolition of early-twentieth century homes in the name of new development. In 1990, Tacoma City Council approved an ordinance affecting the neighborhood — which is bounded by Sixth Avenue, Division Avenue, and South L Street — by changing its zoning status from a commercial-residential district to a residential special review district. The designation provided some protection for residents who wanted the Wedge to remain a residential neighborhood.

The bad news from Monday’s meeting: the future of four homes dating back to 1905, and currently owned by the hospital, is unknown.

Three homes, located at 1216 So. 4th St. (1925); 1218 So. 4th St. (1923); and 417 So. M St. (1905), are currently vacant. MultiCare has leased its fourth home, located at 407 So. M St. (1908), to a single family.

During a meeting at Mary Bridge Hospital Monday evening, many residents wanted to know what MultiCare planned to do with the homes. Several wanted to see the three vacant homes renovated and put on the market, or perhaps made available to visiting doctors who work at one of MultiCare’s medical facilities.

The biggest concern centers on the two-story home located at 417 So. M St. According to Rick Booth, MultiCare’s vice president of operations, an engineer assessed the home and determined it was in bad shape. “The foundation is bad, the structure is bad,” Booth told a group of nine residents and interested parties. “The inside of the house needs to be completely re-done.”

Wedge resident Ross Buffington noted that MultiCare’s master plan for the next 25 years did not include the four homes. “Meanwhile, the home that is sitting there at 417 So. M St. is being demolished by neglect,” said Buffington. “It’s sitting there rotting away. It’s a very nice home. I guess I don’t understand. If the neighborhood is zoned residential, what could you possibly do with those properties? Why not put them on the market and make them part of our neighborhood again?”

Wedge resident Diane Walkup, who lives next door to the vacant house, said a leak in the home’s roof has allowed rainwater to collect. She was concerned the house would be demolished due to long-term neglect.

“I’m pleading that you do something to prevent that leak from getting worse,” she said. “To tear that house down, it will alienate me forever.”

Wedge resident Tracy Karro also said she would like to see MultiCare’s homes restored. “There’s a generation that wants to live in the community they serve,” she said. “When people live in the community they serve, they become more committed. If you actually remodel those homes and have them purposed for a new physician or a nurse family, in the long run you are going to profit.”

According to Booth, the homes were purchased at a time when MultiCare was “trying to expand our footprint. That’s what we were trying to do.” He added that plans for the homes are not final. “Now it’s a matter of should we hold on [to the homes] or sell,” he said.

Concern over the homes comes at a time when members of the Tacoma Wedge Association have asked the City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider their request to designate the Wedge neighborhood a historic district. According to the application, which was submitted to the city’s historic preservation office June 27, the Wedge includes 67 residential homes built between 1889 and 1928, and boasting a variety of architectural styles, such as Victorian, Craftsman, Foursquare, Dutch Colonial, and Cape Cod; is home to the Titlow Mansion, which was built in 1899 and was home to Aaron Titlow, who built Washington State’s first tidewater hotel; was once home to candy company entrepreneurs Frank and Ethel Mars, and Titanic survivor Anne Kincaid.

The four homes owned by MultiCare fall within the proposed historic district boundary. If the district is approved, it would protect the homes from demolition.

“We’re still trying to figure out exactly what it is,” said Booth, when asked whether the hospital supported or opposed the historic district proposal.

Between now and next spring, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to review the nomination application and host public meetings to discuss the issue.

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MultiCare weighs in on Wedge historic district nomination

By Todd Matthews

Feb 09 2009

MultiCare Health System has asked that four heritage homes it owns in Tacoma’s “Wedge” neighborhood be excluded from an effort under way to designate the neighborhood a historic district, according to a letter submitted to the City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

In the Feb. 2 letter (available here — http://www.wahmee.com/docs/multicare_letter_020209.pdf ), MultiCare Senior Vice President of Community Services Lois Bernstein expresses the hospital’s “concerns about the Wedge Historic District application, its boundaries, and its potential impact on our long-term ability to continue to respond to the growing health care needs of the region.”

“It is our position that the Wedge Historic District should follow current zoning boundaries and exclude any MultiCare-owned properties,” writes Bernstein. “As such, we believe the Wedge Historic District should not include any areas that are currently zoned as Hospital Medical and should also be redrawn so as not to include any MultiCare-owned properties.”

The letter also states the 500 block of L Street should be left out of the Wedge Historic District since “it is apparent that the owners of the majority of the properties therein are absentee/investor owners and do not wish their properties to be a part of the Historic District.”

