The only commercial tenant in Albers Mill Lofts, the Foss Waterway fixture headed for new ownership, closed its doors Friday.
Owners of the Traver Gallery negotiated an early lease buyout after a company tied to a Seattle developer took control of the building in April, in the middle of a heated business dispute.
The Traver Gallery has operated for more than 30 years in Seattle. It opened a Tacoma location nine years ago to be part of the energy of the museum district, particularly the Museum of Glass, which is a stone’s throw away.
“Tacoma has been great. The community turned out to support us, but the community is small,” said Sarah Traver, director of the Tacoma gallery.
Business always has been slower in Tacoma, she said. After the recession it was even slower. To reduce its overhead, Traver said she tried to negotiate lower rent or different lease terms with the previous owner, but the legal fight between it and the lender made it hard to come to terms.
In April, a company tied to Seattle developer Ron Shear foreclosed on its second mortgage on Albers Mill, effectively taking over the property and forcing out previous owner Grace Pleasants and her partners. They had saved the historic building from demolition a decade ago and converted it to high-end apartments.
Traver said she was sad to leave, but the reduction in overhead costs is a relief to their business, which represents about 70 artists.
“The Tacoma art community works together in a way I haven’t seen anywhere else,” she said. “We’ll try to stay connected here.”