Historic post office rehab: a boon for artists and others?

24 Nov

The Old Post Office was built in 1910.

It’s one of the best addresses in town – and the grand Old Post Office at 1102 A Street may soon be welcoming artists, restauranteurs, retailers, and others engaged in creative commerce to share its wood-and-marble-lined chambers.

Earlier this month, Historic Tacoma led a public tour of the stunning four-story, 72,000′ sq. ft. edifice and talked about the owners’, A Street Properties, future plans for the century-old building. These include opening the 7,000 sq. ft. main floor and 2,000 sq. ft. lower level to commercial or retail businesses, restaurants and pop-up boutiques. The whole building is being sprinkled to maximize opportunities for commercial usage.

The Tacoma School of the Arts (SOTA) currently occupies the 2nd floor and has signed a five-year lease. “Five hundred kids pass through here every day,” said the tour guide.

Back in the day, elevated catwalks above some windows allowed postal agents to watch workers at their duties.

The 3rd floor is slated for event space, art studios, and offices including those of Historic Tacoma. Artists, photographers and filmmakers will salivate over the workspaces-in-the-making. Local photographer Jason Ganwich has secured a studio through the Spaceworks Tacoma program, and painter Angela Wales Rockett has acquired a space through a direct lease. Rents start at $15 sq. ft. Other features of the 3rd floor are two courtrooms with soaring 25′ ceilings and panoramic views (Ideal for weddings, noted the guide).

The 4th floor is undergoing extensive renovation and not open for viewing yet.

Built in 1910, the Old Post Office was Tacoma’s first federal building. It has a handsome limestone exterior; the interior is designed in a stoic style with elegant wooden moldings on the ceilings, pilasters and attached columns on the walls, and gleaming terrazzo floors. The architect, James Knox Taylor, was Supervising Architect for the United States Department of the Treasury.

The Postal Museum closed in 2004.

The building preserves a fascinating history: during World War I the post office was occupied by United Way where volunteers rolled bandages for the war effort; during the Cold War it served as a fallout shelter. Over the past hundred years, tenants have included the FBI, the IRS, customs, the U.S. Marshals, and the forestry service. There are prisoner holding cells as well as three courtrooms with attached judges’ chambers.

Photo courtesy of Historic Tacoma

There are no current plans to close the post office on the main floor. The Philatelic Center and Postal Museum on the 1st floor closed in 2004.

Stay tuned as we follow the revival of this 1910 classic as a home for new creative enterprise!

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2 Responses to “Historic post office rehab: a boon for artists and others?”

  1. Tracie Bonjour November 24, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    How exciting! How does one inquire about how to rent a space here?

    • Sarah November 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

      Tracie Bonjour – I was on the tour as well and picked up a info sheet. Here is the contact info for leasing:
      John Hunt 253-214-2122 or JHunt@PwrProp.com the management company is Power Property Consultants Inc.
      John was a very nice guy and seemed excited to get people in the building.

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