Of the four homes owned by MultiCare, three are vacant, and another is leased to a single family. The vacant homes, which sit in the shadow of MultiCare’s sprawling hospital campus, are located at 1216 So. 4th St. (built in 1925); 1218 So. 4th St. (built in 1923); and 417 So. M St. (built in 1905); MultiCare is leasing the fourth home, located at 407 So. M St. (built in 1908), to a single family.

The letter also includes a map with revised boundaries that would exclude the four homes.

The information comes approximately four months after MultiCare officials and Wedge residents met to discuss an ongoing effort to designate the Wedge as a historic district.

During that Sept. 29 meeting, hospital officials shared the company’s master plan and indicated the hospital’s $400 million expansion plans do not extend beyond property the hospital currently owns.

But residents wanted to know the fates of the hospital’s heritage homes. Some wanted to see the three vacant homes renovated and put on the market, or perhaps made available to visiting doctors who work at one of MultiCare’s medical facilities.

The biggest concern centered on the two-story home located at 417 So. M St. According to Rick Booth, MultiCare’s vice president of operations, an engineer assessed the home and determined it was in bad shape. “The foundation is bad, the structure is bad,” Booth said at the meeting. “The inside of the house needs to be completely re-done.”

Wedge resident Ross Buffington noted that MultiCare’s master plan for the next 25 years did not impact the four homes. “Meanwhile, the home that is sitting there at 417 So. M St. is being demolished by neglect,” said Buffington. “It’s sitting there rotting away. It’s a very nice home. I guess I don’t understand. If the neighborhood is zoned residential, what could you possibly do with those properties? Why not put them on the market and make them part of our neighborhood again?”

Wedge resident Diane Walkup, who lives next door to the vacant house, said a leak in the home’s roof has allowed rainwater to collect. She was concerned the house would be demolished due to long-term neglect. “I’m pleading that you do something to prevent that leak from getting worse,” she said. “To tear that house down, it will alienate me forever.”

Wedge resident Tracy Karro also said she would like to see MultiCare’s homes restored. “There’s a generation that wants to live in the community they serve,” she said. “When people live in the community they serve, they become more committed. If you actually remodel those homes and have them purposed for a new physician or a nurse family, in the long run you are going to profit.”

According to Booth, the homes were purchased at a time when MultiCare was “trying to expand our footprint. That’s what we were trying to do.” He added that plans for the homes are not final. “Now it’s a matter of should we hold on [to the homes] or sell,” he said.

Originally, the four homes owned by MultiCare fell within the proposed historic district boundary. But the Feb. 2 letter asks for those homes to be excluded.

The Wedge neighborhood is a part of Tacoma that boasts more than five dozen homes dating back 80 years and more. It’s also where Tacoma pioneer Aaron Titlow, candy company entrepreneurs Frank and Ethel Mars, and Titanic survivor Anne Kincaid resided. And its ringed by Wright Park, the North Slope Historic District, and many of the city’s oldest churches.

The area stretches from Sixth Avenue to Division Avenue, and L Street to Sprague Avenue giving it the “Wedge” neighborhood nickname.

On June 27, the Tacoma Wedge Association Historic Subcommittee submitted an application to the city’s historic preservation officer seeking historic district designation for the area. According to the application:

— The Wedge neighborhood includes 67 residential homes built between 1889 and 1928;

— The most unique residential home is the Titlow Mansion, which was built in 1899 and was home to Aaron Titlow, who built Washington State’s first tidewater hotel;

— Homes boast a range of architectural styles, such as Victorian, Craftsman, Foursquare, Dutch Colonial, and Cape Cod.

According to a cover letter prepared by the subcommittee and included with the application, the group is requesting district status for residential properties, and have asked that commercial and non-residential buildings be excluded should the area receive the designation.

“We believe that the Wedge area has historic relevance and should be considered to have merit in the establishment of a Tacoma Wedge Historical District,” the letter states.
The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission began reviewing the nomination Sept. 10. Since then, the commission has held a series of public meetings to discuss several elements of the application, such as district boundaries, buildings inventory, and the neighborhood’s historic significance. The process is expected to continue into this spring. The city’s planning commission will also review the request.

The nomination is partly aimed at preserving the neighborhood’s character and history in light of a recent demolition of a 90-year-old church, and concern over future demolition and development.

In May 2006, the congregation of First United Methodist Church sold its 1916 church building to MultiCare for $8 million. It was later demolished to make room for the hospital’s expansion. The building was located one block from the Wedge neighborhood’s eastern border, at 423 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Five historic districts exist in Tacoma. Three are listed on the local Tacoma Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, and North Slope); four are listed on the National Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, North Slope, and Stadium / Seminary); and four are listed on the Washington Heritage Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, North Slope, and Salmon Beach).

