Wednesday, December 02, 2015
Six Years and Waiting
Announced almost six years ago was the purchasing of the Elks Lodge in downtown Tacoma. Roughly a month ago came the announcement that renovations were finally beginning. Why the six year lag you ask? Well, the purchasing company, McMenamins has your answer.
To find the answer you first need to know who is McMenamins? McMenamins is a Portland based entertainment company that holds properties throughout Oregon, Bothell and now Tacoma. They also only work on one project at a time, which explains the gap. With the Bothell building now complete, it is finally Tacoma’s turn.
Another recent announcement was that the City of Tacoma has awarded McMenamins with the bid for Old City Hall, located across the street from the Elks Lodge.
McMenamins has a thirty year history of turning historic buildings into entertainment and lodging locations. They are currently planning on renovating the Elks Lodge to feature an event space and a rooftop garden, accompanied by three restaurants, a bar, and a brewery. To top off this massive renovation, there will also be approximately 46 hotel rooms for guests to stay and play. The Old City Hall, which will be a few years behind the Elks Lodge, will be a complimentary experience for guests. The plan for Old City Hall is to have at least 60 hotel rooms, a gift shop, soaking pools, community and private meeting spaces, along with a jailhouse themed bar and a rooftop restaurant featuring a greenhouse. The Elks Lodge will have more of a unique floor plan with a labyrinth of different types of rooms, while the Old City Hall will keep its classic design consistent throughout the building.
This is looking to be two very large renovations with promising outcomes. These plans will not only take the burden of these two beautiful yet deteriorating buildings off the shoulders of the city but it will also be an amazing new opportunity for tourism and small businesses to flourish.
The Elks lodge has been purchased completely by McMenamins and due to it being a private selling process, no firm timelines were made mandatory for this building. However, they are hopeful there will be an opening mid-2017. The Old City Hall is on a lease to potentially own status with firm deadlines so as not to experience a six year lag as with the Elks Lodge. Final details, deadlines, and costs have not yet been set but City Council is hoping to have everything approved by early next year. Decisions on if this will be a purchase to own property are still unclear and neither party is giving an indication on which way they are leaning.
With only a handful of historic buildings left to renovate in Tacoma, many people are looking to see what possible projects could be on the horizon for the companies who were outbid for the Old City Hall. Companies such as, Daniels Real Estate, a Seattle based company with experience in historical restorations, lost to McMenamins but is still interested in moving to Tacoma. Some are speculating that the Washington Building on Pacific Ave, the University-Union Club at 539 Broadway, and the Mansion on Broadway may be next to join the ranks of Tacoma’s beautiful historic renovations. Tacoma has a strong grip on their past and is not going to let changing times take away from the rich history that we have to offer. Restoring historic buildings is classically Tacoma and here to stay for many more generations to enjoy.