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'Year of the Crane' in Tacoma

This past year – 2016 — has proven to be one of the most successful in Tacoma’s recent history.

Foreign investment projects making great strides from China and Vietnam, with more than $300m projected to break ground in 2017. Prologis breaking ground on a major industrial development in the Port. Restaurants from Seattle expanding to Tacoma such as Cook’s Tavern, Elemental Pizza, and soon Rhine Haus Grill. Historic buildings being refurbished and reoccupied: the former Chihuly Building being converted to 7 Seas Brewery, the former Nisqually Pump Station being leased by a Hong Kong furniture store, and McMenamins inching forward on the renovations of the former Elks Lodge. 

And housing, housing and more housing! Grand on Broadway broke ground on 139 units in the St. Helens District. Ground is being broken on 172 units in the Stadium District, right in front of where the new light rail will expand. The Napoleon is breaking ground on 135 units near the UW Tacoma campus, and Point Ruston is continuing to blossom, with the completion of Century Residences (180 units of condos and apartment units) and the Baker (190 units) under construction. There are also plans for the Washington Building to be sold and converted to market rate residential adding more than 150 units in the heart of downtown.

And that’s not all! More than 1,200 new units are scheduled to break ground in 2017! With less than a 1 percent vacancy in downtown residential units and the continued job growth here and in Seattle/Bellevue (accessible via Sound Transit and Pierce Transit), Tacoma is rapidly becoming the reasonably priced housing option for those being priced out of Seattle.

Speaking of growth, while none of the large tech firms have yet to monopolize on the opportunities to establish a “Live, Work & Play” campus in downtown Tacoma, small tech firms such as Accumula, RedQuerry and CloudPwr all understand the benefits of growing their companies here. Both our housing and office rents are more reasonably priced than our neighbors to the north. Plus, the UW Tacoma campus has an elite Institute of Technology where graduates are regularly hired by Amazon, Microsoft and Tableau, among others. We also have other outstanding schools generating tech grads such as Bates (which just added a new engineering campus); Pacific Lutheran University; Tacoma Community College, Pierce College; and much more.

With a 1 percent residential vacancy rate and the adding of more industrial, tech and office jobs throughout Tacoma and the Puget Sound in general, there will be more demand to build residential in Tacoma over the next few years. The draw from foreign investors from China and Vietnam is not expected to stop. And we may soon see other foreign investors diversifying the finance base in Tacoma, which is good news.  

Last year was a year of securing properties and completing entitlements. But 2017 — this year will be “the Year of the Crane” in Tacoma!

Article contributed by Ricardo Noguera, director of Community & Economic Development at City of Tacoma