A new 80-unit apartment building could be coming to Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood.
After the development of Proctor Station and Madison 25 in the past few years, talk of a third project has now entered an initial stage of planning with the city.
The proposed apartment site, Proctor III, is at the corner of North Adams Street and North 27th Street, across the street from the Proctor post office.
The site is now home to an auto-body shop and single-family home structure next to it with detached garage.
A pre-application filed with the City of Tacoma on May 31 by Rush Development of Gig Harbor describes a four-story, 80-unit apartment site that will come with 30 parking spaces.
A small space for retail is included in one corner of the building.
No word yet if any affordable units will be on the table in this project; property tax exemptions on the project also have not been sought at this point, according to city officials, though the site is within the mixed-use center and could qualify.
First permit filings with the city are tentatively planned for February, as listed in the pre-application with a tentative construction start date in September 2020.
Don’t count on either of those dates being on target.
Becky Susan, marketing director with Rush, told The News Tribune on Tuesday that “Proctor III is completely at the beginning phase of development. Nothing to show or share, just starting the feasibility process. This is easily two years out.”
Outside of what’s listed in the pre-application information, little else is known about the project.
Those with potential interest in the location, such as Pierce Transit, had not yet received any information about it this week.
Yet, the news already has attracted strong reactions on neighborhood Facebook pages in postings after the pre-application was filed.
“They are making it as bad or worse than Ballard. A once charming, enjoyable place to visit turned into a mass of housing and impossible traffic,” read one on the North End Neighborhood Council Facebook page.
“This should NOT be built! On Proctor is one thing; this is not on Proctor.”
Amid the negative comments, there was some positive feedback.
“Far better than putting housing 10 miles out of town! This will save farmland and forest land.”
“Welcoming this growth in our neighborhood. We are blooming into a real city. Love it!”
As for the project itself, there are lots of questions for the city and developers to sort through, including parking and transit support to serve a fresh influx of potential riders who would call Proctor home.
With only 30 parking spaces, where the overflow will go?
That’s a question to be addressed through a Traffic Impact Analysis and SEPA, neither of which has been filed.
According to information gathered from staff with the city’s Planning and Development Services, city spokeswoman Stacy Ellifritt told The News Tribune via email:
“The preliminary plans showed that the proposal could meet the parking requirements of the district, but the applicant will need to show that the proposal either has no significant adverse impacts on the surrounding area or can adequately mitigate those impacts. Parking would be included in that analysis.”
Parking requirements for that site include one stall per unit, but units of 450 square feet or less are exempt up to one-half of the units in the building. After that, the project also can apply for a 25 percent reduction in spaces for proximity to a transit line.
In the preliminary plans, 52 of the units are studios less than 450 square feet.
The site also has to meet ADA parking requirements “and all other development requirements for the stalls they are providing,” according to Ellifrit.
Public transit is another critical factor for the project. Pierce Transit bus Routes 11, 13 and 16 are the ones most associated with serving Proctor.
Data from Pierce Transit show usage has climbed for the Point Defiance Route 11 and Sixth Avenue/Pacific Avenue Route 16. The North 30th Street Route 13 route has declined in ridership but still runs in the area, but without weekend service.
According to information from Pierce Transit, from 2015 through 2017, bus service has been increased by 16 percent, adding 71,000 hours of service. The increase included changing Route 11 service from hourly to every 30 minutes during peak times, adding trips and extending weekday evening service.
Route 16 also changed, adding trips, moving from hourly to 30-minute service and running later in the evening.
As part of the route changes, Pierce Transit eliminated Route 51, which traveled partially in the Proctor area.
“That change required some riders to transfer and created a longer trip for those going to the Walmart/Allenmore area,” Pierce Transit communications manager Rebecca Japhet told The News Tribune via email.
“We are aware of that issue, and our planners are examining what we might be able to do in that regard.”
With the addition of Proctor III, residents have taken to social media to cite what they see as shortfalls of the service already in place.
“80 units and 30 parking spaces ... Has anyone in office ever used our bus system? It takes my students two hours to travel 10 miles to class,” said one resident on the North End Neighborhood Council’s Facebook page.
“Tacoma’s public transit is not good enough to entice people to live car free,” said another.
Japhet says the agency is aware schedules are “very tight” because of traffic or other delays. Routes 11 and 16 also “interline” — serve other routes (41 and 48, respectively) — so delays can be compounded through the day.
She shared a map that starts with Proctor that charts estimated travel times in four zones circling outward, with a white inner band showing 0-30 minutes, blue (the next outer band) showing those taking 31-60 minutes, teal, the third outer zone, showing 61-90 minutes, and salmon, the farthest outer band, showing 91-120 minutes. The times include transfers, if required, to get to a destination.
