Point Ruston developers gearing up for more construction activity

Staff writerDecember 10, 2013 

Framing is being erected at the Copperline Condominiums along the Commencement Bay waterfront in Tacoma. The first condos are expected to ready for occupancy in May.


After a few months of marching in place, construction activity is again moving forward at Point Ruston, the billion-dollar redevelopment of the former Asarco copper smelter site near Tacoma's Point Defiance Park.

"Within the next few months, you'll be seeing a forest of construction cranes at Point Ruston," said Mike Cohen, the development's managing partner.

Construction work is already moving ahead on a 43-unit waterfront condominium development across the street from Point Ruston's largest existing building, the Copperline Apartments.

And groundbreaking is scheduled for Jan. 2 for a mixed-use structure that will house a multiplex movie theater and 139 housing units including 44 condominiums and 95 apartments atop the theater building.

The Century Theater complex is scheduled to open in April 2015, said Loren Cohen, the development's legal affairs director.

Soon after work begins on the theater complex, Point Ruston plans to begin construction on a 1,500-vehicle parking garage across the street from the cinema.  That structure is designed so that most of the parking area will be surrounded by retail spaces, disguising its parking core.

Among that 100,000-square feet of retail will be a 25,000-square-foot grocery store and several yet-unleased retail spaces.

The grocery store lease is "a quarter inch from being signed," said Mike Cohen. The developers had previously signed Federal Way's Marlene's Market to occupy that space, but the family that owns Marlene's had second thoughts about making the commitment.

Following on the heels of the parking and retail structure construction start, the developers expect work will begin on a 175-room Silver Cloud Inn on the Point Ruston waterfront.

The original design for the hotel has been augmented with a waterfront pool and other resort amenities, said Loren Cohen.  The hotel will also include a waterfront restaurant.

"It will have a real resort feel to it," he said.

Other buildings scheduled for construction starts after the hotel will house about another 100 apartments and condominiums as well as ground-floor retail spaces.

The developers say the theater building is planned to include two restaurant spaces, making that structure a kind of "dinner and a movie" destination.

The Point Ruston site was the location of a large Asarco smelter until the mid-'80s when the company closed down the smelter rather than retrofit it was advanced pollution control devices.

On the hill above the main Point Ruston site, dubbed "Stack Hill" because it once was the site of the smelter's 500-foot-tall smokestack, construction is ongoing on several new custom homes.

Development of the Point Ruston site has been an on-again, off-again proposition for several years.  The development weathered the real estate implosion in 2008 by halting construction of its Copperline Apartments building at the garage level until the market improved.

Mike Cohen said both demand for housing and financing has opened up in recent months.

"It was like someone flipped the switch last January," he said.

The developers said they have 37 of the 43 condominiums in the Copperline development under sales contracts.  Those residences range from $550,000 to $1.7 million in price.

The first of those condos are expected to be available for move-in in May, with the remainder completed by mid-summer.

In the theater building, the prices have not yet been established for either the condominiums or the apartments.

Loren Cohen said the developers are hoping to offer a wider price range for those residences than in the Copperline with the least expensive ones priced in the $400,000 range.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663



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