One of the first people I met in Tacoma after taking this job was Felix Flannigan, executive director of the Martin Luther King Housing Development Association.
At the time (February 2005), he was pitching a plan to build a $16 million retail and office complex at its former headquarters at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and South 11th Street in the Hilltop. Demolition was due to start that fall.
More than three years later, I am driving up 11th and see a backhoe ripping into a building next door to the Monsoon Room. After my double take reassures me that the bar itself isn’t in danger (it makes a mean mai tai), I get to wondering whether this isn’t Flannigan’s project come to fruition at last.
Turns out, it is. Flannigan said MLKHDA has already torn down a former doctor’s office at J and 10th and is now working on demolishing the building where the Paulson family once ran an appliance repair shop. On May 12, down comes the bank building that housed the association’s offices.
In its place, Flannigan plans to erect two six-story buildings attached by a 325-stall parking garage. Plans call for retail and office space, apartments, a child care center and MLKHDA offices.
In all, the buildings will have 330,000 square feet and cost $25 million. Flannigan says he was hoping to buy up more of the block, but the owners of the buildings that include Monsoon and shops along 11th were either unwilling to sell or wanted too much money.
The project does hinge on getting the Hilltop’s height restrictions lifted, which is far from assured.