Planning for a future waterfront landmark took a step forward with the Port of Tacoma Commission’s recent approval of an amendment to an interlocal agreement between the Port and Tacoma Public Schools for work associated with developing a new Maritime Center campus. 

The Port Maritime Center will be home to new Port of Tacoma business offices as well as the school district’s new Maritime|253 skills center.   

The Port’s new building will provide office space for about 150 Port and Northwest Seaport Alliance employees and will also include Port Commission meeting chambers.  

Maritime|253 will be a career and technical education center serving high school students from school districts throughout Pierce County, where they can learn skills leading to a career in the maritime and industrial trades. This fall, state education officials granted Tacoma Public Schools a two-year conditional approval for the skills center’s core programs, paving the way for the district to enroll students for the 2024-25 school year.   

The proposed project location is on Port-owned property along the east side of the Foss Waterway, just south of the Murray Morgan Bridge (11th Street Bridge) in Tacoma. The Port has been conducting extensive environmental and cultural resource testing at the site. The Port recognizes the historical and cultural significance of the project area to the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and is committed to continued consultation and coordination with the Tribe.   

The Port and school district are each conducting their own design process, with each organization paying for the construction of their own buildings. The amended ILA and budget authorization approved at the Port Commission’s October 24 meeting will allow the Port’s building to reach the 30 percent design phase by the end of March 2024.  

Concurrent with the building design work, the Port will also conduct site master planning for the two Port-owned parcels of land at the proposed location. Site planning will include public amenities, such as walking paths and waterway access. Before year end, the Port will begin a public engagement process to gather community feedback that will help envision the future of this site.   

“It’s important that we have a wide range of voices contributing thoughts on how this site can meet the needs of our community and to consider ways in which the area’s culture and history can be incorporated into the site planning and design,” said Port of Tacoma Commission President Deanna Keller.  

More information about the project can be found on the Port’s website.