Downtown Tacoma’s Winthrop hotel building is officially in the hands of its new owners, who already have permits to begin the historic building’s most extensive renovation in four decades.
The sale closed Tuesday, making California-based Redwood Housing Partners the latest owner of the historic 1925 property that now holds 194 low-income apartments.
Redwood plans to maintain the Winthrop as an affordable-housing apartment complex. The company received a lot of its funding for the building’s purchase and repair from the state’s affordable housing commission. The work planned for the Winthrop is as much for deferred maintenance issues as it is for upgrades, since the building suffered from neglect by its previous owners.
Redwood bought the Winthrop for $8.5 million from the trustee overseeing the bankruptcies of the previous owners, Tom Price and Hyun Um of Prium Cos. Redwood plans extensive construction. The two permits secured from the city so far estimate work valued at $6.8 million, and a third is being processed.
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“I’m very happy the building is getting some investment,” said city historic preservation officer Reuben McKnight.
The sale has been in the works for almost a year, and Redwood founder Ryan Fuson has said he wouldn’t comment on his company’s plans for the building until the sale closed. On Monday, he said he likely wouldn’t comment even then.
One of the brokers on the sale said the city should celebrate the influx of millions to restore one of Tacoma’s most historic buildings.
“This is a big day for Tacoma,” said Jim Jensen, a senior vice president at Berkadia who helped broker the sale.
This spring, Redwood received approval from the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission for its plans. According to the approved work plan, Redwood plans to:
• Repair, not replace, two main passenger elevators, which have had problems operating predictably for years. According to an architect hired by Redwood, the elevators are not original to the building but were installed during the hotel’s conversion to low-income in apartments in the 1970s. In March,
• Repair existing, original 1925 windows on street levels as well as those for the Crystal Ballroom and the penthouse.
• Replace existing apartment windows with ones that match the building’s historic character. The last time many of those windows were replaced was in the 1970s, and many of them don’t work any more and are in rotted sills. Several years ago, the Tacoma Housing Authority commissioned acapital needs report
to get an idea of how much it would cost to repair or replace everything that needed it. That report estimates thatreplacing just the residential windows
would cost just over $1 million.
• Install new roofing and insulation, as well as repair or replace clay tiles on the penthouse roof.
• Clean, paint and fix the floor in the Crystal Ballroom, the room many Tacomans still recall with fondness as the site of proms and weddings. According to Redwood’s architect, the new owners don’t plan to use the room for anything. The ballroom is “still mostly intact, but its arched plaster ceiling and wood flooring are deteriorating due to plumbing leaks from the apartment floors above.” The water lines and drain lines for apartments above will be replaced. The chandeliers and wall sconces are in good condition. The original maple floors are covered by vinyl tiles.
• Clean and paint the penthouse, as well as remove the nonoriginal “shed” from the balcony and install new French doors to match the originals. But it won’t be used — the elevator to get there was removed sometime in the past, and there’s no heat.
• Renovate and upgrade common rooms for residents to include a computer room, library and fitness room.
• Make laundry room on South Ninth Street and common area restrooms ADA-accessible.
• Repair corridor walls and hallways, and install new carpet.
• Install new ceilings, a new hot- and cold-water system, and boilers.
• Replace cabinets, countertops and appliances in each unit. Replace select bathroom fixtures, but existing tile, tubs and sinks will remain.