Tacoma Urbanist

Nov. 29, 2010 at 11:59am

Day 5: Old City Hall Rapidly Deterioting; Inaction by Owner and City of Tacoma

On November 24th, 30,000 gallons of water poured through Old City Hall landing throughout the building and on all of the wooden floors.

As it sits now, neither the owners, landlord or the City of Tacoma has taken any measures to try to halt the massive damage which will occur in the next week which could very likely condemn the building to destruction..

Meanwhile, one of only tenants is moving out:

Here are some quotes:

Karen Vialle, former Mayor of Tacoma:

Eric you maybe right unfortunately, The City has chosen to basically ignore that part of the City for several years. We seem to have the mentality that the City can only do one project at a time. We disproved that theory when we did the Union Station and the Theater district renos and new construction at the same. Hopefully the City Council will take a new look at this area given the Elks redevelopment.

Kevin Freitas:

I'm in on the DM'ing, emailing, phoning, etc whatever local media we can to help promote ServePro if they're willing to donate their time/expertise to help preserve this amazing place in our community! Hell, I'll come help sop up water if need be. The City needs to get involved pronto and make this a priority. If we keep losing things like the Luzon, Eagles Lodge, and Russell then what do we value/what are we made of?

Maria:

Please write local officials!! Let us know if there is a city meeting we can go to...I am so angry about this. My letter (kinda long, sorry).


Dear Tacoma Leaders:


I very much appreciate your leadership and love for our great city. Not the biggest, richest or most artistic city in the country. Not a place of huge mansions, Art Deco skyscrapers or luxury car dealers. But it is a city perfect for people who like to work hard, who know how to dig up hope from hidden sources, who are immigrants and survivors from other regions and countries. A city where soldiers and sculptors rub shoulders with gas workers and glass blowers.


Our city's landmarks are in danger. I am extremely concerned about the destruction and damage to our "family heirlooms"--the buildings from our past. These are our heritage. They are our grandmother's tablecloth, our faded tickets from a refugee steamship, our yellowed and fragile wedding dress worn almost a century ago by a relative whose name is forgotten. In my home, these items are carefully preserved and valued along with our expensive modern acquisitions.


Please, Mayor Strickland and city council members, call on city staff to declare some kind of a cultural or historical emergency to protect our most beautiful Old City Hall. Is there nothing we can do? My heart has been aching these past days thinking about the old growth fir supports swelling with freezing cold water. Damage to the foundation. Moisture in bricks. Silent mold spores starting to multiply.


When horses or household pets are abused or starved, we see local law enforcement enter private property and rescue creatures from negligent owners. There should be some code forcing the owners of our "gray ladies" and historically valuable properties to adequately preserve these structures. The negligence is an outrage.


I understand how difficult it is for the owner, in this economic recession, to have funds available. I have much compassion for the business which tried to convert this property to a sound investment, only to be swallowed up in the recent financial storm. However, despite our understanding, we cannot forget the City of Tacoma is in danger of losing another beautiful artifact. Not an artifact that belongs in a museum or historical society, or one remembered only through photographs. A treasured space that could house small business, arts, cultural activities and other generators of economic and cultural prosperity.


Thank you for all you do to make Tacoma an amazing place to live, work and relax. We've come a long way since the 1970's (I remember). I don't want to lose the precious edifices of our past, even as we build our future.


Commentary:

Each election season, we hear and read campaign slogans and speeches as to how aspiring City of Tacoma candidates are skilled leaders if Tacomans would just elect them and give them a chance at running the city.

Ok City Council.  Here is a chance to show your leadership abilities.  The stakes are high and the time line very short.  Use your office and the money, creativity, staff and connections at your disposal to save the most iconic building in Tacoma's history and save Old City Hall.

