Ocryx and Joe

Ocryx and Joe in "Old City Hall - the next Luzon?"

Yes, it's happening again. Can Old City Hall be saved before it becomes a new parking lot?
posted Nov 26, 2010
Old City Hall - the new Luzon disaster?
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The end is near for Old City Hall unless intervention occurs quickly. We cannot let this 117 year old city icon become yet another parking lot. Did we learn nothing from the loss of the Luzon? So it would seem.

by Erik on 11/27/2010 @ 12:56am
Awesome cartoon. Hopefully, Tacoma can save this building rather than seeing it destroyed by neglect.

If there was ever a time to care about historic buildings in Tacoma, now would be it.

Historic Tacoma and other concerned citizens and civic leaders need to converge in in an emergency meeting to save the building.

by fredo on 11/27/2010 @ 7:47am
Unbelieveable that a building owner with a substantial equitable interest in his property would allow this sort of wasting to occur.

Which leads me to conclude that, in fact, there is nobody with a substantial interest involved in the property. Probably it was sold during the real estate bubble for an inflated price to someone with an insubstantial downpayment and now the owner doesn't actually own anything. Just a guess, I really don't know.

by trixie66 on 11/27/2010 @ 7:58am
Pretty much sums it up!

by Jesse on 11/27/2010 @ 9:04am
Maybe these old historical buildings and items (see Kalakala)need to go before a board of historical directors to determine if the buyer has the means to maintain the building appropriately...(is that legal?) This is another example of a buyer having good intentions for a building or item without the means (see big money) to accomplish anything with it. So it sits, and it sits, and it sits waiting for some grand restoration or project while it decays so far as to be too far gone to have anything done to it and then we lose it forever.

You should have more skin in the game to be able to buy a treasured item like Old City Hall, the Luzon, the old post office, the Kalakala, the Elks Temple, the building where Mars Candy was started, etc....

by morgan on 11/27/2010 @ 9:43am
Too bad there isn't an IQ test for owners of historic properties.

by Jesse on 11/27/2010 @ 10:33am
I made a few phone calls. My sister is a big-wig at Corporate Express -- who owns ServePro (a building disaster recovery company) She's going to try and get her ServPro team to contact both the city and Halo Construction to see what they can do. Anyone else they need to contact? Does Halo still have the keys to the joint or does the bank own it? If this goes through, how can we get at least some positive press for ServPro?

Waiting for your replies to these questions.

by jenyum on 11/27/2010 @ 11:14am
Well, some TNT reporters do seem to read feedtacoma, but you might also try emailing the biz buzz columnists. (If it happens, of course.)

by Jesse on 11/27/2010 @ 11:22am
Fingers crossed.

by jenyum on 11/27/2010 @ 11:41am
If it happens, let us know where and when it's scheduled to start & I'll DM the local teevee people on twitter. Also post some contact info for the company.

by KevinFreitas on 11/27/2010 @ 1:53pm
I'm in on the DM'ing, emailing, phoning, etc whatever local media we can to help promote ServePro if they're willing to donate their time/expertise to help preserve this amazing place in our community! Hell, I'll come help sop up water if need be. The City needs to get involved pronto and make this a priority. If we keep losing things like the Luzon, Eagles Lodge, and Russell then what do we value/what are we made of?

by KevinFreitas on 11/27/2010 @ 1:57pm
I snapped this pic early this cold week:

And these while on a Tacoma Photo Safari back in 2007:


by Erik on 11/27/2010 @ 2:00pm
Sounds like a plan. Historic Tacoma and/or anyone interested should hold a press conference on Monday at City Hall exclaiming that losing Old City Hall is not acceptable and start assembling whatever team necessary to accomplish this.

Yes, it is private building. However, cities do have some emergency powers to act especially since the building is on the registrar.

If the building falls into bankruptcy court, the trustee could order that some measures be taken.

The more exposure and press on the situation, the more likely the city and/owner/property manager will act. I am sure there would be a slew of volunteers to save the building.

by NineInchNachos on 11/27/2010 @ 2:31pm
I love these birds

by daubermaus on 11/27/2010 @ 2:59pm

by trixie66 on 11/27/2010 @ 3:13pm
Just left the building , day 3 no sign of any recovery starting at all. The standing water has now been absorbed by the walls and is up to the window sills. It is so damp inside you can't even write on a piece of paper. It won't be long before pieces of ceiling start to drop. Serv pro was there to solicit business the other day. Erik is right, there needs to be a meeting and efforts to save this amazing place. I put up with 3 years of bullshit and running trespassers out of the building because I lbelieve it is a huge party of our city. Jesse good point, maybe their means and intentions should be looked at before allowing people to buy historic buildings. Also there should be legal ramifications for those who allow them to crumble. I am sure a lot of people who come in to help if the call came out however the clock is ticking.

by KevinFreitas on 11/27/2010 @ 3:45pm
"...the clock is ticking."

