By: dgardner

Plans for new Foss development start taking shape

Tacoma News Tribune
March 28, 2013
By John Gillie

A decade after they built the first major residential structure on Tacoma’s redeveloping Thea Foss Waterway, a Tacoma-area group is proposing a $31 million project to restart the waterway’s transformation.

The Henry Group told the Thea Foss Waterway Development Authority Wednesday evening it wants to build a mixed-use, residential and commercial structure on a vacant parcel just north of the cable-suspended bridge over the waterway.

The Dock Street building would include 161 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, 286 parking stalls and 13,000 square feet of retail space, including a rooftop restaurant space overlooking the waterway.

The group’s partners, members of the Carino family and executives from AP Rushforth Construction Co., are the same as the Team Tacoma Group that developed Thea’s Landing. That building was the first major structure built on the former industrial waterway’s west side.

The development authority, which has seen the waterway’s rebirth as a gentrified annex to downtown Tacoma go cold since the Great Recession, welcomed the proposal and took quick action to move the project forward.

The board voted unanimously to authorize the authority’s interim executive director, Su Dowie, to negotiate the parcel’s sale and creation of a development plan with the group. The board further gave Dowie authority to file for shoreline development permits for the new building.

Dowie told Henry Group representatives brothers Tony and Scott Carino and AP Rushforth President Kim Nakamura that she would submit the shoreline permit applications today.

Tony Carino told the board the group was motivated to submit the proposal because the group’s members believe the timing is right for new residential development on the waterway and in Tacoma.

Scott Carino, who oversees management at Thea’s Landing, said that building’s apartments are leased up and its commercial space is nearly full. The nearby Esplanade condominium, after suffering financial setbacks during the recession, has seen sales boom in recent months.

“Interest rates are low. Cap requirements are low, and demand is rising for rentals,” he said.

Tony Carino said the group would begin construction today if all the permits were in place. Assuming a normal pace for permit approval, the group expects construction could begin in late summer or early fall, with completion 12 to 14 months later.

The U-shaped building incorporates lessons the development group learned from building and leasing Thea’s Landing.

“It’s all about listening to your customers,” said Scott Carino.

The structure would be angled on the lot toward Mount Rainier with the two legs of the U offset to afford better views down the waterway.

The top deck on the southernmost leg of the structure would include a dog park where owners can walk their canines without going out in public.

Tacoma architect Doug Oberst, a principal at the Tacoma firm of BCRA, said the building would incorporate special soundproofing measures to mitigate the noise from the 509 freeway and the nearby railroad tracks. Fountains likely will be included in the courtyard area to help mask the noise.

On the building’s south side, the existing 21st Street Park would be augmented with landscaped berms and perhaps a children’s play area.

The building site was once optioned by Tacoma development company Prium. Prium planned a residential, office and retail structure on the site. Prium reportedly spent about $1 million preparing the site for construction before it backed out of the deal when the recession hit.

The development group drew its name and that of the building, the Henry, from Henry Foss, the son of Thea and Andrew Foss. Thea Foss’s rowboat rental company on the waterway grew into the Foss Maritime tug and towing company.

View original artilce via the Tacoma News Tribune



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