Almost $2 million in federal housing money is headed for Tacoma to help build a community center in the Hilltop neighborhood.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the grant Friday. The Tacoma Housing Authority was one of just five agencies nationwide to receive part of an overall $14.5 million from a HUD program for education facilities.
Tacoma’s share of that money, $1,881,652, will be added to another $900,000 HUD grant and $114,000 from THA funds to build a facility near the Hillside Terrace public housing community. The building will be two stories and about 8,500 square feet, and used for early childhood education, adult education and job training.
The center is part of the ongoing renovation of Hillside Terrace, which has 152 housing units and is the second-largest public housing community THA operates. Salishan, on Tacoma’s East Side, is the largest with 643 units.
Hillside Terrace is comprised of four blocks near South Yakima Avenue between South 15th and South 27th streets. It’s undergoing a $30 million rehabilitation that is being tackled in pieces, most recently with two blocks and 40 housing units redone.
THA executive director Michael Mirra said Friday the renovation of those homes showed that well-done public housing can provide an economic spark. Within just two years after the 40 homes were rebuilt, several other condo projects took off in the neighborhood.
“That taught us our job: Build in ways that embolden other people’s money,” Mirra said. “And we need to set a high design bar, because when you build lovely, it makes it more likely that others coming in will build lovely.”
Mirra said by December the THA hopes to have financing in place for the next round of Hillside Terrace’s renovation. That will happen in two phases, but ultimately 104 existing housing units will be demolished and replaced with 140 units.
Construction on phase one, which includes the community center, would begin next summer and be completed a year later, THA real estate director Walter Zisette said.