Could be a good recovery slogan seeing how prominent those non-running clocks on the tower are. Going to write my council member right now and CC all other local media outlets.

by fredo on 11/27/2010 @ 3:58pm
We need a feedtacoma Historic Preservation "flash mob" willing to assemble on a moments notice to vacuum, patch, plumb, and splice our history back together.

by KevinFreitas on 11/27/2010 @ 4:06pm
Here's a copy of an email I just sent to local city officials and news orgs:

Mayor Strickland, Deputy Mayor Fey, Council Member Manthou, and

Tacoma's historic Old City Hall building is in crisis. A 30,000 gallon water leak during the recent cold snap has catapulted this beautiful yet nearly vacant structure onto our city's endangered species list. According to recent comments from a tenant nothing has been done by the building owner to begin clean-up to mitigate water damage that originated in the upper floors and has trickled down.

Please take measures to help protect this amazing place using whatever means are at our collective disposal. As you can see in the comments of locals in the links below, we're doing whatever we can to get local clean-up companies to volunteer and want the city to help out just the same. Let's see the writing on the wall now and protect this gem, together, before it becomes another Luzon.

See the attached links below and please consider them as submitted
into the public record on this matter:


Kevin Freitas

by KevinFreitas on 11/27/2010 @ 4:17pm
Here's a quick link to generate my note above as an email to local city officials and news orgs:

Email Template Re: Old City Hall Crisis

by Maria on 11/27/2010 @ 5:02pm
Please write local officials!! Let us know if there is a city meeting we can go to...I am so angry about this. My letter (kinda long, sorry).

Dear Tacoma Leaders:

I very much appreciate your leadership and love for our great city. Not the biggest, richest or most artistic city in the country. Not a place of huge mansions, Art Deco skyscrapers or luxury car dealers. But it is a city perfect for people who like to work hard, who know how to dig up hope from hidden sources, who are immigrants and survivors from other regions and countries. A city where soldiers and sculptors rub shoulders with gas workers and glass blowers.

Our city's landmarks are in danger. I am extremely concerned about the destruction and damage to our "family heirlooms"--the buildings from our past. These are our heritage. They are our grandmother's tablecloth, our faded tickets from a refugee steamship, our yellowed and fragile wedding dress worn almost a century ago by a relative whose name is forgotten. In my home, these items are carefully preserved and valued along with our expensive modern acquisitions.

Please, Mayor Strickland and city council members, call on city staff to declare some kind of a cultural or historical emergency to protect our most beautiful Old City Hall. Is there nothing we can do? My heart has been aching these past days thinking about the old growth fir supports swelling with freezing cold water. Damage to the foundation. Moisture in bricks. Silent mold spores starting to multiply.

When horses or household pets are abused or starved, we see local law enforcement enter private property and rescue creatures from negligent owners. There should be some code forcing the owners of our "gray ladies" and historically valuable properties to adequately preserve these structures. The negligence is an outrage.

I understand how difficult it is for the owner, in this economic recession, to have funds available. I have much compassion for the business which tried to convert this property to a sound investment, only to be swallowed up in the recent financial storm. However, despite our understanding, we cannot forget the City of Tacoma is in danger of losing another beautiful artifact. Not an artifact that belongs in a museum or historical society, or one remembered only through photographs. A treasured space that could house small business, arts, cultural activities and other generators of economic and cultural prosperity.

Thank you for all you do to make Tacoma an amazing place to live, work and relax. We've come a long way since the 1970's (I remember). I don't want to lose the precious edifices of our past, even as we build our future.

by NineInchNachos on 11/27/2010 @ 5:09pm
Got an email from Marty saying the council is very aware of the situation but there is very little they can do since Old City Hall is private property. GO CAPITALIZIM!

by Mutton of the Sea on 11/27/2010 @ 5:10pm
The more history we lose, the more this place resembles every other soul-less Seattle feeder town on the I-5 corridor. Calling it "Tacoma" feels kinda like lying. Time for a name change? I vote "South Renton."

by NineInchNachos on 11/27/2010 @ 5:10pm

by jenyum on 11/27/2010 @ 5:13pm
Oh, good grief. Of course something can be done, the owner just doesn't want to get stuck with the bill.

by fredo on 11/27/2010 @ 5:39pm
If there is a note on the property then there probably is a requirement that the property be insured against all risks such as the one here. Not sure if the insurance company would have a duty to take care of the situation absent any request from the property owner.