In 1999, an effort to create a historic district in the city’s Old Town neighborhood failed after some homeowners feared the designation would limit their abilities to modify or develop their properties.

In 2007, a small group of homeowners in the city’s Whitman area began an effort to create a historic district in their neighborhood (see TDI, “Status Seekers,” 07/03/07).

When the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission first met to review the nomination in September, the issue of whether Wedge neighbors would battle against MultiCare and its expansion plans was one notable item of discussion.

“I’m sure the hospital has huge influence,” said landmarks preservation commissioner Fred King during the meeting. “They can be a formidable opponent.” King wondered if there was another way to preserve the neighborhood “without getting into a head-on dogfight.”

Commissioner and Wedge resident Buffington responded that the neighborhood has developed a good working relationship with MultiCare in recent years. “They have listened to our concerns about parking and houses they currently own,” said Buffington, who has excused himself from voting on the issue because he serves on the landmarks preservation commission and lives in the Wedge neighborhood. “I don’t think it’s all us against them. I appreciate the concern, but I don’t see it as David-versus-Goliath.”

Last year, Historic Tacoma, a non-profit organization that aims to preserve Tacoma’s architectural legacy through education and advocacy, included the Wedge neighborhood in its list of nine architecturally, culturally and historically significant sites on a “Watch List” of endangered historic properties.

The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will discuss the Wedge nomination during its meeting Weds., Feb. 11 at 5:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at 728 St. Helens, Tacoma Municipal Building North, Room 16. For more information, visit http://www.tacomaculture.org/historic/home.asp .

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Big decision ahead for proposed Wedge historic district

By Todd Matthews

Feb 11 2009

After five months of preliminary review by the City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the first big decision surrounding a nomination to designate Tacoma’s “Wedge” neighborhood a historic district is expected to be made soon.

The decision is centered on the proposed historic district’s boundaries, which currently stretch from Sixth Avenue to Division Avenue, and L Street to Sprague Avenue. The neighborhood is within walking distance to Wright Park, the North Slope Historic District, and many of the city’s oldest churches. It also sits in the shadow of MultiCare Health System’s expansive campus.

Though the neighborhood is zoned for residential use (R2SRD — Residential Special Review District), a group of Wedge residents submitted a nomination application to City Hall in June for historic district consideration. The nomination is aimed at further preserving the neighborhood’s character and history and preventing any unforeseen instances similar to the demolition of First United Methodist Church. Three years ago, the congregation sold its 1916 church building to MultiCare for $8 million; it was later demolished to make room for a hospital expansion. The building was located one block from the Wedge neighborhood’s eastern border.

On a related note, Historic Tacoma recently put the neighborhood on its “Watch List” of endangered properties.

In September, the landmarks commission began to review the nomination. The process will continue through this spring. More public meetings, public hearings, a landmarks commission decision, and — if it gets that far — a decision by Tacoma City Council still lay ahead.

According to the nomination application:

— The Wedge includes 67 residential homes built between 1889 and 1928;

— The most unique residential home is the Titlow Mansion, which was built in 1899 and home to Aaron Titlow, who built Washington State’s first tidewater hotel;

— Homes boast a range of architectural styles, such as Victorian, Craftsman, Foursquare, Dutch Colonial, and Cape Cod.

— In addition to Titlow, the neighborhood was also home to candy company entrepreneurs Frank and Ethel Mars, and Titanic survivor Anne Kincaid.

As the Index reported yesterday, a MultiCare executive sent a letter (available here — http://www.wahmee.com/docs/multicare_letter_020209.pdf ) last week to the commission outlining the company’s concerns over the historic district nomination.

Those concerns include:

— The Wedge historic district should follow current zoning boundaries;

— The 500 block of South L Street should be left out of the proposed historic district because “it is apparent that the owners of the majority of the properties therein are absentee/investor owners and do not wish their properties to be a part of the historic district.”

— The historic district should not include any areas that are currently zoned as Hospital Medical and should also be re-drawn so as not to include any MultiCare-owned properties;

MultiCare’s position is interesting on a couple fronts.

First, according to the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s Web site, the 500 block of South L Street includes nine homes owned by five different individual owners. The homes date back between 1890 and 1906.

Second, excluding MultiCare-owned properties is significant only because the hospital owns four classic homes within the proposed district boundary. The homes date back between 1908 and 1925 — three are vacant, and a fourth is leased to a single-family. In late-September, MultiCare officials and Wedge residents met to discuss the hospital’s upcoming expansion plans. The future of those four homes was a concern to many residents in attendance. They wanted to know if the hospital planned to renovate or raze the vacant homes. A hospital spokesperson said he wasn’t sure what would happen to the homes.

