About 100 livestock, mostly goats, have taken up temporary residence on what the owners representative says is one of the largest undeveloped commercial properties in the Fircrest, Tacoma and University Place area.
The animals are clearing vegetation to improve visibility and marketability at the 9-acre property on Mildred Street, across from The Keg Steakhouse & Bar and the Galaxy movie theater.
Theyre natures Weed Eaters, said Don Miller, owner of City Goat Farm and Zoo, which supplied the goats, sheep and llamas.
The goats and a small number of sheep were brought in for their munching prowess; the llamas protect them from coyotes, which have been reported in the area.
The critters have drawn many onlookers, including students in a school bus that stopped briefly so the children could get a look. The property owner is considering keeping the animals on site through the winter.
In the meantime, Linn Larsen, the representative for the owner, the Eaton family, said hes seeking changes to Fircrest development regulations to help land a tenant. He hopes ground will be broken on the site next year.
Larsen said the property could accommodate a couple of street-fronting restaurants and a big-box retailer. He estimated the businesses could generate between $400,000 and $500,000 in sales tax revenue for Fircrest.
Walmart proposed building a store on the property in 2005, but the giant retailer dropped the project two years later. A Walmart spokesman said the City of University Place, which owns the street, wanted too many improvements that the company considered outside the scope of the development project.
Earlier this year, Fircrest and University Place agreed to jointly apply for more than $1.5 million in federal funding to add sidewalks, bike lanes and other amenities to the stretch of Mildred between 19th Street and Regents Boulevard. The cities are in line to receive the funding, and construction could begin in 2014, possibly earlier, said UP city engineer Jack Ecklund. The Eaton family agreed to pay Fircrests share of the matching funds needed to secure the grant, totalling nearly $88,000.
The property is the former site of Metal Marine Pilot Inc., a small factory that made automatic pilot systems for boats.
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