Historic HomesTacoma Real Estate February 11, 2013

Historic Tacoma Buildings – Status Updates


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Watch List Updates

February 11, 2013
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Historic Tacoma maintains a Watch List of vulnerable properties; click through on the links for more details and photos.

In the original redevelopment plans, the 1937 annex to the north was to be demolished to accommodate a mixed use development named the "Elks on Broadway."  That project failed to raise funding last year, so the annex will be retained and used to accommodate hotel rooms in the Elks Lodge.  These changes have made extensive interior redesign necessary.

Construction status: The permitting process is still underway due to revisions in the skylight and window designs and the addition of hotel rooms to the Elks Lodge.  All exterior alterations are coming before the Landmarks Preservation Commission for design review, as is required for all locally landmarked properties. 


Old City Hall 

The City's Historic Preservation Officer recently did a walk through with the building owner and representatives from other city departments, mainly regarding the leaking copper roof.  The owner is trying to get repairs done and was made aware that repairs would need to be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.  
The property owner was recently sent notice of a code violation regarding graffiti on the South 7th Street side of the building; the graffiti was removed within days.  Unfortunately the building was hit again and another notice was issued.  Building officials note that the owner seems to be responsive but because of repeated code violations over the past few years, the City has the building on a 60-day monitoring cycle.
Additions to our list of pivotal buildings in the district:

Merkle Hotel  (1913)  2407-09 Pacific Avenue

Architectural/historic significance:  
     The three story hotel opened in 1913 and was designed by Tacoma architects Darmer & Cutting for the Pacific Brewing Company.  The hotel underwent alterations in 1948.  On the first floor, Babe Lafferty's Cafe and Shamrock Room opened in 1951 followed later by the Cortina Villa Restaurant.  The Cortina Villa suffered a fire in 1975 causing the hotel's second floor residents to flee.
Status:  The hotel remains in operation.  The first floor features red-painted concrete and the second and third floors are of dark brown-reddish brick.  The last occupant of the first floor was the Pacific Lounge; the business closed in 2006 and the space is vacant.  The Merkle Hotel is offering the 5500 square foot space for lease as a retail or tavern/lounge space, contact 253.627.1095.  The building is not on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places.

Richaven Building (1927)
2401-05 Pacific Avenue at the corner of South 24th Street
Architectural/historic significance
     The two story Richaven building was designed by Tacoma architects Heath, Gove and Bell for Dr. Edward A. Rich in 1927, next to the existing Merkle Hotel.  The early businesses included McKenzie Pharmacy and Kellywood Cafe (118 South 24th) which opened in 1937.  Richaven's second story is constructed, like the upper stories of the Merkle Hotel, of reddish-brown brick.

Status:  On the South 24th Street side of the building, the first floor was recently occupied by a coffee shop and the American Motorcycle Service, but the building is now completely vacant.  A portion of the first floor is boarded up and there is some graffiti.  In October 2012, Code Compliance staff listed the building in derelict condition and the building remains in non-compliance as of February 2013.  The Richaven Building is not on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places.

Thanks to Dan McConaughy, Neighborhoods & Housing Department, City of Tacoma, for calling these buildings to our attention.


A preservation success story, the bridge was removed from our Watch List this month.  Celebrate the re-opening of the bridge at 10am, Feb 15.



Research by Sarah Hilsendeger Rooney and Chris Green