Dec. 6--A North Carolina developer, lured by the proximity of the Sounder rail station, a Link light rail stop and Tacoma's bus hub, plans to turn a former mattress factory site near the Tacoma Dome into a major condominium and retail development.
The two-phase project, which is planned to include more than 300 condominiums, is the first residential development in Tacoma's Dome business district.
The yet-unnamed project will occupy the site of the former Spring Air mattress factory at 725 E. 25th St. That site is just across the street from stations for the Sounder commuter rail line to Seattle, the Link light rail route to downtown and Tacoma's bus station.
Jim Sari, an executive with the Landmark Group, said the company's phase one plans call for construction of 155 condominiums on the former mattress factory parking lot facing Puyallup Avenue, with retail spaces on the ground floor. A second phase could include a like number of condos.
The development will be a big plus for the Dome District, said Keith Stone, the district president and former owner of the Freighthouse Square retail center just across East 25th Street from the condo project.
"Anytime you have new residents coming to an area, it's positive news for the merchants," Stone said.
Stone said Landmark was attracted to the industrial and commercial area by the track record of developments built near transit hubs in other communities.
"In Portland, for instance, developers have had great success building near light rail lines," said Stone.
A recent realignment of Tacoma's police patrol sectors has helped address one of the lingering problems along Puyallup Avenue that has deterred residential development.
Police have nearly doubled enforcement actions in the area, Stone said. That frequent enforcement policy has diminished prostitution and drug sales in the area, he said.
Ryan Petty, Tacoma's community and economic development director, said the city worked closely with Landmark when the company came to Tacoma looking for development opportunities. The mattress factory site was one of several the city showed Landmark.
"They're a quality developer with extensive experience in rehabilitating historic buildings and building new affordable housing, Petty said.
Stone said the company has told him the planned units will be on the more affordable end of the scale for downtown and near downtown condos.
"They've told me they'll be priced in the $200,000 to $300,000 range," he said.
The company purchased the land and building in October and began planning the development. Executives for the company are scheduled to be in Tacoma next week to discuss more details of the company's plans.
Local landowners said they've heard that the metal building housing the former mattress factory might be turned into artist studios. Landmark's Sari didn't address the issue of that building's fate in a voice mail message he left at The News Tribune regarding the project. Landmark's local project manager was unavailable for comment.
Spring Air moved out of the building in 1998, consolidating mattress production in a new plant in Lacey.
In addition to the site's proximity to commuter rail stations, the site is about a block and a half from Tacoma's Amtrak station, where trains serving destinations up and down the West Coast stop several times daily.
The Tacoma project will be Landmark's first project outside the East and Southeast. The company has been involved in extensive adaptive reuse projects in a dozen states.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663
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