New life coming to Tacoma’s Old City Hall

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TACOMA, Wash. – A piece of the South Sound’s history is about to come back to life.

Tacoma’s Old City Hall is now closer to re-opening its doors after being closed for years.

What’s more, city officials believe it could be a stepping stone for more affordable housing in downtown among other things.

For the team at SURGEtacoma, they can’t wait to get their hands dirty refurbishing a piece of Tacoma history.

“It is crying out loud to be refurbished,” said CEO Eli Moreno.

“To lose it would be to lose a great part of who you are and that could never be replaced,” said Elly Walkowiak, from the city’s community and economic development department.

The structure has stood since 1893 and has been the heart of Tacoma for decades as the center of city government. But after years of service, and most recently being unoccupied, city officials worried Tacoma could have lost the building forever had it been torn down or fallen into disrepair.

“It is the most iconic structure in the city,” said Walkowiak, “In a way it is the city’s soul and so what happens there matters very, very much.”

The city has agreed to allow Moreno to refurbish the building to include retail, restaurants, co-working office space, a museum and market rate and affordable housing. It will also include entrepreneurial educational programs for the city’s youth, plus there’s a nationwide challenge to get the clock shining again.

“We developed a program for engineering and architectural students for the entire country to get the clock working again,” said Surge’s Kristine Grace.

Moreno also hopes the partnership could offer Tacoma a chance to foster an environment that could encourage a new wave of tech sector jobs to the South Sound.

“We have the opportunity to make this a place where that is going to give birth to companies that will change the way we do things,” said Moreno. “It will disrupt entire industries; it will create new products and inspire a generation of engineers and entrepreneurs.”

The renovations will likely cost millions and could be complete as early as 2021, but if the city and Moreno’s company can pull it off, it could return the glory and iconic nature of a structure that was once a staple of Tacoma’s skyline.

“It is a building of the people and for the people and we wanted to return those uses to the people,” Said Walkowiak.

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