Tacoma Urbanist

Apr. 27, 2011 at 12:01am

City: Developers In Arrears on Winthrop Hotel Loan


The City Manager reports published online is a treasure trove of information rarely reported in the media.

The Limited Liability Company "Winthrop Hotel LLC" purchased the Winthrop Hotel in 2007.

According to a memo issued by the City of Tacoma (page 21), the borrowers are now three payments in arrears to the City in an interest only loan. In addition, the entire principle appears to be due on January 2012. Contrary to the loan terms, neither the renovations look to have been done nor the replacement housing built.  There is a small chance that the City could end up owning part of Winthrop.  However, they are in second position on the loan.


Despite being an iconic historic building in Tacoma (matched only perhaps by Union Station and Old City Hall), the Winthrop Hotel has sat for decades now with one of the highest crime rates in the city which has been inflicted on the residents.  The press reports of crime in and out of the building are exhaustive.

The City of Tacoma needs to step up and work to 1) enforce their lien to the extent provided by law, and 2) work through ever means necessary to restore the Winthrop Hotel to a working hotel in downtown Tacoma.  Ironically, the Tacoma Convention Center is regularly attributes their lack of revenue to the lack of hotel rooms in downtown Tacoma. Here is a chance for a win-win.

The sprawling City of Spokane managed to renovate the Davenport Hotel which is fueling much of the development in downtown Spokane.  Yet, the City of Tacoma has still been reluctant to restore the Winthrop which risks being turned into another surface level parking lot in downtown Tacoma through demolition by neglect.

Tacoma's failure to restore it's historic buildings may well explain one factor as to why Spokane is growing far faster than the City of Tacoma.

More information


Reference Davenport Hotel:

comments [42]  |  posted under tacoma


by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 4/26/2011 @ 11:28pm
The Davenport was restored with private money. The Davenport seems to be making money. Can a Tacoma investor learn something from the Davenport?

by L.S.Erhardt on 4/27/2011 @ 12:41am

by cisserosmiley on 4/27/2011 @ 3:00am
spokane decided years ago to invest in the already cooler part of dt spokane and let the lesser part keep on goin...tacoma took the other path...in the early 90's everyone bailed out of the north end of dt tcoma to go for the gold rush that the south end of dt tacoma had become. this led to the better end of dt tacoma becoming the "bad" end now. spokane invested in what was strong and viable - tacoma invested in the weakest part - now tacoma has to trudge uphill to make over the north side when it could have been "preserved" THE KICKER - it was all planned by developers and their city council sitting investors to make more money - capitalism at its best!

by Mofo from the Hood on 4/27/2011 @ 7:49am
Today the Winthrop Hotel sits in a completely different cityscape than fifty years ago in 1961. Broadway Street was broad and flanked by two sides of retail and service businesses. Likewise 9th and Commerce Street had no dark and cavernous Park Plaza North parking garage. These were the days when mostly refined people strolled the streets. Graffiti was vandalism, and wild haired tattooed vagabonds were identified as such.

The common people that populate the area now---the low income useless eaters and the criminally insane and the notorious bus people---are the barborous tribes that must be conquered first before any new settlers can move into the area. Young educated breeders must have the courage to retake the area and carry civilization forward.

by Joel 413 on 4/27/2011 @ 7:49am
Looking at pictures of the Davenport and the Winthrop. They have a striking resemblance to another thriving hotel in Washington's other big city. the Fairmont Olympic hotel in Seattle.

by fredo on 4/27/2011 @ 9:03am
What a surprise! Another Tacoma City taxpayer subsidized public/private development is going bust. Who'd a thunk?

by Jesse on 4/27/2011 @ 9:21am
Even if the Winthrop were a hotel it'd have to be pretty spectacular to survive I think. Otherwise, why would a person want a hotel room in that part of town?

by fredo on 4/27/2011 @ 9:33am
Jesse, I think you're right. To turn the Winthrop into the Four Seasons would be a job of Herculean proportion. The city is essentially broke and is carrying a lot of debt. A lot of people don't want to hear this but we have a city council which is so dysfunctional that even day to day operations are something of a challenge.

by Jesse on 4/27/2011 @ 9:45am
Just got back from San Francisco a few days ago. You should have seen the crowds for the cable-cars there! on a weekday in off-season no less!
Put a cable car from 9th and A street up the hill to MLK and around and back down 13th or 15th and that hotel would survive. It'd help DT and MLK too!