Probably would be good if historic properties were financed through local banks in an arrangement where the paper stayed here and wasn't bundled and sold like a commodity in the stock market.

by NineInchNachos on 11/27/2010 @ 5:48pm
also, the OLD CITY HALL is featured quite prominently in the bedpan/tray of the new GODDESS OF COMMERCE statue.

by fredo on 11/27/2010 @ 7:43pm
Bill Baarsma reminded me that the city had the same problem trying to keep the old Elks building in good repair when it was owned by Zimmerman. In that case the owner seemed to delight in the damage the building was suffering. Fortunately, it looks like that place is going to get the attention that the OCH also deserves.

by NineInchNachos on 11/27/2010 @ 8:03pm
High five for fredo!

by The Jinxmedic on 11/27/2010 @ 10:40pm
Dear City of Tacoma- conduct emergency repairs to the building, and then bill the owners. You did that to tear down the Luzon, now do it to save Old City Hall.

by The New Takhoman on 11/27/2010 @ 11:18pm
M & C Shaudis,

May I have permission to reprint the cartoon in The New Takhoman with credit to you?

Please reply to takhoman@hotmail.com

Thank you,

John Hathaway

by JesseHillFan on 11/28/2010 @ 2:21am
It could have been taken (with compensation) by the use of eminent domain by a government body.Probably far too late for that though.
Besides the city is already having financial difficulties.

by The Jinxmedic on 11/28/2010 @ 7:35am
$700K for a new parking lot sounds like financial difficulties to me. Massive pay raise for the City Manager must be quite a hardship as well. "Surprise" pagoda costs are easy enough. Oh, did I mention the NEW FURNITURE yet?

(yes, I know the $700k is state money -you know what? USE IT ON OLD CITY HALL!)

by Jesse on 11/28/2010 @ 9:34am
The problem I see with OCH is that it is in foreclosure. That could or could not mean there is insurance on the building as when you skip a mortgage payment, you're often skipping the insurance payment as well as they're sometimes in the same bill.

trixie66 stated that ServPro was on site a few days ago. I can see what the deal is with that in regards to the insurance situation. Otherwise, nothing can be done further, on my end, until Monday.

by fredo on 11/28/2010 @ 9:48am
"That could or could not mean there is insurance on the building as when you skip a mortgage payment, you're often skipping the insurance payment as well as they're sometimes in the same bill." jesse

You might be right jesse. But the bank holding the note on a commercial property will ordinarily take out insurance on the property should the owner allow his to lapse. I own commercial property in Tacoma and if my lender ever discovered the insurance was about to lapse they would step in with a replacement policy. They would never allow the property to go uninsured, even for a minute.

by Jesse on 11/28/2010 @ 10:15am
FYI: To McMenamins

Mr. Raleigh and Mr. Simcoe,

As a big fan of McMenamins (I've been to 32 of your properties) establishments and an ex-resident of the Portland area, I feel compelled to write you a note today regarding a possible project in Tacoma, Wa. I know you may indeed have your plate full in Tacoma with the Elks Temple project. However, another storied building may be available soon.

Tacoma's Old City Hall at South 7th Street and Pacific Avenue is, in my opinion, the marquee building and most significant landmark in downtown Tacoma. Built in 1893, the building is currently only with four tenants and, word on the street is, it is going up on the auction block in January.

The building has recently suffered a broken sprinkler pipe and has been flooded by 30,000 gallons of water. Many residents of Tacoma and Pierce County are nervous about the future of this storied structure as we recently saw the first "sky scraper" on the west coast, an 1890 architecturally revolutionary six story building fall into decay and ultimately demolished.

As with the flood, the four remaining tenants are likely to look for greener pastures for their businesses thus leaving the building empty, at a foreclosure discount, yet full of McMenamins potential.

Again, I am just a resident of Pierce County and big fan of what you guys do to old structures and how your efforts have turned around parts of downtown Portland. I understand this building was your first choice in Tacoma as well.

Thanks for your time today,



by Jesse on 11/28/2010 @ 10:18am
I will find out tomorrow if the building has insurance on it or not when my sister talks to her ServPro guys about what they found out on their visit to OCH last week.

Thanks for the heads up trixie66

by NineInchNachos on 11/28/2010 @ 10:44am
the sleeping giant exit133 blog stirs


by captiveyak on 11/28/2010 @ 2:22pm
it might be worth mentioning - again - that Mr. Webb had a chance to sell OCH to Pleasants and Moses (the dev team behind the Elks/McMenamins project), but turned it down. Pleasants and Moses WANTED to get to work on the OCH building, but ended up going with the Elks building instead. Initially, it seemed OCH was going to be an easier prospect, since the Elks bldg ownership was resistant to sale as well.

