Morgan's Brain

Feb. 19, 2009 at 12:01am

Stimulate Tacoma: UWT Moves Forward on $15M Building Renovation

Jump for Joy!

Just when things were looking like Tacoma was going to slip back into those not-so-golden years of the 70s, one of the last blighted buildings on Pacific Ave, the Joy Building, will be getting some sprucing up - to the tune of 15 million dollars!

If there has been one thing that has turned the future of downtown and our city around, it has been the vision and work that has gone into renovating a bunch of worn-out vacant buildings into an urban college campus admired across the country.

The last I heard, there were plans to put an additional story on the building, but it looks like that has fallen by the wayside. This building will provide the missing link in continuous retail frontage from 21st Street to Tollefson Plaza. It took some time, but considering this strip had been let go for decades, it was well worth the wait.

From the UWT project statement:

As mandated by the State of Washington, this project will achieve a LEED Silver Rating.

Upon completion, the renovated Joy building will house (14) classrooms with up to 48 seats each, (2) larger, tiered classrooms and open lounge spaces for student support. A new department suite and meeting rooms are also proposed in the building. The Pacific Avenue level will accommodate 3 to 4 retail tenants.

The existing masonry walls, interior and exterior, will be restored and preserved to the greatest extent possible. The scope of the exterior masonry restoration includes cleaning, repointing mortar joints, and replacing damaged bricks with salvaged brick from interior demolition. Existing advertising signs painted on the masonry will be refurbished and preserved.

Phase 1 is scheduled to start on April 30th (2009). The building will be open for use Fall Quarter, 2011.

Thank you, UWT. Thank you.


The UWT will be presenting this project before the City of Tacoma's Landmarks Preservation Commission on February 25, 2009. Location: 728 St. Helens, Tacoma Municipal Bldg North, Room 16 Time: 5:00 p.m. Link to agenda

comments [16]  |  posted under tacoma

Comments

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 2/19/2009 @ 12:18am
Where would we be without the UWT and the continual support of the State of Washington? Even with massive budget cuts impacting the most vulnerable members of society, this support for Tacoma continues, nearly unabated.

Now if we can only do something about that terrible Tollefson Plaza, perhaps the UWT people can do something good with it. Seriously, where would the area be without the UWT?

by Erik on 2/19/2009 @ 12:44am
This is reallly cool. The perfect project. Finally, Tacoma does something really right and with retail on the first floor. The work will renovate a deadzone downtown.

Amazing. Can't wait to see the building renovated.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 2/19/2009 @ 12:58am
Erik, this is being done by the State of Washington, through the UWT. Seems like the state knows what is better for Tacoma than the City of Tacoma. Let us give credit where credit is due. The city mostly needs a kick in the butt and maybe have their noses rubbed in the mess they have made. The UWT, Tacoma's own stimulus package.

by Erik on 2/19/2009 @ 8:56am
Erik, this is being done by the State of Washington, through the UWT. Seems like the state knows what is better for Tacoma than the City of Tacoma.

This is true.

City regulations would not currently allow the Joy Building to be built. Right now, a new building would end up looking far closer to something like the Rainier Pacific Building with mandated parking garages.

One reason UWT and many buildings downtown look and function so well is that they were built before the current disasterous and blight creating building codes were put in. Now new buildings are forced to be a version of Hanna Heights.

by morgan on 2/19/2009 @ 9:05am
Seems like the state knows what is better for Tacoma than the City of Tacoma.

Agreed. Historic Preservation has not been valued in Tacoma. Even as the rest of the country moved on from the "Urban Renewal" (Urban Removal) era of the 60s and 70s, Tacoma was tearing down its historic buildings by the handful well into the 80s and 90s. Even today through demolition by neglect, the city does not invest nearly enough in preserving one of the assets that makes Tacoma unique: its historic buildings.

by Mofo from the Hood on 2/19/2009 @ 9:12am
"Existing advertising signs painted on the masonry will be refurbished and preserved."

Could somebody explain the thinking behind this?

by joel413 on 2/19/2009 @ 9:13am
The nice thing about the UWT improvements are that even new buildings mesh well into the lok and feel of the entire stretch. If you haven't walked through Phillip Hall yet, you should. The exposed brick and ghostly advertisements really add charachter to the interior of this building. Also, it provides a direct passage from Pacific to the UWT Library without having to walk that extra half a block to the grand stairs.

Also the master plan shown though out green space from Market up to Tacoma Avenue.

Master Plan PDF

by Erik on 2/19/2009 @ 9:18am
Even as the rest of the country moved on from the "Urban Renewal" (Urban Removal) era of the 60s and 70s, Tacoma was tearing down its historic buildings by the handful well into the 80s and 90s.

Yep and the norm became a surface level parking lot at least every other building lot transforming the downtown now in many areas to a version of the pedestrian stripmall.

RR's Tacomic explains it pretty well:



www.feedtacoma.com/tacomic/?tid=10485

Renovating the Joy Building is also exciting because it is in the middle of an area that already has some life to it.

by izenmania on 2/19/2009 @ 9:29am
"Could somebody explain the thinking behind this?"

It looks cool. Take a look at the parking-lot side of the Pythian Temple for an example.

by Mofo from the Hood on 2/19/2009 @ 10:03am
Thanks izenmania.

There's currently a big discussion on Exit 133.com about advertising on school buildings.

by morgan on 2/19/2009 @ 10:21am
Mofo: here are some examples - www.urbanarchives.org/projects/Ghost_Sig...

Also, I think the TNT had an article some time back on the subject- though good luck finding it!

by Mofo from the Hood on 2/19/2009 @ 11:38am
Thanks morgan. I'm aware that a lot of outdated advertising covers a lot of old buildings but I don't recall ever attending a live discussion or reading about why such advertising should be preserved past its intended use on an actual building.

That's why I mentioned above the debate on Exit133.com. It offers pro and con opinions about similar advertising before its application.

by morgan on 2/19/2009 @ 12:41pm
Mofo: I checked over at 133 and didn't see the debate- could you post a link? Personally, I think these old painted billboards are pretty cool. They don't make them like that anymore. I wouldn't expect everyone to have the same likes as me though.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 2/19/2009 @ 1:35pm
I don't think we want to give ClearChannel a loophole by preserving , in essence , the billboards of their day while looking to put their billboards out of business. Isn't advertising just advertising? Sure the business may be long defunct but the visual impact is similar. Why preserve one form of advertising and condemn another? I'm not for the ClearChannel billboards, far from it, i just don't want to give the ClearChannel people even an inch.

by Mofo from the Hood on 2/19/2009 @ 1:43pm
Morgan: The related topic on Exit133.com is titled "School Naming Rights On The Market?" which was posted 2/16/09.

(post a link?---haven't developed that talent yet.)

by Erik on 2/27/2009 @ 11:29am
Update from Reporter Matthews:

Vote clears way for UWT Joy Building early-phase renovations

Feb 27 2009

The City of Tacoma's Landmarks Preservation Commission voted Wednesday to approve design plans for the first two phases of a three-phase, $15 million renovation of the Russell T. Joy Building.

The building, located at 1716-1730 Pacific Ave. and on the University of Washington Tacoma's downtown campus, was constructed in 1892 and is located within the Union Depot / Warehouse Historic District, which is listed on the Tacoma and National Registers of Historic Places. The building was once home to various wholesale and retail firms, but now sits vacant.


www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/li...