It’s difficult to get a residential historic district approved when it is opposed by even a handful of property owners. Are Wedge historic district supporters willing to re-draw their boundary and cede 13 heritage homes to help get the historic district protection they seek? That is expected to be answered in the next couple months.

In the interim, tonight the landmarks commission will continue its discussion and review of the historic district application. The meeting begins at 5:00 p.m. and will be held at 728 St. Helens, Tacoma Municipal Building North, Room 16. For more information, visit http://tacomaculture.org/historic/home.asp .

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New timeline for Wedge historic district review

By Todd Matthews

Feb 18 2009

Wedge residents hoping to learn this spring if their neighborhood will be Tacoma’s second residential historic district will have to wait until July.

During the City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting Feb. 11, the commission decided to spend another three months studying the nomination and conducting a survey of Wedge residents to gauge support or opposition for the plan.

Originally, the commission was scheduled to make a decision April 8. If the commission decided to recommend the nomination, that recommendation would have been forwarded to the city’s Planning Commission and, later, City Council. In the end, City Council would make a final decision on the historic district nomination.

That process still exists, but with a new timeline: the landmarks commission won’t make a decision until July 22.

According to Tacoma historic preservation officer Reuben McKnight, the decision to push back the timeline centers on a desire to “better accommodate public comment and allow staff to respond to recent inquiries and requests.

“This is a complicated process,” added McKnight. “But I think this is a much more realistic schedule.”

According to the new timeline, the city will release a public opinion survey to Wedge area property owners May 27, and host a public hearing June 24. Final findings and recommendations from the commission are expected in July.

The “Wedge” neighborhood and the proposed historic district boundaries currently stretch from Sixth Avenue to Division Avenue, and L Street to Sprague Avenue. The neighborhood is within walking distance to Wright Park, the North Slope Historic District, and many of the city’s oldest churches. It also sits in the shadow of MultiCare Health System’s expansive campus.

Though the neighborhood is zoned for residential use (R2SRD — Residential Special Review District), a group of Wedge residents submitted a nomination to City Hall last summer for historic district consideration. The nomination is aimed at further preserving the neighborhood’s character and history and preventing any unforeseen instances similar to the demolition of First United Methodist Church. Three years ago, the congregation sold its 1916 church building to MultiCare for $8 million; it was later demolished to make room for a hospital expansion. The building was located one block from the Wedge neighborhood’s eastern border.

— DISTRICT BOUNDARY A KEY ISSUE —

On Feb. 25, the commission will take up an issue that has recently received the most attention: the historic district’s boundaries.

Earlier this month, MultiCare asked that four heritage homes it owns in Tacoma’s “Wedge” neighborhood be excluded from the proposed district boundary.

The Feb. 2 letter (available here — http://www.wahmee.com/docs/multicare_letter_020209.pdf ), written by MultiCare Senior Vice President of Community Services Lois Bernstein to the city’s landmarks preservation commission, expresses the hospital’s “concerns about the Wedge Historic District application, its boundaries, and its potential impact on our long-term ability to continue to respond to the growing health care needs of the region.”

“It is our position that the Wedge Historic District should follow current zoning boundaries and exclude any MultiCare-owned properties,” writes Bernstein. “As such, we believe the Wedge Historic District should not include any areas that are currently zoned as Hospital Medical and should also be redrawn so as not to include any MultiCare-owned properties.”

The letter also states the 500 block of L Street should be left out of the Wedge Historic District since “it is apparent that the owners of the majority of the properties therein are absentee/investor owners and do not wish their properties to be a part of the Historic District.”

Of the four homes owned by MultiCare, three are vacant, and another is leased to a single family. The vacant homes, which sit in the shadow of MultiCare’s sprawling hospital campus, are located at 1216 So. 4th St. (built in 1925); 1218 So. 4th St. (built in 1923); and 417 So. M St. (built in 1905); MultiCare is leasing the fourth home, located at 407 So. M St. (built in 1908), to a single family.

According to the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s Web site, the 500 block of South L Street includes nine homes owned by five different individual owners. The homes date back between 1890 and 1906.

The letter also includes a map with revised boundaries that would exclude the four homes.

Under the new timeline, the landmarks commission is expected to select a preferred alternative March 25 and make a final recommendation May 13 regarding district boundaries.

— MEETING BETWEEN MULTICARE, WEDGE RESIDENTS —

On Sept. 29, MultiCare officials and Wedge residents met to discuss an ongoing effort to designate the Wedge as a historic district. During the meeting, hospital officials shared the company’s master plan and indicated the hospital’s $400 million expansion plans do not extend beyond property the hospital currently owns.

