What to do with Albers Mill? Two proposals were submitted last week for redevelopment of the property on Thea Foss Waterway, one calling for an annex to the International Glass Museum and another that would give 40 percent of the building to the museum and make the other 60 percent residential.
The two proposals represented a rapid decline from the nine to a dozen that were expected—until developers got a look at the specificiations provided by Thea Foss Public Development Authority, which as much as said the Albers Mill property could be developed any way imagineable as long as it becomes an annex to the glass museum.
Many of the prospective developers withdrew from the bidding at that point.
George and Jane Russell and William Phillips submitted the proposal that calls for the Tacoma landmark to house the glass museum’s administrative offices, an education/learning center, video production studio, restaurant, artist-in-residence accommodations and a retail outlet connected with the museum.
The other option was submitted by Heritage Properties LLC, an Anchorage, Alaska, company. It was three paragraphs long.
The Russell-Phillips document, by contrast, is five pages in length. It is so detailed, says Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the Thea Foss Public Development Authority, that if it is selected as the blueprint for the future of the Mill, a more formal proposal may not be necessary.
The Thea Foss PDA, which has reviewed both proposals, may seek more details or interview those who submitted them. As long as the intended use is non-profit, Schwartz says, the PDA would sell or transfer the property. If there is a profit to be made, a long-term lease may be negotiated so the PDA shares in the profit.
Once the PDA negotiates a deal, it must be ratified by the Tacoma City Council, action that is expected by the end of September.
“Because of the size of the project, its complexity and cost, we would have been happy with even one response,” says Schwartz
He says the PDA intends to issue requests for qualifications (RFQs) for other Foss Waterway property this fall so that construction can begin next summer, the same as other projects scheduled for along the waterway. Those others include construction of Northwest Waters Aquarium, which is expected to go in along 15th street near Johnny’s Seafood, and renovation of the Dock Building, which recently underwent a market study. The PDA will make its plans for the nearby Totem Marine site public later this month.
Here are updates on other downtown projects:
International Glass Museum and Bridge of Glass. About 55 percent of capital for the museum is in hand, the schematic design is ready. Final design and construction documents will be finished this year, with ground breaking for the parking garage set for March 1999.
A model of the Bridge of Glass leading to the museum will be unveiled this week. Baugh Construction will begin work early next year, too.
Esplanade. Grants, city and federal funds, bond funds, public works trust funds and a state funded loan are lined up to build an esplanade along the west bank of Thea Foss Waterway. The City of Tacoma is reviewing design development submittals and will go out with final construction documents ready to bid this winter. Fisheries permits will be needed to work in the waterway, then a spring construction start is expected.
11th Street Bridge. A decision on what to do about the worn-out bridge is now in the hands of the state Department of Transportation. It has created computer drawings of how the spot would look with a new bridge and with none at all. An origin and destination study is underway, and public involvement will be sought soon.
Tacoma Art Museum. Museum Director Chase Rynd reports the new Museum, planned for a site north of the History Museum, is moving forward with fundraising, design and finalizing the site. City Council will vote Aug 25 on a memorandum of understanding to secure the site
R/UDAT implementation. Eleven subcommittees are working on ideas from the Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team. Aug. 12 they will report to the task force at large during a meeting at Regence Washington Health, conference room 101, 7:30 a.m.