Cooperation Brings

Economic Growth 

Back to the Foss


The economic energy growing along the Thea Foss Waterway today is reminiscent of the area’s role in Tacoma more than 120 years ago.


Marine trade, railroads and sawmills made Foss Waterway an industrial center. Thea Foss started Foss Maritime Company in 1889, offering tug boat services, rowboats and naphtha launches.


Over time the industrial uses polluted the waterway and the economy shifted. Businesses closed or moved away. The Environmental Protection Agency designated the waterway and Commencement Bay a Superfund cleanup site in 1983.


City officials and business leaders took action, eventually creating the Foss Waterway Development Authority to steer the waterfront back to success.


Since then, FWDA's efforts have set precedents in planning, engineering and other development activities in cooperation with regulatory agencies and public input has been implemented.


Today the mixed-use community includes housing, retail and restaurants as well as recreation and education opportunities.


For a chroniological history of the Thea Foss Waterway, please see Exhibit E of our Master Redevelopment Strategy here.


For comprehensive information about the cleanup of the Waterway see the City of Tacoma's website here.

Certain public documents maintained by the FWDA may be downloaded on our Public Notices & Documents page.


The Foss Waterway Development Authority office location will be permanently closed and telephone service will be disconnected as of December 18, 2020.  However, staff will continue to work remotely and will be available via email until December 28th.  You may direct inquiries to Norm Gollub at or to Louise Dreyer at until December 28, 2020.

As of January 1, 2021, all services formerly performed by FWDA will be conducted by the City of Tacoma or other agents, as noted below.  You may also use the City’s Tacoma First 311 system to be directed to the appropriate individual for your circumstance.

  • Development site interest:  Tacoma Community and Economic Development at 253-591-5039


  • City of Tacoma service requests (such as burned out street lights, graffiti, trash along Dock Street):  Tacoma First 311 (phone, app, or tablet/computer)


  • Special event permits and common area maintenance along the water side esplanade (litter, landscaping, etc.): Foss Waterway Owners Association care of HOA Community Solutions, 253-985-3812, Extension 102 or


  • Public access moorage at 535 Dock Street: Foss Waterway Seaport Museum at 253.272.2750 ext. 101.


  • Parks on the Foss:  Metro Parks Tacoma at 253-305-1022.