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Huge development to bring 14-story high-rise to downtown Tacoma

[Originally published by the Tacoma News Tribune]

A 14-story high-rise could be the centerpiece of a roughly $60 million development proposed along two blocks in Tacoma’s Brewery District.

To build it, the developer would need permission from the city to add another 40 feet on top of the 100-foot height limit there.

The city has granted only one other height variance in the downtown area: a 25-foot increase that would allow a developer to construct a 115-foot-tall building on St. Helens Avenue. That project remains in the planning stage.

The entire Brewery District development, called The Brewery Blocks, would contain a mix of parking, retail, restaurants and office space from South 21st and South 23rd streets, facing South C Street and Commerce. Some buildings would feature cross-laminated timber.

Cross-laminated timber is gaining traction in construction circles as a way to use smaller trees in large construction products. It’s cited as a sustainable way to build with a smaller carbon footprint.

Developer Horizon Partners Northwest could take several years to redevelop the parcels into a six-building complex. That’s the same company that developed the Horizon Pacific Center and the next door Hunt Mottet Lofts on Pacific Avenue.

“This is happening,” said Troy Spurlock, vice president of construction for Horizon Partners Northwest. “We are very, very deep and vested into this.”

When complete, the development would have more than 200 studio or two-bedroom apartments and more than 250 parking spots in an internal garage spanning several buildings. It also would have a new streetscape, courtesy of improvements paid by the fronting landowners, that includes stamped concrete, planters, salvaged wood benches and catenary lights.

Several permits already have been issued for the smaller buildings in the cluster. So far plans include:

  • 2101 S. C St.: 2,400-square-foot, two-story brick warehouse, restored and converted to retail or office use.

  • 2105 S. C St.: 15,000-square-foot, three-story brick warehouse restored and converted for retail or office use.

  • 2110 Commerce: 30,000-square-foot, three-story concrete warehouse to be restored and topped by four stories of cross-laminated timber construction. In all, the building would have 54 apartments and about 11,300 square feet of retail space facing Commerce and South C Street.

  • 2120 Commerce: New 43,300-square-foot, four-story concrete building, including a 126-car garage, 10,600 square feet for street-level retail or restaurants and a 2,500-square-foot rooftop bar.

  • 2200 Commerce: The tallest building in the cluster, a new 14-story, 212,700-square-foot mixed use building. A four-story concrete podium with parking for 136 cars and retail and restaurant spaces to be topped by nine floors containing 149 apartments. A 4,500-square-foot clubhouse would top the structure. Spurlock said this building alone could cost around $35 million.

  • 2250 Commerce: Two-story concrete podium topped with a four-story compressed laminated timber structure. It would have about 75,000 square feet of Class A office space.

Stairwell cuts between buildings from C Street to Commerce would allow pedestrians to walk through the long, two-block section instead of around it. The development also would have a connection to the Prairie Line Trail through a now-vacant lot the developers own east of 7 Seas Brewing, Spurlock said.

While the 14-story tower would use cross-laminated timber for each floor, reports that it would use the wood product for its entire superstructure are incorrect, Spurlock said.

“It will have a continuous steel structure all the way up, with wood floors,” he said Wednesday.

Apartment units would cater to military and professional residents, he said, including people who work in Seattle but prefer to live in Tacoma.

“Tacoma is becoming a destination,” Spurlock said. “Seattle is packed, overcrowded. There’s no parking and it’s extremely expensive.”

The block’s design would be in line with the city’s Union Station Conservation District, which seeks to protect the historic look and feel of the area, said architectural historian Michael Sullivan, a consultant on the project.

“The high-rise will be the one that raises the most questions and be the most complicated” among city planners, Sullivan said, because cross-laminated timber is such a new product.

The complex would take years to build, and Sullivan said the builder could incorporate more cross-laminated timber to buildings as regulators gain more familiarity with the product.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542, @KateReports

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