Year In Review — Spanish Steps Renovation

Located near South Seventh Street and Broadway, Spanish Steps was built in 1916 and connects Commerce Street to Broadway. Shoddy patchwork, deferred maintenance, and vandalism have contributed to its decline over the past 60 years. Decorative urns have been toppled and smashed. Several years ago, a driver lost control of his vehicle and drove down the steps. And police officers have long complained the steps serve as an entry point for homeless people seeking shelter inside the adjacent and abandoned Elks Temple building.

That changed in June when a $399,920 contract was awarded to Pease Construction, Inc. of Lakewood to to repair, restore, or replace the urns, baluster, newels, post, railing and streetlights along the staircase, and install pedestrian furnishings, signage, and a new retaining wall to support the steps. The City received nine bids for the project ranging from $394,992 to $772,694. On Nov. 15, the City announced on its Twitter feed that Spanish Steps in the Old City Hall historic district had re-opened after being closed for repairs. Also in November, Tacoma City Council approved a purchase resolution that directed an additional $120,000 to demolish and replace the upper stairs; provide additional repairs to newels, posts, and railings beyond the original scope of work; and install a drainage system to direct storm water away from the stairs and landing.

In May 2007, the City received a Transportations Enhancement grant totalling $944,000 from the Washington State Department of Transportation for design and repair work. Additional federal funding brought the total purse to $1.2 million.

In April of this year, Spanish Steps was one of 25 historic places in the Puget Sound region eligible for a share of $1 million in preservation grants through the “Partners in Preservation” program sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express.

“What a wonderful project that turned out to be,” said Tacoma City Councilmember David Boe last month. “I use the Spanish Steps, if not once a day, probably more, especially running between my office and the municipal building. [It’s] phenomenal.”

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

City Council to consider additional $120K for Spanish Steps (11/29/10) —

Spanish Steps 2.0 (11/17/10) —

Moving forward on Spanish Steps rehab (08/24/10) —

Contractor selected for Spanish Steps rehab (05/20/10) —

Opening doors to history (05/03/10) —

Open Houses this weekend for historic sites competing for preservation grants (04/28/10) —

Tacoma’s Spanish Steps to vie for $125K historic preservation grant (04/15/10) —

Tacoma moves closer to Spanish Steps rehab (04/01/10) —

The Notes of Spanish Steps (09/30/09) —

Momentum continues for Spanish Steps rehabilitation (07/27/07) —