Builder provides clout to finance new Proctor complex

The first new apartments built in the Proctor District since the 1960s will start to rise next year, the development team said Tuesday.

A $30 million, six-story, mixed-use complex long rumored for Proctor Street between North 27th and 28th streets now has the financial investment and leadership of The Rush Companies, which will be builder, manager and an equity partner in the new property.

“We plan to break ground this summer,” said Matt Smith, president of the Gig Harbor-based construction firm, adding that his company will arrange bank financing as well as bring in more private investment. Rush recently completed The Pacifica, a 177-unit apartment complex near the Tacoma Mall.

The Proctor project should open about a year after construction begins, Smith said. It will have underground parking, then rise six stories above six or eight retail stores on the ground floor. The complex will have about 140 market-rate apartments, most one-bedroom with some studios and two-bedroom units.

As for parking, a major neighborhood concern, the project will produce about 215 parking stalls. Two levels of structured parking, some underground, will have 150 spots; a small parking lot behind the Northwest Shop along North 27th Street will hold another 16; then about 49 stalls will be on the street. This is about 30 more on-street stalls than currently exist, according to the design team at Tacoma firm BCRA.

UPDATED at 10:15 a.m. to add: The designers are able to increase parking because it will be front-in angled parking, rather than the parallel parking that exists now.

ORIGINAL REPORT: The project, called The Proctor, is the realization of a dream for district businessmen Erling Kuester and Bill Evans. The last multifamily construction in the district was the Mason Manor apartments in 1963.

“If small business doesn’t have more feet on the street, it may survive but it won’t thrive,” Evans said Tuesday. “We need it to thrive.”

The Proctor will be two buildings connected by a skybridge over the alley between North 27th and 28th streets. The developers have asked for a city hearing in January to settle the air rights over the alley. They plan to request permits in February.

Early concepts show a brick facade for the ground floor, with the residential portion being a combination of cement siding, metal panels and glass. Final colors haven’t been chosen.

Evans and Kuester now control most the properties on the block between North 27th and 28th streets except for the CenturyLink building on the southwest corner and the small retail center on the northwest corner. The men and their development partner, Rick Moses, are equity partners in the project, as is the owner of that small retail center.

This past spring, tenants of that retail center were concerned about displacement. Locksmith Bob Corcoran said Tuesday that he has reached an agreement with the developers that will end his lease with 90 days’ notice, and he’ll relocate close by. Restaurateurs Shannon Mueller, co-owner of Babblin’ Babs Bistro, said they’re on a month-to-month lease and are looking for a new location, and that they don’t plan to stay in the Proctor District.

Wilfred Ceria has owned La Fondita on Proctor Street, a block away from the project, for 17 years. He thinks the complex ultimately will be great for the business district, though the disruption caused by construction will be tough. He also hopes the new project won’t negatively affect the quality of life, because he lives four blocks away.

“Growth is great, but we have to take care of our surroundings,” Ceria said.

The project is personal to many of its owners, too. Kuester also lives nearby, as do two leaders of the design team: architect Randy Gould and principal Doug Oberst of BCRA. Evans owns the Pacific Northwest Shop that will be adjacent to the new development.

One of the business district’s newest additions is Compass Rose, an Olympia-based store that opened its second location in Tacoma this year. Co-owner and Tacoma store manager Liz VanDyke said the new project is exciting.

“We opened in Proctor because we knew it was a destination and still had a neighborhood feel,” she said, adding she lives two blocks away and has everything she needs within walking distance.

“It’ll be nice to see more people walking the neighborhood,” VanDyke said.

Kathleen Cooper: 253-597-8546


Twitter: @KCooperTNT