I'm still curious about what would have happened if the Urban Waters facility had been placed in the OCH, as Boe suggested. Then, we'd have state money and endowments plunged into the project - and still spend less than we did on the new Urban Waters bldg.

by NineInchNachos on 11/28/2010 @ 3:53pm
agreed captiveyak. I think the urban waters bldg was/is part of a larger conspiracy to start colonizing the port for humans.

by captiveyak on 11/28/2010 @ 4:39pm
Yup. www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Local/lincoln-...

ARRA at work in Tacoma.

I don't take issue with the rehabilitation of the port area. There sure is a lot of contaminated land out there. With modern development regulations, a lot of it would be cleaned up out of necessity. BUT....

The current location of the Urban Waters building sure does seem like an able attempt at hiding a local architectural feature in an area no one will go to.

by Jesse on 11/28/2010 @ 5:58pm
"Mr. Webb had a chance to sell OCH to Pleasants and Moses (the dev team behind the Elks/McMenamins project), but turned it down" -- captiveyak

I understand Webb had to turn Grace Pleasants down because the AIDS Foundation would not move out of OCH and they had an iron-clad lease -- they are gone now. That thwarted the sale to McMenamins.

Also, it is not uncommon for them to have one establishment within a block of another. Just off the top of my head I can think of a few --- Crystal Ballroom, Ringlers, Ringlers Annex, and the new Crystal hotel are all within a block of each other. As well, The Blue Moon and the bar on NW 23rd (name?) in Portland are about 3 blocks from each other.

by captiveyak on 11/28/2010 @ 6:21pm
Good point Jesse. I was off target. I agree that a McM project would go a long way toward putting the OCH in maintainable condition.

I think that building could be much more affordably fixed up for office space, though. The craft beer economy is a transitory generational market phenomenon anyway.

by Jesse on 11/28/2010 @ 6:36pm
One can always daydream...

by fredo on 11/28/2010 @ 7:07pm
If this place goes back on the market next year and is offered as/is it's going to sell at a tremendous discount. I wouldn't be surprised to see a price in the range of $40-50 sq. ft. At the right price any use will pencil out. I'd like to see more places like this divided up and sold as retail or office condos.

by NineInchNachos on 11/28/2010 @ 9:02pm
see Marty Campbell's facebook for some useless blubbering...

"Marty Campbell: I don't think the City has owned it for decades, so it not ours to take back."

"Rob Mcnairhuff (city spokesperson): It's called speculative real estate. Buy in hopes of building condos, don't do any research before hand, gamble on the economy and lose, then walk away from the deal. It's the worst tendencies of the market at play with one of Tacoma's icons..."

"Dave Stockwell: The owner's are out in Boston and have many buildings to worry about across the country. No rent = no money for repairs. OCH is a small piece in a large puzzle. It's not that they don't care, the problem's just bigger than one building."

"Marty Campbell: IMHO it is worth more than any pending state grants, would need way more in repairs, and would not meet the criteria for the fulfillment of the grants.

We could go out for grants, but that could take months."

by Marty on 11/28/2010 @ 9:09pm
@ RR
Some of those comments are in response to question the user deleted after my response, so they seem out of context.

by NineInchNachos on 11/28/2010 @ 9:48pm
awe man, people on facebook are wimps.

by cisserosmiley on 11/29/2010 @ 1:09am
Portland has three time as many people as Tacoma, has no Seattle near by to compete with, 20% higher incomes, and the median home price is $50,000 more...one McMenamins project will likely bury a plethora of smaller drinking and entertainment establishments...two would suck every booze, pool table, and open mic dollar in Tacoma back to Oregon. McMenamins should buy The Brooklyn in the WaMu Tower then the Elks and OCH could be used for manufacturing small toys and consumer electronics in the ultimate Chinese Reconciliation Gesture.

by NineInchNachos on 11/29/2010 @ 10:54am

On Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 10:40 AM, Anderson, Eric wrote:

Thank you all for you emails and for your concerns about the Old City Hall. As you know, we do not own the building. However, I have no desire to place some future City Council and City Manager in the position we found ourselves in with the Luzon, in which the actions of others over thirty years forced me to take an action I was loath to take.

We are documenting tenants and preparing to take any and all actions that we are permitted to take under the law. Certainly I am open to any suggestions you may have that I can act lawfully upon.


Eric A. Anderson

City Manager

Tacoma, Wa

by jenyum on 11/29/2010 @ 11:06am
The question is, what is the owner's remedy if you did take action? They can't get anyone out with a shop vac and fans but they're going to run to court for an injunction?

by NineInchNachos on 11/29/2010 @ 11:10am
Boston TEA vacuum party!

by The Jinxmedic on 11/29/2010 @ 11:36am
That "Inbox Flash" brings to mind a certain point: Is it unfair for me to constantly deride City Manager Eric Anderson about turning local history into parking lots? Yes, it is unfair.

