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New apartments near Freighthouse loaded with amenities, light on parking to boost transit

A rendering of the Mount Bay Apartments planned for the 300 block of East 26th Street in Tacoma.
A rendering of the Mount Bay Apartments planned for the 300 block of East 26th Street in Tacoma.

You can add two proposed developments near Freighthouse Station & Marketplace to Tacoma’s booming apartment construction scene.

Both are so-called transit-oriented developments — high-density residential and commercial projects built near transit hubs.

The News Tribune did a roundup last year of other such properties with reduced or no additional parking. They include Koz Development’s six-story apartment building at 304 Puyallup Ave. It has no additional parking and is anticipated to open in fall 2019, according to the developer.

Two nearby projects at various stages in the development pipeline are:

Mount Bay Apartments, with rooftop gardening, a microbrew tap room, bocce court and more.

Forbes Development Group on Wednesday shared details of its plans for a seven-story, mixed-use, multifamily project spanning 301 to 323 E. 26th St. The parcels include Novak Meats Poultry and Seafood, which would move in the spring if necessary.

“We’re now just working our way through design-review approval,” said Shawn Adkins, principal with Forbes Development.

The plans, which the city reviewed this summer, are to come before the City Council on Tuesday for consideration of a property tax exemption under the city’s multifamily property tax exemption program. (UPDATE 9-18-2018: Exemption was approved by council.)

The exemption is used to encourage development in the city’s designated mixed-use centers scattered across the city. It exempts property taxes, in this case for eight years, on improvements that create four or more additional housing units.

According to the city’s summary of the exemption, “The portion of the project receiving tax relief pertains only to the additional housing units created through new construction or the value of the rehabilitation. It does not pertain to the land valuation, commercial space, nor any units that were in existence at the time of application.

The city estimates the construction cost at $45 million while the developers say it would be closer to between $50 million to $60 million. The site’s parcels have a collective purchase price of $1.8 million.

Adkins estimated construction would start in “late spring-summer 2019” and wrap up in about 18 months.

The plans call for 229 apartments, ground-level commercial, 85 underground parking stalls (six dedicated to electric vehicles) and 17 street parking spaces.

The developers, in their project overview, also announced a letter of intent from Gig Harbor Brewing “to participate in the architectural phase and design layout for a new microbrew pub tap room.” Gig Harbor Brewing’s John Fosberg confirmed the letter of intent with The News Tribune.

Amenities would include a fitness center, pool, hot tub/spa, a recreational deck with a bocce court, fireplaces and communal seating, a study, library, conference room, bike storage units, a dog run and garden terrace. Plans also mention a top floor sky lounge and deck, rooftop terrace with barbecue area, communal seating and fireplaces.

Additional storage would be available for rent and rooftop garden space could be leased.

Each apartment would have a stackable washer-dryer and range from 300-square-foot microunits to 850-square-foot, two-bedroom units.

Plans call for 63 microunits, 55 studios, 91 one-bedroom units and 20 two-bedroom units bordered by East C and D streets and facing East 26th Street.

The developers pointed out the transit-oriented development is near Sound Transit, Amtrak, Tacoma Link light rail, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit bus service and a parking garage.

Elsewhere, Adkins and John Lewis, another principal with Forbes, say they also are close to finalizing purchase of a site for a mixed-use, multifamily project that might have a boutique hotel component. That site, Adkins said, at 4218 S. Steele St., is now home to Kantor Diamond Co. near the Tacoma Mall and across from Buffalo Wild Wings and Pier 1 Imports.

Trax, at 415 E. 25th St., adjacent to the Tacoma Dome Station and across from Freighthouse.

The project is being developed by DMG Capital Group of Bothell. Plans for the project first surfaced in August 2016.

The project calls for a seven-story structure consisting of 115 apartments (studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units) on five levels with ground-level retail that would include 55 parking stalls and an indoor farmer’s market.

“The heart of the project includes a two-story indoor farmer’s market/retail floor with roll-up garage doors for an indoor/outdoor feel during good weather,” the development’s own executive summary states. “The concept is to operate as a full-time venue for local farmer’s/growers, artisans, restaurateurs and vendors at the center of a bustling multimodal hub.”

The market would have an “on-demand commercial kitchen for customers to buy fresh from butchers, seafood vendors or vegetable growers and have the meal cooked on-demand or order from a menu; a two-sided fireplace, a video-art wall projecting seasonal video and a mezzanine level with outdoor terrace and viewing areas.”

The building would have a water feature in the lobby, trash chutes on every floor, a washer and dryer in every unit, rooftop common space, a dog run/dog wash, gathering and barbeque areas along with a community garden, a fitness center, outdoor public terraces as well as bicycle storage, bike wash and repair facilities.

The project is expected to open early in summer 2020.

“The Trax project is in permitting with the city for building, site development and off-sites, as well as establishing a crane easement with Pierce Transit for construction,” Pat Beard of the Economic Development Services Division, told The News Tribune on Thursday via email.

Pierce Transit and the city have for years sought a developer for the site, which has been home to a maintenance shed.

“It was very important to Pierce Transit that this piece of property be used for transit-oriented development,” Rebecca Japhet of Pierce Transit told The News Tribune on Thursday. “Tacoma Dome Station is the South Sound’s largest transit hub, and this property was perfect for creating something that could give people easy access to transit.”

According to News Tribune archives, the agency bought the parcel in 1999 to use as a staging area for construction of Phase 2 of the Tacoma Dome Station. Multiple attempts since 2014 were made to find a developer willing to bring transit-oriented development to the site with mixed commercial/residential units.

“When we made the agreement with the developer, we set forth some requirement — primarily that certain transit-supportive uses and a transit-management plan be implemented as part of the development,” Japhet said.

Terms of the agreement include at least one ORCA card for every unit offered at a discount of at least half the actual cost for the first five years, plus bicycle and car share parking.

The agreement between the developer and Pierce Transit lists a purchase price for the property of $710,000. Cost of construction is estimated at $27 million to $35.9 million, according to the architect and city permit records.

The site also has the eight-year multifamily property tax exemption from the city.

“Pierce Transit viewed this property as a catalyst site that would hopefully bring more developers to the area,” Japhet said Thursday, “and create a neighborhood around this transit hub. We are thrilled to see that there is even more development planned here now, and excited to see it take off as a transit oriented development hub.”

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell