Proctor project wins critical decision

Staff writerFebruary 6, 2014 

Tacoma hearing examiner Phyllis Macleod has recommended approval of an alley vacation critically needed for the construction of a six-story, 140-unit apartment and retail structure in the Proctor business district.

The alley vacation proposal had attracted opposition from a group of neighbors who complained the building was too large for the neighborhood business district site.

The building is proposed for a site on the north side of Proctor between North 27th and 28th streets near Mason Middle School.

The vacation request now moves to the Tacoma City Council for its consideration, said Macleod. She said she expects the council will take up the matter sometime next month.

Building developers want to bridge the alley that bisects the site to connect the apartment units. A passageway would remain to allow for firetrucks, garbage trucks, cars and other vehicles to drive through. The developers include Gig Harbor’s Rush Cos. and Proctor-area businessmen Bill Evans and Erling Kuester.

Macleod attached several conditions to her approval recommendation. She recommended that the developers build the structure over the alley with steel and concrete that’s resistant to fire and that both the building above the alley and the alley itself be equipped with fire sprinklers. She further suggested approval of the vacation be contingent on the building have a minimum clearance of 13.5 feet above the roadway and that the walkway itself be located 16.5 feet above the pavement.

The developers would be required to bury the overhead power and utility lines now in the alley at their expense. The building owners would be required to pay the city the appraised value of the property should the vacation be approved.

While neighbors raised questions about the building’s bulk, the kind of tenants that might occupy it and the traffic it would create, those issues were not part of the decision-making process for the vacation recommendation. “The main criterion in question in this case is whether the proposed air rights vacation will provide a public benefit. While the merits and impacts of the development project, as a whole, are the subject of varied opinions, the evidence showed that the air rights vacation component would result in a public benefit. The air rights vacation is the sole element of the project being evaluated in this proceeding. The upgrade to the alley surface, the undergrounding of utilities, returning property to the tax rolls, and the design enhancements resulting from the air rights vacation will provide a public benefit under Tacoma Municipal Code 9.22.070,” Macleod said in her written recommendation.

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