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April 29, 2021

YWCA opens Tacoma apartment for violence victims

Photos by William P. Wright, William Wright Photography [enlarge]
The building is named for Dorothy Irene Height, an American civil rights and women’s rights activist.

The rooftop deck has views of Commencement Bay.

Residents in February began moving into the 55-unit Dorothy Height Apartments in Tacoma, which provides permanent housing for survivors of domestic violence.

The YWCA Pierce County developed and owns the seven-story building at 402 Broadway.

The project cost $23.2 million to develop, according to press materials from SMR Architects.

SMR said it designed the building to fit in with the more upscale apartments downtown. It has 10 studios, 17 one-bedroom, 19 two-bedroom and nine three-bedroom apartments. One unit is for a resident manager.

SMR said the apartments are spacious and full of light with views of Commencement Bay and Mount Rainier. Seventy-five percent of them are reserved for individuals and families exiting homelessness, with the remainder allocated to low-income families or those with disabilities and other barriers to permanent housing. Thirty of the units are tied to Section 8 housing vouchers.

The YWCA hosted an “adopt a room” drive to support the tenants who are exiting homelessness. Donors contributed bathroom, kitchen and bedroom supplies.

The building has a rooftop deck and gathering spaces, including a community room and kitchen that opens onto a courtyard with a play structure and picnic tables. There's a separate entrance for 3,000 square feet of commercial space for the expansion of YWCA programs, including a therapy room, conference room and offices. There's also 46 parking spaces.

SMR said art elements in the building conjure the natural world. The artwork includes a mural of the Salish Sea by local artist Claudia Riedener.

The building was constructed on a former parking lot. SMR said low levels of contaminated soils on the site were cleaned up and disposed of properly.

It said the building design and construction adhered to the Evergreen Sustainable Development Standards. The project has energy-efficient insulation and windows, air leakage control, heat recovery ventilation and solar panels. The interior finishes and HVAC systems create and support healthy indoor air quality and the building envelope minimizes the loss of air. The plumbing layout delivers hot water quickly to all units, minimizing water wasted at the tap.

Native plants were incorporated in the landscape, and efficient irrigation controls used.

The project leveraged public funds from state and local partners, and was partially funded by the Washington State Housing Trust Fund.

SMR said the project team was able to stay on pace despite construction during a pandemic, as the building was considered essential.

The building is named for the late Dorothy Irene Height, an American civil rights and women's rights activist who focused on the issues of African American women. She was president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years and had a long association with the YWCA. She was instrumental in the YWCA adopting its Interracial Charter in 1946, pledging it would fight against injustice based on race.

Coast Property Management manages the residential part of the building.

The project team includes Beacon Development Group, development consultant; Korsmo Construction, contractor; Sitewise Design, civil engineer; AHBL, landscape architect; Swenson Say Faget, structural engineer; Sider + Byers Associates, mechanical engineer; TFWB Engineers, electrical engineer; 4EA Building Science, envelope consultant; United Building and Engineering Services, smoke control consultant; and Glumac, commissioning agent.

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