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Everett plans new downtown plaza

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EVERETT -- People strolling through downtown should be able to enjoy a new city park by the end of next year.
The new plaza, located off Wetmore Avenue, will include a space for arts events, tiered seats and trees.
It's designed by Nakano Associates of Seattle, the same firm which drew plans for the renovation of the popular International Fountain at the Seattle Center.
The centerpiece will be a fountain designed by Northwest artist Linda Beaumont. She's worked on a number of public art projects, including at Sea-Tac airport and the King County Courthouse.
City leaders envision the plaza as a pleasant amenity and an attractive feature that will help bolster business downtown.
The three-quarter of an acre plaza has a project budget of $2.7 million. That cost doesn't include the price of land.
"It's a small site but it's a first step that provides a park oasis in the downtown area," said Paul Kaftanski, Everett's parks and recreation director.
The plaza site is sandwiched between the Everett Performing Arts Center and a city-owned building that will house a children's theater program.
The city is spending up to $1.9 million in improvements to bring the next-door building up to code. The Village Theatre's Youth Education Center will serve up to 2,400 students a year once it opens. The center will contain acting studios, classrooms and even a small orchestra pit, said Kati Nickerson, director of youth education for Village Theatre.
Workers are finishing up the basic improvements, then Village Theatre will bring in their own workers, putting in another estimated $1 million of their money.
When both projects are complete, officials envision children performing in the plaza and holiday programs that will draw people to the park. Kaftanski described the plaza as an exciting "active" space.
"The plaza is a beautiful surrounding," Nickerson said. "We are very excited about young people experiencing art in their entire experience."
City leaders started thinking about an urban plaza when the Everett Performing Arts Center was built. At the time, the city didn't have the money.
In 2005, the city bought for $1.1 million the former Red Men's Lodge, which included the land that the Key Bank Building sits on as well as part of the parking lot that will become the plaza. The Key Bank Building was purchased separately for $180,000.
So far, workers have demolished a parking lot and the former Red Men's Lodge to make way for the plaza.
This week, city is expected to authorize a call for construction bids. Workers should be busy by the start of 2011.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197;
Story tags » Everett

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