Vandalized Tacoma businesses ask city for help with repairs

Estimates for the damage caused by a woman wielding a hammer and smashing dozens of windows up and down a Tacoma street on Saturday are still being calculated. 

While business owners are consulting with their insurance companies and window repair companies, they’re asking for the city of Tacoma’s help.

"These windows don’t reflect our businesses or Broadway," said Big Dawg Barbershop owner Alex Vercherue. "I’m not entirely sure what the cost of the repair is going to be, but I’ve had estimates of up to $10,000."

As FOX 13 previously reported, a woman armed with a hammer is accused of going up and down Broadway smashing windows.

Court documents identify the accused vandal as Tami Mae Areson.

"We’re all on the line for her actions," said one business owner who asked not to be identified. "It’s unfair."

FOX 13 learned that Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards attended a business meeting with the owners impacted by the vandalism Thursday morning.

"She spoke for a little bit," said Vercherue "She gave her condolences on the windows and shared with us how the city is going to try to come up with money to help us out."

Those in attendance told FOX 13 that they were informed that the city will look into re-allocating funds. There’s also the possibility of grant money.

"There was talk of $60,000, but that would have to be divided up between all businesses," said Crystal Nguyen, owner of Peppermint Tuna.

Nguyen’s clothing store had three windows, including her front door, demolished in the vandalism.

"I filled out the grant application the city handed out," she said. "But it’s only for $3,000 and that might only cover one of the windows."

She’s concerned she’ll be on the line for the rest. Her landlord said there was little he can do.

"It would be nice for the landlord to take accountability," she said. "I know it’s not their fault that their tenant caused all this damage, but it’s not our fault either."

In the meantime, many of the businesses on Broadway have launched GoFundMe accounts.

"Some of us are worried about being dropped by our insurance companies," said Alex Vercherue.

Not only has he set up his own fundraiser, but Vercherue continues to ask people to come down and support the businesses impacted.

"We’re taking appointments," he said.

Nguyen had the same message.

"I love my little shop," she said. "This is my passion. All the clothes are hand curated and the repairs will impact my bottom line."

A GoFundMe for new windows can be found here.

FOX 13 reached out to the mayor for additional details on financial assistance.

A city spokesperson confirmed Woodards was at the meeting but that more information would be available tomorrow.

In the meantime, Tacoma City Council Member Sarah Rumbaugh released a statement on the vandalism: 

"Widespread property damage like this is tremendously difficult on districts struggling since the pandemic. The Theatre District is a gem. We need to find solutions to preserve cultural and business spaces like this that make Tacoma the beautiful city it is. I am elevating all the concerns I heard to the City Manager, and have begun discussions about how the City can partner on long-term solutions."

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