TDI -- Reporter's Blog

Jan. 9, 2009 at 5:10pm

Dome District Building Slated for Historic Register

Next week is shaping up to be a busy one for owners of the former Carman Manufacturing Co. Building (a.k.a., the Spring Air Mattress Factory) in the Dome District.

On Jan. 14, the landmarks preservation commission is expected to hear a preliminary review to place the 1890s-era property on the city's register of historic places. On Jan. 13, City Council's Community and Economic Development Committee will discuss a $1.5- to $2-million loan to help the project pencil out.

Today I spoke with Heather Hammond, one of the developers who also helped prepare the nomination application. She talked about the on-again off-again plans for the building since it was purchased in fall 2006. The current plan? Saving the building and renovating it into a $15 million, 71-unit loft-style apartment building with hardwood floors, wood beams, and a rooftop deck. She also discussed the building's historic significance.

According to the nomination application, the site was headquarters for the Carman Manufacturing Co. for 95 years. In the 1950s, it adopted the trade name "Spring Air of the Northwest." The wood-framed, heavy-timber warehouse was designed by prominent Tacoma architect Carl August Darmer. And though the structure looks like one big building from the street, it is actually four connected buildings that were built between 1893 and 1899 -- the result of growing from 12 to 200 employees over the years.

The article will appear on the Index's Web site Monday morning, and in print Jan. 13. If you're interested, you can read the story early here.

(Courtesy Photo -- Carman Manufacturing Co. Building)

*UPDATE | MON., JAN. 12*

As a follow-up to today's article on the Carman Building, I thought I would include some photographs that didn't make it into the print or online editions of the Index. The photographs are interior shots taken by Artifacts Consulting. They are part of the historic nomination application that will be reviewed by the city's landmarks commission Wednesday. The developer envisions New York style loft apartments. Do you?

**UPDATE | WEDS., JAN. 14**

I wrote a follow-up article with details from yesterday's economic development committee meeting. The story will appear in print Thursday. It's already online here.

***UPDATE | THURS., JAN. 22***

I wrote a follow-up article for today's newspaper with project details shared during last week's landmarks commission meeting. The story is online here.

****UPDATE | THURS., FEB. 12****

I wrote a follow-up article for Friday's newspaper. The landmarks commission has forwarded the nomination to City Council. A decision on adding it to the register is expected to be made in March. The story is online here.

comments [10]  |  posted under Dome District, Historic Preservation, Tacoma


by Jake on 1/9/2009 @ 6:35pm
Is the parking lot still going to be open for future development?

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 1/12/2009 @ 9:28am
Not too sure about the parking lot. I was so micro-focused on this building / parcel for the article . . . --TODD

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 1/12/2009 @ 10:05am
Now if they had a New York style neighborhood to go along with the building they'd be on to something. Granted, the Freight House Square would make a fine virtual neighborhood for the area if there was enough housing density in the area. Maybe this would be a good start if the prices were not outrageous. The location of mass transit could not be better.

by morgan on 1/12/2009 @ 11:14am
I thought this was going to be geared towards UWT students. Is that still the case? I was really surprised to see this pop up as a potential historic building. I always thought it was on the verge of collapsing- looks can be deceiving! I'm glad to see they are saving it.

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 1/13/2009 @ 4:06pm
An update and a few more details on the project per the Tacoma City Council Community and Economic Development (CED) Committee meeting this afternoon:

-- The overall project is coming in at $11.2 million;

-- The developer has lined up approximately $9.7 million from Bank of America, and is looking for a $1.5 million Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) loan from the City. The bank loan is contingent upon whether the $1.5 million hole can be funded;

-- According to CED Assistant Director Martha Anderson, the developers were initially drawn to the Elks Building, but then turned their attention to the Carman Building. They were particularly drawn to its proximity to Tacoma Dome Station;

-- (For Jake): The vacant parking lot behind the Carman Building would be part of 'Phase Two' of the project somewhere down the road. City Councilmembers had some concerns over whether the Phase Two project would be compatible with the historic character of the Carman Building renovation;

-- The council committee approved a do-pass recommendation for the terms of the loan (five years, four per cent interest, one per cent fee due at closing) but asked city staff to discuss the Phase Two design to see if it would be compatible;

-- It still needs to make its way through a few City Hall channels: landmarks commission preliminary review (Jan. 14); landmarks commission public hearing (Feb. 11); City Council (mid-March).

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 1/13/2009 @ 5:30pm
71 loft style apartments at the cost of around 200k per unit(15 million divided by 71 units). I wonder what these will rent for.

by NineInchNachos on 1/14/2009 @ 12:03am
hey how come a mattress factory can get on a historic register, but a brewery cant?

by AngelaJossy on 1/14/2009 @ 7:13am
Thanks for sharing this. I've been sort of keeping my eye out for someplace downtown just like this thats big and affordable.

by fredo on 1/14/2009 @ 8:25pm
NIN@ what brewery do you have in mind?

by NineInchNachos on 1/14/2009 @ 9:45pm
that big one in the brewery district... Heidelberg or whatever. the watertower!


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