Courtesy BCRA

Construction will begin today on the first new apartment on the Tacoma waterfront in years.

A group of Tacoma-area developers led by Carino & Associates are building the Henry, a seven-story, 161-unit apartment building with 10,500 square feet of retail, along the Thea Foss Waterway.

BCRA is the architect and Sierra Construction is the general contractor. Scott Carino said he has known Sierra Construction President Rick Basnaw since they were 5 years old, and they were in the same fraternity and construction management program at the University of Washington.

The building is scheduled to open in the late summer of 2015.

The Henry is one step in a master plan the city put together in the 1990s to encourage redevelopment of the Theas Foss Waterway, said Martha Anderson, assistant director of Tacoma’s Communit and Economic Development Department. The city bought numerous contaminated parcels close to downtown with the plan to sell them to developers. Anderson said several of the parcels have been developed, but some remain vacant.

The last few years have seen little to no development in Tacoma, but Carino said officials have worked hard to promote the city.

“The whole atmosphere is changing in Tacoma,” Carino said. “It’s just more alive. The city wants to get their name out there, and their mantra is that Tacoma is open for business.”

State Farm Insurance has played a big role in the recovery of downtown Tacoma. The company moved in last year, and it already employs 1,200 people there.

Developers are responding to these new jobs. Ricard Noguera, director of community and economic development, said developers plan to start construction of 700 multifamily units in Tacoma this year.

Hollander Investments of Bellingham wants to build a 104-room hotel on the waterway, but that project is stuck in a legal battle.