By Meghan Hall
A massive, seven-phase project at the heart of Tacoma’s downtown can now move forward after City Council action agreed to make Boise, Idaho-Galena Equity Partners its majority stakeholder. In a decision at the beginning of June, the City Council approved an amendment that paves the way for Galena Equity Partners to step in to finish the project, known as Tacoma Town Center.
The project is located at 2100 South Jefferson Avenue and originally kicked off in 2015 after the City of Tacoma signed a development agreement with North America Asset Management Group (NAAM) LLC to redevelop the 6.4 acre parcel. Ultimately, NAAM was unable to generate enough financing via EB-5 investment to finish development, and the project stalled.
Currently, just one building has been completed: the Jefferson Yards Apartments. Located at 409 S. 23rd Street, the building has 144 market-rate apartment units as well as 6,000 square feet of retail. The building was completed in March.
Under the new agreement hashed out between the development parties and the City, NAAM will retain ownership of the Jefferson Yards Apartments–also known as Building Two–and transfer the remaining property to Galena Equity Partners.
Initially, the development agreement stipulated the build-out of 600 housing units, 200,000 square feet of mixed-use retail, and 50,000 square feet of office space. 180,000 square feet of stand-alone retail, as well as 600 parking spaces, were also planned. Under the new agreement, 98 affordable residential units were added to the mix, and the amount of office space would increase to 200,000 square feet. The amount of mixed-use retail retail space would increase by 36,000 square feet, while the stand-alone retail portion of the development would be eliminated entirely. 1,000 more parking spaces are also planned.
“This is a significant project for the city; it is the largest in the downtown’s recent history,” City Staff explained in their presentation to the City Council. It has the potential to positively impact and benefit the people of this community in so many ways, most especially through the addition of affordable housing as well as new office development which would ultimately result in the creation of livable wage jobs.”
Galena is expected to finance the development through Opportunity Zone investment, and construction will start in July, pending final City approval of the proposed amendment. All phases of the development will be completed by 2025. The City Council in particular appreciated Galen’s “aggressive” schedule to get the project built out and completed.
The City’s initial deliberation and vote on the proposed amendment to transfer the project to Galena was scheduled for May 25th, but was postponed after several CIty Council members raised questions about the new agreement. While the City maintains that NAAM has defaulted on its obligations, it decided to find alternate ways to bring the project to completion as opposed to litigation. By the end of the June 8th meeting, all City Council members voted in support of the new agreement with Galena.
“I’m excited that we are moving forward with this project,” said Mayor Victoria Woodards, who was on board to pass the resolution at the Council’s original meeting in May. “As I said a couple of weeks ago, we are delighted to have this investment in Tacoma. We look forward to working with our new partners.”