First walls to go up Friday on Forks' new Rainforest Arts Center
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Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
Forks Planning Director Rod Fleck shows the layout of the city’s new performing arts center, which will replace the former International Order of Odd Fellows, which burned down in October 2012. The foundation is complete, and construction crews are expected to raise the first walls Friday.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — The foundation for the new Rainforest Arts Center in Forks is complete, showing the graceful curves that will grace the building's facade, and the first walls are expected to be lifted into place Friday, said Rod Fleck, city attorney and planning director.

The building's curved walls, which will eventually be covered in cement shingles made to look like aged wood, lay on their sides Tuesday afternoon at 35 N. Forks Ave.

On schedule

Fleck said the building has had some delays but is still on schedule for the grand opening, scheduled for April 19, exactly one year after the groundbreaking ceremony held during the 2014 RainFest.

“We lost a couple of weeks when they found some underground storage tanks,” Fleck said.

The next task is to decide how to manage the 900-square-foot retail space that will be located in one corner of the building, he said.

The Rainforest Arts Center in the old International Order of Odd Fellows hall and the adjacent Olympic Pharmacy building, most recently occupied by the Dazzled by Twilight souvenir store, burned to the ground in an early morning fire Oct. 29, 2012.

The 1925 IOOF hall and property were insured by the city for $3.7 million, and a settlement for $2.64 million is being used to rebuild.

Rebuilt from ashes

The site of the former Olympic Pharmacy, then owned by Alaska Financial Co. of Anchorage, Alaska, was purchased in September for $60,000 by the West Olympic Council of the Arts and donated to the city to increase the amount of space that could be used for the new community performing arts center.

About 15 years ago, the Odd Fellows organization deeded the Forks building to the city, which worked with the Rain­forest Players to manage the building as a community arts center.

In the years just before the fire, the building received $300,000 in improvements, mostly funded by community donations and grants.

The community theater lost all of its costumes, props, electronics and lighting equipment.

The theater/ballroom seated 150 people, and a second room had space for 50 people.

A square dance group held weekly dance classes, and a spinning class kept 14 spinning wheels and looms on the third floor — all lost in the fire.

Street-level stores

There also were two street-level storefronts in the building.

One was occupied by Tienda Latina, a small Latin American merchandise and grocery store that opened in 1994, and the other was unoccupied.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 23. 2014 5:58PM
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