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Fort Worden PDA presents 'Makers Square' plans July 19:Design team seeks public input on proposed arts, education facility

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Plans for a new artistic hub at Fort Worden State Park are to be made public at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19 at the Fort Worden Commons.

The Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center Public Development Authority (PDA) and a team of design consultants are to lead attendees through the visioning process for the proposed Makers Square – an area dedicated to arts, cultural and educational programming.

Building 305, located across the street from the two-story Building 204 barracks and behind the Guardhouse, is considered the predominant and most significant structure in regard to facilitating new programs, as it is to be the cornerstone of Makers Square, according to a PDA press release.

The redevelopment of Building 305 and nine underutilized or vacant buildings located in the proposed Makers Square is based on recommendations articulated in the Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center Program Development and Capital Improvement Plan.

COMMUNITY INPUT

On July 19, the PDA and design consultants representing Seattle-based firms Signal Architecture + Research and ELM Environments are to present multiple options for the renovation of Building 305. Public comment is accepted, as it is the next step in a visioning process that has been under development for more than 10 years.

The Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission developed a vision and plan to transform Fort Worden into a financially self-sustaining lifelong learning center. In May 2014, the PDA entered into a 50-year master lease with Washington State Parks to execute this vision within the 90-acre campus area, located at the historic center of Fort Worden. (State Parks still owns all of the property and manages the beach area, both campgrounds and Artillery Hill.)

In 2015, the PDA and design consultants staged a two-day planning workshop with more than 40 stakeholders in attendance, including representatives from 12 tenant partner organizations, local and state government, arts and education professionals, and community members. The group discussed how best to address the deferred maintenance on Fort Worden’s deteriorating campus, potential renovation of 73 historic buildings and future programmatic uses that could support a lifelong learning center.

In June 2015, design consultants presented their findings in a "Master Use Programmatic Plan and Investment Strategy," identifying priority investments, business development strategies, how to build enough meeting spaces for current tenants partners, and how to grow and evolve with the right tenant mix. The process culminated in the publishing of the Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center Program Development and Capital Improvement Plan, released in September 2015.

In April 2016, design consultants staged a one-day planning workshop with more than 25 stakeholders in attendance. The group discussed the redevelopment of Building 305 and nine underutilized or vacant buildings located within the proposed Makers Square plan, and the correlation between planned improvements and desired programmatic uses.

OLD BUILDINGS, NEW USES

All 10 buildings, currently under review, are part of the Fort Worden National Historic Landmark District.

Built in 1905 to be the Quartermaster Storehouse, Building 305 was the anchor for a variety of services that supported the health and maneuvers of the garrison stationed at the fort. A barracks, mess hall, bakery, administration building, guardhouse and even a library were clustered around the storehouse, which was the U.S. Army Coast Artillery fort's first permanent building.

Today, Building 305 is a State Parks maintenance facility. In 2016, the state Legislature approved funding for a new maintenance facility to be built outside the PDA lease area. Construction design has been approved for the facility near the old wagon barn, and the project has gone out to bid.

As proposed, Building 305 (18,620 square feet) would be reconfigured to house flexible classrooms, galleries, studios and workspaces supporting a variety of arts, cultural and educational programming simultaneously. To transform this historic structure into an efficient, high-quality program space requires significant rehabilitation, including seismic retrofitting; improvements to the site, HVAC, utilities and safety systems; and ADA accessibility, according to the PDA.

Also located in Makers Square, Building 308 (2,505 sq. ft.) and Building 324 (3,045 sq. ft.) are former warehouses, and therefore do not have plumbing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning or insulation. Buildings 308 and 324 are separate but related rehabilitation projects currently under design. With renovations, these buildings would provide space for studios, workshops, meetings and other programs.

To date, more than $4 million had been raised in support of the Makers Square redevelopment with two major gifts from private foundations, according to the PDA.

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