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Cushman and Adams Substations

Project Status

Cushman Substation

Tacoma City Council placed the Cushman and Adams Substations on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places in 2017. The designation includes the exteriors of both building and the sites surrounding them. In 2018, a City Council resolution directed the City of Tacoma’s General Government and Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) to work collaboratively and engage the community on the future redevelopment of these historic properties. The outreach efforts and the Cushman and Adams study were paused in 2020 due to impacts resulting from the pandemic.


In mid-2024, staff will restart the project and resume community engagement to collect input on possible redevelopment options. Tacoma Public Utilities is still actively using the building and has plans to vacate and surplus the building by 2027, following construction of a replacement facility. Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) continues to utilize and maintain the structures and site.

Projected Timeline & Next Steps


2023: General Government and TPU update the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and timeline. Tacoma Power works with TCF Architecture to complete scoping and programming for the new facilities. 


Mid 2024-2025: Restart project and community engagement, led by consulting firm Otak, Inc.; generate and analyze different use scenarios for the site.


2025-2026: Permitting and construction of the  replacement facility.  


2027-Beyond: Tacoma Power vacates the Cushman Substation; implementation of recommended steps.  


Required steps to be scheduled:

  • Surplus process of properties, including first right of refusal to local Tribes.
  • Environmental Clean-Up of site.
  • Request for proposal for developers of the selected project.

*A more detailed timeline will be posted once the Memorandum of Understanding is updated to reflect the restart.


How to Stay Informed 

During the reuse study, we will collect community feedback and study different opportunities and constraints for the site.


Don't miss the opportunity to participate! Contact neighborhoodplanning@cityoftacoma.org if you would like to receive project updates.



Located at the intersection of N. 21st St. and N. Adams St., 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 here.


What Does the Future Hold for Cushman & Adams Substations?

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


During the next few years, TPU will continue its work to identify alternatives for the equipment repair and storage currently taking place at Cushman Substation. TPU has also been working to identify environmental clean-up needs. The facility replacement and clean-up initiatives are ongoing and 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 TPU Board and Tacoma City Council.   

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


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.




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