• Massive Tacoma development, with apartments and retail, is actually happening

    By: DEBBIE COCKRELL, The News Tribune


    TACOMA - The wait is over. Thursday will be the official groundbreaking for Tacoma’s Town Center.

    The launch of the $125 million project comes not long after the groundbreaking of an $85 million convention center hotel project nearby.

    The Town Center site is bordered by South 21st and 23rd streets and Jefferson Avenue and Tacoma Avenue South.

    The city bought the 6.4-acre property in pieces from 1998 to 2002 and once considered it for the headquarters of the Police Department. When that and other public uses didn’t pan out, the city made the land available for private use in 2012.

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    Last fall, the City Council agreed to sell the property to North American Asset Management, a Bellevue-based firm led by Luo Xun Kun, a real estate developer from Wuhan, China.

    The convention center hotel — a 22-story Mariott north of the University of Washington Tacoma — and Town Center are EB-5 projects, the federal government’s Immigrant Investor Program.

    “Combined, these two projects represent more than $210 million in foreign direct investment recently committed to converting former City assets into privately held tax and job creation uses,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said Monday in a news release announcing the groundbreaking.

    Town Center will mean big changes for the Brewery District.

    Over the next three to five years, the developer “will build out 600 residential units, up to 200,000 square feet of retail space, and a minimum of 50,000 square feet of office space,”according to the city’s release.

    “The project will also feature a pedestrian and bicycle friendly promenade along Fawcett Avenue.”

    Project director Albert Sze, in an email to The News Tribune in May, said the anchor tenant at Town Center could be a small grocery or cinema.

    “It is our concept to have retail shops along the grand plaza area, and a large number of restaurants and bars,” Sze wrote at the time.

    Community and Economic Development Director Ricardo Noguera, in Monday’s release, said he saw the new center as a key part of the city’s development momentum.

    “With the arrival of the Town Center, downtown Tacoma will rapidly move toward becoming an 18-hour community,” Noguera said, “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.

    “Over the coming months, you can expect to see additional restaurants and shops open in the Brewery District.”

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