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Cushman and Adams Substations

Cushman and Adams Substations Future Use Study

The Cushman-Adams Substation Future Use Study banner 

Project Status

Cushman Substation

Tacoma City Council placed the Cushman and Adams Substations on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places in 2017. In 2018, a City Council resolution directed the City to engage the community on the future redevelopment of these historic properties. These efforts were paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Tacoma is studying potential future uses for the historic Cushman and Adams Substation sites and buildings. During the summer and fall of 2024, we are doing broad, inclusive citywide engagement —including workshops and outreach events—to gather input on the vision and potential future use scenarios. This is a unique opportunity to develop future uses for these sites that serve the whole City.


Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) is still actively using and maintaining the building and site, and plans to vacate and surplus it by 2027  following construction of an off-site replacement facility.  


Learn more and share your feedback at our online engagement platform!



Important Workshop Events—We Want Your Input!


VISIONING—Public Workshop Sessions


Thanks to those who came to one of the workshops on Saturday, June 22 at Wheelock Library and shared your feedback on the visioning phase of the project. We will soon share a summary of the event.


Future Workshops to Come:


Discover Cushman – Historic Cushman Street Fair

SCENARIOS—Public Workshop Sessions
  • When: October, date TBD
  • Where: TBD
And find project staff at the Broadway Farmers Market, Eastside Farmers Market, and Proctor Farmers Market and other community events over the summer and fall!

Other Ways to Provide Feedback and Stay Informed

  • Share your feedback via our VISIONING survey! As we launch the VISIONING phase of the project, we want to hear about what matters most to you for the future of the Cushman and Adams Substation sites. This survey builds on past feedback we’ve heard from the community and will help inform the SCENARIOS that we study in the next phase of the project.  
  • Join our mailing list to stay informed throughout the process! Email project staff to receive updates and learn about engagement opportunities.





Projected Timeline & Next Steps


The study process will extend through the first quarter of 2025 with public engagement activities in the Summer and Fall of 2024 around the “VISIONING” and “SCENARIOS” stages of the study. The chart below provides more detail. 

An image of the Cushman-Adams Substation Future Use Study timeline


Background and History


Located at the intersection of North 21st Street and North Adams Street, the Cushman and Adams Substations were built in the mid-1920s to bring electricity from Cushman Dam to Tacoma. For many years, the substations served as active parts of the electric system. The substations are distinctive features in the neighborhood and notable assets to the city as a whole. Learn more about the Cushman Hydro Project.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the project timeline?

Mid 2024-2025: Restart of project and community engagement, led by consulting firm Otak, Inc.; Generate and analyze different use scenarios for the site.
2025-2026: Decision-making about future use begins; permitting and  constructing TPU’s off-site maintenance replacement facility.   
2025-2027: Surplus process
  • First right of refusal to local tribes
  • Environmental remediation of the sites/buildings
  • Exploring affordable housing options as required by the City
  • Request for proposal from developers and/or other partners
2027-Beyond: Tacoma Power vacates the Cushman Substation; implementation of recommended steps.


What does the future hold for Cushman and Adams Substations?

The reuse study gives the community an opportunity to participate in the City Council and TPU Board’s decisions regarding the future use of the Cushman and Adams Substations. City Council directed the City of Tacoma’s General Government and Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to work collaboratively and engage the community in the future redevelopment of the properties. 


During the next few years, TPU will continue  to identify alternatives for the equipment repair and storage currently taking place at Cushman Substation and identify environmental clean-up needs. The facility replacement and clean-up initiatives are ongoing. They will be executed according to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding and informed by any future redevelopment plan(s) for the properties approved by the Public Utility Board and Tacoma City Council.


Email project staff if you would like to receive updates and engagement opportunities.  


How are we using your feedback?

The scenarios studied in this project will be shaped by input from the Tacoma community (citywide) and residents from the surrounding neighborhood. Various engagement activities will provide opportunities for everyone to have input throughout the study effort. Ideas and comments will be gathered through this process (VISIONING) and filtered through technical feasibility analysis for potential future uses (see diagram) to create project alternatives (SCENARIOS), which will be brought back to the community for additional feedback.


An image showing the process of the Cushman-Adams Substations Future Use Study process

How will the final decisions be made to determine the future uses of the buildings and sites?

The Public Utilities Board and Tacoma City Council will make final determinations regarding future uses of the sites. This decision-making process may begin in 2025, pending the completion of any additional follow-on technical studies that might be needed.


Past Actions

  • June 2017, the Tacoma City Council placed both substations on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places. The designation includes the exteriors of both buildings and the sites surrounding them (not including the non-historic electrical switchyard equipment).
  • July 2018, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the City of Tacoma’s General Government and Tacoma Public Utilities designates the General Government will lead, with TPU support, an outreach effort to ensure broad community involvement and input regarding future redevelopment of the properties. The City selected the Otak consulting team to complete the Existing Conditions Report.
  • As of Aug. 27 2018, the substation is no longer energized and is not a functioning part of the utility’s power system. Tacoma Power continues to use the building for heavy equipment repair and storage of materials.
  • October 22, 2019 joint Study Session, the City Council and Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) Board received an update and provided guidance to staff on the project approach. The TPU Board also discussed the project at their October 23, 2019 TPU Board meeting
  • March 24, 2020, Tacoma City Council meeting, the project team provided an update on recommended modifications to the engagement strategy and timeline to reflect restrictions on public gatherings. This City Council memo provides more information.
  • July 18, 2023, staff presented an updated timeline and restart schedule at a joint Study Session of the City Council and Tacoma Public Utilities Board.
  • February 14, 2024, TPU provided an update to the Public Utility Study Session.
  • February 20, 2024, there was an update to City Council Study Session
  • March 4, 2024, there was an update to the North End Neighborhood Council

Past Community Events

Date  Topic  Materials
June 22, 2024 VISIONING Workshops Presentation

Resources & Documents


Project Factsheet

Factsheet available in:

  • English
  • ¿Necesita esta información en español? Spanish
  • Quý vị có cần nhận được thông tin này bằng tiếng Việt không? Vietnamese 
  • Вам нужна эта информация на русском? Russian
  • Чи потрібна вам ця інформація українською мовою? Ukrainian 


Existing Conditions Report and Appendices (February 2024):


Project update, June 21, 2024: A document error in the building conditions section of the Existing Conditions Report was brought to our attention. We are temporarily pulling the report from the website while our consultant team is making needed updates, and we will share a revised version by the end of July 2024. Thank you for your patience!




Project Updates



General Government

Lauren Hoogkamer

Principal Planner

Planning & Development Services

(253) 591-5254



Tacoma Public Utilities

John Gaines

Community Relations Manager

(253) 441-4661



¿Necesita esta información en español? 

Quý vị có cần nhận được thông tin này bằng tiếng Việt không?  

정보자료가 한국어로 필요한가요?  

Вам нужна эта информация на русском? 

Чи потрібна вам ця інформація українською мовою? 

Kailangan ba ninyo ang impormasyong ito sa Tagalog? 

E te mana’omia lenei fa’amatalaga i le gagana Samoa? 

តើអ្នកត្រូវការព័ត៌មាននេះ ជាភាសាខ្មែរ ឬទេ?


Lauren Hoogkamer(253) 591-5254