December 1993

Shelton business owners form the Old Town Assn. in an attempt to spur economic development in the city’s downtown core and help members adapt to increased competition from Wal-Mart and shopping centers on the edges of town.

Facing a projected loss of $560,000 for 1993, Port of Olympia commissioners approve a $4.8 million budget for 1994 but warn staff that the Port can’t keep operating with losses in several of its major business centers.

Capital Medical Center commences construction of a 65,000-square-foot office space in west Olympia and a 16,000 square-foot outpatient expansion. The project is due for completion in August 1994.

Olympia officials seem poised to give the green light to Centex Real Estate to develop a 59-acre urban village on the city’s west side—but say they will only authorize access to city sewer lines once they are sure the proposed Village West development will not endanger Allison Springs.

Groundbreaking takes place for the new Washington State Historical Museum on Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma, just south of the Union Station Federal Courthouse. The $38.5-million building is due for completion by 1995, but the installation of exhibits will probably not be complete until early 1996.

Pierce County and McChord Air Force Base announce plans to conduct an Environmental Impact Study to determine the feasibility of a major new roadway informally known as cross-base corridor, that would bisect McChord.

January 1994

Citing the difficulty in finding large parcels of land in residential neighborhoods, Puyallup’s Bethany Baptist Church purchases 3.37 acres of commercial property at 104th Street and Highway 512, a parcel adjacent to a Mitzel’s Restaurant, Best Western Park Plaza motel and Roger’s Furniture. The 74-year-old congregation plans to build a $1.14 million church on the site.

February 1994

Port of Tacoma reports that container volume was up 2 percent in 1993 – to 1,074,558 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units). Due to reduced shipments of bulk commodities such as grain, alumina and wood chips, however, tonnage actually fell from 13.2 million short tons in 1992 to 12.53 million in 1993.

Toray Composites begins manufacturing high-strength impregnated carbon filament tape at its new Frederickson plant. (The tape is used in the manufacture of components at the nearby Boeing Co. plant.) The $40 million complex launches with 64 employees but that number is expected to increase to 116 by year’s end. Toray is a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate, Toray Industries.

March 1994

REI chooses Sumner as the location for a 465,000-square-foot distribution center on 30 acres, near major distribution centers that already have been built by Beatrice Cheese and Golden State Foods (McDonalds).

Dale Chihuly is readying his Chihuly at Union Station exhibit, which will bring a major display of his internationally renowned artwork to the renovated federal courthouse. Construction crews, meanwhile, are upgrading 11 buildings on Pacific Avenue, across from the Union Station, which will become the first phase of a permanent University of Washington Tacoma campus due for occupancy in 1997. In addition, work continues on the neighboring Washington State History Museum project.

Weyerhaeuser Co. begins marketing commercial property at Hawks Prairie in Lacey as part of its Meridian Campus project. Over the next 25 years, seven development phases eventually will accommodate 2,500 homes and 336 acres of commercial and industrial use at the 1,153-acre site.

April 1994

Cardinal CG, a leading producer of coated and insulating window glass—and a highly sought-after clean manufacturer—announces plans to build a 120,000- square-foot plant at Port of Olympia’s Thurston Airdustrial Center. The $10 million facility will open by year’s end, employing 30 to 35 workers initially and expanding to 120 by late 1995.

Having been granted permission by the City of Chehalis to tie into the municipal sewer system, Tanger Factory Outlet Centers hopes to complete a $23 million project in Lewis County by Christmas.

Microthin Plastics, a startup that makes thin-gauge plastic film and sheets using recycled beverage bottles, is preparing to launch operations at the Chehalis Industrial Park in July. The company will initially employ 25 workers at its 38,000-square-foot facility.

May 1994

One hundred and fifty soldiers and their families arrive at Fort Lewis from Manheim, Germany, as 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division returns to the United States. By the end of September, some 3,600 soldiers, family members and even household pets will be relocated to Fort Lewis—adding an estimated $51 million to the area economy.

Seattle Supersonics exit the NBA playoffs in the first round and immediately begin packing for Tacoma. Because of a massive reconstruction project at Seattle Center Coliseum, the team will play its 1994-1995 season in the Tacoma Dome.

Port of Olympia loses out when tenant International Paper decides to move its log exporting operations to nearby Port of Tacoma.

The Town of Fircrest angers University Place residents by attempting to annex a strip of commercial property along South 19th Street – property that University Place residents have planned to include in their own incorporation. At stake is an assessed value of some $54.5 million.

June 1994

First Interstate – the nation’s 14th largest financial institution – acquires five Great American Savings Bank branches in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Shelton—and their $90 million in assets.

McChord AFB is putting the finishing touches on RODEO ’94, an international competition that gives military flyers and ground crews an opportunity to showcase such skills as air drops, air refueling and related ground operations. Teams representing several U.S. service branches will compete with teams from 13 nations, including Canada, United Kingdom and Japan. The Tacoma-Pierce County Visitors and Convention Bureau estimates the event’s economic impact at about $15 million.

