The city of University Place has landed a new tenant for prime retail space in its civic and library building: the city of University Place.
UP officials moved the parks and recreation department into the ground-floor space at the front of the building in Town Center that it’s seeking to lease for a retail use. It opened for business at its new location Friday.
City Manager Steve Sugg said the relocation is temporary until its broker can find a business. He said the new location gives the department more space and makes it easier for residents to learn about and sign up for programs.
“Let’s benefit our community while waiting for a tenant to move in,” he said.
It’s apparent from comments by Sugg and Jeff Kraft, the broker hired to lease the space and sell the Town Center properties, that it was deemed unlikely the city would land a tenant over the next few months.
Sugg said there’s “not much activity right now” and officials don’t know when retail activity will pick back up. Kraft said there’s been “mild interest” in the space and noted he’s seeing incremental improvement in the retail market.
Kraft said the move makes perfect sense.
“From a city budget standpoint, why not use the space you already have?”
He said the move also gives the city the luxury to pick the tenant that offers the best fit for the mixed-use development instead of taking the first offer that comes along.
And he doesn’t foresee it being more difficult to market the occupied space.
The city spent about $28,000 to make modest improvements to the space that can be used by a future tenant, Sugg said.
Parks and recreation manager Todd Smith said his department likes and needs the increased visibility offered at the new digs. Due to budget cuts, the department gets little city support and is reliant on fees to continue offering its programs and perhaps expand them in the future. The department has four paid employees.
“We are dependent on our participants,” Smith said.
The department is across from the Frog n Kiwi cafe and indoor kids play area, the building’s first retail tenant, and on the same floor as the University Place Pierce County Library.
Smith said his staff is discussing using some of the additional space for programs.
In December, the University Place Police Department moved onto the second-floor of the civic building. The city contracts with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services.
Sugg said there’s no immediate plans to move other city departments into the building until the property housing current city offices is sold. It’s unknown when that will occur.
The new address is 3609 Market Place West, Suite 101. Office hours for the department will continue to be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Its phone number remains unchanged.
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