However, such is the price of being a well-compensated and unelected public figure. If this opens debate and discussion of important issues, so be it. Send in the crows, I say!

by cisserosmiley on 11/29/2010 @ 11:55am
I recall on the eve of the Swiss opening I was in hot debate with a local pub owner, a local not for profit exec., and a local real estate investor. I was in my early twenties, they were in they're 40's. I said I forsee complications with south dt investment because north dt will become unkept...we will be trading one kept end of dt for a newly re-done end...then it will all swing back with only real estate developers winning. We could have left south dt and put the UWT in north dt with half the investment. The ELKS would have been a great main UWT building, OCH-political science dept., and that old Russel building-school of economics, Luzon-architectural college.

by NineInchNachos on 11/29/2010 @ 12:23pm

by The Jinxmedic on 11/29/2010 @ 1:44pm

by jenyum on 11/29/2010 @ 2:25pm
from morgan on Facebook:

"Word on the street has it that a dry-out crew is on the way to Old City Hall. YAY!"

let's hope word on the street is right!

by Maria on 11/29/2010 @ 2:44pm
1) Does anyone know if Tacoma has an ordinance giving the city emergency powers to go in and shore up a building or do emergency repairs in the case of weather, earthquake, etc. if the owners do not act or cannot act? Other cities are requiring repairs and imposing fines to motivate owners to act.

*Example from Tampa:
Hide yo damaged roofs, hide yo dilapidated buildings, they be finin' all you absentee landlords:

*Georgetown U study on demolition by neglect & government options
Main Point: examples of three cities assessing fines or putting liens on neglected buildings to force owners to keep up historic properties

2) Maybe the next step is looking at eminent domain. (I know this is very early in the process with this structure.) We spent public resources fighting Zimmerman vs. Tacoma back in 2004, to win the right to take over a historically-threatened building when the owner neglects upkeep. Let's not wait until another building looks like a drunk freshman at a frat party before taking action. To preserve landmarks, this step may need to be taken early enough that the building can be saved.

Washington Trust for Historic Preservation newsletter
Page 2 gives overview of case

Court of Appeals, Zimmerman vs. Tacoma

3) Does anyone know if the Landmark Preservation Commission has been contacted, and if they're getting involved?

by Jesse on 11/29/2010 @ 4:09pm
Ok. I was assured by my sister, who works for ServPro's parent company, that there is already a plan in place for the OCH cleanup. She said that there's a company that most of the city uses for old buildings and those guys should be onsite within days.

I am Morgan's source.

by NineInchNachos on 11/29/2010 @ 4:21pm


by KevinFreitas on 11/29/2010 @ 5:57pm
Hot damn! Jesse, you rock!

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/29/2010 @ 10:12pm
You will enjoy the following:


by Erik on 11/29/2010 @ 11:25pm

625 Commerce Street
Downtown Tacoma, WA 98402

P: 206-450-6389
E: leasing@thestratfordcompany.com


Also see:

Submit Maintenance Request

For emergencies, please call (206) 368-4017 instead of completing this form.

Name: Email: Phone: (optional) Unit: Detailed Description of maintenance required: (optional)
Permission to enter: * YES

Maybe all anyone needed to do is to properly submit a maintenance request!

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/29/2010 @ 11:52pm
I've already submitted my maintenance request, hope they respond soon.

by KevinFreitas on 11/30/2010 @ 8:12am
Yay for Peter Callaghan for stepping up and getting a front page article about Old City Hall in the TNT:


And props to him for crediting FeedTacoma as the originator of all this discussion toward action. Cheers gang! Let's keep on this if we're truly passionate about it and not just demand results of our elected leaders but of ourselves. Working together we can make anything happen!

by fredo on 11/30/2010 @ 8:17am
yes, callaghan had a nice tip-of-the-hat to feedtacoma. bravo Kevin!

by captiveyak on 11/30/2010 @ 8:20am
if clean-up is indeed on its way, then we need to join David Boe in pushing for official inspection and assessment of damage - immediately. Hopefully that can be addressed tonight.

And congrats on the well-earned credit from Callaghan, feed-folks! Great job getting this issue out into the open.

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 8:37am
Thanks for your hard work CaptiveYak. Got the O&J-Tacomic-Exit133 tri-force going on.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/30/2010 @ 9:59am
Yeah, way to get on this story from the get go, Exit133. I guess it was more exciting writing stories about the OCH when it was going to be condos. Buy Now!!! or Invest!!

