We finally have good news about McMenamins’ Tacoma site

McMenamin’s to begin construction on Tacoma’s old Elks Lodge

McMenamin's, Oregon-based developer of brew pubs and hotels, plans to rehabilitate the forlorn Tacoma building and open it as a pub, restaurant and hotel. Construction begins in 2017. Mike McMenamin talks about how they will do this.
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McMenamin's, Oregon-based developer of brew pubs and hotels, plans to rehabilitate the forlorn Tacoma building and open it as a pub, restaurant and hotel. Construction begins in 2017. Mike McMenamin talks about how they will do this.


McMenamins has announced it plans to start construction on the long-awaited Elks Lodge next month.

The Portland-based developer has planned to renovate the 102-year-old Beaux-Arts-style building at 565 Broadway since it bought the property in the depths of the recession for $1.2 million.

Mike and Brian McMenamin talk about the extra millions that will go into the heavily damaged old Elks Temple that they're redeveloping into a restaurant, hotel, brewery and performance space.

Since then, McMenamins has announced multiple opening dates for the hotel.

The project was beset with delays as the company sought more investors and completed a project in Bothell.

This time, McMenamins says, it’s different.

The company has raised $11 million from more than 50 investors and plans to start construction in October, the company announced Friday. Some investors are Tacoma residents, each financing at least $150,000 apiece.

“Our vision for Elks Temple has been warmly received by Northwest investors,” Mike McMenamin, co-founder of the company, said in a news release. “We’re pleased that they have committed the funds to give new life to this historic building.”

Last year the company discovered it would cost much more to rehab the historic downtown structure than initially thought.

Initially the company thought it would cost about $18 million to fully renovate and building. Last year, McMenamins said it might cost about $32 million.

When open in early 2019, the property will include 44 rooms, down from an initial 46. It will include historic art, a space for weddings, meetings and live music.

Michael Sullivan, an architectural historian and contractor with McMenamins, said the company has found drawings of the original light fixtures that illuminated the building, a find developer Mike McMenamin is excited about.

“Any time you go into one of the historic McMenamins, you will see a real assortment of lighting,” Sullivan said.

When constructed more than a century ago, the Elks Lodge was infused with iconography of the fraternal organization, Sullivan said. The McMenamin brothers hope to incorporate those decorative features into the building once again.

“They really like to get down to the fine, granular detail,” Sullivan said of the company. “That building is the perfect canvas for McMenamins.”


McMenamins remains interested in developing another historic Tacoma gem, Old City Hall at 625 Commerce St.

The city bought the building two years ago for $4 million to prevent it from crumbling under its previous owner. After a brief search, the city selected McMenamins to restore the skyline-defining building, which sits kitty corner from the Elks Lodge.

With both properties, McMenamins would have more than 100 hotel rooms in a first-of-its-kind complex for the company.

Last year, however, the company and city put the relationship on “pause” so McMenamins could focus wholly on seeking financing for the Elks Lodge project.

In the meantime, the city is seeking proposals from other developers who might be interested in an intense renovation of Old City Hall, said Elly Walkowiak, assistant director for the city’s Economic and Community Development Department.

Walkowiak said the company typically takes on only one large project at a time, and the Elks Lodge certainly would qualify. A statement from the company says McMenamins wants to pursue Old City Hall — but only after the Elks Lodge project is done.

“We just don’t know how long that will be,” Walkowiak said. “We are looking for very specific uses for that, and those relate to office or potentially a boutique hotel.”


This fall is setting up to be a busy time for McMenamins as it juggles two other sites in various stages of progress.

In March, the company announced its Port of Kalama project as next on its to-do list. The Columbian reported in July that the Kalama hotel project, modeled after an early-1900s Hawaiian inn, was still on schedule.

That project hasn’t been as formidable for the developers as the Elks Lodge project, because the port is responsible for the building’s shell.

McMenamins is set to take over the interior work next month with a planned opening in February or March. It expects 75 to 100 people to work at its Kalama location, according to The Columbian.

McMenamins also is developing a new pub in Beaverton, Oregon. A hiring call for the pub was advertised in August on its website.

“Our longtime Cedar Hills Pub is being replaced with a new, larger space that’s under construction across from the current pub ... and is slated to open in early fall,” according to the notice.

McMenamins has more than 50 properties throughout Washington and Oregon.

News Tribune archives contributed to this report.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542, @KateReports

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364 , @Debbie_Cockrell