A multifamily housing project on the Puyallup Tribe reservation in Tacoma recently received $3 million in federal stimulus funds. But unlike other projects...

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TACOMA — A multifamily housing project on the Puyallup Tribe reservation in Tacoma recently received $3 million in federal stimulus funds. But unlike other projects that have stalled and used federal dollars to restart, this project is a direct response to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

The project, developed by the Puyallup Tribal Housing Authority, has finished conceptual design and is just beginning schematic design. Environmental Works is the project architect. It should go out to bid for a general contractor next spring. The total cost is $3.8 million.

The project will be located on 4 acres the tribe already owns and will include 10 units of rental housing in a 7,800-square-foot building, a maintenance storage building, a sweat-lodge enclosure with a fire pit, and park improvements. A new, 2,160-square-foot community building with a common room, office and kitchen also will be built.

A second multifamily building is envisioned with a circular dance arbor for community gatherings. The project will be next to a tribe-developed 27-unit rental housing complex.

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Daniel Glenn, executive director of Environmental Works, said the Puyallup Tribe originally hired his company to do a feasibility study of what could be done with the land.

“The stimulus really pushed the whole thing forward very quickly and got us to be able to jump right in,” Glenn said.

Environmental Works partnered with Common Ground, a nonprofit focused on community development, to get the project proposal together.

Glenn said the Puyallup Tribe is new to developing projects, although it has a great need for housing. It recently developed a green prototype house and has become increasingly interested in building design that reflects culture.

Traditionally, Coast Salish tribes lived in longhouses with a shared central space and dwelling units off to the sides. That inspired Environmental Works to design a building with 10 town homes separated from each other by a linear courtyard with an open, slanted roof.

The building will reflect the longhouse tradition and also create community space reminiscent of how the tribe used to gather. Glenn said the building is a prototype that could be used in other places in the Pacific Northwest with the longhouse tradition.