Building that houses iconic Tacoma clothing store, barbershop to be razed for apartments

The building that houses two iconic businesses in Tacoma’s Hilltop is scheduled for demolition to make way for new apartments.

The current location of both the clothing store Mr. Mac Ltd. as well as Sam and Terry’s barbershop will be torn down.

Sam and Terry’s nearly packed up shop in 2018 but was purchased by the Tacoma Ministerial Alliance to rescue it from closure. The city’s first Black-owned barbershop was founded in 1958 by Sam Daniels and Larry Terry. Daniels died in 2013.

Sharing the same building on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Earnest Brazill Street, Mr. Mac Ltd. was run by Morris “Mr. Mac” McCollum for more than 50 years. McCollum died in 2017.

An event is set this weekend to celebrate his life and sell off much of the store’s merchandise, with proceeds going to the Tacoma Ministerial Alliance which also now owns the clothing store.

The event is scheduled Saturday, Oct. 10, from 5-9 pm with a sale, food, entertainment and a fashion show. Masks will be required to participate and will be provided to those who do not have them.

Roberta Schur is the project manager at the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) overseeing the redevelopment of Hilltop properties. Schur said plans are being finalized but that a tear down followed by a rebuild is scheduled.

“We don’t have an exact timeframe,” Schur said in an interview with The News Tribune.

Schur said it likely would occur in February or March 2021. A new building planned for the location will have 57 units of housing, with an emphasis on providing housing support for single adults experiencing homelessness. The remainder of the units will be studio apartments meant for families.

Mr. Mac’s business is set to be temporarily relocated and then moved back into the new building, which will cost about $15 million dollars to construct.

“We are rebuilding space back for Mr. Macs,” Schur said. "This is not a permanent relocation. We will be temporarily relocating them from the site and then bringing them back.

“The construction will probably last between 12 and 14 months. They’ll return to the site probably around the middle part of 2022.”

Schur said the project is paying for the relocation of Mr. Mac Ltd. but that a temporary location has yet to be selected.

As for trends regarding an exodus of longtime residents and concerns over gentrification, especially in the Hilltop, Schur expressed a commitment to supporting the community.

“We are very concerned about the gentrification and the displacement,” Schur said. “A lot of the work we are trying is to counteract the gentrification and the displacement.”

At the soon to be demolished location, that work entails setting aside apartments for those at 30%, 40% and 60% of the area average median income. Additionally, the units will have “project-based vouchers” so that people will only pay 30% of their income toward rent.

Schur also pointed to the THA Community Engagement Process report and reaffirmed in an email the desire to support existing businesses.

“THA has partnered with Horizon Housing Alliance (HHA) for the redevelopment of this particular parcel. THA and HHA are working with Mr. Mac and Sam & Terry’s through the owner, Tacoma Ministerial Alliance (TMA),” Schur said. “THA and HHA are committed to working with legacy businesses, and other Black-owned businesses, and are excited to have Mr. Mac and Sam & Terry’s as tenants in the new building.”

The Tacoma Ministerial Alliance, which had taken ownership of the store, now hopes to relocate the store to a new location though there are no plans for when and where that will be. Pastor Gregory Christopher leads the TMA.

Christopher said the move represents a “challenge” but hopes to make the most of the change.

“The move from that location to another location in a new building, we don’t really know what the impact of that is going to be,” Christopher said. “What is good about it is that Tacoma Housing Authority has allowed us to stay there during the holiday season.”

Comments on this article