Building 306, which currently houses the Port Townsend School of Arts, is one of a group of buildings that will be a part of the Makers Square arts campus at Fort Worden. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Makers Square funding plan in works

PORT TOWNSEND — The Fort Worden Public Development Authority is moving forward with a plan to fund the Makers Square project, which is expected to run at a deficit for at least the first two years.

Makers Square is a plan to create an artists’ neighborhood on the west side of the Fort Worden campus.

Katie Oman of KO Projects, a consultant on the project, gave a presentation on the capital needs and possible revenue streams for the project at a meeting Wednesday.

“It’s a lot of informed hope,” said Dave Robison, executive director of the Public Development Authority. “We’re forecasting and projecting growth at the fort and predicting some will be pulled into Makers Square.”

Financial plan

Oman presented a pro forma structure of the finances for Makers Square.

“In years one and two, it’s a ramp-up, so we’ll need capital for that,” Oman said. “We’re looking at a break-even budget in year three.”

Oman said the project would need about $350,000 to $375,000 in startup capital.

“Remember, we started this place with $300,000,” said Cindy Finnie, a PDA board member. “We could do it.”

In its third year of operation, Oman projected $382,200 in revenue and $374,100 in expenses for Makers Square.

Lodging in Makers Square, envisioned mostly as long-term rentals for businesses and nonprofits, is the largest projected revenue stream at $190,300 per year.

The Makers Square rental space would be roughly 9,000 square feet, according to Oman.

Development authority officials also are planning a capital reserve account for Makers Square. A percentage of the facility’s value would be set aside each year to deal with future investments, including building repairs.

Currently, the projected value for Makers Square is $6.9 million and the current plan is to set aside $26,500 per year.

“It’s hard for nonprofits to do, but it is a best practice,” Robison said.

The PDA is tentatively planning a presentation of this baseline financial plan to the development authority board sometime this month, but nothing has been scheduled yet.

Changes in the current design have been requested by the National Park Service because of concerns about historic preservation, Robison said.

The development authority has sent a response with potential changes and is awaiting a response from the Park Service.

Fort Worden relies on historical tax credits, especially for building restoration projects such as those needed for Makers Square, Robison said.

The development authority is planning to start a marketing campaign for Makers Square in about two years to find businesses and nonprofits to fill that rental space and define a target audience for events in Makers Square.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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