Complaints about Proctor’s Routes 11, 13 and 16 the first six months of this year numbered 12, down from 15 in the first six months of 2018, Japhet noted.
Any bus service changes in Tacoma occur twice a year — March and September.
In a move to boost on-time performance for Routes 11 and 16, Japhet said, Pierce Transit is “adding daily hours to both routes (as well as the Route 41 and 48) starting Sept. 22.
“Specifically, we are adding almost eight hours of extra time each day to the Routes 11/41, and about nine hours each day to the Routes 16/48. We believe this will really help with getting buses to their destinations on time,” she said.
As for adding lines, Japhet says at this point Pierce Transit is providing all the service it can afford in the Proctor area within its current funding levels.
“If we were to add service in one area, it would need to be cut from another part of Pierce Transit’s service area,” Japhet noted.
When asked about the impact of transit-oriented projects such as Proctor III and their impacts on the service, Pierce Transit remained positive about the potential benefits overall.
“This type of development generally supports the mission of public transit, in that it encourages the use of transit, leads to reduced congestion with more cars off the road and encourages a community’s environmental stewardship,” Japhet said via email. “It can also lead to a healthier lifetime with more walking, reduced household spending on transportation making housing more affordable within a budget, and increased foot traffic and customers for area businesses.”
In the case of Proctor III, Japhet noted the developers have not yet reached out to Pierce Transit.
Tacoma Public Schools hasn’t heard from them, either. Washington Elementary is across the street from the proposed new apartments.
Parking for the school wraps around the building.
According to Tacoma Public Schools district spokesman Dan Voelpel, the school, which has “operated successfully for decades in a high-traffic, densely populated neighborhood,” has 467 students enrolled.
Of those, 56 percent of the students live outside of the Washington boundary area. Except for a special education bus, “parents of that 56 percent have to arrange their child’s transportation to and from school,” Voelpel told The News Tribune via email.
Teaching Toys & Books co-owner Valla Wagner said it’s too soon to comment on the new apartment proposal but noted that her store’s customers already have had to adapt to the ebb and flow of available parking.
And, she noted, more residents means more potential customers.
“I guess we’re lucky,” she said, “Even during the (Proctor) Farmer’s Market and the holidays, our customers are still finding places to park. They are coming here typically before events like birthday parties, but we haven’t heard any complaints.”
MORE CHANGES AHEAD
Jerry Culpepper of Culpepper Books, a used bookstore in Proctor, acknowledged parking is going to be “tight” with the addition of Proctor III.
His own store is closing later this year after 20 years.
His building has new owners, who paid nearly $2.7 million in April for the site that also has Umpqua Bank, Europa Bistro and Refinery Style Bar as tenants. The building last sold in 2005 for just over $213,000, according to county treasurer records online.
The higher sale price is bringing higher rents.
In a Facebook posting in June announcing the news, the bookstore said, “It’s time for the next phase of our lives, and things are changing in the district, our building has been sold, giant apartment buildings are shadowing the landscape, lots of new moving into the area, so it just seemed like the right time.”
The community is changing, Culpepper told The News Tribune.
“I would’ve liked to have stayed a few more years, but that’s OK,” he said.
One respondent on the North End Neighborhood Council’s Facebook page started ticking off other properties he was concerned about: “What’s next? Blue Mouse? Chalet? There has to be a way to develop without complete demo and loss of character. Who misses Radio Shack?”
Another echoed those sentiments.
“Seems that Proctor is losing what made Proctor....Proctor?”
For its part, the North End Neighborhood Council plans upcoming meetings to address not only development in general but projects such as Proctor III, with a City Council candidate forum July 13 and at its next board meeting Aug. 5.
Kyle Price, chairman of the NENC, told The News Tribune via email in response to questions that for the July town hall forum, “the candidates will likely field a variety of questions,” including “candidates speaking about their positions on growth rather than experts on planning fielding questions about that topic.”
As for the August board meeting with members of the city’s Planning Department, which could offer a deeper dive on Proctor III, he noted, “I expect Aug. 5 to be a lively meeting.”
A town hall with Tacoma City Council District 1 and at-large candidates is planned by the North End Neighborhood Council to discuss their positions on development and growth in general in the area. You can submit questions in advance to email@example.com.
When: July 13, 1-2:30 p.m.
Where: Washington Elementary School gym, 2615 N. Adams St., Tacoma.
The regular NENC meeting will host staff from the city’s Planning Department to answer questions about development and planning specifically in Districts 1 and 2.
When: Aug. 5, 6-8 p.m.
Where: University of Puget Sound Wheelock Student Center off North Alder between North 14th and North 15th streets.