The time for hand wringing is over.  Tell us what you are going to do before it is too late.

comments [11]  |  posted under Tacoma

Comments

by Erik on 11/29/2010 @ 12:25pm

by Erik on 11/29/2010 @ 12:31pm
More commentary on Exit 133:

www.exit133.com/6081/old-city-hall-beset...

by Nick on 11/29/2010 @ 1:32pm
I'm going to be extremely disappointed with our leadership if I don't see any action on this.

by The Jinxmedic on 11/29/2010 @ 1:37pm


The Luzon, take two.

by jenyum on 11/29/2010 @ 1:43pm
what I said on Exit 133:

Could the city go ahead and do some mitigation now and try to seek repayment from the owner later? Realizing that probably won’t work and we’ll be stuck paying for it? yeah they probably could. Even if not legal what is the remedy for the owner? Suing for damages because his property was improved? If “the city” takes action rather than a private individual no one is going to jail for trespassing.

I doubt they are going to get right on an injunction to stop the work, since they can’t even bring in anyone with a shop vac and some fans. (And if they do oh well, at least something was attempted.)

I’m not sure there’s actually anything stopping anyone from enriching the landowner in this fashion other than the bitter taste and hole in an already dwindling pocket book it will leave afterwards.

This should have happened on Friday, as soon as it was clear there was no mitigation happening.

------

also, who is working on this? Just the city's attorneys? Have we sought an opinion from the state attorney general? What is being done to lobby for changes in historic preservation laws to prevent this from happening in the future? Is this even on the city's legislative agenda?

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/29/2010 @ 2:47pm
This is just so sad, so very sad.

by Maria on 11/29/2010 @ 2:52pm
Good short article in News Tribune this afternoon:

blog.thenewstribune.com/politics/2010/11...

by Erik on 11/29/2010 @ 11:40pm
Update on Old City Hall via News Tribune:

Could Old City Hall be the next Luzon?

That is, could a well-meaning but overwhelmed owner allow an iconic historic structure to waste away from the inside out until demolition is the easiest solution?

That’s what happened just over a year ago to the Luzon Building at 13th and Pacific. It led to hand-wringing among preservationists and a pledge by the city to do better next time.

City Councilman David Boe has been trying to sound the alarm about Old City Hall for over a year. An architect, he keeps his office kitty corner from the 117-year old Italian Renaissance tower. That has given him a daily impression of the condition inside.

“Ripped canopies, boarded-up windows, birds living inside, which implies other things living inside,” Boe said.


Read more: www.thenewstribune.com/2010/11/29/144477...


www.thenewstribune.com/2010/11/29/144477...

by Erik on 11/29/2010 @ 11:40pm
Update on Old City Hall via News Tribune:

Could Old City Hall be the next Luzon?

That is, could a well-meaning but overwhelmed owner allow an iconic historic structure to waste away from the inside out until demolition is the easiest solution?

Thats what happened just over a year ago to the Luzon Building at 13th and Pacific. It led to hand-wringing among preservationists and a pledge by the city to do better next time.

City Councilman David Boe has been trying to sound the alarm about Old City Hall for over a year. An architect, he keeps his office kitty corner from the 117-year old Italian Renaissance tower. That has given him a daily impression of the condition inside.

Ripped canopies, boarded-up windows, birds living inside, which implies other things living inside, Boe said.

...

www.thenewstribune.com/2010/11/29/144477...

by Erik on 11/29/2010 @ 11:43pm
Feed Tacoma makes another positive difference in Tacoma!

In response to e-mails inspired by a call-to-action by Kevin Freitas on his webpage feedtacoma.com, Anderson wrote this: “I have no desire to place some future City Council and City Manager in the position we found ourselves in with the Luzon, in which the actions of others over thirty years forced me to take an action I was loath to take.


www.thenewstribune.com/2010/11/29/144477...

by Brian on 12/1/2010 @ 8:46pm
OK, in response to the sense of helplessness I have a suggestion, and pardon me for my ignorance because I am not a lawyer... but:

If a landlord does not respond to an emergency and remedy the problems, do the tenants not have the right to fix the problem themselves and withhold the cost of repairs from future rent?

I realize this problem is extreme and likely above the ability of any one tenant to cover themselves, but if donors are willing and/or the city offers to help, wouldn't the legal right to proceed come from slumlord laws? How are they different if none of the tenants are residential? ARE any of the tenants in old city hall living there? If so, I am SURE that a cleanup can be executed at the direction of the tenants!

Your Very Concerned Neighbor!