But residents wanted to know the fates of the hospital’s heritage homes. Some wanted to see the three vacant homes renovated and put on the market, or perhaps made available to visiting doctors who work at one of MultiCare’s medical facilities.

The biggest concern centered on the two-story home located at 417 So. M St. According to Rick Booth, MultiCare’s vice president of operations, an engineer assessed the home and determined it was in bad shape. “The foundation is bad, the structure is bad,” Booth said at the meeting. “The inside of the house needs to be completely re-done.”

The future of those four homes was a concern to many residents in attendance. They wanted to know if the hospital planned to renovate or raze the vacant homes. According to Booth, the homes were purchased at a time when MultiCare was “trying to expand our footprint. That’s what we were trying to do.” He added that plans for the homes are not final. “Now it’s a matter of should we hold on [to the homes] or sell,” he said.

— A NEIGHBORHOOD SLICE OF HISTORY —

The Wedge neighborhood is a part of Tacoma that boasts more than five dozen homes dating back 80 years and more. It’s also where Tacoma pioneer Aaron Titlow, candy company entrepreneurs Frank and Ethel Mars, and Titanic survivor Anne Kincaid resided. And its ringed by Wright Park, the North Slope Historic District, and many of the city’s oldest churches.

On June 27, the Tacoma Wedge Association Historic Subcommittee submitted an application to the city’s historic preservation officer seeking historic district designation for the area. According to the application:

— The Wedge neighborhood includes 67 residential homes built between 1889 and 1928;

— The most unique residential home is the Titlow Mansion, which was built in 1899 and was home to Aaron Titlow, who built Washington State’s first tidewater hotel;

— Homes boast a range of architectural styles, such as Victorian, Craftsman, Foursquare, Dutch Colonial, and Cape Cod.

According to a cover letter prepared by the subcommittee and included with the application, the group is requesting district status for residential properties, and have asked that commercial and non-residential buildings be excluded should the area receive the designation.

“We believe that the Wedge area has historic relevance and should be considered to have merit in the establishment of a Tacoma Wedge Historical District,” the letter states.

The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission began reviewing the nomination Sept. 10. Since then, the commission has held a series of public meetings to discuss several elements of the application, such as district boundaries, buildings inventory, and the neighborhood’s historic significance. The process is expected to continue into this spring. The city’s planning commission will also review the request.

The nomination is partly aimed at preserving the neighborhood’s character and history in light of a recent demolition of a 90-year-old church, and concern over future demolition and development.

In May 2006, the congregation of First United Methodist Church sold its 1916 church building to MultiCare for $8 million. It was later demolished to make room for the hospital’s expansion. The building was located one block from the Wedge neighborhood’s eastern border, at 423 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Five historic districts exist in Tacoma. Three are listed on the local Tacoma Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, and North Slope); four are listed on the National Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, North Slope, and Stadium / Seminary); and four are listed on the Washington Heritage Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, North Slope, and Salmon Beach).

In 1999, an effort to create a historic district in the city’s Old Town neighborhood failed after some homeowners feared the designation would limit their abilities to modify or develop their properties.

In 2007, a small group of homeowners in the city’s Whitman area began an effort to create a historic district in their neighborhood (see Tacoma Daily Index, “Status Seekers,” 07/03/07).

Last year, Historic Tacoma, a non-profit organization that aims to preserve Tacoma’s architectural legacy through education and advocacy, included the Wedge neighborhood in its list of nine architecturally, culturally and historically significant sites on a “Watch List” of endangered historic properties.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

A Hike Through History

By Todd Matthews

Mar 05 2009

Members of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission joined Wedge residents and property owners yesterday on a walking tour of a proposed historic district for the neighborhood.

Last year, the Tacoma Wedge Association Historic Subcommittee submitted an application to the city’s historic preservation office seeking historic district designation for the area. According to the application, the Wedge neighborhood includes 67 residential homes built between 1889 and 1928, and homes boast a range of architectural styles, such as Victorian, Craftsman, Foursquare, Dutch Colonial, and Cape Cod. The neighborhood — which stretches from Sixth Avenue to Division Avenue, and L Street to Sprague Avenue — boasts more than five dozen homes dating back 80 years and more. It’s also where Tacoma pioneer Aaron Titlow, candy company entrepreneurs Frank and Ethel Mars, and Titanic survivor Anne Kincaid resided. And its ringed by Wright Park, the North Slope Historic District, and many of the city’s oldest churches.

Yesterday’s walking tour was part of a process that began in September to determine whether the landmarks commission should recommend approval of the nomination. The area is bordered by MultiCare Health System’s expansive campus. Hospital officials have said they do not want their properties — including four heritage homes — included in the district. The commission is expected to make a final decision in July.

