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TACOMA, WA-Plans for the new Tacoma Convention Center remain fluid these days. The size of the building has been cut from 92,000 sf to 73,000 sf, plans for a hotel on top of the project have been scrapped and the ground-breaking, originally planned for this year, has been pushed back to next spring, at the earliest.

The city’s present plans call for a March 2001 demolition of existing structures on the site, located between Commerce and Broadway streets south of 15th. Now, however, it appears one business now on the site may not be able to relocate until June. Charles Solverson, Tacoma’s special projects manager tells GlobeSt.com that some of the delay can be attributed to the time it has taken the city to acquire all of the necessary real estate, with some deals taking longer than anticipated. Assuming the timeline doesn’t get too messed up from here on out, the doors to the new facility will open in early 2003.

The convention center in its existing incarnation contains only 14,336 sf of meeting space. The new center, now planned for 73,000 sf of meeting space, would include 50,000 sf for the main exhibition hall and 23,000 sf of sellable space, including a ballroom and pre-function areas. The entire facility will run 200,000 sf with circulation space, plant operations, storage and support areas. The facility will occupy several Downtown blocks, bordered by Pacific Ave., South Broadway, and South 15th and 17th Streets. According to Solverson, Tacoma has budgeted $61 million for the new convention center. “That does not include any costs for structured parking or co-developments”, he says.

Other questions remain concerning hotel accommodations for convention-goers. The city has a letter of agreement with the Sheraton Tacoma Hotel, at 1320 Broadway Plaza (kitty corner from the center), to add another 225 rooms to its existing 319. The agreement calls for the expansion to be constructed in conjunction with the convention center project. City management is certain the area needs another hotel to adequately handle the increased number of visitors. Mortonson & Co. has responded to Tacoma’s RFP for a new hotel. Negotiations are still underway for the proposed 400-room Marriott, which would also contain 30,000 sf of retail and 76 residential units. At one time, a hotel was envisioned on top of the center. That idea has been scrapped.

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