PORT ANGELES — The performance venue-conference facility that will anchor a downtown cluster of buildings called the Port Angeles Waterfront Center has its own moniker.
The newly named Field Arts and Events Hall is the 41,000-square-foot glass-wrapped building that will be constructed at the corner of Oak and Front streets on a 1.6-acre parcel purchased with Dorothy Field’s a $1.43 million donation.
The project on what is known as the Oak Street property will cost slightly more than anticipated and take longer to complete, Waterfront Center board President Brooke Taylor and board Vice President Bill Kindler said last week.
But when it’s done, Field Arts and Event Hall will join a companion Lower Elwha Klallam performance-educational longhouse and a new Feiro Marine Life Center facility, creating a multifaceted magnet for residents and visitors alike, they said.
Taylor fleshed out details of the Field Hall project in interviews last week.
And Kindler made it his prime topic as keynote speaker at Feiro’s annual fundraising get-together March 31 in Sequim.
Kindler said the facility’s 500-seat performance space will be named Morris Auditorium in honor of the late Donna M. Morris, whose initial $9.1 million gift from her estate “specifically for the design, construction, and maintenance of a performing arts center to be located in Port Angeles, Washington” kicked off the project in 2016.
The luncheon event was rescheduled for March 31 after the annual dinner slated for Feb. 9 was canceled due to snowy weather.
Kindler told the 100 participants that the most recent cost estimate for the performance and events center was $47 million.
“We had some hope of trying to drive that down to 45 [million dollars],” he said.
“I’m not sure how close we’ll get, but that’s the instruction we have given our architect and contractor.”
Taylor said construction of Field Hall would begin between October this year and March 2020.
He said construction will take 18 months from start to finish, moving its completion date to mid-2021.
Taylor had targeted startup for August and estimated a $45 million price tag at a Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon in October.
Taylor said last week the October cost estimate was “a ballpark figure” to which “we actually came pretty close, as far as I am concerned.”
The delay was caused by the project design team having to “go back to the drawing board” to address permitting issues, including stormwater, while the $47 million project cost is “a firm number,” Taylor said.
“They call that a guaranteed maximum price,” Taylor said.
“That is the price the contractor gives you as a guaranteed maximum price.
“The benefit of it is that it should minimize if not eliminate change orders, which are just project killers.”
Taylor said the delay was not caused by difficulties with fundraising, which he said has not been a problem.
Taylor said any gap in funds raised and funds on hand to start construction will be covered with “with short-term borrowing, with bridge financing” solidified by multi-year pledges, many of which have already been secured.
“We’ve got two years worth of work into laying the groundwork for that if it becomes necessary,” he said.
“Needless to say, [the contractor] does not break unless that money is in hand.”
The two-story building will be 50 feet tall at its highest point, Taylor said.
Kindler told luncheon goers at Sunland Golf & Country Club that it will feature 325-first-floor performance hall seats and a a 125-seat balcony; a 300-seat, partition-optional banquet room; an art gallery, and a year-round, first-floor coffee shop fronting Oak Street less than a block from the waterfront esplanade.
Funding is being derived from private and corporate donations and foundations, along with an expected $1.1 million state grant that the area’s 24th District state legislators said last week will likely be approved as part of the 2019-2021 state budget.
“Currently, we have somewhere around half of what we need in hand, and we have another good chunk that has been identified that is working down the pipeline, and so we are working hard now to close that remaining gap,” Kindler said.
Kindler estimated construction would generate 200,000 employee hours from workers who will increase local hotel revenue by $1 million, that it will generate more than $3 million in state and local taxes and $400,000 in permit fees.
The annual budget will be $1.5 million, most of which will flow into the local economy, he said.
Taylor said the business plan calls for the facility to begin making a profit in the third year of operation.
The theater will break even, so the banquet facility, or conference and events center, will be the facility’s money-maker, he said.
In concert with the Longhouse and the Feiro center, the Waterfront Center will become “a community gathering place” as well as inducement to the 3.5 million visitors who pass through the area annually to stay, Kindler said.
“Part of our goal is to increase the stickiness, make them stay a couple of days, three days, four days, five days, get them to get to know us a little better, get them to know about this special area and spend a little money.”
Waterfront Center organizers will issue a request for proposals for an operator of the coffee shop who “could be a big chain like Starbucks or could be a local business owner,” Taylor said.
“We feel like it’s a key component to the facility and an attraction, and we are building it to have that feature on the ground floor, a block from the ferry terminal.”
Field Hall will serve beer and wine for performances and have a catering kitchen for banquet events but no restaurant.
Feiro’s marine life facility on the Waterfront Center property at the west end would replace Feiro’s facility at City Pier.
Feiro Executive Director Melissa Williams told luncheon participants that partners in what is currently called the Marine Discovery Center at Oak Street have picked the Seattle aquarium-museum architectural firm MIG-Portico to formulate a conceptual design.
Feiro’s live animal displays and educational component “will not go away,” she said at the luncheon.
“It’s only going to be bigger and better and bolder, and we hope more impactful.”
The conceptual design for the new facility should be ready by the end of summer and will be key to determining a cost estimate for the project, she said in a later interview.
The new marine life center could be 15,000-20,000 square feet, three to four times larger than the current facilities, Williams said.
She said it has not been determined if the new marine life center will bear the Feiro name.
Lower Elwha tribal officials are waiting for Field Hall project organizers “to get a little farther along in their construction plan and get the civil engineering complete” before moving ahead with the longhouse project, tribal project manager Michael Peters said in an interview.
He estimated the tribe will spend $2 million on the project, which will have a 200-300-seat performance hall.
“Our project is relatively simple,” he said.
“It will be an education and performing arts venue focusing on native and First Nations culture.”
He said the tribe has not decided if the facility will include an art gallery.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].