During the walking tour, Commissioner Caroline T. Swope pointed out some notable homes in the area, including the Titlow mansion, the former residence of Titanic survivor Kincaid, and a cottage designed by the late architect Silas Nelson.

For additional photos from yesterday’s walking tour, visit the Index’s blog at http://i.feedtacoma.com/TDI-Reporters-Notebook/

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Decision expected this week on preliminary Wedge Historic District boundary

By Todd Matthews

Mar 24 2009

The City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation (LPC) Commission is expected this week to move closer to a decision regarding a proposed historic district in the city’s Wedge neighborhood.

During its meeting March 25, the LPC will select a preferred alternative for the historic district boundaries, and release the information for public comment at upcoming meetings.

“I’m asking the commission to settle on the district boundaries we go public with,” said Tacoma Historic Preservation Officer Reuben McKnight during an interview Tuesday. “Put a proposed district out there for public hearing testimony. Based on that, issue the observations and findings, and then make recommendations. The preferred alternative is the public document — settle on a preliminary set of what we are defining and what the public can respond to.”

If approved, the proposed district would stretch north to south from Division Avenue to Sixth Avenue, and zig-zag in several places along the eastern border: the alley between South L Street and South M Street; the alley between South M Street and South Sheridan Avenue; and a portion of South M Street near Sixth Avenue (see map).

Based on subsequent public comment, the LPC is expected to make a final decision on district boundaries May 13.

— TWO KEY RECOMMENDATIONS —

In a memo outlining boundary recommendations and prepared by McKnight for Wednesday’s meeting, two important issues surrounding what to exclude and include are highlighted.

First, the designation would exclude a row of homes along the 500 block of South L Street. According to the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s Web site, the block includes nine homes owned by five different individual owners. The homes date back between 1890 and 1906. Earlier this year, Paul Post, who owns four homes on the block, told the LPC that he and other owners opposed the historic district nomination if it included the block.

Similarly, MultiCare Health System, which operates a large medical campus that borders the block, wrote a letter (available here — http://www.wahmee.com/docs/multicare_letter_020209.pdf ) to the commission arguing the 500 block of South L Street should be left out of the Wedge Historic District since “it is apparent that the owners of the majority of the properties therein are absentee/investor owners and do not wish their properties to be a part of the Historic District.”

In the memo, McKnight recommends excluding the houses because of the opposition and its disconnect from the rest of the neighborhood. “The commission can reasonably expect that a majority of owners will oppose the nomination,” writes McKnight. “[T]his block is isolated from the core district, making it difficult to rationally connect with the core district.”

Second, the recommended alternative would include a block bordered by South 4th and South M Streets. Four homes on that block are owned by MultiCare: three are vacant, and another is leased to a single family. The homes are located at 1216 So. 4th St. (built in 1925); 1218 So. 4th St. (built in 1923); 417 So. M St. (built in 1905); and 407 So. M St. (built in 1908). The block also includes three other homes not owned by MultiCare. One resident, Diane Walkup, owns two homes on the block and has strongly supported the historic district designation.

Last month, MultiCare asked that the four heritage homes be excluded from the proposed district boundary. In a Feb. 2 letter from MultiCare to the LPC, MultiCare Senior Vice President of Community Services Lois Bernstein expressed the hospital’s “concerns about the Wedge Historic District application, its boundaries, and its potential impact on our long-term ability to continue to respond to the growing health care needs of the region.

“It is our position that the Wedge Historic District should follow current zoning boundaries and exclude any MultiCare-owned properties,” added Bernstein. “As such, we believe the Wedge Historic District should not include any areas that are currently zoned as Hospital Medical and should also be redrawn so as not to include any MultiCare-owned properties.”

But in his memo, McKnight recommends including the homes. “MultiCare’s stated position is that it does not want properties within its ownership included in the district. However, the subject properties are also predominantly historically intact.”

— A NEIGHBORHOOD SLICE OF HISTORY —

The Wedge neighborhood is a part of Tacoma that boasts more than 50 homes dating back 80 years or more. It’s also where Tacoma pioneer Aaron Titlow, candy company entrepreneurs Frank and Ethel Mars, and Titanic survivor Anne Kincaid resided. And its ringed by Wright Park, the North Slope Historic District, and many of the city’s oldest churches.

