School district preps to sell Rialto Garage

Tacoma Public Schools is preparing to sell the Rialto Garage, with a public hearing on the idea in the works for the fall. Photo by Steve Dunkelberger

Tacoma Public Schools is looking for new owners of the four-story Rialto Garage that it bought in 2014 as part of a package deal for the Tacoma School of the Arts. The price tag is $2.3 million for the third-of-an-acre site in the city’s Theater District.

The school district issued an announcement to surplus property and wants to hear about ideas about the property’s highest and best use in the future. The announcement triggers a two-month comment period that will include a public hearing in September. The school board will then consider a resolution to surplus the garage and begin marketing the property for sale.

“We haven’t really cemented what direction we are going to go,” said the district’s Strategic Program Analyst Alicia Lawver, noting that the district could, for example, market it for a direct sale or issue a Request for Proposals. “There are different ways we could sell it.”

The district bought the garage in 2014 as part of a $7.6 million deal that included a three-story building next to the city-owned Rialto the district wanted to house SOTA. The location was the site of the former Music Box Theater before it down in 1963. It had since been replaced with a theater-style building that sits between Pantages and the Rialto theaters.

SOTA was established in the fall of 2001, with help from the  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has an enrollment of about 600 high school students in classrooms at three buildings around the city, namely the former downtown Post Office and the former Ted Brown Music building that house the art school’s theater program.

Inquiries can be directed to Lawver at (253) 571-3322 or email: Written public comment should be submitted by 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10 to Tacoma Public Schools Facilities, 3223 S. Union Ave., Tacoma, WA  98409, Attn: Alicia Lawver; or email


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