City officials say the downtown Tacoma hotel project is moving toward a groundbreaking next summer. But first, the developer must build a ramp into the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center’s main parking garage.
The ramp, at the southeast corner of the building, will bypass the hotel construction site. City building official David Johnson said in an email that the convention center’s stair tower will be removed. The ramp will align with the pedestrian crossing of the Link light rail line on Commerce Street.
The construction site’s footprint will take over the entrance to the garage that is now near Broadway and South 17th Street.
Development of the Marriott-branded hotel site, directly south of the convention center at 1500 Broadway, will be split into three phases, said Elly Walkowiak, business development manager with the city of Tacoma.
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The ramp is the first phase, which will allow cars to enter the parking garage one level up from Commerce Street. Work to construct the ramp will begin Dec. 27, according to a news release from the city Tuesday morning.
The convention center will continue to host events during all of the construction phases. According to Tuesday’s news release, “Convention center guests would enter the facility through the Commerce and 15th street doors, and guest parking will be available in the A garage, within the convention center building.
“Additional guest parking will be available throughout the construction period at the D and E garages off Court C. Guests may also park by Court 17 (1717 Market St.),” the release stated.
The ramp will be the only entrance to the main convention center garage during construction of the hotel and its garage, Walkowiak said. A concept drawing shows two more entrances to the parking area once the 300-room hotel is completed: one at Broadway and South 17th Street and another leading from Court C to the west of the convention center.
The second phase involves the developer building a fence around the construction site. That work is slated for March, according to the news release.
The third phase of the $85 million project would be the hotel’s construction. Before that can begin, the developer, Yareton Investment and Management LLC, must show it has 100 percent of the project’s financing.
At that point, the city would sell the roughly two-acre property to the developer, and hotel construction could start.
In early fall, Yareton asked for more time to start construction on the 22-story hotel, which includes 17 floors of hotel rooms.
The hotel project’s initial timeline stalled after Yareton needed more time to get some of its financing. The initial development agreement from 2014 called for groundbreaking of a four-star hotel next month, with final completion in two years.
A contract amendment signed in September shows the developer must complete the hotel project by June 2019.
The developer hoped to assemble at least 40 percent of the project’s cost, or $34 million, from overseas investors through a federal program called EB-5. Up to 60 percent — $51 million — can come from loans.
Developer Chun Yang, owner of Yareton, and several others visited Mayor Marilyn Strickland on Nov. 9 to reaffirm his commitment to the Tacoma hotel project. Walkowiak said while he’s waiting for more EB-5 financing, he hopes to get a bridge loan — a short-term influx of dollars until the EB-5 money kicks in.
Yang does not expect trouble in obtaining the EB-5 funds, Walkowiak said.
The development agreement says the hotelier must designate a block of 250 rooms for use by those renting the convention center.
As far back as 2012, consultants told the city the convention center would perform better if more hotel rooms were dedicated to convention planners. Two years later, the city had an agreement with Yareton to build the hotel and a possible second tower of at least 200 condominiums, retail and office spaces.
The hotel’s draft design includes a type of decorative glass. Because the hotel is in the Tacoma’s Union Station Conservation District, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will chime in on whether the feature, called dichroic glass, is appropriate for the area.