On June 27, the Tacoma Wedge Association Historic Subcommittee submitted an application to McKnight seeking historic district designation for the area. Though the neighborhood is zoned for residential use (R2SRD — Residential Special Review District), the nomination aims to further preserve the neighborhood’s character and history, and prevent any unforeseen instances similar to the demolition of nearby First United Methodist Church. Three years ago, the congregation sold its 1916 church building to MultiCare for $8 million; it was later demolished to make room for a hospital expansion. The building was located one block from the Wedge neighborhood’s eastern border.

According to a cover letter prepared by the subcommittee and included with the application, the group is requesting district status for residential properties, and has asked that commercial and non-residential buildings be excluded should the area receive the designation.

“We believe that the Wedge area has historic relevance and should be considered to have merit in the establishment of a Tacoma Wedge Historical District,” the letter states.

Five historic districts exist in Tacoma. Three are listed on the local Tacoma Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, and North Slope); four are listed on the National Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, North Slope, and Stadium / Seminary); and four are listed on the Washington Heritage Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, North Slope, and Salmon Beach).

In 1999, an effort to create a historic district in the city’s Old Town neighborhood failed after some homeowners feared the designation would limit their abilities to modify or develop their properties.

In 2007, a small group of homeowners in the city’s Whitman area began an effort to create a historic district in their neighborhood (see Tacoma Daily Index, “Status Seekers,” 07/03/07 — http://www.wahmee.com/tdi_status_seekers.pdf ).

Last year, Historic Tacoma, a non-profit organization that aims to preserve Tacoma’s architectural legacy through education and advocacy, included the Wedge neighborhood in its list of nine architecturally, culturally and historically significant sites on a “Watch List” of endangered historic properties.

— A LONG REVIEW PROCESS —

The LPC began to review the nomination Sept. 10. Since then, the commission has held a series of public meetings to discuss several elements of the application, such as district boundaries, buildings inventory, and the neighborhood’s historic significance.

The process is expected to continue through July. The city’s planning commission will also review the request. On March 4, commissioners met Wedge residents, property owners, and MultiCare officials for a walking tour of the neighborhood. The LPC will conduct a public opinion survey of Wedge property owners May 27 to gauge support or opposition of the plan. It will also host a public hearing June 24 before making a final decision July 22.

The LPC will discuss the Wedge Historic District boundary during its meeting Weds., March 25 at 5:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at 728 St. Helens, Tacoma Municipal Building North, Room 16. For more information, visit http://www.tacomaculture.org/historic/home.asp .

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission sets ‘working boundary’ for Wedge Historic District

By Todd Matthews
Mar 27 2009

The City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation (LPC) Commission has unanimously approved the preliminary boundary for a proposed historic district in the city’s Wedge neighborhood.

The decision, which was made during the LPC’s March 25 meeting, means the proposed district would stretch north to south from Division Avenue to Sixth Avenue, and zig-zag in several places along the eastern border: the alley between South L Street and South M Street; the alley between South M Street and South Sheridan Avenue; and a portion of South M Street near Sixth Avenue.

The LPC is expected to make a final decision on the district’s boundary May 13. Until then, the commission will hold a series of public meetings for Wedge residents and interested parties to comment on the “working boundary.” The commission will also conduct a public opinion survey of property owners. Both efforts could modify the boundary approved this week.

— 500 BLOCK OF SOUTH L STREET EXCLUDED —

The March 25 decision impacts two key aspects of the proposed historic district.

First, the boundary excludes a row of homes on the 500 block of South L Street. The block includes nine homes dating back between 1890 and 1906, and owned by five different individual owners. Earlier this year, Paul Post, who owns four homes on the block, told the LPC that he and other owners would oppose the historic district nomination if it included the block. Similarly, MultiCare Health System, which operates a large medical campus that borders the block, wrote a letter to the commission arguing the 500 block of South L Street should be left out of the Wedge Historic District.

On Wednesday, Post presented a letter that further expressed property owners’ opposition. “We, the undersigned property owners of the 500 block of South L Street, west side, are adamently [sic] opposed to the inclusion of our properties in the boundry [sic] of the proposed Wedge Historic District,” states the letter. “Our reasons may vary, but we are united in our opposition.”

Staff also recommended excluding the block from the historic district boundary. In a March 25 memo detailing boundary recommendations to the commission, Tacoma Historic Preservation Officer Reuben McKnight recommended excluding the block because of the opposition and its location away from the rest of the neighborhood.

“The commission can reasonably expect that a majority of owners will oppose the nomination,” wrote McKnight. “[T]his block is isolated from the core district, making it difficult to rationally connect with the core district.”

Char Cooper, a Wedge resident and leading proponent of the historic district, agreed with the decision. “With the opposition from property owners on that block, we would have been fighting an uphill battle we couldn’t win,” she said.

