Construction on the long-awaited Elks Lodge will begin by April with the entertainment complex opening in fall 2017.
Those dates and plans for the more-than-$25 million development were presented by McMenamins’ chief financial officer Chris Longinetti to the Tacoma Downtown Merchants Group on Thursday.
McMenamins has hotels, bars, restaurants, breweries, distilleries — and combinations thereof — at locations from Roseburg, Oregon, to Bothell and from the coast to Bend, Oregon.
On Thursday, Longinetti outlined plans for the century-old, seven-story Elks Lodge.
The building will use three entrances: on Broadway, Stadium Way and on the Spanish Steps.
The ground floor will have a tiki bar with specialty drinks and food. The existing pool will be removed but a water feature will be installed.
“It does create a unique experience, particularly in the Pacific Northwest and at this time of year,” Longinetti said of the South Pacific feel.
Tacoma currently has a tiki bar and restaurant, Tacoma Cabana, on Pacific Avenue.
The existing bar on the second floor of the Elks Lodge will be refurbished.
“There are a number of architectural features that are in very good shape,” Longinetti said of the second floor bar. “We compare it to the Crystal Ballroom in Portland.”
Smaller bars will be built on the second floor. One of them will offer outdoor service on the Spanish Steps in good weather.
The mezzanine area will offer pool tables, pinball and other games.
The third floor, which opens on Broadway, will have the lobby, restaurant and meeting spaces.
“It will be a great, grand space with high ceilings, fireplaces, architectural features,” Longinetti said.
The floors above the lobby and the annex building will contain 46 hotel rooms.
McMenamins is a history-focused company, Longinetti said. Art and other features in the complex will reflect the history of the building and Tacoma, he said.
“Historic redevelopment is not cheap,” Longinetti said. “It would be significantly less expensive to build something from scratch. But you would lose all that historic feel and everything we think is important.”
To fund the Tacoma development, McMenamins will follow the same model as it did with the $25 million Bothell project: outside investors.
Investors will receive lease payments for 10 years. They will then be able to sell their investment to McMenamins or to a third party.
Though the physical scope of the recently opened Bothell project is larger than the Elks Lodge, it still represents a model for Tacoma, Longinetti said.
The Bothell project used 1930s era high school buildings and an Olympic-size pool on 5 acres. The company converted the structures to hotel rooms, bars, a movie theater, restaurants and meeting rooms.
“You can spend days there,” he said.
Members of the Merchants Group were interested in the Bothell development’s effect on the surrounding community.
“It’s really helped to revitalize downtown Bothell,” Longinetti said. “It’s changed the dynamics of downtown Bothell.”
“When you combine all the elements McMenamins does in one location, it creates something successful and really special — things that people will travel to and spend time in and take pride that it’s in their community,” Longinetti said.
Longinetti said McMenamins is in talks with the city of Tacoma concerning the purchase of Old City Hall.
“We think we can do a development on that property that would be very complementary to the Elks Temple,” Longinetti said.
For now, McMenamins is focusing on the Elks Lodge.
“Anything we do would (with Old City Hall) will be after that opens,” Longinetti said.