Franciscan Health Systems is announcing plans to slash management ranks by almost 40 percent in a cost-cutting measure. An estimated 236 jobs are expected to be eliminated.

July 1994

Some downtown merchants are voicing objections to plans to relocate the Olympia Farmers Market from downtown Olympia to property owned by the Port of Olympia. The shift is scheduled to take place in 1996.

Asarco, Metropolitan Park District, City of Tacoma and Town of Ruston agree on a vision for waterfront development at the site of the former Asarco smelter and associated properties along Ruston Way. The sites will be host to a business campus and some residential development, but parcels will be set aside for several parks and to preserve the waterfront.

August 1994

Aero Controls, one of Shelton’s most prominent manufacturers, considers relocating some operations to the Bremerton area. The company had looked to expand near the Port of Shelton but wanted to own the property rather than lease it. Because the Port operates Sanderson Field, the FAA dictates that it can lease the property but not sell it. However Aero Controls is proceeding with plans to expand its warehouse facilities at the Sanderson Field Industrial Park.

Pierce Transit unveils plans for a new transit center at the Tacoma Dome. The station will serve as a hub for local transit, Seattle Express buses and—eventually—light rail. It also will provide a multi-level parking garage.

West Bay Marina in Olympia – gutted by a 1992 fire – begins to rebuild. The move comes after an out-of-court settlement of a contract dispute between the marina and a former restaurant tenant, which added $400,000 to the marina’s coffers.

September 1994

Olympic College of Bremerton breaks ground for a permanent Shelton campus. Crews have cleared a 27-acre site, preparing for Phase I of construction — an 8,000-square-foot building that will begin operations in fall semester 1995. The majority of funding for a $1.6 million project comes from private donations by large and small businesses, plus local residents.

Simpson Tacoma Kraft invests $59 million to expand the mill’s ability to use recycled fiber, improving both paper quality and local air quality.

October 1994

Work is commencing on a $110 million power plant at Frederickson that will produce 250 construction jobs and generate taxes for Pierce County for the next 20 years. The project is later suspended.

Supporters of a scheme to move the Olympia Farmers Market to Port of Olympia unveil plans for a 12,500-square-foot permanent site that would provide an indoor venue for merchants and shoppers, as well as serve as a community landmark.

January 1995

Kia Motors America chooses Port of Tacoma to be its automobile import and processing center for the Korean-manufactured cars. The port will begin receiving shipments through the port in March.

A $100,000 U.S. Forest Service grant is awarded to Exceptional Foresters of Shelton to expand operations at the Port of Shelton’s Sanderson Field Industrial Park. The nonprofit agency says it plans to use the money to purchase recycled plastic processing equipment for its All-Star Recycling division and hire eight new workers.

Home Depot opens in a 102,000-square-foot warehouse on Fones Road in Olympia. The company also is readying a retail location, which will employ 148.

February 1995

As the State Farm northwest regional office in DuPont is nearing completion, employment forecasts are cut by the company. Corporate restructuring has changed the planned functions of the office. As a result, only about 300 employees will occupy the site. Plans initially called for a staff of 600 to 700 working there.

Tacoma Eastern Railway signs a 25-year contract with City of Tacoma and hopes to have rail cars rolling to Frederickson, Roy and Chehalis soon. The City hopes to use a portion of track to jump-start its oft-discussed Train to the Mountain project for Mt. Rainier National Park.

April 1995

Tacoma-Based North American Morpho Systems wins a $35 million contract to build a state-of-the-art fingerprint identification system in West Virginia for the FBI.

Olympia Medical Lab is bought by Spokane-based Pathology Associates Medical Lab, which has announces it plans to eliminate 40 jobs.

Tanger Factory Outlets has dropped its option to purchase 29 acres near Chehalis’ Newaukum River. A property owner downstream challenged the development on an environmental basis. The Greensboro, N.C.-based developer is reportedly considering other Lewis County locations.

May 1995

Harbor Airlines adds a sixth daily flight to its commuter service run between Olympia and Sea-Tac International Airport.

Gig Harbor resident Terry Halvorson prepares Queen Anne Thriftway in Tacoma’s Proctor District for its grand opening. Halvorson, a former Seattle resident, owns Seattle’s Queen Anne and Admiral Thriftways as well. The 26,000-square-foot Proctor District store will employ as many as 85.

Lewis County’s Providence Centralia Hospital begins a $15 million expansion. Phase I, which will be a two-story 68,000 square-foot addition and additional parking, create a new main entrance, Emergency Services Department, patient reception and admitting area, surgical suites, patient rooms and Diagnostic Imaging Unit. It’s due to be ready October 1996.

June 1995

Bellevue developer Thomas Hazelrigg III seeks an injunction to prevent the City of Olympia from charging developers traffic impact fees.

Port of Olympia is told it has until Oct.1 to prove to the FAA that the need for an airport control tower justifies the continued annual $240,000 it costs to run it. If the tower is closed, planes will be guided by a regional tracking system.