— MULTICARE-OWNED HOMES INCLUDED —

Another key issue decided this week: whether to include a block bordered by South 4th and South M Streets, where MultiCare owns four homes. Three of the MultiCare-owned homes are vacant, and another is leased to a single family. The homes are located at 1216 So. 4th St. (built in 1925); 1218 So. 4th St. (built in 1923); 417 So. M St. (built in 1905); and 407 So. M St. (built in 1908). The block also includes three other homes not owned by MultiCare. The block is currently zoned for residential use.

Last month, MultiCare asked that the four heritage homes be excluded from the proposed district boundary. But in his memo, McKnight recommended including the homes. “MultiCare’s stated position is that it does not want properties within its ownership included in the district,” wrote McKnight. “However, the subject properties are also predominantly historically intact.”

This week, Brett Santhuff, Vice President of Historic Tacoma’s Board of Directors, submitted a letter on behalf of the organization “applauding” the historic district.

“Overall, we are in agreement with the staff memorandum regarding district boundaries provided in the Commission packet for the March 25 meeting,” writes Santhuff. “We . . . recommend including the 400 block of South M Street to the alley which is intact, cohesive with the proposed district, and is primarily zoned [residential].”

Santhuff and Historic Tacoma also agreed with the staff recommendation to exclude the 500 block of South L Street. Santhuff added, “The 500 block does however include many early homes. If at some future date some of these lots are vacated, we support relocating these homes to receiving sites in other neighborhoods, rather than demolition.”

MultiCare spokesperson Todd Kelley said the company would continue to follow the LPC’s nomination process. According to Kelley, the company supports the residents’ wishes to create a historic district, but it wants some flexibility and control over the properties it owns. “Now that the houses have been included, we have to wait and see,” he said.

“The homes have no historical significance,” said John D. Barline, an attorney representing MultiCare, referring to the four MultiCare homes included in the working boundary. “They’re not like the Titlow Mansion or the Mars residence. These are just old homes. They qualify because of their age.” When asked whether MultiCare would fight to exclude the homes, Barline said, “We don’t know the answer.”

— A NEIGHBORHOOD RICH IN HISTORY —

The Wedge neighborhood is a part of Tacoma that boasts more than 50 homes dating back 80 years or more. It’s also where Tacoma pioneer Aaron Titlow, candy company entrepreneurs Frank and Ethel Mars, and Titanic survivor Anne Kincaid resided. And its ringed by Wright Park, the North Slope Historic District, and many of the city’s oldest churches.

On June 27, the Tacoma Wedge Association Historic Subcommittee submitted an application to McKnight seeking historic district designation for the area. Though the neighborhood is zoned for residential use (R2SRD — Residential Special Review District), the nomination aims to further preserve the neighborhood’s character and history, and prevent any unforeseen instances similar to the demolition of nearby First United Methodist Church. Three years ago, the congregation sold its 1916 church building to MultiCare for $8 million; it was later demolished to make room for a hospital expansion. The building was located one block from the Wedge neighborhood’s eastern border.

According to a cover letter prepared by the subcommittee and included with the application, the group is requesting district status for residential properties, and has asked that commercial and non-residential buildings be excluded should the area receive the designation.

“We believe that the Wedge area has historic relevance and should be considered to have merit in the establishment of a Tacoma Wedge Historical District,” the letter states.
Five historic districts exist in Tacoma. Three are listed on the local Tacoma Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, and North Slope); four are listed on the National Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, North Slope, and Stadium / Seminary); and four are listed on the Washington Heritage Register (Old City Hall, Union Depot / Warehouse, North Slope, and Salmon Beach).

In 1999, an effort to create a historic district in the city’s Old Town neighborhood failed after some homeowners feared the designation would limit their abilities to modify or develop their properties.

In 2007, a small group of homeowners in the city’s Whitman area began an effort to create a historic district in their neighborhood (see Tacoma Daily Index, “Status Seekers,” 07/03/07).

Last year, Historic Tacoma included the Wedge neighborhood in its list of nine architecturally, culturally and historically significant sites on a “Watch List” of endangered historic properties.

— A LONG REVIEW PROCESS —

The LPC began to review the nomination Sept. 10. Since then, the commission has held a series of public meetings to discuss several elements of the application, such as district boundaries, buildings inventory, and the neighborhood’s historic significance.

The process is expected to continue through July. The city’s planning commission will also review the request. On March 4, commissioners met Wedge residents, property owners, and MultiCare officials for a walking tour of the neighborhood. The LPC will conduct a public opinion survey of Wedge property owners May 27 to gauge support or opposition of the plan. It will also host a public hearing June 24 before making a final decision July 22. The nomination will also be reviewed by the city’s planning commission.

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