Tacoma Urbanist

Nov. 25, 2010 at 12:01am

Video: Massive Water Leak Threatens Old City Hall Building

Is Old City Hall going the way of the Luzon and the Eagles Building?

Unless some proactive repairs are performed with the building, Old City Hall may not be around very long.

From the Tribune:

A frozen sprinkler in downtown Tacomas Old City Hall thawed and broke today, dumping about 30,000 gallons of water throughout the historic buildings six floors. Trina Jones, one of the four tenants, had stopped by her photography studio to grab extra chairs for her Thanksgiving celebration when she heard an alarm go off.

comments [23]  |  posted under Tacoma


by NineInchNachos on 11/25/2010 @ 12:18am
From Facebook

Trina Jones: They, the city, has shut off the power, it can not be saved without heat and an aggressive clean up. The owner did not respond and the property manager was out of town.... We can go in and get our stuff but with sans power we are limited to daylight hours and it was 39 degrees in my space today, 42 on the floor above. Shocker that pipes burst! OCH is not allowed to conduct business until many "issues" are fixed, according to the TFD, this will take quite a while. I held out hopes that someone would purchase the building when it goes up for auction in January that really cared and appreciated the beauty of the building but now I doubt anyone will touch it.

by NineInchNachos on 11/25/2010 @ 12:41am

by Erik on 11/25/2010 @ 1:31am
Perhaps the most photographed and iconic building in Tacoma now at risk of loss:


If there was ever a time to care about Tacoma's historical buildings, this would be it. Luzon x 100.

by KevinFreitas on 11/25/2010 @ 6:58am
Wow, this is nuts. If they give it to me for $20k I'll take it and work on it. I was looking at land on the coast but I'd settle for Old City Hall.

by The Jinxmedic on 11/25/2010 @ 9:25am
No one learns. The Luzon died in vain.

by Jesse on 11/25/2010 @ 9:41am
Hmmm... does the water pipe "effectively evict" those in the building now? A completely empty city hall when it goes up for auction?

McMenamins Hotel?

by two9seven on 11/25/2010 @ 9:48am
this cannot be demolished. this building is an icon!

by The Jinxmedic on 11/25/2010 @ 10:08am
Eric Anderson wants a parking lot there to serve McMenamins.

by Jesse on 11/25/2010 @ 10:24am
With a fast clean up, the damage should be minimal considering the building is made of old growth fir, 2' thick walls, and wood floors. If the water sits though... water damage can be an expensive (if not devastating) bitch.

by Erik on 11/25/2010 @ 11:17am
With a fast clean up, the damage should be minimal considering the building is made of old growth fir, 2' thick walls, and wood floors.

Does anyone have a water vacuum and a few industrial drying fans for use for Tacoma's signature building?

by Jesse on 11/25/2010 @ 1:24pm
I'm sure the drywall and those sorts of things are toast but the guts should be okay if it's handled soon.

Maybe the city can bend the rules a bit to loan what needs to be loaned to get this clean up going? If we were in Vancouver or Portland, I could hook this all up --- I don't know as many people here.

by NineInchNachos on 11/26/2010 @ 9:32am
Urban waters sprang a leak too!

by two9seven on 11/26/2010 @ 9:41am
is it on the state historic register?

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/26/2010 @ 11:04am
Don't tell me that Urban Waters is already on its way to becoming another Eric Anderson parking lot. Pacific Plaza is already a parking lot so we don't really have to worry about that.

by jenyum on 11/26/2010 @ 11:38am
We wouldn't be so worried about Old City Hall if we knew there were money for repairs, I'm sure Urban Waters will get fixed. (Why it happened in a brand new building is another matter, Mt Tahoma High School also sprung a leak last year.)

by fredo on 11/26/2010 @ 1:16pm
The urban waters building is built to some uber-green platinum standard that common people could not possibly understand. water leaking through the building is done for a specific purpose, it enables scientists to easily collect water samples without driving or boating to remote locations at considerable harm to the environment.

by Jesse on 11/26/2010 @ 1:40pm
"Why it happened in a brand new building is another matter, Mt Tahoma High School also sprung a leak last year" -- jenyum

Often new buildings have a flat rubber sheeting roof. You aren't supposed to walk on them as they can pull away from the edges and puncture easily. Older buildings have tar and tar painted roofs that are much more dependable.

My bet is that Urban Waters and the New Tahoma High have these quirky roofs and they've probably been walked on unknowing of the problems it would create.

by Dave_L on 11/26/2010 @ 5:21pm
It's inexcusable for a building owner or building maintenance to allow a wet-pipe automatic sprinkler system to experience temperatures below 40-degrees Fahrenheit (a no-brainer on the glass top-floor of the OCH) or a dry-pipe AS system to trip an/or not be winterized. It's not like we didn't see this weather coming. And wasn't the system monitored by a central station, or was it the tenant who had to notify TFD?

by JesseHillFan on 11/26/2010 @ 8:58pm
Too bad I have a awesome shop vacuum too (very powerful works great sucking up large volumes of water).Mom has got a great sump pump as well.

by trixie66 on 11/27/2010 @ 7:55am
"And wasn't the system monitored by a central station, or was it the tenant who had to notify TFD?"

Correct Dave the alarm was not being monitored. Tacoma was a ghost town on that block, could have went unnoticed for a day. Water was pouring out the side of the building and running down the awnings. As of this morning no preservation or recovery has started.

by Maria on 11/27/2010 @ 12:35pm
This just makes my heart sink. Such a beautiful old building. I know economic calculations make it difficult to invest in historic structures...but these things are what gives cities character, flavor, distinction.

Is there no statute in Tacoma to force private owners of historical landmarks to maintain such properties????

by Dave_L on 11/29/2010 @ 9:43am
Those who are members of Historic Tacoma (as I hope many of you are, or at least will please consider joining and supporting with your membership ) would have read in a recent on-line newsletter that the City is in fact in the process of making some changes to be more pro-active, via the Historic Preservation and Building Departments. Some may think it's too little too late, but as difficult as it is, there is some movement on the issue. I have read that the Luzon debacle did help get things moving in that direction. Coincidentally, the last of the 2010 Conversations RE: Tacoma lecture series was "A Model for Sustainability: Adapting Old Buildings to New Uses" and highlighted the Elks, Winthrop and the Old City Hall. The lecture was held in Castle Hall of Commencement Lodge #7, a building that ironically has been preserved (though at times at the brink) largely because it has always been under original use and ownership.

by Erik on 2/21/2012 @ 5:12pm
Update on Old City Hall:

Old City Hall in downtown Tacoma back on the market
Sharp-eyed Tacomans noticed this listing: Old City Hall is officially for sale, for $3.5 million.
Now, as a building owner once told me when I asked if something was for sale: “Isn’t everything?” But it’s notable that it’s listed, and I know many of you care deeply about the future of the building.

Building owner The Stratford Group has brought current its $3 million loan with Union Bank, after facing foreclosure a few times. Stratford has owned Old City Hall since 2005 and it’s been star-crossed since then. Full of tenants when it sold, it now stands empty with some floors gutted for condo plans that didn’t materialize, and it has suffered a major flood, the subsequent cleanup, and a small fire.

Read more here: blog.thenewstribune.com/business/2012/02...