TACOMA, WA-The Asia Pacific Cultural Center is unveiling its plans today for a $9-million, nine-story facility in downtown Tacoma.

The non-profit group started by Asian community members four years ago says the building will help preserve the heritage of the region’s immense Asian population and at the same time promote trade and business with Asian Pacific countries.

The center, to be constructed on a surface parking lot at South Ninth Street and Broadway, will be the first of its kind in Washington, accommodating efforts on behalf of 58 Asian and Pacific Island countries. APCC board member and Colliers International vice president Eric Cederstrand is helping the group forge a development deal with DotCom Associates, the owner of the parking lot.

“The site for the APCC is in the Broadway District where we have purchased several buildings,” explains Cederstrand, who manages the DotCom Associates property. “We are working to create a high-tech campus and the plan was to build a 150-space parking lot on the property to facilitate the campus. As a board member for APCC, I was looking for a site and we realized that partnering with DotCom Associates would be ideal. APCC will utilize the airspace above and below a four-story parking lot that we plan to build. It kills two birds with one stone, and solves the parking problem for the APCC, which saves them several million dollars in construction costs.”

The cultural center will occupy four floors of the building, totaling nearly 45,000 sf. It will feature a library, an instructional kitchen and a community hall. It will also feature a business resource center that would help attract Asia Pacific businesses to the Tacoma region. Of the other five floors, four floors will be owned by DotCom Associates and dedicated for public parking, while the remaining floor will be set aside for Asia Pacific retail businesses.

Patsy Surh O’Connell, the president and founder of the APCC, says the group, which hopes to break ground for the project in 2003, has already received $20,000 in seed money from local Asia Pacific functions such as a luau and Chinese opera. She says her organization hopes to raise the bulk of the money from the high-tech sector, which Cederstrand believes is a natural fit.

“The business center will be a critical part of the APCC,” notes Cederstrand. “The APCC is already involved with the world trade center and is working to promote and enhance international trade so I think there will be a lot of involvement from high-tech companies. The project will help promote great economic relationships, and I think there are a lot of benefits that can be gained.”

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