Seattle’s Unico Properties announced completion of its purchase of Tacoma’s Washington Building.
Unico said it will invest in upgrades to restore the 1925 building, with plans to convert the 18-story building to apartments, “bringing residents and vitality back to Tacoma’s urban core,” according to a news release Tuesday.
The building was purchased for $9.8 million from George Webb of Seattle’s The Stratford Co., according to county documents filed at the end of December. Webb and other investors bought the Washington in 2005 for $9.6 million.
Unico filed papers with the city then, stating its intent to change the high-rise, on the northeast corner of Pacific Avenue and South 11th Street, from office space to multifamily residential. It cited needed upgrades to mechanical and elevator systems, as well as reinforcements needed to prevent collapse or damage during an earthquake.
“We are grateful for the city of Tacoma’s insights and input in helping us to achieve our vision to restore this beloved building in the heart of Tacoma and bring it back to its original glory,” said Julie Currier, Unico Properties director of development, in Tuesday’s release. “We’re honored to own and invest in the Washington Building — we’ve had an ownership presence in the Tacoma market for approximately 20 years, and we’re thrilled to do more for the city by revitalizing its historic downtown building and bringing back residents, life, and excitement after hours to the heart of the city.”
Unico said Tuesday that it expects to have the Washington Building converted into apartments by late summer 2018.
“We look forward to seeing The Washington Building, a landmark since the 1920s, evolve to meet a growing need for housing in downtown Tacoma,” said Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland in Tuesday’s news release. “Unico’s decision to invest in downtown Tacoma is evidence of our shared vision for honoring our past while continuing to enhance the vibrancy of Tacoma’s downtown core.”
Pat Beard, a project manager with the Community and Economic Development Department, said in Tuesday’s release: “Unico and city staff are working collaboratively to ensure the preservation of this downtown icon and increase the number of downtown residential opportunities at the same time.”
Unico on Tuesday said it had secured several daytime and off-peak parking licenses at city parking facilities downtown for the building’s future residents.
Beard told The News Tribune in November that the company planned to lease parking at “above market rate in the downtown and in garages around the facility.”
The building opened in 1925 as the second-tallest in the Northwest. Today, it is the third-tallest in Tacoma, behind Wells Fargo Plaza and Hotel Murano, according to building data website Emporis.
Staff writer Kate Martin and News Tribune archives contributed to this report.