Port Angeles Waterfront Center applies for tax-exempt status

The name was chosen for a new nonprofit corporation that will ultimately own and operate the center near the city’s waterfront and downtown core, officials announced.

PORT ANGELES — A performing arts center planned for the dormant Oak Street property has a tentative name: the Port Angeles Waterfront Center.

The name was chosen for a new nonprofit corporation that will ultimately own and operate the center near the city’s waterfront and downtown core, officials announced.

“We needed a name which was general in nature, since we don’t yet know what the facility will look like and include,” said S. Brooke Taylor, chairman of the current organizing committee, “yet we needed a name which would clearly identify this exciting addition to downtown Port Angeles.”

The Port Angeles Waterfront Center was made possible by a pair of generous donations.

It began with a $9 million gift from the estate of Port Angeles resident Donna M. Morris to the Peninsula College Foundation for the location, design and construction of a performing arts center.

That was followed by a $1.43 million donation from Port Angeles resident Dorothy Field for the purchase of the 70,000-square-foot parcel at the northwest corner of Front and Oak streets as a site for the facility.

The name of the center could change after the building is designed, Taylor said.

The Peninsula College Foundation is serving as a conduit for the funds that Morris bequeathed.

“This is an absolute game-changer for downtown and the community as a whole,” Peninsula College President Luke Robins said of the paid-for site and the Morris gift.

Morris died in 2014 at the age of 67.

An ad hoc Performing Arts Center Committee was formed in February to oversee the initial phases of the project.

The new nonprofit corporation has filed articles of incorporation with the Washington secretary of state and has applied for tax-exempt status with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization, officials said in a news release.

The application was filed about a month ago. It will take anywhere from one to six months to obtain tax-exempt status, Taylor said in a Thursday interview.

“It’s entirely up to the IRS,” Taylor said.

Once tax-exempt status is granted, the corporation will gradually take on the ownership and management of the Port Angeles Waterfront Center.

The seven members of the Performing Arts Center Committee were elected to serve as the initial directors and officers of the charitable organization.

The Oak Street property was sold by Mr. and Mrs. Tod McClaskey Jr. of Vancouver, Wash., who also own Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles. The McClaskeys had previously donated a permanent easement to the city of Port Angeles for a nearby waterfront park and trail.

Several developments had been proposed for the Oak Street property, which abuts the new West End Park park.

“The selection of a site was always going to revolve around what location would best meet the needs of the arts organizations and provide the greatest benefit to our community,” said Taylor, a retired Clallam County Superior Court judge.

“When Dorothy Field proposed donating the funds to purchase this site for this project, it was really a no-brainer for the committee. The site is ideal in so many ways: It is on a major transportation route and within walking distance of hundreds of downtown businesses, including restaurants and lodging facilities,” he said.

“It will complement millions of dollars in recent downtown investments, including the medical clinic, the Valley Creek Estuary Park, improvements to the [Coho] ferry terminal, the esplanade, the waterfront park and several new businesses.”

The next step will be the selection of a professional consultant to guide the project’s development and to assess the needs of the community and arts organizations that were identified in Morris’ will, officials said.

The Performing Arts Center Committee consists of representatives of Peninsula College, the Peninsula College Foundation, city of Port Angeles, Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, Port Angeles Symphony, Community Players and Juan de Fuca Foundation.

After considerable research, the committee issued a request for proposals to four architecture firms in Western Washington, officials said. Three of the four responded by an Aug. 12 deadline.

“These firms have all done major projects on the Olympic Peninsula, are very familiar with our community and have a track record of completing innovative facilities on time and on budget,” Taylor said.

“In addition to assessing community needs, this firm will also do a feasibility study to assist in determining the scope of the project, such as what seating capacity makes sense for our community, and whether a conference center would be a logical addition in the same structure.”

Committee members will devote the next six weeks to examining and vetting the applications, with a goal of naming a consultant in early October, officials said.

“I think we could expect the needs assessment and the scoping part of it to be done sometime after the first of the year,” Taylor said in a telephone interview.

The committee will meet next Wednesday to try to narrow the field of architects to two, Taylor said.

“We’re just getting started,” he added.

_________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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