- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - Tacoma wants developers to propose projects to restore Old City Hall that also will make the area around the building more vibrant.

In June, the Tacoma City Council voted to buy Old City Hall for $4 million from The Stratford Co., which was not meeting deadlines to repair the 122-year-old building.

The city’s request for interest asks developers to pitch their ideas for how to renovate Old City Hall for new uses.

“It is the City’s preference to attract uses that create synergy with surrounding development, maximize tax revenues, recoup its investment, result in new jobs and draw pedestrian traffic to the area,” the request for interest states.

Any restoration, the proposal states, “must honor the architecture of the late 19th century in which it was built while developing a compelling, sustainable reuse for this currently vacant property.”

While the city prefers the developer buy the property, officials will consider a lease, or a lease-purchase agreement, according to the paperwork.

A city appraisal estimated the building’s worth at $1.6 million this year. City leaders said they were willing to pay more to save a priceless piece of the city’s history from an owner who wasn’t maintaining it.

The city of Tacoma will pay for immediate, safety-related repairs, said Elly Walkowiak, the city’s business development manager. Such repairs include shoring up seven masonry arches, addressing a leak in the northwest corner of the building and stabilizing metal cornices. The city does not yet know how much those repairs will cost.

The document soliciting developers lists a number of nearby amenities, including parking garages and the proposed Link light rail extension, which, if constructed as officials plan, will have a stop at Old City Hall.

Developers must submit a letter that includes detailed plans for the future of Old City Hall, a schedule of key milestones and how they plan to finance the renovation.

Walkowiak said she expects interest from developers with experience in renovating historic buildings for today’s uses.

“They are the most knowledgeable about old buildings, their old bones and what’s possible. That’s a wide category of developers,” Walkowiak said.

Developers can tour the site in late September. Proposals are due Oct. 30. The city says it will evaluate all proposals within 30 days.

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