Waterfront Center design paperwork under review

Building, conditional use applications submitted

PORT ANGELES — City officials are reviewing the first official design of the downtown’s new performing arts center, scheduled for completion in mid-2021.

The 41,000-square-foot Field Arts and Events Hall would be built at the corner of Front and Oak streets on a 1.6-acre parcel that will be known as the Port Angeles Waterfront Center.

It’s now occupied by a Black Ball Ferry Line parking lot and grassy area long eyed for a hotel or convention center.

Former city Public Works and Utilities Director Craig Fulton, project director with Sacramento-based Vanir Construction Management Inc. in Seattle, submitted building and conditional-use permit applications for the estimated $30 million to $31 million project in June and July.

“It’s a huge step,” Brooke Taylor, Waterfront Center board chairman, said Monday.

“Beyond the point of no return is probably a good way to put it.

“A lot of things have to come together until actual construction starts, but I would say we are at that point.”

The project is valued at $27.1 million including solely materials and labor, according to the building permit application.

The actual cost will be closer to $30 million to $31 million when contingencies and other “soft costs” such as furnishings are added, Taylor said.

Organizers hope to begin construction between October and December and to complete construction 17 or 18 months after groundbreaking.

Steps required to be taken before digging and pile driving can begin include issuance of the building permit.

The city building department began reviewing a half-dozen binders of project specifications last week, building inspector Jim Lierly said Monday.

“So far, it looks pretty good, but I haven’t gotten into it yet,” he said.

The conditional use permit seeks to exceed the city’s 45-foot building height restriction by 5.4 feet at the center of the two-story building, where the 500-seat Morris Auditorium — named after the late Donna M. Morris — will be located.

The tallest point is 40.4 feet for the rest of the building, which would include a coffee shop, meeting facilities for up to 300 people and a 1,000-square-foot art gallery that Taylor said he hopes the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center will help run.

The Fine Arts Center was named as a will partner in Morris’ $9 million bequest for the “design, construction and maintenance” of a performing arts center in Port Angeles.

The cafe, which like the gallery will be open daily, does not have a tenant, Taylor said.

A request-for-proposals for the coffee shop will be issued after the building permit is approved.

The public comment period for the conditional-use permit ends Monday.

A hearing examiner public hearing on the permit is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 5.

“Views from neighboring downtown buildings and streets will not be significantly affected by the additional auditorium height, and views from the bluff to the south will be affected very similar to a hypothetical building with the same footprint area built to the 45-foot limit throughout,” according to the conditional-use permit application.

The performance hall will be the cornerstone feature for a three-building complex.

The campus will include a Lower Elwha Klallam tribal longhouse, and a joint project to house the Feiro Marine Life Center and a visitor center for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

The protected waters off Washington’s coast are managed by the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Those projects will be developed after Field Hall is further along, officials from the tribe and what is tentatively called the Marine Discovery Center have said.

Carol Bernthal, marine sanctuary superintendent, said in May that construction on that part won’t start anytime soon.

“Realistically, it will probably take us two to three years to do the fundraising,” she said.

Linty Hopie, the tribe’s enterprise chief operations officer, did not return calls for comment Monday.

The performing arts center will be named after Dorothy Field, a Waterfront Center board member who donated $1.43 million to buy the parcel. The Field Hall property takes up almost half of the parcel.

Taylor said more than half of the funds needed to build the facility have been raised.

The capital campaign headed by Director of Development Jessica Hernandez ramps up beginning this weekend in a public-outreach push for donations while an effort for major donor support continues, Taylor said.

“It’s time to expand that base of existing major gifts phase,” she said.

“It’s critical that the general population be involved in this project and be engaged.

“You need public ownership of this project.

“We’ve known that from Day 1.

“The community at large has to support it and invest in it and enjoy it.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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