The City of University Place has landed a new tenant for prime retail space in its civic and library building: the City of University Place.
UP officials have moved their parks and recreation department into the ground-floor space at the front of the building in Town Center that it wants to lease for retail use. It opened for business at its new location last Friday.
City Manager Steve Sugg said the relocation is temporary, ending when the city’s broker can find a business. He said the new location gives the department more space than it had at Windmill Village and makes it easier for residents to learn about and sign up for programs.
“Let’s benefit our community while waiting for a tenant to move in,” he said.
It’s apparent from comments by Sugg and Jeff Kraft, the broker hired to lease the space and sell the Town Center properties, that it was deemed unlikely the city would land a tenant over the next few months.
Sugg said there’s “not much activity right now,” and officials don’t know when retail activity will pick up again. Kraft said there has been “mild interest” in the space and noted he’s seeing incremental improvement in the retail market.
Kraft said the move makes perfect sense.
“From a city budget standpoint, why not use the space you already have?”
He said the move also gives the city the luxury to pick the tenant that offers the best fit for the mixed-use development instead of feeling pressure to take the first offer that comes along.
The city spent about $28,000 to make modest improvements to the space that can be used by a future tenant, Sugg said.
Parks and recreation manager Todd Smith said his department likes and needs the increased visibility at the new location. Because of budget cuts, the department gets little city support and relies on fees to continue offering its programs and perhaps expand them in the future.
The department has four paid employees and offers youth sports leagues, adult fitness classes and senior citizen trips.
“We are dependent on our participants,” Smith said.
The department is across from the Frog n Kiwi cafe and indoor kids play area, the building’s first retail tenant, and on the same floor as the Pierce County Library branch.
Smith said his staff is discussing using some of the additional space for programs.
In December, the University Place Police Department moved into the second floor of the civic building. The city contracts with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services.
Sugg said there’s no plan to move other city departments into the building until the Windmill Village property that houses current city offices is sold. It’s unknown when that will occur.
The new address is 3609 Market Place W., Suite 101. Office hours for the department will continue to be 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. Its phone number remains 253-460-2530.