University of Washington Tacoma chooses SDL Construction of Bellevue as general contractor/construction manager of the $33.4 million project to build Phase I-A of its permanent campus

Wisconsin-based Trek USA acquires Chehalis’ Klein Bicycle in a stock-based transaction—terms of which are not revealed. Klein has developed an international reputation for quality but previously did not have the marketing muscle of the larger Trek.

July 1995

The Bonneville Power Administration reneges on its commitment to purchase electricity produced by Tenaska Washington Partners II’s partially constructed Frederickson plant prompting a $1 billion suit from the partners. The BPA cites declines of 500 to 600 megawatts of customer demand and new federal regulations for its decision to back out of the agreement.

The impact of a recently-enacted manufacturers tax credit begins to be felt locally, as Cascade Plastics’ 43,000-square-foot Puyallup plant on River Road, which was purchased earlier in the year from Production Plastics increases its workforce from 18 to 52. By July, officials say, they expect to operate Cascade’s 15 machines 24 hours a day—the plant had a single eight-hour shift each weekday at the time it was purchased.

Entertainment venues that rely on discretionary dollars voice concern over growth of local Indian gambling operations. The source of their anxiety: Squaxin tribe’s $11 million Little Creek Casino, now under construction south of Shelton, will compete with Chehalis Confederated Tribe’s Lucky Eagle Casino in Oakville. In addition the Nisqually tribe signed a state gambling compact in May leading to opening a casino.

Port of Tacoma backs off from a request that the City close the Blair Bridge—an the attendant 11th Street corridor to the tideflats by Oct. 1. Though all parties agree the antiquated span eventually will come down, northeast Tacoma residents object to closing the bridge before emergency services like fire and police establish stations in the northeast part of the city. The port had earlier asked for the city to remove the bridge in order to accommodate potential new shipping clients Evergreen and Maersk lines on an expanded Blair Terminal.

Dave Miller and Mike Bryant—who own McCleary-based Quality Lumber Manufacturing—buy the former Olympic Peninsula Hardwoods mill in downtown Shelton at a tax auction for $10,000. The duo hopes to revive the mill and eventually employ a crew of 45.

August 1995

City of Tacoma is making preparations to begin accepting proposals for property tax relief under a new law passed by the Legislature. The law is intended to spur renovation of buildings in the state’s largest cities—Tacoma, Seattle and Spokane. By Dec. 1, landlords whose property has at least four residential units—and is at least 50 percent housing—could be eligible for tax breaks if they restore the property.

Healthcare conglomerate Columbia/ HCA is reported to be shopping around for an acquisition in the South Sound. Both MultiCare in Tacoma and Good Samaritan in Puyallup are rumored to be candidates. The talk ends suddenly when the national chain is caught in a multi-million dollar fraud conflict with federal investigators.

Retail giant Wal-Mart renews an option to purchase a mobile home park on Martin Way in Olympia, but residents are giving the nation’s leading retailer a run for its money. Residents have the first right of refusal on the park and reportedly are trying to put together a financing package to acquire the 18 acre site.

Lacey’s First Community Bank reportedly is attempting to acquire Tacoma’s Northwest Community Bank. It already has purchased two Twin County Credit Union branches.

Port of Olympia officials are mulling a new direction for the Port in the wake of continuing losses at its marine terminal. The Port has seen declining revenue from log exports since the 1980s.

September 1995

University Place, Pierce County’s newest city, sets out to woo new businesses. Citing the absence of a B&O tax, City Manager Bob Jean says UP’s attitude towards business is friendly and cheap.

October 1995

Intel confirms plans to build a $250 million research and design facility at Weyerhaeuser’s Northwest Landing development in DuPont. An estimated 450 workers eventually will be employed at the facility, company officials say.

Entrepreneur magazine dubs Tacoma the No. 1 city in America for small business.

Franciscan Health Systemannounces plans to merge with two other Catholic health systems, Sisters of Charity and Catholic Healthcare. The combined $4.5 billion company will have more than 100 facilities and will locate its western U.S. headquarters in Tacoma.

Steve West and Dan Walker lead a group of investors in purchasing KMTT-AM to bring a new local radio voice to Tacoma. They later sell the city’s only radio station to KJR in Seattle, which uses it as an extension repeater outlet.

November 1995

One barrier to Intel’s new facility in DuPont is removed when Fort Lewis agrees to allow Pierce County to temporarily tap into its sewer lines to provide increased infrastructure to Northwest Landing.

U.S. Bank acquires WestOne, becoming the state’s third largest bank. Local U.S. Bank executives say they will bring the company’s board of directors to Tacoma to experience the region first-hand.

December 1995

Health insurance underwriters are wishing they could pull out of the individual insurance markets, after new state requirements force them to add new coverages. Pierce County Medical announces its desire to increase rates by 34 percent on this product, while the state insurance commissioner promises to thoroughly challenge such a big hike.