Weyerhaeuser mansion permit decision awaits parking, traffic study

Staff writerFebruary 4, 2014 

The former Weyerhaeuser mansion, Haddaway Hall

DEAN KOEPFLER — The News Tribune

A critical decision that could affect the fate of one of the Northwest's most storied mansions and the peace and tranquility of a well-to-do Tacoma North End neighborhood still remains in limbo.

The city's planning department said Tuesday it is still waiting to receive a parking and traffic study from the applicants for the permit to use the Jacobean mansion at 4301 N. Stevens St. as an event venue.

The city has given those applicants, Vanessa and Adam Volkman of Seattle, until March 27 to submit that report, said Jana Magoon, a city planning official.

Once the city receives that report, it will be reviewed by city traffic engineers before the planning department decides whether to issue the permit and if so, what conditions could be attached to its issuance.

Neighbors of the mansion have complained that weddings and other functions held there in warm weather months have disturbed the neighborhood's calm.  Event goers have been loud and boisterous, and music emanating from the mansion grounds has disturbed the neighborhood, they say.

The Volkmans say they've tried to work with the neighborhood and have placed limits on the consumption of alcohol during events.

Some neighbors say that they appreciate the efforts of the Volkmans to preserve the mansion and to convert it to a profitable operation, but the celebrations have gotten out of hand.

The mansion, known as Haddaway Hall, was built built 90 years ago by timber magnate John P. Weyerhaeuser and his wife, Anna. The 11-bedroom, nine-bathroom, three-story brick-and-timber home was built in the style of classic English manors. The mansion has been on the National Register of Historic Places since the '80s.

Since the timber baron and his family moved out decades ago, the building has had various uses from a university dormitory to a divinity school.

The estate, whose landscaping was designed by the same firm that designed New York's Central Park, is now owned by Corban University.  The religious school has had the property on the market for several years because it wants to move elsewhere because of dwindling enrollment.

The Volkmans want to buy the mansion but only if they can obtain a permanent permit to hold events there.  The couple has rented the mansion from the university of two years to hold events on the grounds and in the buildings.

Magoon said that in the meanwhile, the city is working with the prospective owners regarding upcoming events and the conditions that will apply to them pending a decision on the permit.

Letters are scheduled to be mailed to mansion neighbors this week, she said, to bring them up to date on the status of the permit.


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