Spotlight: On the Waterfront

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A $1.2 billion residential and retail property on a waterfront site in north Tacoma may hold the key to turning Pierce County’s largest city into a dining, entertainment and recreational destination.

Point Ruston is being built on the 97-acre site of the Asarco copper smelter that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared a toxic Superfund site in1993. To the southeast is Tacoma’s Restaurant Row along Ruston Way and to the northwest is Point Defiance Park.

“We’re securing ourselves as this dining and entertainment destination,” says Loren Cohen, manager of legal affairs for Point Ruston. “It’s building on the momentum that Ruston Way already has. We’re really an extension of Restaurant Row with the dining opportunities we have. We also fully subscribe to the idea that the waterfront is about recreation.”

Cohen says the true anchors are the recreational amenities that include The Waterwalk at Point Ruston, a one-mile waterfront path along the backside of the property, and the one-acre Grand Plaza that opened last fall as part of Phase Two along with the nine-screen Century Theatres. The Grand Plaza will accommodate year-round activities such as concerts, ice skating and other public gatherings.

Before construction began, Cohen says The Waterwalk, streets and utilities were built first. Cohen adds Tacoma and Point Ruston partnered on a local improvement district that sold $31 million in bonds, $5 million of which financed The Waterwalk.

Already completed in 2013 as part of Phase One were 43 condos and 173 apartments. Coming soon are a grocery store and a 185-room Silver Cloud Inn.
After completion of subsequent residential phases — comprising 1,200 apartment and condo units in all — the property will house about 3,000 people, many of them transplants from King County looking for waterfront property that’s more affordable than in the Seattle area.

“The magnetism of water is real,” Cohen notes, “and, at the end of the day, it’s what underwrites this project.” 

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