APCC sets sights on Ruston complex

Rendering courtesy of Asian Pacific Cultural Center

The Asian Pacific Cultural Center is working on a plan to be the anchor development of a multi-million project at Point Ruston.

APCC, a 20-year-old nonprofit organized to promote and preserve the cultures and traditions of the 47 Asian and Pacific Islander nations, has released more detailed plans for a 390,000-square-foot development at Point Ruston that would include housing, a cultural center, a grocery store and a food court. News of the idea of a facility on the waterfront first appeared some two years ago.

“We don’t want to do the work in phases, we want to do it all at once,” APCC Executive Director Faaluaina Pritchard said. “It is a lot of work to do, so there is a lot of relationship-building to do.”

The nonprofit has contracted with a capital campaign firm to raise funds to help support the project that would also be funded through foreign investments from visa seekers, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and support from state and county capital budgets.

The developers of Point Ruston have conditionally agreed to donate about four acres for the project and would play a role in the commercial aspects of the facility once the group has gathered the funding for the rest of the project. The overall project is projected to cost about $87 million, with the cultural center, gardens and other amenities set to cost about $61 million of that.

Grand plans are nothing new for APPC, which most recently tried to develop a $118 million site in downtown Tacoma in 2011, but the effort failed to gather enough financial support after the City Council opted out of donating the vacant land at 23rd and Fawcett toward the effort. Before that even, the group wanted to convert the former Tacoma Art Museum into a magnet center in 2003, but those plans too fizzled out. This capital campaign, however, is different since the group has hired a non-profit fundraising firm, the Collins Group, to coordinate the effort. The group is now leasing space of what was a community center along South Tacoma Way that was operated by Metro Parks until the group took over in 2012.

APPC hopes to start construction by 2020 and open the facility 14 months later as a block of amenities rather than do the work in phases. The group estimates construction of the facility would create 400 jobs and support about 1,000 jobs once it opens to offer classes and events.

The $1 billion Point Ruston complex is already a residential and commercial hub that draws thousands of people a day to the waterfront. The 97-acre development offers apartments, condominiums, a movie theater, a collection of restaurants, retail shops and professional offices that straddle the border between Tacoma and the City of Ruston. APPC estimates its facility will draw about 400,000 people a year, making it one of the top tourist attractions in Pierce County.

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