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McMenamins' Tacoma site is taking shape, both inside and out

McMenamins Tacoma site tour goes behind the scenes of all that scaffolding

Plans for McMenamins Tacoma Elks Lodge site include TVs in each room, a tiki bar and water feature as part of its showcase.
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Plans for McMenamins Tacoma Elks Lodge site include TVs in each room, a tiki bar and water feature as part of its showcase.

Tacoma is more than ready for Portland-based developer McMenamins to throw open the doors of its Elks Lodge property and start entertaining, at least judging from the turnout at an overview on the project this week.

But there's much work left to do on the property at 565 Broadway before its tentative opening early next year.

On Wednesday, Rick Pitman, superintendent for Andersen Construction and ASI Structures, along with Andersen's J.J. Jordan, gave a rundown of the project at the Tacoma Waterfront Association's monthly meeting at the Tacoma Youth Marine Center.

People filled the room, and several association members remarked that it was one of the biggest turnouts in recent memory.

Pitman outlined a rough timeline for his company's work on the historic building.

Abatement and discovery started in 2016, which involved asbestos removal. Construction started in October 2017 with completion targeted for January.

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It will be a few more weeks after that for the McMenamins operation moves in and the project to officially open.

The level of detail in bringing the lodge back to life and transforming it into a McMenamins site is painstaking.

"There are protocols we have to follow, things we have to put back in in a certain way to maintain (the building's) historical rating," Pitman explained. "Mike (McMenamin) wants it to look old, so think of it as repair-but-look-old. It's finding that fine line that he likes us to follow, so we work hand in hand with him."

The building currently is wrapped in scaffolding an plastic. That's so crews can repair the plaster, Pitman said. So far, the biggest challenge construction-wise has been the exterior and particularly the roof.

"There's been a lot more dry rot than we could see," Pitman said.

For parking, no real plan is in place yet. However, city code does not require parking for the project.

McMenamins did not respond to questions about parking when contacted by The News Tribune on Wednesday afternoon.

For the interior, six levels are planned with a mix of 45 hotel rooms with private baths, conference rooms, three restaurants and brewery, a game room and music venue, along with an outdoor cafe and patio along the Spanish Steps that could eventually offer outdoor acoustic music.

There also are plans for a tiki bar and water feature on the first level.

The lodge is projected to create 150-200 part-time and full-time positions, according to McMenamins' website.

The hotel rooms won't go all the way to the lodge's ceiling. Corridors will be open to showcase the chandeliers and ornate detail work above, with plants all around.

"Mike likes plants," Pitman noted.

Like its other properties, the rooms will be named and themed with local history and art.

Each room also will have its own bathroom and combo heating/air conditioning. Also, you will be able to surf channels on the TV in your room, unlike at some of McMenamins' other properties that come notably without television to encourage people to mingle at its on-site restaurants and bars. The property will have one elevator.

Jordan said the Tacoma project is ambitious.

"The lighting, every fixture is historic and restored, and to coordinate with our electrician where each one goes — it's a massive undertaking," said Jordan, who also worked on the company's Anderson School project in Bothell. "In terms of renovation, typically they've bit off smaller pieces. It's a complicated project with a lot involved, but not sure it's their most challenging one."

The Tacoma project has been a long time coming, as the cost to undertake such extensive renovation of the Beaux Arts building climbed from an initial estimate of $18 million to the current $34 million projection.

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The property was initially purchased by the developers in 2009 for $1.2 million.

Meanwhile, McMenamins, known for its eclectic assortment of hotels and brew pubs in Washington and Oregon, plans to celebrate the launch of its tropical themed Kalama Harbor Lodge on the banks of the Columbia River on April 20.

The Kalama site was one of two properties that seemed to cut in line ahead of Tacoma among the developer’s projects. The other was Anderson School, which opened in October 2015.

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell
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