On the other hand, I've never ever seen a McMenamins property not perform... and I lived in the Portland area for most of my life. If they feel hotel rooms can survive two blocks away at 7th and Broadway, I have at least some confidence they're right??? Maybe??? All I know is that I would stay at the Winthrop only if it were awesomely redone. If it's a Holiday Inn Express re-do... no thanks... ever.

by cisserosmiley on 4/27/2011 @ 10:16am
tacoma's peoples have stymied market demographers since the beginning of corporate low lifedness...McMenamins will be a testament

by Erik on 4/27/2011 @ 11:20am
.in the early 90's everyone bailed out of the north end of dt tcoma to go for the gold rush that the south end of dt tacoma had become. this led to the better end of dt tacoma becoming the "bad" end now.

That is an interesting analysis.

It might have been best that they left the North End of Pacific Avenue alone or we might have Tollefson Plaza where the Matador is now.

As for restoring the Winthrop Hotel, the biggest barrier is psychological, I think it hard for most people to believe that something so nice could actually exist in downtown Tacoma.

by Jesse on 4/27/2011 @ 11:25am
Four Seasons = Stadium High School
High School kids DT in Central School building revamped and added on to.
School district administrators in Old City Hall

by fredo on 4/27/2011 @ 11:37am
Maybe there is a north DT and a south DT. interesting perspective. But I think its worth noting that we don't actually have distinct DT area in the first place. Commercial development was allowed to take place everywhere the old streetcars went. Our DT is kind of like the BP oil matt on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. A big blob that no one really knows what to do with.

by Jesse on 4/27/2011 @ 11:42am
Areas are technically labeled differently but you're right, the personality is only slightly different in each area.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 4/27/2011 @ 12:35pm
Ten years from now we'll still be having this conversation. 20 years from now we'll have another parking lot.

by Jesse on 4/27/2011 @ 12:42pm
At least there's no hole in the roof like the Luzon.


by Erik on 4/27/2011 @ 1:42pm
Maybe there is a north DT and a south DT.

Yes. Mainly because the middle part of Pacific Avenue has been systematically razed:

by cisserosmiley on 4/27/2011 @ 5:43pm
i love this pic! i worked both at the wells fargo plaza(left) and the columbia building(right) and never was there a parking issue, but more lots keep getting built?

by fredo on 4/27/2011 @ 7:29pm
Cheaper to maintain a parking lot than vacant old building. Thanks to our highest minimum wage law lots of old and perfectly serviceable buildings can't be maintained so we knock them down. IMO Thanks voters!

by NSHDscott on 4/27/2011 @ 9:26pm
I appreciate the comparisons between Winthrop and Davenport, but if we're being honest here, the Davenport is a way cooler building. That place is gorgeous inside and out. I don't know much about the inside of the Winthrop, other than the Crystal Ballroom which has potential to be nice but not spectacular, but I have a hard time seeing the Winthrop ever be half as cool as the Davenport. Are we overinflating the awesomeness of the Winthrop, or am I just ignorant?

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see the Winthrop turned back into a nice hotel, I just don't see it as being a truly special hotel. The Murano actually is a pretty special hotel now who would have thought 10 years ago that the dated Sheraton would end up being one of the top-rated hotels in the country?

by Erik on 4/28/2011 @ 12:33am
I appreciate the comparisons between Winthrop and Davenport, but if we're being honest here, the Davenport is a way cooler building. That place is gorgeous inside and out.

The problem with the Winthrop is that it has been allowed to become so blighted as was the Davenport Hotel before it was renovated.

I have not personally seen the Davenport. However, from the architects who worked on the Winthrop renovation drawings, the Winthrop Hotel is grander in many respects.

There are a lot of reasons. Here are a few the Ballroom is grander in the Winthrop with high ceilings. The Winthrop has a huge suite on the top with a 360 degree view of the city.

Right now it is empty. Much of the finishing of the building remains but it is cut up or sheet rocked over.

Here is how it would look renovated

The Tacoma Public Library has a number of historical photographs online:


by cisserosmiley on 4/28/2011 @ 2:10am
the winthrop made sense to renovate in the eighties, but the UWT and Union Station drew folks to the other end of dt...the winthrop became unkept and now likely unsavable.

by cisserosmiley on 4/28/2011 @ 3:52am
it's too bad heroin isn't taxed in tacoma...in the past 30 years the revenue from winthrop dealers could have paid for restoration many times over

by Jesse on 4/28/2011 @ 8:26am
Since the building is already divided off into small hotel rooms, couldn't this be easily converted to a dorm hall for UWT students?