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/30/2010 @ 10:16am
How I miss the old days:


I blame Obama because we don't got no "urban living". Maybe with the likes of Boehner and the Republicans we'll get our "urban living" back. I want my "urban living" back!!

by jenyum on 11/30/2010 @ 10:17am
Is SiteCrafting still looking to buy a building?

by captiveyak on 11/30/2010 @ 10:20am
Um, hey man. I got enough heyday kickbacks from developers to shield me from ever feeling guilty for sleeping on a story for a couple days.

I do enjoy getting teased. But it's always for the same stuff. 1. Rarely enunciating an opinion and 2. Crap that happened before I even wrote a word for any website anywhere. I just want the criticisms to be more creative. Is that too much to ask?

Actually, I waited because my son was in town for the holiday. Soon as I dropped him off at the airport at 6am, i sat down and wrote the story - as useless as it was at that point. The important work had already been done by O&J, Kevin, RR and co. Thank god for that. This is a really gigantic issue. We'll certainly use whatever forum we have to keep drawing attention to it.

by Brooks on 11/30/2010 @ 2:04pm
Derek Young has been live-tweeting today's City Council meeting. One of his last OCH-related tweets was this:

"The bottom line is that the City cannot mandate fixes at this point. The "hammer" changed when the tenants relocated. #oldcityhall"


What I find curious is the bit about tenants relocating. Which I assume means that Halo has also moved (I noticed the photo studio space emptied out last week) but does the fact that the two tenants have relocated because the building cannot be occupied mean the same as the tenants losing their lease and, thus, whatever rights they have as folks who pay rent?

If it's not the same, if there are still tenants then how does that statement ring true?

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 3:02pm
catch 22

by Dave_L on 11/30/2010 @ 3:08pm
Additional yay to Peter for his description of the break that was succinct, yet the most accurate I have read or heard in the media. (Being related to my line of work, Iím sensitive to that detail.) Reuben was powerless with hands tied during Luzon, so Iím glad Peter (also moderator of the recent RE: Tacoma lecture on new uses for old buildings) was able to mention the changes the City is making regarding the issue in general, maybe at least giving us a chance of a saving throw in future circumstances.

by KevinFreitas on 11/30/2010 @ 3:18pm
I saw Derek's mention of the tenants. Yeah, don't care. This issue is bigger than the building owner or tenants and there are always ways to make something happen. Be it through legal loopholes (keep in mind the City is only just now reviewing this issue) or cash money. Let's not lose hope just if we see mention of these kinds of bumps in the road.

by Erik on 11/30/2010 @ 3:19pm
What I find curious is the bit about tenants relocating. Which I assume means that Halo has also moved (I noticed the photo studio space emptied out last week) but does the fact that the two tenants have relocated because the building cannot be occupied mean the same as the tenants losing their lease and, thus, whatever rights they have as folks who pay rent?

Doesn't make any sense. They are still tenants there even if they physically moved their stuff out.

As for a solution to save Old City Hall, there are many possibilities. Many of which are going to take affirmative action by the City and one or more private groups.

by Erik on 11/30/2010 @ 6:03pm

More eyes watching: Bellingham Herald following Tacomaís effort to save Old City Hall via McClatchy syndication: www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/11/29/1747...

Come on Tacoma!

by Erik on 11/30/2010 @ 6:05pm
Tacoma Momma Live Blogging at Tacoma City Council meeting re: any effort being considered to save Old City Hall:


by Jesse on 11/30/2010 @ 8:02pm
So they're saying the city can do NOTHING now because there aren't any tenants left?

by Erik on 11/30/2010 @ 8:34pm
Read the News Tribune article where councilmember David Boe and Mayor Strickland fight to save Old City Hall:

City regulators have little or no legal authority to force the owners of Old City Hall to clean up the historic building after a ruptured water pipe flooded parts of it last week, City Manager Eric Anderson told city council members Tuesday.

During an update on Old City Halls situation at the councils study session, Anderson assured council members the city is doing all it can to ensure the privately-owned building doesnt go the way of another downtown landmark: the Luzon Building.

A tenant watches watches water flowing from a broken pipe inside Old City Hall last week.

We want to make sure we are doing everything we can do to avoid losing the building, Anderson said.

But Anderson added: We cant just go into a (private) building and clean it up without an immediate public danger.

Unlike the 118-year-old Luzon, which the city razed last year after 30 years of neglect and private restoration efforts failed, Old City Hall does not represent a public safety hazard, Anderson said.

Its not in imminent danger of collapse, he said.

