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October 10, 2017

Tacoma Town Center: $125M mixed-use complex starts soon

Image by Caron Architecture [enlarge]
Two blocks near the UW Tacoma campus will get about 600 housing units as well as retail and office space, with a bike and pedestrian path in between along Fawcett Avenue.

North America Asset Management Group will break ground Thursday on a $125 million urban infill project that will turn two blocks near the University of Washington Tacoma campus into a mix of housing, retail and office space.

Tacoma Town Center will be built on the mostly empty blocks in the Brewery District. The site is bounded by Jefferson and Tacoma avenues South, and South 21st and 23rd streets.

It will take three to five years to complete and could have 600 residential units, up to 200,000 square feet of retail space and at least 50,000 square feet of offices.

Fawcett Avenue splits the two blocks, and will become a pedestrian and bicycle promenade with a retail plaza.

The project will be developed in phases. Phase 1A will have two residential buildings containing ground floor retail/restaurant space. Phase 1B will have a 180,000-square-foot retail building and a third residential building with ground floor retail/restaurant.

A city spokeswoman said the large retail building will be somewhat like University Village in Seattle, but the spaces will all be enclosed. Most of the parking will be under the retail in that building.

The second phase will add two more residential buildings with ground floor retail/restaurant space.

“Once the Town Center development is built out, it will transform the Brewery District and offer a centralized hub with improved accessibility for University of Washington Tacoma students and faculty, downtown Tacoma office workers and commuters,” said City Manager Elizabeth Pauli in a news release.

The project is being developed under the EB-5 foreign investor program. North American Asset Management's website says the project has 128 investors and will create nearly 1,600 jobs. The investors are from China.

Caron Architecture is architect and Absher Construction is the general contractor.

You could say the Brewery District is already hopping: 7 Seas Brewery and Taproom opened in 2016 across Jefferson in the historic Heidelberg Brewing Building; and Pacific Brewing and Malting Co. is projected to open at the intersection of 25th and Jefferson early next year.

Tacoma community and economic development director Ricardo Noguera said, “The city has always believed in the great potential for growth that exists in Tacoma's Brewery District, and we have worked tirelessly to promote development opportunities there. These efforts have resulted in its rapid transformation into one of Tacoma's most visited neighborhoods.”

The news release says the tech company Infoblox, based in Santa Clara, California, expects to triple its workforce at 21st and Pacific Avenue.

“There are other technology firms gravitating to the area as well,” Noguera said. “They are eager to grow jobs and take advantage of the fresh talent here in Tacoma, where the employee retention rate far exceeds both King County and the Bay Area.

“With the arrival of the Town Center, downtown Tacoma will rapidly move toward becoming an 18-hour community which, in real estate investment terms, means that services, amenities and job opportunities would be available on a scale comparable to that of vastly larger cities while striking that balance of not needing to run on a 24-hour basis,” he said. “Over the coming months, you can expect to see additional restaurants and shops open in the Brewery District.”

The Tacoma Town Center site consists of 34 parcels that were sold to North America Asset Management Group for $3.5 million. That sale is in the process of transfering title.

The city bought the 6.4-acre site about 20 years ago for a new campus for the police department, which moved near Tacoma Mall instead.

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