I'd rather it be a hotel but if it's not feasible economically maybe a dorm hall is? It'd be nice to have a different crowd down there.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 4/28/2011 @ 8:53am
The first step in turning the Winthrop into a fancy hotel is making certain that there is replacement housing for those that are currently living there. One can cite the success of the Davenport, but the Davenport was vacant when it was purchased for renovation. The problem with a vacant Winthrop is that it will no doubt face the same fate as the Luzon.

by Jesse on 4/28/2011 @ 8:57am
Replacement housing = 25th and Yakima

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 4/28/2011 @ 9:27am
25th and Yakima might be the ticket. I understand that there are many that want the residents of the Winthrop and Olympus out of the downtown core. 25th and Yakima certainly provides for the removal of poor people from the downtown core. I suppose, while we are at it, we should be removing the transit center as well. Pretty soon nothing but good white people in downtown Tacoma. A fancy hotel, nothing but good white people are far as you can see, life doesn't get any better.

by Mofo from the Hood on 4/28/2011 @ 10:21am
A remodeled Winthrop Hotel full of good white people would be an improvement.

by fredo on 4/28/2011 @ 10:31am
If the people downtown would dress more like Chaps we wouldn't have so much trouble. Those panhandling punks with sagging pants and their wanna-be Hori Smoku homemade tattoos is so 2009.

by The Jinxmedic on 4/28/2011 @ 10:40am
Indeed! Bring on the tweed, I say.

by NineInchNachos on 4/28/2011 @ 11:29am
I'm hearing calls for a Saudi Arabia style morality police? Shall we abduct our impoverished single moms off the streets for wearing sweat pants in public?

In the end-game battle between Nude vs. Prude whose side will you be on?

by The Jinxmedic on 4/28/2011 @ 11:54am
There is nothing wrong with inspiring people to take pride in their appearance and manners. If you honestly think that such a voluntary effort at self-improvement could be, or would be, in some form mandated by some "authority", then there really is no hope for humanity, and we might as well stop right now and just sell the planet to the first aliens that drop by.

by NineInchNachos on 4/28/2011 @ 11:57am
ha ha Galactus is Dead

by fredo on 4/28/2011 @ 12:09pm
For RR to become a Chap he'd have to give up his Sarah Palin styled 1980s Alaska theme wardrobe.

Go Dutch Harbor Seal Pups!

by Jesse on 4/28/2011 @ 12:19pm
@ Crenshaw: Is this better?

25th and Yakima might not be the ticket. I understand that there are many that want the residents of the Winthrop and Olympus in the downtown core. 25th and Yakima certainly provides for the removal of wealthy people from the downtown core. I suppose, while we are at it, we should be removing the business district as well. Pretty soon nothing but poor people in downtown Tacoma. A crappy hotel, nothing but poor people are far as you can see, life doesn't get any better.

by Erik on 4/28/2011 @ 3:50pm
Good idea Jesse. That would solve two problems.

by Jesse on 4/28/2011 @ 3:59pm
Just giving Crenshaw some crap with my last post. I think we're both pretty good at dishing it up.

On relocation, 25th and Yakima... does it have internal hallways? Probably a bad idea to relocate EVERYONE there if it does. It would probably be better to scatter Winthropians around the city... or build housing for them in the Strip Mall of University-less Place or Faux City Fircrest. I'd be tickled if that happened.

by fredo on 4/28/2011 @ 4:15pm
Even better, why don't we have try to fashion a society where the government would quit erecting barriers to businesses which might want to hire low skilled entry level type people? Maybe some of these poor people could find jobs and begin working their way up to regular housing, even owning their own homes. I'm getting a little tired of funding this nanny state where everybody becomes dependent, for generations it would seem, on the state for food, housing, utility bills, everything. People in the depression had practically no social services available but when you look at old pictures all the men were dressed in a suit and tie. End of rant.

by Jesse on 4/28/2011 @ 4:19pm
@ Fredo: In some instances it actually PAYS to be suckling on Miss America's teet. That's wrong. So you're saying it's better to suckle on Lady Liberty's?

by fredo on 4/28/2011 @ 4:26pm
you'll have to draw me a picture, then I'll respond.

by NineInchNachos on 4/28/2011 @ 4:38pm
Fredo's low wage utopia reminds me of social engineering inside the NWDC business model of profitability

by fredo on 4/28/2011 @ 4:50pm
Low wagers earn more than no wagers.