Port evaluating potential site along Thea Foss Waterway

Maritime 253

Upon completion of a request for proposal (RFP) evaluation process, BNBuilders/TCF Architecture has been selected as the most qualified firm to develop, design and construct the Maritime 253 Skills Center and Port Maritime Center project. The proposed site for the project is on a piece of Port-owned property along the east side of the Thea Foss Waterway, where the Wheeler-Osgood Company mill once operated. 

The project is a partnership between the Port of Tacoma and Tacoma Public Schools. Maritime 253 will be a regional Career and Technical Education center serving high school students from school districts throughout Pierce County, with intentional programming to prime a professional pipeline to the maritime industry. The location will also be home to a new Port of Tacoma business operations center and commission chambers, along with the potential to incorporate amenities such as public walking paths and access to the Foss Waterway.  

“This will be a new landmark on the Tacoma waterfront that represents our commitment to workforce development, job creation, and strong community connections,” said Port of Tacoma Commission President Deanna Keller. “We’re excited to take the next steps on this signature project.” 

“This is another exciting step forward in creating a world-class maritime skills center based in Tacoma for the youth of Pierce County,” said Tacoma School Board President Elizabeth Bonbright. “This unique Maritime 253 Skills Center will provide a pathway for high school students into living wage jobs that strengthen our vital maritime-related industries.” 

The Port is in the process of conducting a cultural resource and environmental assessment of the proposed site. Located in the heart of an original spuyaləpabš village site, the Port recognizes the historical and cultural significance of the project area and is committed to continued consultation and coordination with the Puyallup Tribe. Extensive cultural resource testing and environmental protection efforts will continue to move forward in order to protect Tribal history. 

After the site selection is finalized, the Port and Tacoma Public Schools each plan to conduct community outreach throughout the development and design process. In addition to the design of the Port Maritime Center building, the Port will also conduct a site master planning process. 

Port Commissioners and Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors recently approved a second interlocal agreement to advance the next phase of the project, which includes planning, design and cost estimating. It is anticipated that final site selection will be made in late fall, with the project design process beginning in early 2024.