PORT ANGELES — Field Arts & Events Hall organizers are hoping to move from symbolic to actual groundbreaking in short order, with no small thanks to Pat Donlin, a Microsoft millionaire who recently boosted her $1 million contribution to the project with an additional $500,000 donation.
Arts center and city officials said this week they expect that within days a building permit will be issued for the $34 million, 41,000-square-foot project in time to begin construction next week.
Digging will begin by the day after they receive the go-ahead, Port Angeles Waterfront Center board President Brooke Taylor said Wednesday.
An invitation-only ceremonial groundbreaking is set for 6 p.m. Friday under a tent at the building site at Front and Oak streets.
It was too small to accommodate more than those involved in organizing, working on and helping to fund the project, Taylor said.
Guest speakers will include city and county political dignitaries, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles and U.S. Rep Derek Kilmer, who will extend greetings via video.
That will be followed by an 8 p.m. public fundraising get-together at Barhop Brewing and Artisan Pizza at 124 Railroad Ave., just east of the parcel.
The latest estimate for the event hall was determined last week to be $34 million, up from the previous $30 million to $31 million because it likely includes sales tax, Taylor said.
“Within a day or two after the building permit, barring any changes that the permit requires, we’ll have the number nailed down.”
Taylor said a community fundraising campaign to raise $13 million begins in earnest Friday.
Construction on the glass-walled building will be completed by the spring or summer of 2021, or 17 months after the digging begins, Taylor said.
The 1.6-acre Waterfront Center parcel was purchased with Dorothy Field’s $1.43 million donation.
The two-story events hall will include the 500-seat Morris Auditorium, named after the late Donna M. Morris, who bequeathed the initial $9 million for design, construction and maintenance of a performing arts center in Port Angeles when she died in 2014.
It will contain a marine discovery center housing the the Feiro Marine Life Center and national marine sanctuary facilities, and a Longhouse activities building constructed by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.
Melissa Williams, Feiro executive director, said Wednesday a conceptual design of the marine discovery center is being completed. The project will move on to fundraising “very soon,” she said.
Tribal officials did not return calls for comment Wednesday about the Longhouse.
According to the last meeting Waterfront organizers had with tribal leadership, “they have some schematic drawings, and they are moving ahead,” Taylor said.
The discovery center and longhouse will be built after the arts and events hall is completed, Taylor said.
Construction equipment will be staged on the parcel until then.
Traffic will not be diverted during construction, Taylor said.
Donlin, 89, a former Kirkland resident, moved to Port Angeles in 2004 with her partner, Donald Webb.
She said Wednesday she worked in Boeing’s computer division, passing by Microsoft’s budding campus in the mid-1980s on her way to work.
Spurred by a hunch, Donlin said she parlayed $2,800 she invested in Microsoft when the company made its initial public offering into a net worth today of $6.6 million.
“It doubled and doubled and started paying dividends and I just kept all the money in there,” Donlin said.
“I didn’t cash in on it at all until we moved to Port Angeles.”
Donlin, who does artwork in watercolor and pastels, has particular interest in the gallery that will be part of the arts center.
She said she was inspired to make the donations after reading about the waterfront center.
“I called my financial adviser in Bellevue and sent him the newspaper article, and he thought it was a great deal,” Donlin said.
“This is my hometown,” she explained.
“I have the money.
“Why have it sit around?”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].