On a hypothetical scale of 1 to 10, with 10 posing an immediate threat to public safety, Anderson described the 122-year-old Old City Hall building as closer to a 1.

But at least one council member disagreed with Andersons assessment.

Id put it closer to a 5, said Councilman David Boe, an architect by trade, just because of the insidious nature of water in a wood-framed structure.

Boe added there is significant concern with allowing water to stand over time in Old City Hall, a situation he said could create structural, mold or other problems and potentially limit interests from outside parties that may want to take on the project.

Youve got to dry that building out, Boe said. What concerns me with a wood-framed structure in the interior and were heading into the wet months (is) there needs to be a plan going forward, and not just wait for the insurance claim.


by Jesse on 11/30/2010 @ 9:12pm
"We thought we had (a hammer), but with the tenants being relocated (we don't)," --- Eric Anderson

There goes my source...

Tomorrow is a new day.

by The Jinxmedic on 12/1/2010 @ 3:31am
So, the City Manager prefers that OCH is rated closer to a "10", where he can take action due to being a public threat? And that the action that he will take (as recent history proves) at that point is one that he is "loathe" to take?

by fredo on 12/1/2010 @ 7:55am
My house has a little leak in the roof and its dripping on my living room carpeting. this is only going to get worse. My house is like an icon in our neighborhood. people frequently leave evidence of a pilgrimage to my house such as empty mcdonalds wrappers and wine bottles. I would like the city to immediately step in and make the necessary repairs. if i have to continue anguishing over this matter i might soil myself.

by KevinFreitas on 12/1/2010 @ 8:18am
We've heard it already @fredo. If you're house was derelict the City would have certain rights so your place wouldn't become a danger to you or others. Old City Hall is no different.

From a Historic Tacoma email:

At-Risk Historic Building: Old City Hall

Deteriorating conditions and financial difficulties of the owner threaten the iconic Italian Renaissance Old City Hall, designed by E.A. Hatherton and constructed in 1893.  See details in the Tacoma News Tribune:  Peter Callaghan's Nov. 30th piece, "Burst pipes latest reminder of neglect at Old City Hall" and Kathleen Cooper's Oct. 16th article "Tacoma's historic Old City Hall deep in debt."

Historic Tacoma Board member Caroline Swope was at Tuesday's City Council Study Session which touched on the subject.  Councilman Boe, an architect, expressed serious concern about the condition of the building, noting that the risk of fire is very real and that the building is worth more as an insurance loss than a sale.  "Because of the insidious nature of water in a wood-framed structure"  this situation could create "structural, mold or other problems and potentially limit interest from outside parties that may want to take on the project."  Questions were also raised by Council members Walker & Campbell.  This situation may push the City into placing stronger ordinances in place, a proactive strategy that has been under consideration since the demolition of the Luzon building 14 months ago.
Still no word of action on the part of our City leaders. Any update @Jesse from the ServePro folks? Has anyone in the vicinity noticed any cleaning crews heading in or out of OCH?

by NineInchNachos on 12/1/2010 @ 8:37am
Hey Kevin, how do I get on that email list?

by fredo on 12/1/2010 @ 8:44am
"This situation may push the City into placing stronger ordinances in place, a proactive strategy that has been under consideration since the demolition of the Luzon building 14 months ago."

Why does it take 14 months to fashion a strategy to deal with problems such as this? My guess is that a law which requires the city to patch up problems on private property is going to be fraught with problems including funding issues. And there may be constitutional problems. I'm not sure people want the historic preservation gestapos storm trooping their property anytime they suspect a "maintenance" problem.

by Jesse on 12/1/2010 @ 2:26pm
@Kevin: No word yet. Waiting.

by Jesse on 12/2/2010 @ 8:23am
It's not looking good on my end. Too many variables suddenly. The city is the best shot at this point I think.

by fredo on 12/2/2010 @ 8:30am
An important issue is being raised:

Does the city have a moral or legal obligation to maintain historic buildings within it's borders regardless of ownership and regardless of the owners willingness to grant access? And if such an obligation exists, how should a funding mechanism be established?

by captiveyak on 12/2/2010 @ 9:46am
Fredo - You keep raising excellent points. Thanks.

I think that any historic designation is useless unless cities have moral/legal obligation. Even without a historic designation, any building/home owner will do with his property what is in his best interests 99% of the time. Usually, it is in his/her best interest to maintain the property. The concept of "best interest" and "building codes" would then make "historic designation" a redundant concept.

It is time for the City to step up and put teeth behind the the protection and public value assumed by the very nature of a Historic preservation program - AND they must keep in mind that the building owners VOLUNTARILY purchased a designated historic building. The public has a stake in such things. The city acts on behalf of the public when the ownership cannot or will not.

