Tacoma’s fits-and-starts recovery takes another blow

Tacoma has seen a very different recovery than Seattle. There’s no boom, but improvements and great potential.

Seattle lately isn’t accustomed to setbacks. But go down to Tacoma for a different story.

Just this month an important downtown employer, kidney-dialysis company DaVita, announced it would leave the heart of downtown, taking 500 back-office employees and emptying a 10-story building on Pacific Avenue, a main thoroughfare.

Regionally, this represents a shuffling. Weyerhaeuser left its Federal Way office park for Pioneer Square in Seattle, the better to attract young talent that wants city assets and the option of not driving. DaVita previously moved one-third of its employees to the old Weyerhaeuser digs and will consolidate entirely there by 2021.

Bruce Kendall, chief executive of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, told The News Tribune he’s not concerned about finding new tenants for the building.

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“That is one hot property,” Kendall said. “There is going to be a lot of interest from a lot of companies in that building for sure.”

The story continued: “Office space vacancy rates are low, he said, and companies interested in Tacoma don’t have a lot of choice when looking for space here.”

The operative word is “here,” as in Tacoma, which faces plenty of competition from the rest of the Puget Sound region.

And beyond the brave words, it’s gotta hurt. More so considering this is the dark gift that keeps giving: Weyerhaeuser, one of the great historic companies of the Northwest, abandoned Tacoma for Federal Way, across the King County line, in 1971. Now the once futuristic Federal Way site is sucking away a downtown employer Tacoma can ill afford to lose.

Let’s get two things out of the way.

It’s not fair to compare Tacoma with Seattle. The latter is more populous, richer, filled with major corporate…

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