Building on the momentum generated by Yareton Investment and Management’s groundbreaking of its $85 million EB-5 Convention Center Hotel project last August, North America Asset Management Group, LLC broke ground Oct. 12 on its $125 million EB-5 Town Center project, utilizing a key City of Tacoma property located in the heart of the Brewery District.
“Combined, these two projects represent more than $210 million in foreign direct investment recently committed to converting former City assets into privately held tax and job creation uses,” said Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “Both developers have committed to hiring development teams from the Puget Sound region, and these multi-million dollar projects will help support our economy through local and regional contractors who hire from our community.”
The Town Center project will sit along Jefferson Avenue from South 21st to 23rd streets up to Tacoma Avenue. Over the next three to five years, North America Asset Management Group, LLC will build out 600 residential units, up to 200,000 square feet of retail space, and a minimum of 50,000 square feet of office space. The project will also feature a pedestrian and bicycle friendly promenade along Fawcett Avenue.
“Once the Town Center development is built out, it will transform the Brewery District and offer a centralized hub with improved accessibility for University of Washington-Tacoma students and faculty, downtown Tacoma office workers and commuters,” said City Manager Elizabeth Pauli.
“The City has always believed in the great potential for growth that exists in Tacoma’s Brewery District, and we have worked tirelessly to promote development opportunities there,” said Community and Economic Development Director Ricardo Noguera. “These efforts have resulted in its rapid transformation into one of Tacoma’s most visited neighborhoods.”
Helping to drive energy in the Brewery District, as well as further investment in downtown Tacoma, the University of Washington-Tacoma has seen a jump in student enrollment from 5,000 to more than 5,400 over the past year.
A few blocks away, occupying the historic Heidelberg Brewing Building on Jefferson Street, 7 Seas Brewery has expanded beyond Gig Harbor with a second facility in Downtown Tacoma, and Pacific Brewing and Malting Co. is projected to open at the intersection of 25th and Jefferson streets in early 2018.
More than 1,200 new housing units are also being planned in downtown Tacoma. In addition to the Town Center’s projected 600 units, the Brewery Lofts will add 208 units along Commerce Street between South 21st and South 23rd streets, another 170 units will be developed at South 25th and Jefferson streets, and 104 micro-units have just broken ground at South 17th and Market streets.
In the technology and office sector, Infoblox, based in Santa Clara, Calif., expects to triple its workforce at South 21st Street and Pacific Avenue. The company has also formed a partnership with the University of Washington-Tacoma’s Institute of Technology to tap into its student population for future employment possibilities.
“There are other technology firms gravitating to the area as well,” said Noguera. “They are eager to grow jobs and take advantage of the fresh talent here in Tacoma, where the employee retention rate far exceeds both King County and the Bay Area.”
Significant public infrastructure improvements are also being planned in Tacoma. The City of Tacoma and Tacoma Public Utilities are projected to invest millions of dollars in public infrastructure over the next five years, to include new storm drain lines, an expanded Prairie Line Trail which will run from the Thea Foss Waterway into the Brewery District, new roadways at South 21st and South 23rd streets, water lines, and underground utilities.
“With the arrival of the Town Center, downtown Tacoma will rapidly move toward becoming an 18-hour community which, in real estate investment terms, means that services, amenities and job opportunities would be available on a scale comparable to that of vastly larger cities while striking that balance of not needing to run on a 24-hour basis,” said Noguera. “Over the coming months, you can expect to see additional restaurants and shops open in the Brewery District.”