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Tacoma: City building officials put WalMart project sited for Elks property “on hold”

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Sep. 19, 2011 at 6:09 pm with No Comments »
September 20, 2011 10:58 am

City building officials have put a controversial WalMart project in Central Tacoma “on hold,” telling representatives for the retailer that their building application for a new Super Center contained a design too big for the parcel it’s sited for.

“During preliminary review it was noted that the plat configuration … does not accurately reflect the existing parcel configuration,” city building official Charlie Solverson wrote in a letter to WalMart representatives dated Sept. 16.

But, if WalMart revises its existing application so the development fits within the parcel’s footprint, the application can move ahead, a city spokesman said.

“As submitted, it doesn’t fit,” spokesman Rob McNair-Huff said.  If WalMart were to submit a revision, he added, “It would really be up to them to decide whether to change the size of the building or parking lot. But whatever they do, it would need to fit within the footprint.”

Steven Restivo, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, did not immediately return a phone call Monday. Doug Oberst, of BCRA, a Tacoma architecture firm working on the project, declined comment.

As submitted, the WalMart store proposed for part of the Tacoma Elks property at Union Avenue and South 23rd Street would require a boundary line adjustment, city officials say.

But because the city council recently adopted a six-month moratorium on applications related to big box stores, the “city cannot accept a boundary line adjustment or other plat-related submittal to change the lot configuration at this time,” Solverson wrote.

Instead, the city gave Wal-Mart two choices:

It can submit a “revised application that accurately reflects the existing parcel configuration and demonstrates how your proposed development meets code requirements for that existing parcel configuration,“ Solverson wrote.

Or, Wal-Mart can hold off on its application “until the moratorium either expires or is terminated or modified so as to permit acceptance of a boundary line adjustment…”

The city’s determination is the latest twist in a quickly developing saga that has drawn public outcry and political maneuvering in response to late-emerging development rumors that tied to the world’s largest retailer to the Elks property.

After the council passed an emergency moratorium on Aug. 30 to halt any new applications or permits for “retail establishments that exceed 65,000 square feet,” Wal-Mart representatives submitted a building application for a 150,000 square foot store the next day – a day before the council’s moratorium was published and legally took effect.


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