Port Angeles Waterfront Center gains nonprofit status, hires architectural firm

LMN Architects of Seattle will conduct a pre-design study and report on the construction of a performing and fine arts facility downtown.

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Waterfront Center, fresh from gaining its nonprofit status, has hired LMN Architects of Seattle to conduct a pre-design study and report on the construction of a performing and fine arts facility downtown.

The center achieved its 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization status about two weeks ago, S. Brooke Taylor, Port Angeles Waterfront Center board president, said Friday.

Representatives of the new nonprofit corporation in August had filed articles of incorporation with the Washington secretary of state and applied for tax-exempt status with the IRS, Taylor said.

The tax-exempt status means the nonprofit can now apply for charitable grants and receive tax-deductible donations from individuals and organizations.

The nonprofit ultimately will own and operate the center, tentatively named the Port Angeles Waterfront Center, planned near the city’s waterfront and downtown core on property at the northwest corner of Front and Oak streets.

After a three-month screening process, three firms were interviewed by the Port Angeles Waterfront Center board of directors Sept. 23, according to a news release.

“Each firm brought an impressive team of professionals to the interview and made very thoughtful presentations,” Taylor said.

“The choice was not an easy one. But at the end of the day, the experience, creativity and enthusiasm of the LMN team carried the day.”

The nonprofit and LMN currently are hammering out details of the contract, Taylor said, adding the amount of money the firm will be paid “is still a little bit up in the air.”

“We are in the process of negotiating that arrangement right now,” he said. “At some point, we will know that for sure, but right now we don’t.”

LMN representatives will be in Port Angeles regularly for the next several months to gather input from a variety of sources, according to the release.

This information will provide the basis for the pre-design study and report to be given to the Port Angeles Waterfront Center with a discussion of options and recommendations about the project such as the composition, size and architecture of the new facility, according to the release.

“We are inspired by the potential of the Waterfront Center to enrich the culture of art within the daily life of Port Angeles’ historic downtown and to leverage the power of the performance experience to other forms of urban vitalization,” said Wendy Pautz, LMN partner.

LMN has designed performing arts centers, conference centers and combinations of the two throughout the country since 1979, according to the release, with many of those projects preceded by pre-design studies of the type that will now be conducted in Port Angeles.

LMN is the recipient of the 2016 American Institute of Architects Architecture Firm Award — the highest professional honor for an architectural practice, according to the release.

“We feel fortunate to have the professional assistance of a firm with vast experience, including major performance venues such as Benaroya Hall and McCaw Hall in Seattle [and] the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio; multipurpose facilities in smaller communities such as Mount Vernon, Wenatchee and Federal Way; plus local experience in designing the Science and Technology Building at Peninsula College and the new waterfront promenade,” Taylor said.

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

It began with a $9 million gift from the estate of Port Angeles resident Donna M. Morris to the Peninsula College Foundation to pay for the 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 as a site for the facility.

The Peninsula College Foundation is serving as a conduit for the funds that Morris, who died in 2014 at the age of 67, bequeathed.

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

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.

While still in the development stage, “the No. 1 and primary component of the building will be a state-of-the-art performing arts center,” Taylor said.

“That is what was required by the Donna Morris will.”

Other options will be considered, Taylor said.

“To the extent that it is determined to be feasible, and to the extent that we have the resources to do it, we would like to make it a multipurpose facility including other uses,” he said.

Ideally, the facility would include a concert hall and perhaps “a conference center component,” Taylor said.

“Those two uses are often combined in the same facility because they share a lot of the same needs. We would really like to see that, and we’ve got a lot of feedback from community leaders indicating that would be a huge bonus for the community.”

The community, Taylor said, “has been afforded an extraordinary opportunity to do something special with the two major gifts, and we welcome the assistance of the experts at LMN to make sure we get it right.”

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Features Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at cmcdaniel@peninsuladailynews.com.

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