It’s not the gangbuster activity that the media dubbed the Tacoma Renaissance a few years ago, but the city skyline is dotted with a few cranes, and more are coming in the spring.
City officials announced in late February that the design-build team of GLY Construction Inc., Bellevue, Wash., and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, Seattle, will build a public garage on property adjacent to the historic Elks Temple building in downtown Tacoma. In addition to the public garage, which will be built below the Elks Lodge, the same design-build team will complete a private mixed-use development owned by Elks on Broadway LLC.
The refurbished building will consist of a grocery store, retail space and five floors of apartments. The project is located on the site just north of the historic Elks Temple building, which will be restored and renovated by McMenamins (an entertainment and hospitality company) into a combination brewpub, music venue, hotel and spa. McMenamins officials would not comment on their firm’s portion of the project. Construction on the garage is slated to begin in the fall with an opening scheduled for spring 2012.
Meanwhile, construction of new buildings on property owned by the city along Thea Foss Waterway will be decided when officials of its development district meet in April.
“We’re going to look at market conditions and decide if the time is right to make some property available,” says Ellen Howrie, executive director with the Foss Waterway Development Authority. Construction will start in the spring on a maritime museum on property the authority owns.
In planning for more than seven years, the LeMay Museum may break ground in early spring if financing can be obtained, says Scott Kellar, marketing director for the museum. In early February, the city of Tacoma donated the nine acres of property where the museum will be located.
In all, car enthusiasts and automotive companies donated over $50 million of the $100 million construction cost of the complete project.
First to break ground will be a $20 million museum that will house part of Harold LeMay’s car collection. In 1996 the collection was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest car collection in the world, with 3,000 cars, motorcycles and trucks. LeMay amassed his fortune and car collection when he owned a refuse disposal company in Tacoma.
Designed by Grant Architects, Los Angeles, the museum will house about 400 cars, an educational facility and an outdoor show courtyard. JTM, Seattle, the general contractor for the project, would not comment.
“It will be one of the largest automobile museums in the world and will celebrate America’s love affair with the car,” Kellar says.
Design of the 157,000-sq-ft building met the owner’s tight budget requirements because “we chose materials that were cost effective and easily duplicated,” says Alan Grant, principal with Grant Architects. “Material shapes are the same all over the metal roof, for example, and can be easily fabricated but will be placed in different positions to give variety.”
The museum will anchor the Dome District, a cultural area near Interstate 5 that also contains the Tacoma Dome, a venue for concerts and shows; the state Museum of History; and the Museum of Glass.
“The LeMay will be a postcard project that will add an iconic building to the Dome district,” Grant says. At first, the building was more institutional looking, but a comment at a public meeting changed that, he adds. “A man asked why it couldn’t look more like a car. At first we thought that idea was pedestrian, but it turned out to work.”
The Center for Urban Waters
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