As for funding -- that's something i'm not an expert on. But Reuben McKnight would probably be able to speak to that issue.

by ixia on 12/2/2010 @ 10:18am
I support the use of public money to save the building. Old City Hall is a public asset, a communal antiquity that belongs to all of us. We simply canít lose another major part of our history or we risk soon looking like strip mall anyplace.
Eric Anderson canít be trusted with this at all. He has shown us where his heart is with the Luzon. All he worries about is parking. I count the days for him to finally retire, he has received a sweet incentive to do so with his fat 17% raise.
The city itself has a lot of issues with their own properties. The cityís maintenance facility has rotting fascias, missing gutters, weeds on the roof, failing paint and just plain looks rotten. The old Brownís Bar on MLK has been boarded up for so many years it is slowly rotting away. Another building the city owns is the old Durobilt place on Puyallup Ave. Broken windows, pigeon habitat, rotten wood, missing gutters, botched boarding up job and plenty of public bathroom usage. All these buildings have been neglected during the fat years as well, there is no excuse. The city has not responded to my inquiry about these buildings.
So yeah, if we allow for parts of our city to rot away, it harms all of us. I am hoping the new council will find ways to protect our historic heritage.

by KevinFreitas on 12/2/2010 @ 11:40am
Eric Anderson updated me via email:

"The owners are doing the infrared inspection to assess the damage, and should complete their assessment and repair plan by early next week.  Then they get the repair permits and get going.  They donít want to put heat into the building to dry it out because that can cause mold growth."
Great to know, thanks so much Eric and for everyone trying to help out!

by NineInchNachos on 12/2/2010 @ 11:48am
thanks Kevin!

by The Jinxmedic on 12/8/2010 @ 9:14am
Any word on clean-up yet?

by The Jinxmedic on 12/9/2010 @ 10:21am
Comment from Erik on a similar post:

"Nice work on the Crow Jinx!

If Old City Hall is saved, it will be largely because of your crows.

(Of course, the crows tried to save the Luzon if I recall)"

by The Jinxmedic on 1/5/2012 @ 3:48pm
Don't let Old City Hall become another Luzon. Over a year later- and...      ...nothing.

by NineInchNachos on 1/5/2012 @ 3:52pm
call them up!

demand to know what is happening!

by NineInchNachos on 1/5/2012 @ 4:03pm
well maybe this is a indicator of company health? 
Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

by The Jinxmedic on 1/5/2012 @ 4:14pm
Occupy Old City Hall!

by NineInchNachos on 1/5/2012 @ 4:19pm

by trixie66 on 1/5/2012 @ 4:24pm
All of the above mentioned people have been gone for 3+years, you can however email Dave the property "manager"  or here is Mr. Webb whom by the way has never responded to an email from me {3 yrs}
David B. Morton
The Stratford Company LLC1019 Pacific Ave. #1209Tacoma, WA 98402
p: 206.450.6389
e: david@thestratfordcompany.com
w: www.thestratfordcompany.com 


Curious about the 12/31/11 deadline, anyone check with Dan Mcconaughy?

by NineInchNachos on 1/5/2012 @ 4:26pm
deadline?  who the what now?

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 1/5/2012 @ 4:34pm
meanwhile, in seattle . . .

by trixie66 on 1/5/2012 @ 4:40pm
Is that the building that caught on fire and the resident of 60 yrs perished????  Nice.

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 1/5/2012 @ 4:44pm
@ trixie66 -- yep. i took that photo over the weekend. the building has been that way for a long time, despite rumors of redevelopment.

by NineInchNachos on 1/5/2012 @ 4:44pm
thanks Todd! Nice having somebody tracking Seattle stories. 

by trixie66 on 1/5/2012 @ 4:48pm
What an asshole, the city should make him live in it.

by NineInchNachos on 1/5/2012 @ 4:58pm
if SOMEBODY lived in it he'd be forced as a landlord to fix it up. 

by trixie66 on 1/5/2012 @ 5:13pm
I don't know, nothing was done in the 2 years I froze my ass at OCH.  

by NineInchNachos on 1/5/2012 @ 6:07pm
the bastards.

by The Jinxmedic on 6/6/2012 @ 2:16pm
This kind of thing would have been nice on the playing cards. Oh, well. Another opportunity missed.

by NineInchNachos on 6/6/2012 @ 2:48pm
chandler already claimed OCH

by NineInchNachos on 6/6/2012 @ 2:49pm
oddly enough the Luzon was also claimed even though it only lives in our dreams now.

by NineInchNachos on 6/6/2012 @ 2:50pm
however, the Pacific Plaza is still available ! 

by The Jinxmedic on 6/6/2012 @ 2:50pm