Tacoma Rescue Mission to take down iconic lighthouse

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
By: John Langeler / king5.com

TACOMA, Wash. — Towering above the Tacoma Rescue Mission homeless shelter, the white lighthouse is designed to be a beacon of hope.

Instead, it is now a reminder of the problems the 15-year-old structure is in. In two weeks, the lighthouse is coming down.

“The lighthouse symbolizes hope,” said Executive Director Mike Johnson, “that everyone struggling with homelessness and addiction needs to find.

“But the lighthouse is dropping by about five inches.”

The sinking stems from a problem dating back to 2011. The Tacoma Rescue Mission claims a rail line built by Sound Transit directly behind the shelter caused the building to start settling unnaturally. That claim is now the subject of litigation between the Mission, Sound Transit and a subcontractor.

Sound Transit said there was nothing new to report on the litigation.

While that fight plays out over who will pay to fix the shelter, and ultimately who is responsible, structural engineers told Mission staff the lighthouse is leaning too far.

“We can’t guarantee that the earthquake straps on the lighthouse will be able to do their jobs,” said Johnson, who said he could not discuss the litigation either.

Tacoma Rescue Mission will spend $60,000 to remove the lighthouse. Some preparation work has already begun. Once the building’s settlement is secured and stabilized, it could be returned to its post.

Fixing the entire property, Johnson said, is another long and expensive process.

“That’s going to be a big deal,” he said.

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