When Proctor Station opens later this year in the popular Proctor business district, some of its apartments will set new standards for rental prices in the Tacoma market.
For instance: The management of the six-story structure is listing a few two-bedroom plus den apartments with a total of 1,278 square feet at $2,990 to $3,440 per month. The apartment developers, Gig Harbor’s Rush Cos., are asking an $800 reservation fee. Parking will be $85 for a space in the controlled-access garage.
Proctor Station is not alone in raising the price of apartment living in Tacoma. A study by CoStar Analytics shows a steep upward curve in average rents in the Tacoma area over the past four years. Those rents have risen from an average of just under $1,100 a month in 2010 to more than $1,325 a month in 2014.
Those rent increases are driven in part by low vacancy rates. In buildings built after 2000, that vacancy rate is 6.7 percent while the vacancy rate for all greater Tacoma apartments is just 5 percent.
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Those low vacancies and rising prices haven’t gone unnoticed by developers. More than 600 new apartment units are under construction in the Tacoma area. An additional 11 new buildings with some 550 units are planned within the next two years.
In apartments near the area’s most desirable locations, downtown Tacoma and the Thea Foss Waterway, average rents at the end of last year average $1,376.70 per unit, an average of $1.71 a square foot, according to a study for the Foss Waterway Development Authority by Heartland Consultants.
Even so, those rents fall well short of Seattle rents that have been on such a steep upward slope that the City Council there is considering rent controls.
The availability of Sounder commuter trains from Tacoma to Seattle has encouraged some Seattle workers to consider Tacoma for more affordable housing.
That trend is evident in a Portland developer’s recent proposal to build a 100-unit complex on land the transit agency has put on the market adjacent to Sound Transit’s Freighthouse Square commuter rail station and Pierce Transit’s bus transit center garage.
Some of Pierce County’s major apartment developments are clearly courting King County residents driven out of that market by high prices:
• Century Apartments. These apartments are part of the next phase of development at Point Ruston, a $1.2 billion mixed-use community being built on the site of the former Asarco copper smelter near Point Defiance Park. Many of the 95 apartments will have panoramic views of Commencement Bay, Mount Rainier and Vashon Island. The apartment structure will include a nine-screen multiplex cinema as well as four restaurants. Point Ruston executive Loren Cohen said more than 20 percent of Point Ruston residents now are employed in King County. The Century Apartments will be priced toward the upper end of the market, he said. Even so, the apartments have some 30 informal lease commitments before the formal mid-summer release of units and pricing. The apartments will be located above the 43 condominium units in the building on floors five through eight.
• Proctor Station. Located in one of Tacoma’s more upscale neighborhood business districts, this six-story, 151-unit building is at the north end of the Proctor business district adjacent to Mason Middle School. The building’s ground floor includes some 12,000 square feet of retail space as well as covered parking for residents. The building is due to open in December. According to leasing agents, 10 units have been pre-leased, most of them on the pricier fifth and sixth floors. Upper floor units have views, say developers, that include Commencement Bay, Mount Rainier and, on a clear day, Seattle.
• Clearview100. This University Place development is one of the centerpieces of University Place’s long-awaited Town Center project. The 100-unit development, built by Tacoma residential developer SEB Inc., includes 40 two-bedroom, 40 one-bedroom and 20 studio units built above a retail center that includes several restaurants. Pierce County’s first Whole Foods Market opens next door to Clearview this week. Prices range from $900 to $980 for a studio unit to $1,750 monthly for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with 849 to 1003 square feet.
• The Henry. Developed by veteran Pierce County homebuilders Carino and Associates, this seven-story, U-shaped, 161-unit building is the first major residential structure built on the redeveloped Thea Foss Waterway since 2008. The building, adjacent to the cross-waterway cable-stayed bridge is bordered by a waterfront esplanade and a park to the south. The units will range from studios to two-bedroom units. The building is now scheduled to open in November. Final rental rates have yet to be advertised.
• Garfield Station. This four-story, 104-apartment building held its grand opening last week at a site near Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland. The building includes studio through three-bedroom units as well as retail space along Garfield Street and office space for university-related activities. Among the newer, larger apartments debuting in the Tacoma area this year, Garfield Station is less expensive than the others closer to employment centers in King County. A 515-square-foot studio with one bath is available for $875 monthly. A three-bedroom, two bath, 1,245-square-foot unit rents for $1,600 monthly.