Year In Review: Pacific Plaza

Visitors to Pacific Plaza in downtown Tacoma will require a good deal of convincing to believe that a decades-old crumbling parking garage once occupied this spot near the corner of South 13th Street and Pacific Avenue. It will require even more convincing to believe the parking garage was never torn down. What stands there today seems more like a magic trick than a $30 million building renovation.

During a tour of the new building in September, BLRB Architects Senior Associate Dave Pool explained the development team — the City of Tacoma, which owns and operates all parking, and Pacific Plaza LLC (BLRB Architects, Dan Putnam of PCS Structural Solutions, and Absher Construction), which owns and operates retail and office space — always saw the project in terms of how to preserve the old structure instead of how to demolish it.

Indeed, the building now boasts an additional level of parking (four levels total with stalls for 500 cars), two new floors of Class A office space above the parking levels (each floor offers 34,000 square feet), and approximately 35,000 square feet of retail space along Pacific Avenue. Dark metal surrounds the sleek glass that now mark a stairway and the lobby entrance. Cream-colored concrete provides a contrast along the retail and garage levels. The building is crowned with a 30,000 square foot green roof that is starting to grow brightly-colored wildflowers.

BLRB Architects and PCS Structural Solutions have already moved into the seventh floor. According to BLRB Managing Principal Thomas Bates, leases were recently signed for two tenants to occupy a large portion of the eighth floor: the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will occupy 13,000 square feet; and Grantmaker Consultants will occupy 3,000 square feet. Earlier this month, Tacoma City Council approved a resolution that frees up 14,000 square feet of street-level space along Pacific Avenue originally slated for retail to now be used as commercial office space for the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. On Sept. 22, Tom Absher, Dan Putnam, Councilmember Jake Fey, Mayor Bill Baarsma, and Councilmember Spiro Manthou cut a ribbon marking the project’s completion.

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For earlier Tacoma Daily Index coverage of Pacific Plaza, click on the following links:

1. City Council approves Pacific Plaza street-level office space —

2. Office or Retail? City, developer try to agree on Pacific Plaza street-level occupancy (12/11/09) —

3. City leaders cut ribbon for downtown Pacific Plaza project (09/22/09) —

4. PHOTOS / Pacific Plaza Tour (09/02/09) —

5. Inside Pacific Plaza: From blight to beauty, a $30 million downtown high-rise sets a new standard (09/02/09) — or

6. Outside Pacific Plaza: A garden grows high above downtown Tacoma (09/03/09) — or