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New life for downtown Tacoma’s Old City Hall annex

Post by Kathleen Cooper / The News Tribune on Feb. 17, 2012 at 10:37 am |
February 17, 2012 10:37 am

An empty building in north downtown Tacoma is coming to life, and it doesn’t have a thing to do with McMenamins.

Three lawyers and the CEO of an equipment-leasing company have bought the Old City Hall annex at 615 Commerce, and plan to open their offices in March.

“That whole corner is about to take a big turn and we’re a part of it,” Mark Bardwil, a Tacoma attorney and one of the new owners, said this week.

The Old City Hall annex, built in 1918 at 615 Commerce Street in Tacoma, has new owners. The annex has a basement connection to Old City Hall next door. Photo by Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer

The annex is easily overlooked. The one-story white office building is near two of Tacoma’s towering, empty icons: Old City Hall and the Elks Temple.

Built on the hill, the annex actually is three stories of offices and eight inside parking spaces. The 7,800-square-foot building was built in the early 1900s as Tacoma’s police stable and storehouse. County records vary on the date; assessor records say 1918, but the Tacoma Public Library’s building index says 1907.

It was renovated in the 1980s, and most recently housed the offices of Tech-Fast, a Tacoma company that specializes in self-storage developments. Tech-Fast was bought by a Wisconsin-based company in 2010, according to its website.

Bardwil, lawyers Michael Ritchie and Joe Loran, and Pinnacle Financial’s CEO Brent Hall make up new owner Station Annex LLC. By March, they all plan to have moved in, including all of Pinnacle’s operations. The company and its approximately 10 employees now work from leased offices on North Stevens.

The annex will have six offices available for other tenants, Bardwil said.

“I’ve been driving by it for years wishing it could be my office. It’s beautiful,” he said. “I’d peek in the window. Then there was a big ‘available’ sign on it. The price had dropped pretty dramatically.”
The former owners bought it in 2004 for $830,000, according to county property records. Bardwil and his partners bought it in January for $650,000.

Bardwil said McMenamins’ plans are a bonus, not the reason for moving in.

“I think our property value will increase, and we’re excited about them being a neighbor,” he said, then added with a laugh, while contemplating the brewpub’s potential fare, “I’m sure we’ll frequent the place.”

In this image taken in 2001, shards of broken window glass litter one of the many balconies at the old Elks Lodge at 565 Broadway in Tacoma. The roof of the Old City Hall annex is visible. Photo by Bruce Kellman/The News Tribune
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